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Book Review

This romantic vampire fantasy book is the third in the ” Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer and is published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of the Hachette Book Group.

Eclipse is written for kids ages 9 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Eighteen-year-old Bella Swan lives in Forks, Wash., with her dad, Charlie. Her boyfriend, the devastatingly handsome and eternally 17-year-old Edward Cullen, is a vampire. Edward is part of a coven Bella now considers her family. At her pleading, they’ve promised to make her one of them shortly after her graduation. Edward has one condition: He wants Bella to marry him first. While Bella has no problem forfeiting her soul to become a vampire, she worries what people will think of her marrying so young.

Bella is also concerned about her best friend, Jacob, who is in love with her. Jacob is a Quileute Indian, and his tribesmen are mortal enemies of vampires. Jacob and his friends have recently begun morphing into werewolves. When he learns Bella is planning to marry a vampire and become one herself, he is devastated and promises to fight for her.

While Charlie and Edward encourage Bella to choose a college, she spends her time worrying about enemy vampires. The Volturi, Italy’s vampire royalty, have promised bad things for the Cullens if they don’t change Bella soon. A vampire named Victoria is also stalking Bella to avenge the death of her mate, whom Edward killed.

Edward’s sister Rosalie tells Bella the story of how she became a vampire after a brutal attack by her fiancé, which nearly killed her. She urges Bella to rethink her decision to choose to live as a vampire.

Bella finds some of her clothing missing and realizes someone has been in her room. The werewolves and vampires work together, trying to pick up the intruder’s scent. A newspaper article details strange slayings in the Seattle area. The Cullens believe a batch of newborn vampires may be the culprits. Edward’s brother, Jasper, shares how he became a vampire and tells of his experience battling volatile, unfocused newborns. The Cullens train and consult with the werewolves. Together, they devise a plot to bait the enemies with Bella’s scent. Then Bella, Edward and Jacob hike to a safe location in the mountains to camp.

Jacob leaves the next day to join the vampire/werewolf battle below, leaving Bella and Edward alone with one young werewolf named Seth. Victoria strikes at the campsite with one of her minions. Edward and Bella realize she created all the newborns in her efforts to destroy Bella. Victoria and Edward battle while her cohort battles Seth. Edward, Bella and Seth ultimately win. Edward dismembers and burns the bodies of the evil vampires. He receives word via Seth’s telepathy that the wolves and the Cullens are winning the battle with the newborns. But Jacob is severely injured.

After the battle, members of the Volturi appear to find out what’s happened. They allow Bella to live, with the understanding that a date has been set to turn her into a vampire. The Cullens invite a surrendering newborn, Bree, to join their coven. The Volturi don’t approve. They destroy Bree on the spot.

Dr. Cullen cares for Jacob to ensure his wounds are healing. Though Bella has realized and admitted she loves Jacob, they both know she loves Edward more. Jacob agrees to stop trying to change her mind. Edward and Bella continue to discuss marriage, and Bella finally allows Edward’s enthusiastic sister Alice to plan a wedding.

Christian Beliefs

Edward believes all vampires are damned. He doesn’t want to change Bella because he’s concerned for her soul. He refrains from having premarital sex with her in case there’s some way she will still have a shot at heaven. When she asks why he thinks he’s going to hell, he says most major belief systems abide by the “thou shalt not kill” rule. He’s killed a lot of people.

Jacob asks Bella if she remembers the Bible story where King Solomon suggests cutting a baby in half. He says it was a test to see which woman would protect the child. He tells her he won’t cut her in half anymore (by making her choose between him and Edward).

Other Belief Systems

Vampires can either devour humans or turn them into newborn vampires. Newborns are particularly dangerous and volatile for the first few years, since they are focused only on satiating their new hunger. The Cullen clan members are “vegetarian,” in the sense that they don’t eat humans, only animals.

Edward and some of the other Cullens have special gifts beyond typical vampire powers. Edward can read people’s thoughts (except for Bella’s), Alice can see the future to a degree, and Jasper has the ability to influence the feelings and emotions of those around him. Several Volturi members also possess unique powers, such as causing people pain using only their minds.

