Manny's Reviews > Eclipse

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
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it was ok
bookshelves: children, science-fiction, trash, mentions-twilight, older-men-younger-women

Looking at other reviews of Eclipse, I'm a little surprised by the comments. Yes, of course it's badly written. Yes, of course Bella and Edward are horrible people, and they have a sick, co-dependent relationship. But that doesn't get any closer to explaining why these books are so popular.

I would say that what they have going for them is that the psychology is not unrealistic, and in fact describes uncompromisingly how destructive love can be. It could hardly be plainer that Bella has made an appalling mistake in falling for Edward. Let's see: he's not even human; he's 80 years older than she is; he's a murderer; he's an amoral, controlling, manipulative type, who alternates between anal attention to detail and psychotic lack of impulse control. She knows all this, and she knows that Jacob is a kind, decent person who truly loves her, but she can't get Edward out of her head. Her obsession with Edward leads to her hurting Jacob over and over again, and still she can't overcome her compulsion to use him in increasingly humiliating and cruel ways.

What's powerful about the story is that we see it all through Bella's eyes, and watch her swinging back and forward between alternate phases of self-delusion and clarity. She's constantly telling us how good, kind, noble and wonderful Edward is, but her unconscious is also noting all the dreadful things he does, and we get to hear about them too. I thought the recurrent motif with the motorcycles was one of the clearest instances. In New Moon, Edward callously leaves Bella, and Jacob does his damnedest to rescue her from a nervous breakdown. He salvages two old motorcycles for them, and teaches her to ride. Bella loves the feeling of freedom and speed this gives her, and particularly relishes the sense of danger; this is how she also fantasizes that she is close to Edward.

After Edward returns, he sees that this is the place where Bella is nearest to escaping his grip. He acquires a much better motorcycle of his own to take the glamor away, and he also gives her a helmet and riding jacket, ostensibly to show that he cares about her safety; but she was only riding dangerously in the first place because he had left her. Finally, when Jacob has almost died defending Bella, his life-threatening injuries are blamed on a motorcycle accident. Edward cleverly exploits this to win over Bella's father, who is smart enough to have been suspicious of him; Charlie remarks that Edward hasn't been putting Bella's life at risk. Jacob can see how adroitly Edward manipulates everyone's feelings, but only comes across as jealous when he points it out. Well, of course he's outmaneuvered. He's a teenager competing against a centenarian; under the circumstances, he puts up a good fight.

What I approve of is that Bella is led to understand, through observing her own actions, just what kind of person she is: she's repayed her best friend's selfless kindness towards her by ruining his life. I was reminded of L'Âge de Raison, where Mathieu has a similar epiphany, and is forced to realize that he's not really a good guy; he's someone who's stolen a sizable amount of money to pay for his mistress's abortion. I can't help pointing out in passing that, even though Sartre is less popular than Meyer on Goodreads, he is a noticeably more competent prose stylist. If you liked the plot in Eclipse but were annoyed by the writing, you might want to check him out.

Which brings us to the downside of this book. As I've argued, it has worthwhile things to say, but it's just too sloppy and repetitious. Most of the good ideas were already there in New Moon, where they were interestingly underplayed. I'm guessing Meyer got a ton of fanmail after the second volume, and felt that she had clarify things; some of the time, I feel she's more answering a reader's letter than telling a story. Come on Stephenie, you're better than this. Do your own thing, and remember that ambiguity usually improves a novel. And if everyone in the world who believes in sparkly vampires claps their hands, maybe you'll even learn how to write.

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Reading Progress

October 18, 2009 – Shelved
October 18, 2009 – Shelved as: children
October 18, 2009 – Shelved as: science-fiction
October 18, 2009 – Shelved as: trash
October 18, 2009 –
page 75
12.56%
October 18, 2009 –
page 175
29.31%
October 19, 2009 –
page 250
41.88%
October 19, 2009 –
page 325
54.44%
October 20, 2009 –
page 400
67.0%
Started Reading
October 21, 2009 – Finished Reading
January 7, 2010 – Shelved as: mentions-twilight
October 6, 2010 – Shelved as: older-men-younger-women

Comments Showing 1-50 of 60 (60 new)


message 1: by Madeline (new)

Madeline I'm impressed you've managed to get this far. I got through Twilight and swore I was never getting back on that sparkly, craptastic bandwagon ever again.


message 2: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Bryant Manny, really, you only read this stuff so you can turn in a scathing review. This is shooting fish in a barrel.


