(Please read part one here, before starting with this).
New Moon is difficult to digest for a lot of reasons.
The book begins with Bella’s eighteenth birthday party, where she is almost killed by one of Edward’s vampiric siblings after getting a paper cut; he smells the blood from her finger and tries to attack her. For Edward, this event triggers a depressive panic as he thinks of himself as a monster in Bella’s life who will eventually kill her.
Edward’s best character trait is how much of an undeniable drama queen he is. Yes, his fears are all valid, given that Bella herself is a massive, moronic klutz with no sense of self-preservation, but it takes two to tango.
Bella, seeing nothing wrong with what happened at her birthday party (of course), carries on with her life as usual. Edward, though, breaks up with her and leaves Forks without a trace. Both the book and the movie do a great job showing Bella’s reaction, which is a deep depression.
This behavior emphasizes the toxic nature of her relationship to Edward – no one in a healthy partnership would respond the way she did. In fact, Bella misses him so much that every time she is in danger, a hallucination of him appears in her mind warning her to stay away/run/etc. She starts purposefully putting herself in harm's way just to hear her own hallucination of Edward’s voice.
I have so much to say about this that I am (ironically) at a loss for words. Let’s move on.
In her thrill-seeking quest, Bella meets up with her childhood friend Jacob Black to repair some motorcycles together. Though she only seeks him out for this purpose, Bella ultimately finds Jacob’s company to be really nice, and she starts to slowly heal from the emotional wounds Edward inflicted. Together they rebuild the bikes, but Jacob starts to develop romantic feelings for Bella and eventually, all hell breaks loose.
And by that, I mean Jacob starts turning into a giant wolf.
This is where I must address the exploitation of indigenous people in Meyer’s work. The Quileute Tribe, to which the fictional character Jacob Black belongs, is a very real group of indigenous peoples whose reservation is located in La Push, Washington, near Forks. The negative impact of Meyer’s work on this tribe is undeniable.
Meyer misrepresents the Quileute people by appropriating their history and misrepresenting their culture. Since the publication of Twilight, websites have been created to correct her mistakes. Truth vs. Twilight is a great one to start with, as it has a point-by-point explanation of everything unjust the saga did toward the Quileute people.
Meyer also exploits indigenous men, hypersexualizes them and stereotypes them as violent. She even goes as far as to normalize domestic violence in native communities through the character Emily, which the essay above also touches base on.
Meyer is racist. This is made even more evident through her obsession with white skin. This was a point I paid close attention to while I read the books, and I was utterly appalled by how much she revered “alabaster” skin. For the movies, Meyer actually insisted on only casting white people – according to Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first film, Alice was originally supposed to be Japanese.
Unfortunately, Twilight is here to stay, but as consumers, we have individual control over how much we contribute to the damage Meyer promulgates through her writing.
To keep money out of Meyer’s pockets, I illegally downloaded all four of her books in preparation for this piece, and I’ll be doing the same for Midnight Sun when it is released. I also recommend either buying the books second-hand or checking them out at your public library. Additionally, don’t buy any Twilight merch, as much of it appropriates indigenous art (like Jacob’s tattoo).
Save yourself the money you’d spend on a racist white woman’s work, and instead donate it to the Quileute people, who are currently trying to relocate parts of their community due to tsunami and flooding danger. You can find more information about the project here.
Now that the ugly truth of this widely popular series is out on the table, let’s continue with New Moon.
So why is Jacob suddenly turning into a massive wolf? As per Meyer’s racist canon, the presence of vampires near the Quileute tribe triggers a gene that makes this transformation occur. So, something sinister is lurking in the shadows of the perpetually sunless Forks.
Victoria is back in town and she’s hunting Bella.
If you recall from my Twilight analysis, Victoria is the partner of James who was killed by the Cullens. As the vengeful ex-girlfriend, Victoria is the main villain of both the second and third book. She’s smart, determined and clever; both actresses who play her throughout the franchise are amazing.
Victoria is not alone, though. When James was killed, she had one other coven member to turn to: fellow nomad Laurent. In New Moon, Laurent finds Bella alone in a meadow, where she came to see if Edward’s hallucination would appear to her. Only someone as moronic as Bella would blindly stumble around alone in the woods just for the chance to see an apparition of her ex.
Instead, Bella finds herself alone with Laurent, who tells her Victoria is in the area and that he’s here to kill her. It is in this scene that Bella first sees the wolves. They’re an impressive force to behold, but because Bella is an idiot, she doesn’t realize it's Jacob and his friends. It takes him jumping through her window in the middle of the night with half-formed explanations for her to realize her best friend was the one who saved her from Laurent in the meadow.
If it weren’t for the (constantly open) window in her bedroom, I think Bella’s life would be as boring as she is.
Anyway, Bella now spends most of her time at the reservation, both hoping and fearing that the wolves find Victoria soon. She and Jacob hang out a lot, and even make plans to go cliff diving together, as it’s a popular recreational activity in the area. Eventually, Bella decides she’s tired of waiting for Jacob and jumps by herself. She is, of course, absolutely thrilled to be scolded by her Edward hallucination as she dives hundreds of feet into the ice cold Pacific Northwest ocean.
Miraculously, the dumbass survives the waves, but nearly drowns. Jacob pulls her out of the water just in the nick of time.
Bella almost drowning spurs one of Edward’s siblings, Alice, to return to Forks. In addition to being a vampire, Alice is also psychic and can see the future based on what decisions people make, so she saw Bella jumping. Though initially not a big issue, Alice tells her vampiric sister Rosalie she is returning to Forks to check on Bella, and Rosalie passes along the information to Edward.
Having spent the last several months of his life in a self-loathing depressive state, Edward is now thoroughly convinced the love of his life is dead. This is where New Moon starts to reach its climax, as Alice sees a vision of Edward flying to Italy to kill himself. Always one for dramatics, Edward is a gemini through and through.
In Stephenie Meyer’s canon, vampires don’t die easily – poison, sunlight, etc. won’t work. So, Edward has to request his suicide at the hands of an immortal family called the Volturi (they’re like the vampire equivalent of monarchs). To keep vampires alive as a species they enforce only one rule: secrecy. No human can know of the existence of vampires.
The Volturi refuse Edward’s death wish; they think he’d make a useful addition to their coven. So, this dumbass decides to reveal the existence of vampires to humanity by walking into a crowded plaza shirtless in the middle of the day. In case you’ve never seen the films or read the books, vampires sparkle in sunlight. (To Stephenie Meyer, this apparently makes perfect biological sense.)
Bella manages to stop Edward just as he steps foot into the very public plaza. The two are then carted off to the Volturi, where they decide not to kill either of them, so long as Bella is turned into a vampire soon. It’s all very dramatic and sudden, leaving fans to eagerly anticipate the events that unfurl in the next installment of the saga.