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A Dalliance with Wolves
on September 27, 2006
NOTE: I'm adding, rather late, apparently, that there's a bit of a spoiler in this review. So, read with caution. That said, if you paid attention while reading Twilight, I'm puzzled as to how my spoiler could possibly be a spoiler. Myers spelled it out, in the book and interviews, almost as clearly as she spells out Bella's awed perception of Edward.
In my review of Twilight, I said that the book had more in common with "Catcher in the Rye" and "Pride and Prejudice" than it did with any vampire novels or stories. That still holds true, although be certain: I'm not comparing Twilight or New Moon to these books in terms of literary quality. There are few that match either.
In New Moon we miss the vampires for most of the story, and Bella spends time with her friend Jacob, an Indian fated with becoming a werewolf, and fated to hate all "bloodsuckers", regardless of whether or not the bloodsuckers took human lives. (Btw, that little bit is cleared up at the end...what exactly their treaty entails. It's interesting, kind of, but I have to wonder if the author thought of it as the story was being written, and that it wasn't planned when the "treaty" was first mentioned. I suppose it doesn't matter.)
If you're reading this story because you like vampire stories, you will be disappointed. Edward's only around for a bit less than 1/3 of the book. When he is around, however, his presence is appreciated. One thing that the author didn't do this time, and it was similarly appreciated, was to have Bella writing down every single thought that she had regarding his absolute perfection (remember, this is a first person narrative).
While spending time with "the wolves", Bella goes through some interesting growth patterns. I say interesting, because I'm not entirely certain that I followed them or that if I understood them that I agreed with them. That said, I've never been a teenage girl, and the author has been a teenage girl, so I have to bow to her experience in this.
Many readers will look at Bella's behavior during her "dalliance with wolves" as bizarre and entirely unbelievable. I don't think they were. For anyone that has had the absolute love of their life torn from them, with the *absolute* belief that this love would not return, and if you happen to be emotionally immature to top all of this off, your behavior wouldn't be too far off from Bella's. I'm not saying exactly like Bella's, just not too far off.
Again, this is not a vampire story. The fact that vampires were not around in this book as often as some may have liked did not lessen the quality of the story. What was missing, though, was the urgency, and the mystery. For example, we never knew why, in Twilight, Edward recoiled upon first seeing Bella until the very end. We had a reaction, and a resolution, and during that time we had lots of questions. That type of immediacy was missing here. Everything was rather straightforward.
When Edward lies to Bella, we know that he is lying, and we know that there will be resolution. The problem is that we know he's lying, and we know the resolution won't be too surprising.
I did enjoy the unique take on werewolves, but I felt that since we had seen so much of the vampires in the first book, that we should have seen and felt more of the werewolves in this book.
One thing that I found particularly frustrating was the similarity of emotion that both Jake and Edward have for Bella. Yes, Bella is a clutz, and she definitely needs protecting. But to have two main characters, in two separate books, respond to her in a nearly identical manner (both fearing for, and being vocal about, her need to be less careless), is tough to buy.
There were some hints of future issues between the Cullens and Jake's clan. I hope we see them. And I hope that this story can survive the necessary metamorphosis - at some point, it will need to be less about Bella's intense love for Edward, and more about the actual situations surrounding them.
This may sound like a negative review. It's not. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've seen others that gave Twilight 5 stars give this 1 or 2 stars, and I've questioned that. I think that given the nature of this story, readers need to be more aware of what this story is really about. See the first paragraph of this review for that.
I'm anxiously awaiting the third book. There are a lot of possibilities, and I can't help but wonder which possibility the author will choose, and how she will resolve whatever roadblocks her choices give her.