Manny Paul, that's so unfair. I wrote a positive review of New Moon!


message 4: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Bryant All right, I rephrase:

Manny, really, you only read this stuff so you can turn in either a scathing or a postive review.

Hmmm... doesn't have the same ring to it. But i still say that from a guy who is eaten by ex-world chess champions for dinner, this is shooting fish in a barrel. Pick on someone your own size!


Manny Aw, you guys are so nice! I think. But, honestly, I am curious about the Twilight series, and it doesn't take long to read. What is it actually about, and why is it so damn popular? I still don't understand, but I feel I'm getting closer...


message 6: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Bryant Surely we have figured this out - you remember - young teenage girls, fascinated by vampires - handsome boys who rob you of your life force - any yet they're so attractive - it's not the Queen's Indian i.e. subtle, it's the King's Gambit i.e. unsubtle. See my review on The Twilight Companion for further clues!


smetchie I can't wait to read your review of the 4th!


message 8: by Hazel (new)

Hazel So, Manny, you think Twilight is popular because all these teenage girls want to read about abusive/destructive relationships?

Thanks for the heads-up about the Sartre, I'll look into it.




message 9: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Bryant And Sartre was popular because all the boys wanted to read about &c &c.


message 10: by Manny (last edited Oct 22, 2009 06:55AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Manny Hazel wrote: "So, Manny, you think Twilight is popular because all these teenage girls want to read about abusive/destructive relationships?"

Well, yes. In my recollection, a lot of teenage relationships were this abusive and destructive. I think she's describing it accurately, and the teenage girls relate to the story for that reason. Seriously!



message 11: by Hazel (new)

Hazel You know, you're a bad influence. I have the feeling I'm going to read the damn thing!


message 12: by Manny (last edited Oct 22, 2009 07:06AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Manny Oh dear, how awful. I mean, since it's a series you'd have to read the whole lot. Hazel, reconsider! It's not too late!



message 13: by Alan (new)

Alan My 19 year old daughter made me buy it for her. 19! My 17 year old daughter is reading Munro and Atwood and Shields and (Eden) Robinson (she's into Canadian women writers). I try not to be judgmental.
..but fail.


Manny Honest, the books are considerably better than I had expected. Except the quality of the prose. That's worse.


message 15: by Alan (new)

Alan at least she is reading, but she's going backwards I feel. It's comfort reading I think.
(She might be reading this as she's joined GR! Although she hasn't accessed since May - if so Hi Chlo)


message 16: by Hazel (last edited Oct 22, 2009 08:13AM) (new)

Hazel Seriously, though, you're right. It makes sense for us to try to understand why this series is so popular. Perhaps I've been lazy about it. I've just assumed it was a kind of mass hysteria, not unlike how my 6 year old niece and her friends carry on about 'princess' stories, and insist on wearing pink. You know, they're all doing it because they're all doing it. I tell them they're becoming little Disneybots!

Is this more than just the effect of marketing, mass communications and popular culture? A few weeks ago, one of us here referred to his teenage clients, who were all reading it. It occurs to me that the adolescents I've worked with up to a year ago, (from a different culture), never mentioned Twilight at all. Perhaps it takes time for trends to move across the pond?

Question, Manny: After Bella has her epiphany, what does she do? Is she able to take any action towards repairing her damaged relationships or protecting herself from the destructive one?


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Manny, I think you've really articulated why I can't go any further in this series than the first book. Stephanie may be a horrible writer: her prose is total crap, her sentences are pedestrian, her word use repetitious. But she managed to nail my feelings of alienated adolescent horror, and put those feelings in a character I find just entirely despicable. I hate Bella Swan. I hate her because at one point *shudder* I was something like her. No thanks; once through high school was bad enough.


message 18: by Robert (new)

Robert So, what does "co-dependent" mean?


message 19: by Manny (last edited Oct 22, 2009 08:43AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Manny Thank you Ceridwen! And I think you're only one of millions. Probably most people wouldn't be as honest about it as you were, but my guess is that an awful lot of women feel that they used to be Bella Swan, or, even worse, still are...


message 20: by Manny (last edited Oct 22, 2009 08:45AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Manny Hazel wrote: "Question, Manny: After Bella has her epiphany, what does she do? Is she able to take any action towards repairing her damaged relationships or protecting herself from the destructive one?"

