This book purposefully parallelled Romeo and Juliet in many aspects, and that was interesting. Again the inner conflict and character struggles were fairly well played out. The character jumps to wrong conclusions several times in her self-consciousness, but who hasn't done that at one time or another?
This book increased in language and mature content (see Theme and Other Items of Note) and so earns itself a Strongly Cautioned rating.
New Moon (Book Two in the Twilight Saga),
by Stephanie Meyer
Summary: When the Cullens, including her beloved Edward, leave Forks rather than risk revealing that they are vampires, it is almost too much for eighteen-year-old Bella to bear, but she finds solace in her friend Jacob until he is drawn into a "cult" and changes in terrible ways.
THEMES: Vampires; werewolves; high school; Romeo and Juliet; suicide attempts; depression; co-dependency
FOUL LANGUAGE: ZERO occurrences
SOFT LANGUAGE (heard on cable TV): 20 occurrences [ 6 "hell" as an expletive, 6 D-words, 8 C-words]
VIOLENCE: Edward the male lead character asks for help in taking his life when he thinks that Bella is dead. When refused he plans a suicide attempt.
There is an old "royal" family of vampires who bring in unsuspecting guests, for dinner. Literally. This is not revealed in a glamorous light, nevertheless it is present.
There is verbal cruelty among some of the characters where they wound one another with the things that they say, this is usually regretted later, however.
SEXUAL CONTENT: Because the couple are separated for a good majority of the book, we do not see the indulgent intimacy to the extent that we did in the last book, until the end.
During their separation Bella spends a lot of time with her best friend, Jacob. Though she knows he has feelings for her she needs his comfort stronger than she wants to protect his heart. She toys with "making him belong to her" just so that she can keep him around, even though she doesn't love him as much as Edward.
Later, as in the first book, what is especially concerning is that when Bella and Edward are together, she can tell when Edward is "thirsty" because of the color of his eyes, and she knows that her scent is an exceptional temptation to him and yet she does not protect him or herself by keeping a mature and safe distance, or maintaining some modest integrity. He constantly has to push her away in order to save her life.
This is a situation that I would hope young Christians would not emulate in their own perseverance in purity. Love is not love when you cause the object of your affection to stumble and lust.
DRUG USE: ZERO occurences, though Bella's blood is described as having a siren call over Edward and smelling like his own personal brand of heroin. I don't think anyone under wise counsel would encourage a recovering drug addict to inhale, hug and kiss a heroin pipe and then set it aside only when it becomes too much of a temptation to indulge entirely in your addiction.
Very foolish. We are exhorted to "watch and pray so that [we] will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41) The measure of our faith is not how close we can get to sin without crossing the line, but how well, by the grace of God, we flee from it.
BLASPHEMY: ZERO occurrences of using God's name as an expletive.
REFERENCES TO AND GENERAL ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD: There are conversations that necessitate the existence of God, and yet they mostly avoid any truth.
pg. 36 there is a discussion between Carlisle (Edward's adopted father) and Bella. He says that in his nearly four hundred years he's never seen anything to make him doubt whether God exists in some form or the other. (see Romans 1:18-32, and James 2:19-- this general belief is not enough to save. Even the demons believe God exists, and they tremble. Yet they are still condemned.)
Bella admits that her life is fairly void of belief.
Carlisle hits the final nail when he says, "But I hope, maybe foolishly, that we'll get some measure of credit for trying."
That is salvation by works. No one can earn their way into God's kingdom by good behavior. Only salvation by grace, through faith, by repentance and clinging to the cross with the strength that the indwelling Holy Spirit supplies to those who are the Lord's.
There is a point where Edward says that claiming that he didn't love Bella was "the very blackest kind of blasphemy". I think they've confused the meaning of blasphemy. Unger's Bible Dictionary explains that blasphemy signifies the speaking of evil of God, to curse the name of the Lord, or to give the attributes of God to a creature.
Bella is guilty of this every time she speaks of Edward's "perfection". No one is perfect, but God.
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE: There is an alarming aversion to marriage by the main character, Bella. Granted her parents made a mess of their marriage, and her mother drilled it into her to take marriage seriously and not marry too early. That is sound advice to an extent, but the character has made the mistake of making "marriage" the bad guy even though she has firmly professed her undying love for Edward and her intent to commit herself to him for "eternity" (a promise she cannot keep as a human). She has, as a result, a skewed and unhealthy view of the marriage covenant.
