I must begin by saying again, this is surely the most compelling contemporary literature I’ve stumbled across. But then again, I’m not much in the habit of reading contemporary literature. Still, the author (Stephenie Meyer) is undoubtedly skillful in creating suspense. This book is by far my favorite of the four.
After a close call in his own home, Edward realizes his presence is continually putting his beloved Bella in danger. His response? He breaks up with her, assuring her that he no longer wants to be with her, and leaves, taking his family with him. Bella retreats into a zombie-like state, revealing throughout the book that her whole world was and is centered around Edward, and in his absence, “life, love, meaning… over.” (pg 73, 106, 201)
The unhealthiness of the relationship between Edward and Bella grows stronger yet, even from the first page. The book begins with a quote from Romeo and Juliet, “These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which as they kiss, consume.” Each takes that place in the life of the other which only God was intended to fill. And they fail each other over and over again, as is perhaps one of the only real Truths communicated in this book. The Lord is the only one steadfast in love and faithfulness, the only One who never fails. Watching Edward and Bella fail to learn this is like driving past a bad car accident – I don’t really want to see, but I can’t look away. The examples are numerous and the disturbing images of blasphemy grow more vivid, even Edward is now guilty of it as well, as he describes his life without Bella much like regenerate believers explain life before and after Christ (pg 510, 514). Bella hears and responds to Edward’s voice (pg. 4,111) in the same way that the sheep respond to the voice of the Shepherd in John 10:27 and 3-4. The book is wrought with professions that each clearly prefers death to life without the other. Edward even attempts suicide when he mistakenly believes that Bella has killed herself.
Bella remains as unkind and ungracious as ever. Throughout the first chapter, she quite brazenly refuses the kindness and generosity of Edward and his family, even on her birthday. (ch 1) She is also utterly incapable of recognizing what is morally beautiful about the Cullens (pg. 35, 53) – and believe me, there is no shortage of moral beauty in the Cullen family, particularly with the father, Carlisle. (see pg. 33-37) His life is a brilliant picture of redemption and conquering sinful desires of the flesh. He has conditioned himself to reject his besetting sin through years of self-control and service. He has redeemed the time, taking the very tools he was given to destroy life and now uses them to SAVE life. He is doubtless the most admirable of the characters, yet he advocates legalism in hope of salvation from God, though he presents it rather humbly. He is a believer in God and though he believes that vampires are “damned regardless”, he still hopes that “maybe we’ll get some measure of credit for trying.” If good works were the way to achieve a right standing with God, then he would be right. However, righteousness and mercy come from God only by faith in Christ the Savior. While I’m impressed by Carlisle, Jesus is certainly not. (Isaiah 64:5-6) For all the admirable goodness, self-control, and moral beauty of Carlisle and Edward, the truth remains that we are justified by FAITH and not by works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) The author continues pushing the idea that vampires are really angels through her descriptive language (pg 20). But I think it matters little whether we’re discussing angels or demons, vampires or humans, in a fictional story or on a street corner in your neighborhood, because truth is not relative, but absolute. The afterlife that exists for demons and all who are in rebellion against God and not trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the lake of fire- eternal punishment and separation from God, NOT annihilation. (Revelation 20:14-15, 10) But all this discussion of heaven and hell and eternity is a moot point for Bella, who makes clear that her concept of hell is life without Edward (pg. 503), even going so far as to say to Edward after his return, “If you stay, I don’t need heaven.” (pg 547)
I’m going to pause right here to say how shocked I am at how many Christian women have recommended this book to me. Even for all the suspenseful and compelling value of the books, you simply cannot get away from these kinds of heretical remarks for longer than a few chapters, at best. I suppose as secular romance novels go, the Twilight series is fairly tame, seeing as the characters are abstinent. But their abstinence is a necessity for her safety, not a choice based on conviction. (pg. 16) Also, the book is choc full of wrong concepts of forgiveness, blame, and accepting responsibility. (pg. 506-507, 513, 554, 43, 44) I should hope most of the grown women are reading with discernment, confronting the lies as such and enjoying the fiction for fiction’s sake. But I feel a stronger burden on my heart for the young girls reading these books, who are already so prone to teen idols. So many poor role models, and Bella probably the worst of them all.
In Edward’s absence, Bella develops a very intimate friendship with Jacob Black, a younger Native American teen whose father is best friends with Bella’s. Her relationship with Jacob is certainly more healthy than her relationship with Edward, but no less codependent. She manipulates him endlessly, playing with his affections though she knows it’s wrong, and communicates verbally that they are just friends, but physically that she wants more. (pg. 211-219, 343, 374-375) Though she admits that her heart still belongs to Edward, she does have a genuine selfless love for Jacob. Sadly, she never chooses to do the right thing by him. Instead, chooses selfishly to do what is comforting to her at his expense. Fortunately for Bella, Jacob is a safe choice for her rebound man. He makes his intentions clear and persistently pursues her, choosing to stay with her at great expense to himself as the boundaries between them become increasingly blurred. As the book progresses, Jacob turns into a werewolf as do five others of his tribe. The sole purpose of these wolves is to protect the tribe from vampires, the mortal enemies of the wolves. (Tensionnn…) In the clinch, she chooses Edward and the book ends with allusions that her complicated friendship with Jacob will suffer yet more for it.