Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer


I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. I had no intention of ever reading Twilight: teenage vampire novels, give me a break. I went through an Anne Rice phase many years ago and was pretty much done with bloodsuckers (with the exception of Dracula, still for my money the ONLY really significant vampire book because of its underlying fears and obsessions); besides, I had been forced to sit through the movie and found it a total yawner.

But you see, I have a rule. If I start spouting opinions on a book, I have to READ it. I get incandescently annoyed with people who tell you that such and such a book is immoral, evil devilspawn and then, on further inquiry, admit that they’ve not actually read it, they’re just lifting their opinions from reviewers/the BFF/Aunt Sally/talk radio/etc. etc.

And I found myself saying “I can’t stand Twilight” and then realized I was CAUGHT in a trap of my own making. So, I borrowed KidOne’s copy and prepared to be dismayed.

Actually, I didn’t think it was all that bad. Sure, the writing sometimes resembles that of a good student who’s learned a heck of a lot of vocab for her SATs and just wants to make sure you all benefit from it. Sure, the characters are pretty two-dimensional and I got the impression that the rival hunters were invented just to keep the plot going, because the (quite well done) sexual tension of the first half can’t be kept up forever [insert joke here].

Yet I found Bella and Edward more engaging than I thought they’d be, and Bella’s klutziness makes her far more appealing than her sullen movie persona ever hinted at. I understand the novel’s appeal to teenage girls: the idea of being adored by an immortal Adonis who sees the real, special you inside the insecure exterior AND can tell you that you’re being lusted after by every other boy in the school just pushes so many buttons [insert even worse joke here] that it can’t fail.

I wouldn’t rush out to buy the next book, but if it finds its way into the house I may read it in one of my less literary moments. That’s a COMPLIMENT, folks, if a rather backhanded one: don't hate me, Twilight fans, it's just a review. And after all, anyone who is able to write a book and get it published and into the bestseller charts has done SOMETHING right. Furthermore, the editing, design, and marketing of this book are all pretty darn good. I may be a bit of a literary snob, but I know good publishing when I see it.

8 comments:

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

I have yet to read the series and not sure if I will, so much drama is surrounding this series. I agree I had my vampire phase a long time ago. Vampire books are taking over book stores left and right yet you hear so much that they are overdone and agents dont want them. Makes you wonder.

Lydia Sharp said...

Still haven't read this one. It's not even on my list, to be honest. First, I have no desire to read about vampires from the teenage PoV. Second...no, there isn't a second. That's it. I just have no desire to read this series at all, or see the movie(s). By doing so (or would that be NOT doing so?) I also have no right to get into debates about them. No problem. Don't want to do that either.

Alison (Alison's Book Marks) said...

I'll admit it. I loved the series - before anyone had ever heard of it. The hype ruined the whole thing for me. (This is how I felt about Nine Inch Nails back in high school, too.)

It was all fine when it was a simple, YA fantasy book. When the moms started putting Twilight stickers on their minivans, that's where the whole thing went sour for me. Settle down there, Ms. 40-something, you're starting to scare the middle-schoolers!

The adults who get obsessed with Twilight seriously need to read more.

I'm just sayin'

Ellen said...

I read the first two and that was enough for me to 'get it.' I came across this article online which really helped explain (to me anyway) why girls AND their moms were so wild about this series. Also, remember that Stephenie Meyers is Mormon. You might enjoy this article: http://bitchmagazine.org/article/bite-me-or-dont

Jane Steen said...

Ellen, many thanks for the link to this excellent article (though I need to post a SPOILER WARNING as it discusses the whole series!)

When I wrote my review I was trying to get at why teenage girls like the book, but you remind me that it also has a huge following among adult women. I have to admit that there's a drug-like lure to its powerful eroticism: it took me a day or so to shake it off! I would say that about 90% of the pull of the book lies in the sex fantasy elements, which as the article you linked to shows, stray into much more dangerous counter-feminist territory.

Will we see more "abstinence porn" come onto the mainstream market? When I was a kid, I used to sneak off with my grandmother's romance novels, which were similarly based around the eroticism of unfulfilled sexual attraction: consummation always came AFTER marriage and was usually denoted by . . . . . as soon as the lights were out (the lights were NEVER on). So this is nothing new, but what the Twilight series has done is to merge the romance novel with Anne Rice and throw in a large dose of conservative thinking about the respective roles of men and women. It's definitely a trend to watch.

Paperface said...

Ok, I'll agree that the book wasn't as bad as I had expected, but when all is said and done, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I think the "love" relationship in this book is down-right scary. Edward is verbally abusive, angry and treats Bella like a child. Whereas Bella is disturbingly dependent on Edward, and only ever seems to focus on his good-looks when describing her love for him.

I don't know what Ms. Meyer was thinking when she wrote these characters. She sets the worst example for young girls.

Anonymous said...

i wish i had those memories back it was horrible

JenniferWriter said...

Thanks, Jane. I think this is a very fair review of the book.

I have to admit that there's a drug-like lure to its powerful eroticism: it took me a day or so to shake it off!

So true. The book isn't literature but, as a friend of mine said, "They must have dusted the pages with crack." It's like cotton candy--you can't stop reading but you're not eating anything of substance. So what? We all crave that once in a while.