Welcome to the July edition of the Teen Menu. I hope you're all having a great summer full of wonderful reading and popcorn movies.
Unless you've been living under the world's biggest boulder, you probably know that June was big in the world of Twilight fans. Eclipse, the third in the movie series, released to a big take at the box office. But before that, an Eclipse-related novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, hit bookstores.
In the novella, we get to see things from an entirely different point of view, that of Bree Tanner, one of Victoria's newborn army of vampires created to take revenge on the Cullen clan. Since we normally just see things from Bella's point of view in the Twilight stories, it was interesting to see the events leading up to the Newborns/Cullen fight scene in Eclipse from a newborn's point of view. And it wasn't quite what I expected. It wasn't a completely bloodthirsty viewpoint, though we definitely get to see how the powerful bloodlust of newborn vampires consumes them and causes them to turn on each other. Other than the vampire thing, Bree Tanner is just a teenage girl from a bad home who ran away and managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even once she's turned, she retains much of her humanity. She begins to fall for a guy (Diego, a fellow newborn), makes an unexpected friend (a vampire named Freaky Fred who has the added power of being able to repulse the other vamps, which has benefits for both him and Bree), and gradually realizes that Riley, the vampire who turned her, is hiding things and telling lies, ones that will have huge costs in the end.
If you've read Eclipse, you know that the newborns don't survive the battle, so we know going in what Bree's fate will be. But getting to that eventuality was an interesting read. I felt for Bree, found myself wishing her fate could be other than it was. I still have hope that we'll see more of one vampire from the novella (one not in Eclipse). I'll leave it at that because I don't want to give it away.
An extra feel-good tidbit is that $1 from each hardcover copy from the first printing of Bree Tanner sold in the U.S. is being donated to the Red Cross.
After finishing the novella, I was off to see Eclipse. Bella and Edward's relationship continues to progress, but not without some hiccups in the form of the intense friendship-with-the-possibility-of-more between Bella and Jacob. Bella's choice is between the cold and fair Edward and the very warm and dark Jacob. There are pros and cons to both, but we all know that Edward is the one she's given the bigger portion of her heart to. But she loves them both, and that's not easy -- particularly since they're mortal enemies.
It was interesting to watch for Bree Tanner (played by Jodelle Ferland) in the movie and see how much they showed her and how it compared to the novella.
I felt like uttering a fangirl squee with how much more screen time Jasper gets. I've been a Jasper fan from the beginning, and in this installment we get to see more of his background -- as we also do for Rosalie. It makes them more three-dimensional, shows us who they were before and why they are the way they are now.
And the battle scene was awesome! Yes, I'm a girl, and I like battle scenes. Ask me about the ones in the Lord of the Rings trilogy sometime. :)
The other YA novel I read this month was Richelle Mead's Frostbite, the second in her Vampire Academy series. I read Vampire Academy some time ago, and I enjoyed it enough to keep buying the books (there are five so far). But I just got back to the series recently. So many books, so little time. The protagonist, Rose Hathaway, is still studying to be a guardian at St. Vladimir's Academy in Montana so that she can learn to protect her friend, royal vampire Lissa Dragomir. Rose is a Dhampir, half human and half vampire, and thus she's one of the ones who'll be charged with protecting the Moroi, the good, living vampires, from the Strigoi, the bad, dead vampires. I really enjoy all the mythology Mead has built in her vampire world, including the twelve royal Moroi families who all seem to have last names that sound Russian or Eastern European. And it wouldn't be a YA novel without some teen angst thrown in. There's the sudden reappearance of her uber-guardian mother, a woman who has been largely absent from Rose's life; her continued forbidden attraction to her guardian tutor, Dimitri Belikov; and a series of deadly Strigoi attacks that threatens to turn her world and everything she's ever believed upside down.
Mead's series has attracted a large following, which has propelled the books onto the New York Times best-seller list and recently resulted in a deal for the movie rights.
For more information on Mead and this series, visit her site.
Okay, back to movies. It is summer, after all. I went to see The Last Airbender yesterday. Unlike Eclipse, I didn't come to this movie with prior knowledge of the source material, an animated TV series called Avatar: The Last Airbender that ran on Nickolodean for three seasons. Understandable why they chose to not include the "Avatar" part in the movie title. Confusion, anyone?
I know some fans of the TV series haven't liked the movie, so I think it was actually a plus that I hadn't seen the program. I enjoyed it and look forward to sequels, which they obviously intend to make based on the last scene in the movie. Young Aang is the Avatar and the only airbender left in a world where other benders can manipulate only a single element -- fire, water, or earth. But the Avatar can control all four and is supposed to use this power for good and balance. For reasons I won't reveal, it's not as simple as it's supposed to be. But then, if it was we wouldn't have a movie, would we?
I like the basis of this story, the world in which there are benders of elements, and appearances by three actors I particularly like: Dev Patel (loved him in Slumdog Millionaire), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper in Twilight - squee! Wow, he's having a big summer) and one of my favorite correspondents from The Daily Show, Aasif Mandvi.
Now that I've seen the movie, I'm going to go back and watch the TV series and see how it compares.
So, anyone read or seen any of these offerings? Read anything wonderful this summer?