‘Eclipse’ featured less mouth breathing and abs, but more disturbing relationship insights

Despite my one-time obsession with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, something was preventing me from getting incredibly excited about seeing “Eclipse,” the third installment in “The Twilight Saga,” the film adaptations of the bestselling books.

I mean, like “New Moon,” I knew it would feature Jacob’s killer abs (though far less in this film — bummer) and Bella’s usual angst. Eclipse was my favorite novel in the series, leading me to believe that I would enjoy that movie most. I was right — this was the film I liked best. But why wasn’t I wandering around town all starry-eyed after, slobbering about how good-looking Edward was? Why wasn’t I rushing off to buy “Eclipse” T-shirts and Twittering it up all weekend?

Well, I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that I’m almost 25 now. And yes, I know there are plenty of Twi-hards of all ages out there — and more power to them. But for me? I just feel older. And more cynical about the nature of Bella and Edward’s obsessive relationship.

Hearing them talk about marriage — Bella is 17 and a minor, at least for a little while longer — actually made my stomach turn. My sister and I both cringed when Edward saw the bracelet Jacob made for Bella, featuring a little wolf charm, and the unhappiness it brought him. He’s trying to control her. And we can argue it’s for her own safety, sure, considering there’s a red-headed psycho murderess vampire after her. But it goes beyond that, too — it runs deep. Depending on your view, he’s protective — or controlling. Maybe both. But either way, it left me feeling strange about the whole thing. And if you have to give up everything — everything — in order to be with someone, as Bella would have to for Edward, how can that be a healthy, sane relationship?

I just feel like it’s . . . disturbing. Setting a bad example for young women, for teenagers like my own young cousin. It worries me to think that 13-year-olds are looking at Edward and Bella’s dependency on one another and finding it “romantic,” a model for love to which to aspire. I’ve been in love, out of love and (happily!) in love again, and I’m not saying I’m The Expert On Romance And Relationships, but I know this: I respect myself enough to never believe, even for a moment, that I have to sacrifice everything in order to be with someone “forever.” That I would die — or rather die — than be away from him.

I mean, get some self-respect, girl.

Am I reading too much into it? Maybe. They are, after all, just books — and movies, too. But books change lives and attitudes, and books change people. Books this popular have the ability to change perspectives, no doubt about it — especially when people are so engrossed in them. I just hope it’s for the better.

But the movie? Well, the movie was good. Entertaining, and finally featured some action. If I had to listen to Bella sighing and stuttering and making strange facial expressions and breathing through her mouth for two hours without any action, I probably would have shoved my face in a bag of popcorn and never come up for air. But “Eclipse” was better than I expected, and I enjoyed seeing the scenes I once treasured played out — especially the infamous tent scene where our vampire-wolf-human love triangle comes to a head.

And I believed Jacob — I believed he really loved her. God knows why because girlfriend is a mess, but I didn’t for a minute question his feelings for her. Jake doesn’t see Bella in the “I have to have you, I can’t live without you” way that Edward does, so maybe some see his feelings as less ardent — but not so. And when Edward says that if Bella chose Jacob over him, he’d let her go, you know I didn’t buy that for a second.

But if Bella makes a big, stupid, ridiculous decision, Jake really will let her go. He wants her to be happy — even  if it’s not with him. He’ll set her free.

And that’s love. Or closer to it.

Musing Mondays: OMG Twilight!

musing_mondays This week’s Musing Mondays question from its new home at Just One More Page:

How do you feel about wide-spread reading phenomenons — Harry Potter, for instance, or the more current Twilight Saga? Are these books so widely read for a reason, or merely fads or crazes? Do you feel compelled to read — or NOT to read — these books because everyone else is?

Well, how incredibly topical is this?! Especially since I’m still riding ridiculously high from my Twilight-filled weekend (much more to come on that later, either to your joy or dismay).

I’ll be the first one to tell you I don’t usually jump in with the hype. Even when practically everyone I knew was reading the Harry Potter series — including my dad and sister — I stubbornly refused to read them, even though I never stopped hearing good things about them. My only rationale was that I didn’t “like” that type of book, and I thought, stupidly, they were just for children. I actually read the entire series last summer — books one through seven, all in a row — beginning around April and ending last September, after Deathly Hallows came out. I initially started reading them as we were gearing up for the midnight release party of book seven last July at my bookstore job; I wanted to be excited like everyone else was. And once I started reading them, pushing straight through, I loved it. I felt silly that I’d put it off for so long.

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The same is (mostly) true of Twilight — I’d heard customers buzzing about the series randomly over the past few years, but never paid much attention. I don’t typically read anything with a science fiction / fantasy / mystery slant, and all anyone had to do was say the word “vampire” and I was out. But as we got ready for the midnight release of Breaking Dawn in August — and I found myself as mistress of ceremonies once again — I wanted to be excited about the release and be able to discuss the books with customers. So I bought Twilight around June, hunkered down with all three books and read and read and read. Then, of course, I got to wait around for the fourth and final book with everyone else — although I waited considerably less time. And I loooooved them (OMG EDWARD CULLEN! lol lol), despite the fact that I wasn’t necessarily in the targeted “age bracket” anymore. (And for the record, I have several good friends in their forties and fifties who have read and adored the series, too!)

To some extent, I guess these books are “fads” — just in the way that popular things can only stay popular for so long. I don’t believe the Twilight Saga has the staying power that the Harry Potter franchise does, mostly because Twilighters are a certain demographic (women) and Harry Potter appeals more to both genders. Plus, they’re just much better written with much more dynamic, interesting plots (sorry, Stephenie Meyer). But Twilight had a dramatic pull for me — something absolutely compelled me to read like the wind, dying to figure out the fate of, basically, two star-crossed lovers. There’s an emotional element to them that surprised me. I know many people don’t agree, but that’s what’s great about art — we all draw from it what we want to draw. And though the books can only fly off the shelves for so long before something new breaks in and draws the attention away, readers will continue to discover these book series long after we’ve stopped hearing about them daily.