Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1280
New Moon, the second book in Stephenie Meyer’s popular Twilightseries, opens with a dream on the eve of Bella’s birthday. She worries that she has aged another year, making her physically older than Edward Cullen, her boyfriend. Edward is a vampire. He stopped aging at seventeen.
Bella reluctantly agrees to go to the Cullens' home after school to celebrate, but only after she watches Romeo and Juliet for English class. The film sparks a conversation about suicide. Edward reveals to Bella that if anything ever happens to her, he plans to kill himself by visiting the powerful Volturi vampire family in Italy and provoking them.
At the Cullens' house, Bella gets a paper cut opening presents. Jasper throws himself at Bella because of the sudden scent of her blood. Edward slams into Jasper, preventing him from attacking her but knocking Bella into some crystal vases that cut her arm. Everyone except Carlisle leaves the room because the scent of blood is too much to bear.
Carlisle treats Bella’s arm, and the conversation turns to Edward’s spiritual belief that vampires do not have souls. Therefore, Edward would never turn Bella into a vampire. When Edward returns, the events of the evening have upset him so much that he is cold and distant. Bella kisses Edward, who reacts with an almost desperate edge to the kiss, as if he is saying goodbye.
After days of strange, distant behavior, Edward takes Bella for a walk and informs her that he is leaving Forks. Amid her protests, he tells her he does not love her anymore. He leaves a brokenhearted Bella in the woods.
As the months pass, Bella lives in a numb haze. One night, she discovers during an encounter with some dangerous strangers that she hears Edward’s voice in her head. Despite her fears, she begins seeking danger in order to hear him again.
Bella enlists the help of Jacob Black to fix some old motorcycles. As they work together, Bella and Jacob forge a strong friendship. Bella begins to heal, though she still feels broken and hollow from the loss of Edward. In order to hear Edward’s voice, she rides motorcycles and searches for the meadow where they had once spent a wonderful day.
When Jacob falls ill and his father forbids visitors, Bella goes to the meadow alone. However, she soon discovers that she is not alone. Someone else is there: the vampire Laurent, who tells Bella that Victoria is hunting her. Laurent is about to attack Bella himself, but five giant wolves chase him away.
Bella seeks out Jacob, but he has changed. As Sam Uley and his other friends look on, he tells her they cannot be friends any longer. But later he sneaks into her window and apologizes, telling her that he has a secret he cannot tell, but encourages her to guess by remembering theQuileute legends. She sleeps, and in her dreams remembers a conversation with Jacob. She realizes that he is a werewolf.
Bella rushes to Jacob to warn him that her father plans to lead a hunting party to kill the wolves, but is angry because she believes Jacob is murdering people. He explains that the werewolves are protectors, keeping people safe from vampires. Bella tells him that Victoria is after her. Jacob is excited that Bella has information about the vampires that might help the wolves.
As the wolves hunt for Victoria, Bella is left alone and feels neglected. Jacob promises to take her cliff diving (another of Bella’s dangerous schemes). But when Bella arrives, she finds that the wolves have gone after Victoria, and she decides to jump alone, despite an impending storm. Luckily Jacob saves her, but meanwhile, a friend of Charlie and Billy’s dies. Jacob takes her home, and for a brief moment she considers what it would be like to be with him. Bella wonders if she could betray her love for Edward and try to be happy with Jacob. Suddenly, Jacob smells a vampire and quickly turns the truck around.
Alice Cullen has returned, having seen a vision of Bella jumping off the cliff. Jacob refuses to stay as long as Alice is there. Later, Alice steps out and Jacob returns. The phone rings, and Jacob tells the caller, whom he believes is Carlisle, that Charlie is at the funeral. Alice reappears, having seen a vision of Edward in trouble. The caller was Edward, who believes Bella is dead, so he is going to Italy to provoke the Volturi and end his existence. Bella and Alice rush off to Italy to stop him, much to Jacob’s chagrin.
Edward plans to expose himself as a vampire when the sun hits him in the main square. Upon arrival, Bella throws herself into the crowds at the square and reaches Edward as the clock strikes noon. After a moment of confusion where Edward believes he has died and gone to heaven (or maybe hell), he realizes what has happened and the danger they are in. The Volturi step out of the shadows and take Edward, Alice, and Bella underground. They have an audience with Marcus, Caius, and Aro, the ancient vampires who are the heart of the Volturi. The Volturi, who have their own special powers, are interested in Bella’s immunity to mind reading and mental torture. Aro asks the three to join forces with them, but they refuse. They want to turn Bella into a vampire, because she would be impervious to their talents and could be of use to them. In order for Edward, Alice, and Bella to leave, they convince the Volturi that they intend to turn Bella into a vampire, so the Volturi allow them to go.
On the long flight home, Bella fights sleep so that she does not miss a moment with Edward. They are met at the airport by the rest of the Cullens who take Bella back home where an angry and upset Charlie waits. Bella finally falls asleep, but when she wakes up she is under the impression she might have died, because Edward is there. He apologizes to her, telling her he thought she would be safer without him. Bella thinks that he just feels guilty and will leave her. They profess their love for one another, and then Edward and Bella share a passionate kiss. Edward promises to never leave again.
Edward does not plan to change Bella into a vampire, which forces her to take measures into her own hands. Bella presents her case at a family meeting, asking the Cullens if they want her as a vampire member of the family. She asks the Cullens to put it to a vote. All choose yes except Rosalie and Edward. An upset Edward presents her with a deal: he will change her as long as she agrees to marry him first. Bella balks at the idea.
With the Cullens' return, things seem normal, except Jacob will not return Bella’s calls. One day, she comes home to her motorcycle in the driveway and her angry father waiting. Jacob is waiting in the woods, and they have a confrontation. He says cannot be her friend as long as she is with Edward. As Bella walks toward the house where Charlie is waiting to scream at her, she thinks of all the problems she has: her best friend sees her as an enemy, Victoria is still after her, the Volturi will kill her if she does not become a vampire, but the werewolves will kill her if she does. The only thing that keeps her together is Edward, walking by her side.
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