New Moon — “Twilight” Series


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Book Review

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the “Twilight” series.

Plot Summary

Bella Swan dreads waking up on her birthday because she is turning 18. The milestone is just another reminder that she keeps aging while her immortal vampire boyfriend, Edward Cullen, remains eternally 17. Despite her begging, he repeatedly refuses to change her into a vampire like him. He fears in doing so, he would be damning her soul.

The Cullen “family,” a coven of seven vampires living in Bella’s small town of Forks, Wash., throws a birthday party for Bella. As she tears open a present, she gets a bleeding paper cut. Though the Cullens are civilized vampires, who solemnly vow not to feast on people, they’re still tantalized by the scent of human blood. Jasper, the most vulnerable of the clan, instinctually lunges at Bella. Edward saves her, but the attack is a jarring reminder to him that their relationship repeatedly puts Bella in mortal danger. A few days later, he tells her he no longer wants her and that he and his family are leaving Forks forever.

Bella becomes an empty shell of a person in the months that follow. She finally goes out with a girlfriend to placate her worried father, Charlie. Bella sees a group of suspicious-looking men on the same dark street where Edward once saved her and feels a sudden rush of adrenaline. She thinks she hears Edward’s voice warning her to be careful. Suddenly, Bella feels alive again. She theorizes she can get Edward back, at least through hallucinations, if she can find ways to recreate that rush of adrenaline.

Bella sees two broken-down motorcycles for sale and remembers Charlie’s warning about the dangers of riding them. Convinced riding motorcycles will produce the adrenaline rush she craves, Bella takes the bikes to her friend Jacob Black on the nearby La Push Indian reservation. Jacob, a master at vehicle repair, is slightly younger than Bella and smitten with her. He eagerly agrees to work on the bikes in secret, and Bella enjoys their time together. She makes it clear she doesn’t share his romantic feelings, but she becomes desperate to hold on to his friendship.

Jacob and Bella ride the newly-repaired cycles several times. Although Bella gets her adrenaline rush — and consequently, hallucinations of Edward — she continues to crash and ends up in the ER. Afraid Charlie will start asking questions, she devises another way to “see” Edward. Bella takes Jacob on several hikes, secretly trying to find the clearing in which Edward first revealed himself to her as a vampire. She hopes to feel his presence there.

Without explanation, Jacob stops returning Bella’s calls. This goes on for weeks. She hikes alone and finds Edward’s clearing. There, she encounters an enemy vampire named Laurent. Bella first met Laurent (in Twilight) when he traveled with a vampire couple named James and Victoria. James stalked Bella, and Edward killed him. Now, Laurent warns her that Victoria is stalking Bella to avenge her mate’s death. Just as Laurent decides to bite Bella himself, a pack of wolf-like creatures emerge from the forest and chases him away. Alone again, Bella wonders about the strange wolves and how they could terrify such a powerful vampire.

Increasingly anxious about Jacob, and about her own safety now that Victoria is near, Bella drives to La Push. The Jacob she finds there has larger muscles, shorter hair and intense, angry eyes. Although he explains little, Jacob’s newfound fury is clearly directed at the Cullens. Jacob later sneaks into Bella’s room. He’s not allowed to tell her what’s happened to him, so he urges her to remember a discussion they had months earlier. Bella remembers Jacob telling her stories of the “cold ones,” which was how she learned Edward was a vampire. Then she recalls the rest of the legend: The Quileute Indians were the sworn enemies of vampires. Sometimes, when vampires became problematic in the area, members of the tribe involuntarily became werewolves.

Once Bella realizes Jacob and his friends have become werewolves, she shares what she knows to help them find and destroy Victoria. Bella spends a great deal of time at La Push, where the werewolves are better able to protect her. One day, on her ever-present quest to hear Edward in her imagination, Bella dives off a high cliff into the water. Jacob rescues her from the rushing current just in time. She begins to wonder if she could be with Jacob romantically, even though she could never love him like she loves Edward.

As Jacob brings her home from her near-drowning, she sees one of the Cullens’ vehicles in her driveway. Jacob has a visceral reaction to the vampire smell, but Bella rushes into the house. Alice, Edward’s sister, is relieved to find Bella alive. With her special powers, Alice had foreseen Bella’s cliff dive and assumed she was suicidal. Alice stays a few days. She says Edward went off on his own after they left Forks, and she isn’t sure where he is. Jacob confronts Bella and urges her to choose to be with him. As they talk, the phone rings. Jacob answers and responds harshly. The caller, whom Jacob senses is Edward’s father, has asked for Charlie. Jacob responds, “He’s at the funeral.”

Charlie had gone to the funeral of a friend. The caller had been Edward. After hearing of Bella’s cliff dive from another sister, Edward assumes Charlie is at Bella’s funeral. Alice foresees Edward’s mix-up. She also foresees his plans to go to Italy and have the Volturi — the most powerful vampire clan — end his existence. He has no desire to live if Bella is dead.

Alice and Bella act quickly, leaving Charlie a garbled note and catching a plane to Italy. Alice explains that Edward is planning to expose himself publicly as a vampire, which would endanger the Volturi’s secret stronghold. The Volturi would have no choice but to destroy Edward. Alice foresees that Edward plans to show himself at noon in the middle of a festival. Once in Italy, the girls steal a car and race to the Volturi city. Bella rushes through the crowd, halting Edward in the nick of time. Their reunion is short-lived, as Volturi members usher Bella, Edward and Alice into their headquarters. They question and subtly threaten the trio, allowing them to go free only after Edward and Alice promise to turn Bella into a vampire soon.

