Reviewed by Morgan Elektra
Written by Stephenie Meyer
Published by Little, Brown Young Readers
**WARNING – This review will contain spoilers. If you don’t want to know specific details of the Twilight saga, you can close your eyes and think of England. **
So, you’re a new author whose first novel about a young woman who meets and falls in love with a vampire has become a huge hit. Your male lead is, in the mind of thousands of young (and some not so young) women, a romantic hero the likes of Shakespeare’s Romeo or Austen’s Mr. Darcy. What do you do for your follow up?
Well, if you’re Stephenie Meyer, you begin your second novel about the young couple with your heroine getting a paper cut in a room full of vampires, falling into a table full of crystal plates, slicing her arm open, and coming within an inch of painful death at the teeth of her beloved’s adopted brother. Then, to make things more interesting, you send away your tortured hero for almost the entire duration of the book.
The paper cut scene, which takes place at the Cullen’s house while they’re celebrating Bella’s 18th birthday, is great. It’s tense, emotional, and reminds the reader that there is more to Bella and Edward’s story than just romance. She risks her life every day she’s with him, though not from Edward. He had to confront his lust for her blood in the climax of “>Twilight (review), when she was bitten by another vampire and Edward had to suck out the venom to keep her from becoming one of them.
As you see, the precedent has been set for Edward trying to protect Bella at any cost. So Edward’s decision to take his entire family and leave Forks comes as no surprise to anyone but Bella. But we’re only 84 pages into a 500 + page book. Our romantic hero is gone. What now?
Here’s the downside. Bella is heartbroken at the loss of her true love, which is understandable. And Meyer conveys that pain well; too well at times. Her descriptions of Bella’s feelings were so vivid they called to mind some of my more painful memories. And there are a lot those descriptions, as Bella is torn up for the majority of the story; after awhile it became somewhat emotionally exhausting. Thankfully, for both Bella and myself, she attempts to distract herself from the depression in a number of ways.
She finds that when she puts herself in danger, she can hear Edward’s voice, talking to her – often yelling at her to quit doing something stupid. While I understand that Meyer used the device both to convey an important point at the end of the story, and to keep Edward close in our minds, it’s still fairly wince-inducing. Thankfully, the instances are few and far between. Bella purchases a pair of motorcycles and persuades her friend Jacob Black to help her fix them up and teach her to ride, which results in the real distraction from the constant pain (both hers and ours) of Edward’s absence – Jacob’s presence. He’s a warm, fun and charming character who’s a joy to spend time with.
Jacob was introduced briefly in Twilight, a young boy from the nearby Quileute reservation who tells Bella of the tribe’s legends of their descent from werewolves, and about the wolves’ mortal enemy, the vampire. It’s his stories that lead Bella to initially realize what Edward truly is. These legends come into play again and again throughout the series, to the chagrin and amusement of various characters.
The time the two spend fixing the bikes, riding them and searching for the meadow where Edward and Bella spent the day in the first book (once Bella’s injuries become too numerous for her father to chalk up to her simple clumsiness) is generally amusing and an easy read. Although it feels as if there’s too much of this between Edward’s departure and the next big development – which occurs when a dejected Bella, distressed over Jacob’s sudden withdrawal from their friendship, manages to find the meadow and is confronted by Laurent (one of the vampire coven from Twilight, who’s coven leader James hunted Bella in the book’s dénouement) and his revelation that James’ mate Victoria is hellbent on revenging her lover’s murder by killing Bella. Laurent kindly offers to spare Bella the torture by eating her himself, when a pack of gigantic wolves chases him away.
Still, it takes a late night visit from a distraught Jacob, who begs Bella to remember ALL the legends he told her, for her to catch up with what the reader most likely already know: Jacob is a werewolf. Much like she did when she realizes what Edward was, Bella accepts the truth of the matter fairly quickly and her friendship with Jacob returns to almost normal. Now that the big secret is out Bella doesn’t have much to do. She struggles still with her pain and worries about Jacob as he and his pack hunt Victoria (werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies, after all), and hangs around the Quileute reservation. This portion of the book is all somewhat tiresome, without even the benefit of having Jacob around to lighten the mood, as he’s mostly out running patrols.