Werewolves can hear each others’ thoughts. Their bodies heal rapidly. The Quileutes believe a powerful connection called imprinting allows them to identify their soul mates. One of Jacob’s pack imprints with a 2-year-old. He plays kindly with her and watches out for her, knowing she will be his true love someday. Jacob’s father tells the story of the spirit warriors and how Quileutes became werewolves. He says there has always been magic in their blood. The early Quileutes’ spirits left their bodies so they could stealthily explore new territory. When a jealous tribe member put his spirit into the chief’s body, the chief had nowhere to go. A wolf allowed him to share its body.

Bella is often clumsy and attributes it to bad luck. Edward sometimes refers jokingly to her propensity for bad luck. While Jacob tries to explain why it’s so hard for werewolves and vampires to get along, Bella jokingly differentiates herself by saying she’s a Virgo. She says if her friend Angela turns out to be a witch, she can join them, too.

Authority Roles

While Charlie loves Bella, he has little parenting experience. He’s easily fooled by her lies and omissions. Reading Charlie’s thoughts, Edward says Bella’s dad would rather believe her lies than look too closely at what’s really happening. Bella describes her mother, Renée, as scatterbrained and bewildered. Bella says she guided Renée through life and that she (Bella) was the grown-up. Carlisle, patriarch of the Cullen clan, is a caring, merciful doctor. He has long battled his vampire instincts to enable himself to help humans rather than harm them. He serves as a peacemaker between the werewolves and vampires. As the sovereign vampires, the Volturi make decisions based on rules rather than compassion.

Profanity & Violence

Several dozen uses of words like d–n, h—, sucks, screw, crap and p-ssed appear. Eclipse includes many brutal battles involving vampires and/or werewolves. Bones are frequently crushed, and bodies are often snapped and dismembered. Heads are torn from bodies. Detached vampire body parts continue to move on their own. After Edward decapitates Victoria, he dismembers the corpse and burns every part to ensure she is really gone.

Vampires and werewolves tear out each others’ throats and rip off body parts with their teeth. Newborn vampires screech in agony when they’re unable to satisfy their lust for blood. Human bodies are broken and drained of blood. A legendary Indian woman stabs herself to distract a blood-thirsty vampire away from her family and toward her. Bella tries the same tactic as Edward battles enemy vampires.

Rosalie is attacked, possibly gang raped and left for dead. Jasper formerly led armies of newborn vampires on killing rampages to help a female vampire enlarge her territory. Jacob, Edward and the other vampires and werewolves talk about not wanting to miss the “fun” of battling and killing enemy vampires.

Sexual Content

Edward and Bella kiss frequently and urgently. They engage in a great deal of sensual caressing (sometimes below the belt, but not in the genital areas). Edward lusts for Bella’s blood at least as much as he desires her sexually. Thus, he’s drawn careful boundaries concerning their physical relationship in order to maintain his control and keep her alive.

Although Bella understands the reasoning behind Edward’s rules, she’s often frustrated by the way he abruptly breaks physical contact in moments of escalating passion. She makes several fervent efforts to get him to sleep with her. She tells him it’s the only thing she still wants from him while she’s a human. They have several lengthy conversations on the topic. Edward refuses premarital sex. This is partly because his morals date back to the turn of the century and partly because he doesn’t want to physically injure her. He also holds a small amount of hope that her soul might not be lost. He thinks by remaining a virgin until marriage, she might have a better shot at heaven.

In the end, Edward offers to sleep with Bella. She decides he was right; they should wait until they’re married because it’s the responsible thing to do. Edward typically sneaks into Bella’s room at night to hold her and watch her sleep.

Charlie makes an awkward attempt to talk about sex with Bella. He says he knows times have changed, so he will try to be open-minded. She assures him she is still a virgin.

Rosalie became a vampire the night her drunken fiancé and his friends brutally attacked her (perhaps sexually) and left her for dead.

While hiding on a snowy mountain with Jacob and Edward, Bella nearly freezes. Jacob, whose body heat is higher than a normal human’s, snuggles in a sleeping bag with Bella to keep her alive. Edward is tortured. Not only does he have to watch Bella wrapped in Jacob’s arms, but he can read the thoughts Jacob is having.