Um, I believe she marries the guy in the next book. It's rather like the end of Un Amour de Swann.



message 21: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Not only does she marry him, she has his mutant vampire baby and names it...you know what, I'm not going to ruin the surprise. I'll just say that the kid's nickname is "Nessie", and it's still better than the original name.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Bella gives birth to the Loch Ness Monster!? Maybe I should reevaluate my not-reading-any-more-Twilight-books stance.


message 23: by Robert (new)

Robert Suddenly these series appears to have veered into interesting territory!


message 24: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Bryant Mutant Vampire Baby has to be the next big alt rock band.


message 25: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 22, 2009 01:52PM) (new)

I hit the googles just to see that there wasn't such a band yet - I think odds were probably even - but I found this lovely piece of fan fic instead. It's not what you'd call good - I mean, hell, it's fan fic - but it does feature the following bitchin' vampire koan:

How many blondes does it take to get eaten by a freak mutant vampire baby just seconds after its born? Just one bitch!


message 26: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Bryant It'll have to be a hell of a mutant vampire baby to live up to the one in that great all time trash movie called "It's Alive" - rent it now! Essential!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071675/


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Movies like "It's Alive!" make me pine for when Mystery Science Theater 3000 was still running.


message 28: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Manny, you compared Stephenie Meyer to Jean-Paul Sartre -- unfavorably, sure, but you still made the comparison. Have you lost your marbles?


Manny Daniel wrote: "Manny, you compared Stephenie Meyer to Jean-Paul Sartre -- unfavorably, sure, but you still made the comparison. Have you lost your marbles?"

Well, I keep thinking of this quote from P.D. James, "Jane Austen is Mills and Boon written by a genius". Conversely, Twilight is L'Âge de Raison written by, um, someone who isn't necessarily a genius. Maybe you can find a snappier way to say that?



message 30: by Daniel (new)

Daniel "Twilight is L'Âge de Raison written by a retard?"


Manny You have a way with words, sir. So much better than my formulation!



message 32: by Bram (last edited Oct 23, 2009 09:02AM) (new)

Bram HAHA.

Just laughed out loud at work. I need to sound-proof my cubicle.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

A wonderfully open-minded review and honest work at understanding middlebrow culture. Kudos, sirrah!


Manny Thank you Brendan! That's very nice of you.


message 35: by Bryan (new)

Bryan To echo Brendan, it's refreshing to read a review on goodreads that attempts to understand a phenomenon on its own terms rather than taking an omg-this-sucks-my-taste-is-superior-to-yours attitude. It shows that appreciation can lead to as much insight as criticism.

Now if only we can get someone to do a similar reading of The Da Vinci Code...


Manny I appreciate your kind words, Bryan. And about The Da Vinci Code... um, I have a confession to make. I'll post a review shortly.




Jordan I would like to see what Martin Amis would do with the Edward/Bella relationship. As we both know Amis writes the best asshole characters that you love to hate in modern English Literature. "Eclipse: The True Story" by Martin Amis. I would totally read that! ; ) Hehe

What do you think?


Manny Jordan, I totally approve of the idea of Martin Amis rewriting Eclipse. I'd contact him and suggest the idea, except that I think it would be both fairer and more effective if you did it in person. Let me know how it works out :)

Abigail, thank you! I'm delighted to hear you liked the review. I really do think it's more interesting to try and figure out what's good about these books... you don't have to work very hard to see what's bad about them.



Manny Thank you!

I really do wonder what the fans think of Bella. I guess most of them must like her. But surely some of them must also be thinking "I like her because she's just as horrible and selfish as I am". Or something along those lines...


message 40: by Klerine (last edited May 12, 2010 01:10AM) (new)

Klerine Manny wrote: "Thank you!

I really do wonder what the fans think of Bella. I guess most of them must like her. But surely some of them must also be thinking "I like her because she's just as horrible and selfish..."


Manny:I love your reviews! They're a fun read. Some of the fans I know usually go on about how hot Edward, the Cullens and Jacob are. That's one explanation for the popularity of the series. What I wonder about is why they pick Twilight to do that, instead of a better written book with attractive characters.


Manny Some of the fans I know usually go on about how hot Edward, the Cullens and Jacob are

Thank you Klerine!

And you must admit that the word "hot" is a little odd in this context. I mean, Edward's cold to the touch...


message 42: by Klerine (new)

Klerine haha true, but "cool" isn't exactly slang for handsome lol. Maybe I should say "carving of Adonis".