There is the continued admission that the characters (Bella and Edward) do not have the discipline to not do potentially hurtful things to the people they claim to love, and therefore they write off even trying for the sake of selfish indulgence. (pg. 513 is an example)
Bella repeatedly breaks her father's explicitly stated household rules, contending that she is legally an adult and threatens to move out (visibly hurting her father with the threat) whenever he tries to discipline or admonish her. Though she regrets hurting him, she feels completely justified in dishonoring him in this way.
on pg. 514 Edward tells Bella: "I'm not as stong as you give me credit for. Right and wrong have ceased to mean much to me."
Not a great message to be feeding the youth.
There is also a terrible amount of co-dependency happening between the two characters, setting the reader up to believe that when they fall in love, they will not be able to function with any degree of joy if the person they love is not with them. And that if they die there is no reason to go on living.
There is an ongoing struggle between the characters since Bella wants to become a vampire so that she can live forever with Edward, and he doesn't want her to become a vampire because he fears that you lose your soul when you become one, thus forfeiting heaven.
When the characters reunite, Bella foolishly states, "If you stay, I don't need heaven." (pg. 547) This elevates Edward in his importance and worth far above the value of being in the presence of God to worship Him and enjoy Him forever. I hope that this tragic (and ultimately evil) attitude never takes up residence in the hearts or minds of young Believers because it has been presented as sentimental and sweet in this book.
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The thing that first attracted me to these books were the simple, lovely covers. I didn't know anything about the content, but the covers caught my attention. I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover. Anyway, by the time I received the book from my www.paperbackswap.com wishlist I had a general knowledge of the book's theme. I am not really into vampire novels, so it got shelved while I was busy reading other material.
Then I heard that my young cousin was reading the book, so I decided then was as good a time to start as any.
I will say this for the book: it is well-written, with mostly compelling struggles (albeit in a very fictitious world). The voice of the main character is witty and entertaining so that, as a reader, you don't mind being in her head.
I am glad, though, that I have read three of the books so far before posting this review. The books rise in mature themes and content, therefore I need to mark this with a firm "Use Discernment", and the rating will go up as the series goes on. So keep this in mind if you are considering reading this book. You will most likely want to read the rest and the themes get increasingly questionable. More details follow in the break-down of criteria.
Twilight, (Book One in the Twilight Saga)
by Stephanie Meyer
Library of Congress Summary: When seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, she meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human.
THEMES: Vampires; High school; first love; keeping secrets; temptation
FOUL LANGUAGE: ZERO occurrences
SOFT LANGUAGE (heard on cable TV): 3 occurrences (D-words)
VIOLENCE: This is a vampire novel, so there are "bad" vampires who attack and kill or attempt to kill people.
SEXUAL CONTENT: There are scenes of impassioned kissing, with little restraint. Love is supposed to be the acceptable excuse for why they can hardly control themselves.
DRUG USE: ZERO occurrences
BLASPHEMIES: ZERO occurrences
REFERENCES TO AND GENERAL ATTITUDE TOWARD GOD: God is very decisively avoided, although the lead male character comments: "I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly." (pg. 87)
OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE: The following details are concerning...
The relationship between the main character and the male lead is presented as very romantic and something to be sought after, but, besides the fact that he is a vampire and she is human, there are some very unhealthy roots to their relationship.
Bella, the main character, has the classic bad-boy syndrome. She is enthralled with the idea that her romantic interest could be dangerous but chooses not to be. She also has a very unhealthy view of Edward, the male lead. Repeatedly she refers to his "perfection" and that he is a "godlike creature" (pg. 256). It seems that her affection for him closely resembles obsession, and not in a poetic way.
There is a scene on page 103 where Edward displays odd outrage and controlling tendencies and this is never apologized for or resolved, just forgotten. He also sneaks into her room via the window (without her knowledge) and watches her sleep. Creepy-- but it is presented as very endearing because of his curious and protective intentions. After she finds out about this, he continues-- with her permission now-- all the while deceiving her father. Although they do not actually have sex, they are "playing married" with their emotions and intimacy and successfully pretend she is alone and sleeping when her dad comes to check on her. Again, this is all supposed to be romantic, and excused because of their uncontrollable "love" for one another.
Time and again, Edward speaks of not having the willpower to stay away from her although he knows that it is in her best interest, safety-wise, to do so. And she lacks the strength to maintain self-control when she kisses him, and instead pushes the limits.
Hopefully this information will help you in making a decision about this book. Keep in mind, also, that this is the mildest in subject matter of the first three of the four books. I don't want young Christians to feed into the notion that this is the way to love someone, or the way to be loved.
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