Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There Are Scarier Things Than Monsters

This blog is going to be a book review. And lengthy. That will probably put most of you off right there. But it is my blog, darn it, I guess it can be whatever I want it to be! My book club this month read "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. Now, just 4 days after our meeting, the sequel "New Moon" has likewise spread like wildfire among our group.

Both books are page turners, to say the least.

Meyer's plot is clever and fresh with a young protagonist--all of these things make for excellent popular reading. Or even good critical reading. She has certainly created a formula here that will no doubt carry her easily through the rest of the series; there are five books planned.

Now, here is where we move from book review to personal musing. (Again--my blog, my rules.) Maybe if I had read the sequel yesterday when it was sunny I wouldn't feel quite the way I do. Instead I read it today when it rained all and the snow has begun tonight. It is a good setting in which to read dark stories about werewolves and vampires.

Through both books I keep feeling this mild disturbance tugging at the fringes of my mind. I have been unsure about my disturbance until I neared the end of the second volume. Now, I have begun to put a finger on my trepidation and hope that by writing some of my thoughts I will get even closer to my faint distaste.

Despite the deeply romantic element in these stories (a thing that usually gets me sailing on cloud nine for days after I read such a novel), I do not find myself with a good feeling at the end of them. There is something so obsessive about the love the two protagonists share for one another that it is almost destructive. The Romeo and Juliet allegory in the second tome became almost unbearable. And while Bella, our brave and impulsive heroine, isn't so naive that she doesn't draw this comparison herself, there is a faint sense that she prefers the Romeo and Juliet story above all others, despite its idiotic and unneccessary ending. (No disrespect meant to Bill--I think he meant to point out Romeo and his Juliet for their foolishness.)

And I really hate what was done to Jacob. Since the beginning of the last book, I have loved this character. His connection with the earth and his vibrant humanity (even with his werewolf nature) have been a very bright spot in two otherwise very dark books. I think Mike's line in the second book when he tells Bella that "Girls are cruel," just about sums up a big part of this story for me. Some have complained that Bella is weak . . . well, Bella is human for sure. But she is frightening simply for the power she wields over any man who ends up remotely connected to her life.

Now, on a more personal note, another reason to find Meyer's stories somehow out of jive with what I can relate to. Many years ago I was engaged to a man I loved with everything in me. We were compatible in many ways and I was HIGHLY attracted to him. In my whole life I don't think I've met anyone with quite as much charm. I had a wedding dress and we set a date. (This week would be our ninth anniversary, actually.) I'd begun seeing photographers. And then he began dating somebody else--or did he just want to first and that was the reason we broke up? It doesn't matter at all now. Except for one thing: he left a gaping hole in me that Bella is so fond of bringing up in "New Moon." (The way she brings up having her breath taken away in the first; oh, and don't forget that she says "crap" about 20 times in the last 50 pages of the book. Not your most clever expression. Blood sucking vampires? More like holy s**t! Meyer doesn't shy away from the occassional damn or hell, which make some sense for these characters, but if the beautiful Bella pops out with "crap" one more time then I am going to start wondering what anyone can possibly see in her. But I digrees.)

Anyway, after this abrupt breakup, I did the zombie thing. My grades were impeccable that quarter. I went through the motions of every part of my life, knowing that if I for one minute gave into that aching explosion in my heart the hurt would overwhelm me until it crushed me. My friends and family spent months not daring to look me right in the eye for fear they would shatter the tremulous control I had on my life, or fear that I would start to cry and they would have to somehow find the right words to say--an impossible task. I know that I am not the only person this has happened to. Probably most everyone lives through something like this once.

Then, the healing started, even when I wasn't sure I wanted it to. Even when I knew that if he walked back into my life at any point during that time I would shatter to pieces all over again. I forgot his voice and his walk. I threw away 18 months worth of letters from him, willing the memories away. I recognized our relationship for how difficult and unhealthy it had actually been and I came to gradually accept that there might be a different path forward from the one I had expected.

And I learned the most powerful lesson of all: I was stronger than a broken heart. And while it would be a VERY long time (I even still dream about him some time) before I could let go of that last shred of memory and re-collect all the pieces of my heart, I knew that I would make it. I also came to see that what I really wanted to become was a happy, stable person all by myself. I never again wanted to depend completely on another person to fill my days with color. It is not fair to expect another person to complete every wish fulfillment; after all, I cannot do that for anyone else either.

Whew. Cathartic to get that all out. What I am saying is this--why are Bella and Edward so special that the loss of their love never heals? Why couldn't Bella have loved Jacob? Why couldn't Juliet have found a great measure of contentment as Paris' wife? At least then she would have lived! I want Isabella and Juliet and every woman to know the joy that comes from being in charge of their own lives.

Don't get me wrong--I think men are great. I love my husband dearly and we grow closer all the time. He is wonderful. But he is not a replacement for me. And any human heart can heal if we want it to be so and give it enough time. Maybe Bella is less human than Edward thinks she is . . . .

Still, the third installment comes sometime this summer and I am sure I will read it. *Sigh* I love a romance as well as the next girl, however twisted it may be. I guess I am as exactly as human the next 17 year old girl. Which, as Desmama said of "Twilight," that it painfully points out how much of that girl never left!


forecast calls for rain said...

I love how your last blog was a question just left to be answered. I feel like doing that all the time. I'm going to check out this book. I'll read any of your recommendations. Keep blogging about them so I know what to check out next. Her is a recommendation to never check-out...Beethovens Hair. It's as boring as it sounds. That's what my book club read this month. Lucky me.

on.the.run said...

I MISS YOU!!!! You are the best person to have a a book club, you come up with awesome books to read and your thoughts on them are always to wonderful. Now I will have to read these book and xome back and comment. Oh you.