Thankfully not all teenagers, including myself are besotted with the books, or the characters.


Manny Thankfully not all teenagers, including myself are besotted with the books, or the characters.

I'm relieved to hear that. I do wonder what people will make of these books 30 years from now. Will they be classics, like Star Wars is now, or will the teenagers of 2040 wonder how anyone could ever have been crazy about this stuff?


message 44: by Klerine (last edited May 12, 2010 04:54AM) (new)

Klerine I do hope they'll be be forgotten and buried by then! The idea of Twilight in the classics section is a bit sickening, though I hope Harry Potter gets there.=)


message 45: by [deleted user] (last edited May 12, 2010 07:19AM) (new)

I've been wracking my brain trying to think of the literary sensations that were around when I was a teen, which was *cough* twenty years ago, and I just can't think of any. I read a lot of L'Engle, but I don't think she was a sensation or anything. V.C. Andrews? Clan of the Cave Bear? - these aren't YA, but we kiddies read the crap out of them. I think the YA market has really changed: maybe larger? more targeted?


Manny Everyone in England used to read Roald Dahl... he had several books in the YA top 10 at one point in the early 90s. He's certainly made it to "classic" status, anyway.

When I was a kid in the 60s and early 70s, it was Tolkien - he's been a classic for a while.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Dahl was assigned reading in at least one of my classes. (Although it was his non-YA stuff that was assigned - like the one about Hitler's parents and the one where the owner of a boarding house is killing and stuffing her tenants - good times!) I didn't mention Tolkien, because he was already pretty big noise - my folks read him when they were kids. I was thinking of the stuff published at the time that was a literary sensation, but then vanished. Sweet Valley High ? This was just serial formula trash* though, not really a literary sensation.

*not that there's anything wrong with this.


message 48: by Scribble (last edited Nov 11, 2010 09:13PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Scribble Orca Hazel wrote: "So, Manny, you think Twilight is popular because all these teenage girls want to read about abusive/destructive relationships?"

Manny wrote: "Well, yes."


Cross-over to Manny's review on Dr Eric Berne's Games People Play. Transactionally analysing the characters in this series means they are perfectly stereotyped examples of Dependent/Addictive - Control/Dominant game players? (Manny - you can supply the right terminology here, I'm sure).

That implies an awful lot of teenage(?) girls running around already imbued with destructive behaviour patterns buried in their psyches. Perhaps a result of the examples of relationships to which they've been exposed during their formative years?

Interesting article in Sueddeutsche Zeitung this morning about children who, despite having suffered traumatic experiences in childhood, developed into balanced, emotionally resilient and empathic adults. In each instance, the children had a minimum one stable, loving and long-term relationship from which they could learn to trust both the carer and themselves. Progress in neurological science regarding the development of the brain from age 0-7 years continues to emphasise the importance of nurturing, stable and long-term relationships with at least one carer.

The bottom line - if you want to write a best-seller, target your age group, look at their patterns of angst, their likely early childhood experiences, and the way they respond to recurring patterns of behaviour in those closest to them. Replay the whole shebang, and bingo - big bucks. Definitely art imitating life.


Manny G, interesting idea to apply transactional analysis to Bella! Perhaps that does expose the thing I find most disquieting about the series. At the beginning, Bella is playing Adult to both of her parents' Child. Renée has never grown up in any way, and, although Charlie has a responsible job, he's otherwise helpless. They both take it for granted that Bella will look after the house, cook his meals, etc, and that he's not capable of doing any of these things at more than survival level.

This isn't a good way to treat a 17 year old girl, and it's not surprising that there's a reaction. Maybe you can read the books as as a description of how she has a psychotic breakdown where she retreats to a fantasy world populated by vampires and werewolves, in which she is once again allowed to be a Child looked after by powerful Adults.

Or, more mundanely, you can argue that the books are popular because teen readers recognise the situation, and like the idea of fantasizing that they could escape from their unreasonable responsibilities the way Bella does. It's scary that so many kids apparently think that life with the the amoral, controlling Edward would be an improvement on what they have now.


message 50: by Scribble (last edited Oct 31, 2010 12:04AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Scribble Orca It's scary that so many kids apparently think that life with the the amoral, controlling Edward would be an improvement on what they have now."

Exactly. Are we just getting old? Or should we be asking what parents are doing to foster these feelings in their kids?


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