By Stephanie Meyer
IMHO, Eclipse is the most exciting installment of the Twilight Saga. You’ve got the primal hostilities between vampires and werewolves, the still human and danger-prone Bella caught in between, the Volturi making an unexpected appearance and a vengeful vamp raising an army of newborn bloodsuckers and terrorizing the citizens of Seattle.
There's also more development and backstory from the minor characters. Jasper, with his origins as a Civil War veteran and subsequent initiation into the Monterrey vampire coven to train newborns, gets the best account of all. While Rosalie’s story, although a bit weak, explains why she's the only Cullen member opposed to Bella’s ardent desire to become a vampire. The Quileute wolf pack also grows with younger members as the increase in vampire activity in the La Push/Forks area seems to trigger the protective instinct among the Black/Uley/Clearwater bloodlines.
Of course, there’s the continuing love triangle between Edward, Bella and Jacob. Like fire and ice, Jake n' Eddie cannot be any more diametrical, and neither can their respective clans, despite the fragile truce between the Cullens and Quileutes. Like the metaphor of bringing together two opposing magnets, Bella acts as the human bridge between the age-old antipathies between vampire and werewolf. Eventually, the coming of the newborn vampire army from Seattle forces an alliance between the Cullens and Quileutes.
In Eclipse, Meyer’s Mormon beliefs become more apparent, and mostly embodied by Edward, who with his old-fashioned chasteness, has –ahem- retained much of his Edwardian values, much to Bella’s hormonally-charged chagrin. By the same token, the erotic tension of abstinence always make for more exciting romance, especially if you want to maintain audience interest. Look at Mulder and Scully in the X-Files, or David Addison & Maddie Hayes in Moonlighting (yep I’m that old). As soon as the guy and gal do it… that’s it, the thrill is gone!
Based on the various online forums that he often peruses, Olman mentioned that geeks (mostly male) generally diss the Twilight series on the basis that they’re teen romances disguised as thin-skinned fantasy. Not sure if these fellas had bothered even reading any of the books in the first place, but this is a rather snobby attitude to have. Meyer’s work isn’t exactly in the same league as His Dark Materials trilogy (Philip Pullman) in darkness and complexity, but the Twilight books ain’t bad either in terms of entertainment.
I'd probably compare Meyer more with Charles De Lint, as she juggles the worlds of mythic fantasy with the banalities of reality quite competently, and often with much humour. The vampire world of the Volturi is complex enough to illicit the creep factor and the fabricated Quileute legends about how the spirit warriors became the wolfen protectors are quite well thought out and told. Despite the obsessive attention of detail over Edward and Bella’s relationship, the supporting characters are well-developed and charismatic in their own right. Most importantly, Meyer’s books are inspiring hordes of teenage girls who wouldn’t normally touch the fantasy genre with a 10-foot jousting lance to read an adventure-romance about vampires and werewolves!
Perhaps the most disturbing thing I found with the series so far, is how indifferent Bella is to the Cullens regular hunting of wild grizzly bear and mountain lion. If Meyer really wanted them to be good vegetarian vampires (hence ethical consumers), she should’ve made a plug about the Cullens being rather generous supporters of conversation societies, like the WWF. But alas, Meyer is a Mormon, not an environmentalist!