Things pick up again once Bella, bored and sad, decides to go cliff diving in an attempt to hear Edward’s voice again. She nearly drowns, but is rescued by Jacob. It’s at this point that Alice, Edward’s psychic sister, re-enters the story. She saw Bella jump and thought she killed herself; her vision is incomplete due to the fact that she can’t “see” werewolves and therefore didn’t see the rescue. Edward, believing Bella dead, heads to Italy to ask the Volturi (some very old vampires who are somewhat of the disciplinarians of the undead world) to kill him. Bella and Alice have to rush to Italy to stop him. Much like Twilight., I felt the writing switched gears rather abruptly and raced towards the end. Once again it was fairly disconcerting, though the end was interesting. Meyer’s confrontations are almost always more emotional and verbal than physical, and that’s the case again in New Moon as we meet the Voluturi, the grasping Aro and vindictive Caius. And of course, Bella and Edward win the day and return home to Forks in each other’s arms, though some things have changed.
For one, Alice promised the Volturi she would change Bella, much to Edward’s displeasure. He’s still against her being anything but human, which leads to Bella calling for his family to vote whether she should remain human or not. Also, Jacob and Bella’s relationship is now strained by Edward’s return and the hatred between the two species. Meyer references Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet several times throughout the story, and it’s an apt comparison as far as emotions go. Although it’s more as if this particular Juliet isn’t a Capulet herself, but best friends with one. Much like that story, this one doesn’t end all that happily either, at least in this chapter. Bella has Edward back, but loses Jacob.
So, here is where I am torn. If I were to score this novel simply on how entertaining it was, it would get fairly high marks. The characters are wonderful. They’re really Meyer’s greatest strength. The story is interesting, full of emotion and laughter and pain. And while I was reading it, I enjoyed the hell out of it. But once I’ve put it down, and have distance from the satisfaction of the moment, I have to admit it is a deeply flawed book. The story, while interesting and engaging, is much too long and the big plot points feel rushed. The writing is solid, but overly descriptive and full of unnecessary recaps of the last book. It’s like an 11 course meal. While you’re eating it, you’re happy. All the food tastes good. But afterwards, your stomach hurts and, if you were honest, the meal would have been perfect if you cut out five or six of those courses.
Overall, if you liked the first book, you’re going to like this follow up. You get to know our old characters better, and you get some great new characters like Jacob, Embry and Quil and of course you get more Bella and Edward. But it should have been edited down significantly. With judicious editing, it could be a solid first part to a more encompassing story. It only works in the larger picture of the Twilight saga, not really on its own. This isn’t a game changer. If you aren’t a fan, this one will not sell it for you, though you may enjoy it on a surface level. And if you already ARE a fan, then this one isn’t going to sour you on it. After the strength of the first book though, I was definitely left wanting something more.
2 1/2 out of 5
Discuss New Moon in the Dread Central forums!
The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!
Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey
Directed by Alan Lougher
The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.
When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”
Ultimately chilling in nature!
DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!
Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon
Directed by Adrian Corona
I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.
Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.
Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.
Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.
If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.
Director Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended!
Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review – A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form
Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes
Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace
“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.
That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.
Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?
At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play
second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?
These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.
Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?
It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.
If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.
Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End brings closure to hungry fans in all the ways they’d hope – albeit turned down a notch through animation. Over-the-top kills and headbanging metal riffs still reign supreme, they’re just drawn by hand instead of oozing practical effects this time.
The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!
Chiller Channel Will Be Discontinued This January
Another WolfCop Gets Another Poster via The Dude Designs
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 140 – Pet Sematary 2
Night of the Living Dead 4K and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection
Director Says New Suspiria Film Isn’t a Remake
7 Freddy’s Nightmares Episodes That Should’ve Been Movies
First Look at Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass
Ama Lea Talks This Saturday’s Year of Fear and Prom Night Massacre at Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum in Burbank, CA
Hellraiser: Judgment Director Speaks Out: “[The Film Contains] NO Animal Torture”
The Walking Dead Season 7 Limited Edition Box Set – Unboxing Video
Desolation Trailer Goes Off Trail
More Exclusive Stills from Devil’s Whisper
Talent to Attend Dread Central’s Bicoastal Screenings for The Night Watchmen Next Week in NY and LA
Wanna See Something REALLY Scary? Sharks Attack Mini-Sub
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
From Around the Web
News4 days ago
What if the Best Synth Scores Are For Horror Films That Don’t Really Exist?
News3 days ago
Exclusive: Dark Horse Announces Three New Hellboy Collections and We Have the Covers
News4 days ago
Deadpool Game Immediately Being Removed From Storefronts
News4 days ago
Ever Wondered What Happened to Hellraiser’s Kirsty After The Hellbound Heart?
Reviews1 day ago
Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date
News6 days ago
Jason Momoa Teases Corin Hardy’s The Crow Reborn
News6 days ago
Netflix’s New Series Dark Gets an Official Trailer and Poster
News5 days ago
Sony Prepping Morbius Movie