After they’ve returned from Italy, Edward tells Bella he never stopped loving her and apologizes profusely for ending their relationship. Again, Bella says she wants to become a vampire, and Edward balks. Bella and Edward visit the Cullen home, where Bella asks the other family members to vote whether they want her to join them. Edward is out-voted, so he asks Bella to wait just a little longer. Then he asks her to marry him first. Bella hedges on the proposal, but the two promise to be together forever.

Charlie puts Bella under house arrest and remains skeptical of Edward. Bella ponders whether Victoria will endanger all of Bella’s loved ones, if the Volturi will come after her or if Jacob will die trying to protect her. Ultimately, she believes she can face anything with Edward by her side once more.

Christian Beliefs

Carlisle Cullen is the head of the Cullen family. His father was a clergyman with a harsh view of the world. While Carlisle doesn’t agree with his father’s brand of faith, he says he’s seen nothing in his 400 years that made him doubt the existence of God in some form or other.

Bella says her life is fairly devoid of faith. Charlie, who would call himself Lutheran, worships by the river with his fishing pole. Bella’s mom tried religion once, the way she tried pottery, tennis or French classes. Bella says she can’t imagine anyone, deity included, who wouldn’t be impressed by Carlisle’s efforts. She says she couldn’t appreciate any kind of heaven without Edward in it.

Edward and Carlisle both believe in God, heaven and hell. But while Carlisle has hope that he may not be eternally damned for being a vampire, Edward thinks all vampires have lost their souls. Edward fears if he turns Bella into a vampire, he will be damning her. In an effort to make Bella understand Edward’s struggle, Carlisle asks her what she would do if she thought her actions would put Edward’s soul in jeopardy.

The Volturi’s city holds an annual celebration in honor of a martyred Christian missionary who supposedly drove the vampires from the city. Alice says the story is nonsense because the “missionary” is actually a member of the Volturi.

Other Belief Systems

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.

Jacob tells Bella about old Quileute Indian legends. Some, he says, date back to the biblical flood. Ancient Indians supposedly tied their canoes to the tops of the tallest trees to survive, such as Noah and the ark. Other legends say his tribe descended from wolves. He tells Bella how the “cold ones” (vampires) were their mortal enemies, and some Quileutes turned into werewolves to battle the vampires. Jacob and the other werewolves can hear each other’s thoughts.

Bella says Edward looks like a pagan god of beauty. She says her friend Jacob is a gift from the gods. When Bella sees the broken motorcycles for sale, she calls it kismet. She is awed by the aura of love and contentment surrounding a LaPush couple. Bella has a propensity for clumsiness and considers herself generally to have bad luck. After the birthday party incident, Bella has a premonition that the following day will be even worse. For a brief moment, Bella wonders if it’s wrong to be so involved with myths and legends and to turn her back on the real world.

Authority Roles

While Charlie loves Bella, he has little parenting experience and is easily fooled by her lies and omissions. He decides to send her back to her mother when she becomes depressed. Charlie becomes firmer in his discipline after Bella returns from her unauthorized trip to Italy. Bella’s mother and stepfather live in Florida. Bella primarily communicates with her mother via email. 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.

Parental disrespect is ongoing in Bella’s home. Bella leaves for Italy, providing little explanation to her father. She excuses her behavior as an “emergency,” and she continues to allow Edward into her room, even after she’s grounded. She tells her father he can’t make her leave Forks to return to her mother because she won’t go.

Profanity & Violence

The book includes a few dozen uses of words like h—, d—, crap, pissed and sucks. Werewolves spar with each other and fight vampires, though the violence isn’t graphic. Volturi members herd a group of unsuspecting tourists into a conference room. From down the hall, Bella and Edward hear the tourists screaming as the Volturi feed on them.

Being immortal, vampires can’t commit suicide in any traditional manner. When Edward thinks Bella is dead and he no longer wants to exist, he tries to convince the Volturi to destroy him. When Carlisle first learned he’d become a vampire, he tried to kill himself repeatedly. Then he chose to live as a good person and do the best he could with the circumstances he’d been given.

Sexual Content

Edward and Bella kiss frequently, often urgently. They engage in a great deal of sensual caressing. 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. He typically sneaks into her room at night to hold her and watch her sleep.

Bella’s passion for Edward is obsessive. Despite the fact that he’s drawn to her scent and has to struggle not to devour her (literally), she demonstrates no concern for her personal safety. She’s even willing to forfeit her soul to damnation if that’s what it takes for her to be with him eternally. She tells herself love is irrational; the more you love someone, the less sense anything makes. When Edward leaves her, she feels life no longer has any meaning. She is physically and emotionally devastated. Though she wouldn’t kill herself for her parents’ sakes, she says death would have been a welcome relief.

Bella awakens from months of a zombie-like depressed state only after she discovers that she can produce hallucinations of Edward by creating adrenaline rushes in her body. For the sake of the hallucinations, she engages in reckless behaviors including speeding on motorcycles and diving off of high cliffs.

Spending time with Jacob helps pull Bella out of her depression. Soon, she feels empty without him. She wonders if she’s developing a new kind of addiction. She later says she needs Jacob like a drug.

Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments

Lying: Bella frequently lies about her feelings and emotions. She lies to friends, Charlie and even Edward. 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. When Bella is trying to escape an enemy vampire, she hears a voice in her head telling her to lie to him. Hoping to save Bella’s life, Edward lies and says he no longer wants to be with her.

Theft: Bella and Alice steal a car as they rush to keep Edward from killing himself. , 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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