So finally we arrive at the third book in the Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer, Eclipse, the book that deserves the hype that has swept the world over volume one and its recent film adaptation. I'm assuming for the purposes of this review that you have read the first two novels in the series and that I can reasonably reference plot developments in both Twilight and New Moon without spoiling it for anyone. Those that have read my reviews of the first two books (the links are below if you have not...) will know that I have sat somewhat on the fence with Twilight, perhaps less so with New Moon, because without wishing any disrespect to Stephanie Meyer, both are books with either flaws or setbacks. I'm not going to be doing that with Eclipse because I'm confident that it will remain among my favourite novels for quite some time to come. It is, quite simply, an outstanding piece of fiction.
Eclipse is in many respects a natural improvement upon Meyer's first to books in the saga. The first clue to the book being something quite special indeed is in the plot itself. At the end of the previous book, New Moon, we see the inevitable love triangle between Vampire Edward, Human Bella and Werewolf Jacob final solidify ready for what the reader could reasonably assume is going to be a lovely tug of war
between the supernatural beings with Bella as the chew toy. Not my idea of a good book. I was dreading reading Eclipse, even the preview chapter at the end of my copy of New Moon gave me little hope. I put
off starting the thing because I was so sure that was how it would be, and I couldn't bear the thought of watching Edward turn into a green-eyed monster and losing all of his most noble and interesting character traits to follow a very standard, very tedious plot line. I Was Wrong. It's been known. My apologies to Stephanie Meyer for my lack of faith. The book takes a sharp left turn part way through and suddenly it's a fencing match instead of a tug of war, one that leaves Bella breathing room to explore her feelings and does justice to the two male leads.
Action sequences have also been one of my criticisms of Meyer's saga in the past, and by action I don't necessarily mean explosions, car chases etc but actually something occurring within the text beyond Bella's inner monologue. The conclusion of New Moon felt like Meyer had been personally channelling my reservations and was determined to give me an action sequence I'd never forget, and mission accomplished she proceeds in Eclipse to throw brilliantly original and well executed action sequences that improve the pacing of the overall book immensely.
But I'm writing as if all Meyer really does in Eclipse is solve the issues I had with the previous two volumes, and that's far from the truth. The story and writing as whole is stronger. For example, the inner monologue of Bella, almost the trademark of the series, is at once its greatest strength and its most challenging feature as the books progress. I know from experience that writing first person, in the truest sense where only one characters perspective is known to the reader and no events outside their perceptions are described, is really very hard. It's hard in a novel like Twilight with limited movement of characters and limited agendas, but by Eclipse Meyer has successfully created a world with multiple factions, agendas and a great deal occurring "off-set". Proving that she is a novelist of the highest calibre, Meyer manages to fill in the necessary gaps without breaking the narrative and without changing the format completely. Clever little tricks are thrown in here and there to fill the reader in one the larger plot without compromising Bella's perspective. One such scene involves a half asleep Bella overhearing a conversation between her competing suitors, during which they are able to talk freely. Bella's perspective is unspoiled as she wakes unclear whether it was real, but the reader knows more about Edward and Jacob's personal motivations as a result. The book is full of ideas, as you come to expect from Meyer, and all of them are so perfectly bound together that you'll find yourself reading faster than you can turn
pages to find out what happens next.
Even if Twilight and New Moon had been terrible to read, and they were very good indeed, it would have been worth ploughing through them for the unmitigated pleasure of Eclipse. Meyer raises the bar with every volume of the saga and it is Eclipse that truly deserves to be the novel people across the world lend to each other in coffee shops and rant about in online forums. I have yet to read the fourth volume in
the series, Breaking Dawn, but it is hard to imagine how Meyer could do a better job with it than she has with Eclipse. The scary part is that I have every faith that she has. Don't miss Eclipse. Don't stop
at New Moon. Take the day off, put your feet up, and savour it.