Jacob is often shirtless since his clothes rip off of him when he turns into a wolf. He teases Bella, asking if his half-nakedness bothers her. He kisses Bella several times, in a manner she says is not far from violence. He ignores her efforts to pull away. She finally admits to herself that she loves him and kisses him back. She then begs Edward to “fight back” and have sex with her so she can forget Jacob.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Why do Jacob and Edward consider battles “fun,” something they hate to miss out on?

  • How does Bella see herself?

  • Why does she feel hopeless without Edward or Jacob in her life?

  • Why does Edward want to get married before sleeping with Bella?

  • What are Bella’s views on sex and marriage?
  • What does the Bible say about sex and marriage?

  • Do Jacob or Edward ever act inappropriately toward Bella? When?

  • Does their desire to protect and love her make it OK for them to keep secrets from her, keep her in “custody” or kiss her violently?
  • What can happen when the lines between love and possessiveness get blurred in real-life relationships?
  • What is the difference between obsession and love?

Additional Comments

Lying: Bella frequently lies about her feelings and emotions. She lies to Charlie about nearly every element of her life in Forks, both through blatant dishonesty and careful omission. Sometimes this is to keep him from worrying. Other times, it’s so she can do what she wants without regulations or repercussions. She admits to Edward that she lies all the time. He says she’s such a bad liar that it doesn’t really count. No one believes her anyway.

Respect for Parents: Besides her many lies to her dad, Bella threatens to tell her mom something Charlie said about her (Renée). She also responds patronizingly to Charlie’s warnings and concerns about everything from motorcycle riding to her choice of boyfriends.

Obsession : Bella calls Edward her personal miracle. She continually says she doesn’t deserve him. She says his touch brings a sense of physical pain relief. When she’s not with him, she becomes depressed and has horrible nightmares. She tells him she wants him more than food or water or oxygen and that she can’t be happy without him. Another time, she says she has to have him; it’s the only way she can live. She has no concern, as Edward does, that becoming a vampire might mean damning her soul to hell. She is too desperate to be with him to care. She wants Edward himself to turn her into a vampire so it will be his venom poisoning her system. That way, she feels she will belong to him in a tangible, quantifiable way.

When Edward and Bella visit Bella’s mom, Renée expresses concern about the intensity of their relationship. She notes the way Bella adjusts her position when she’s near Edward, moving around him like a satellite. Edward’s seemingly overprotective gazes at Bella also concern her.

Bella loves both Jacob and Edward. She feels selfish and hideous for not having the strength to cut off her relationship with Jacob even though she loves Edward most. Bella decides to make it her mission in life to never again hurt Edward. Then she begs Jacob to kiss her because she’s afraid he will purposely get himself killed in battle. She says Jacob would be her soul mate in the rational world, if something stronger than the rational world (Edward) didn’t exist.

Marriage: Bella doesn’t care what happens to her soul if she becomes a vampire. She does care what people might think if she gets married too young. Renée had always said smart people took marriage seriously, going to college and having careers before getting too involved in romance. Renée regrets having been the small-town girl who married too soon. Bella tells Edward she’s not “that girl,” a hick who gets knocked up and married right out of high school. She says smart, responsible people in this century don’t do that. She tells Edward that in her mind, marriage and eternity are not mutually exclusive or mutually inclusive concepts. Edward’s desire to marry comes from his “old fashioned” beliefs, since he was human early in the century.

Treatment of women: Bella is often a pawn in the war between Edward and Jacob. Edward is controlling, sometimes even physically. He forbids Bella to go certain places, for her own protection. Jacob grabs her and kisses her angrily and violently several times, shoving, gripping and crushing her. During one argument, Edward tells Jacob that Bella is his, and both young men say they will not promise to fight fair for her affections. Still, she loves both of them and can’t bear to be without either. Both Edward and Jacob believe they are acting in the interest of love and protection. When Rosalie was human, she was abused by her fiancé and his friends and left for dead.

Drugs/alcohol: The smell of Bella’s blood is, to Edward, like fine wine to an alcoholic. Edward jokes about pilots on Bella’s plane being passed out drunk. Jacob says he feels a little stoned from the pain medicine Dr. Cullen gave him. Edward notes that Jacob is like a drug to Bella. , an entertainment and media ministry of Focus on the Family, has written an article that offers an overview of the whole “Twilight” series: Darkness Falls After Twilight.

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