Saturday, February 7, 2009

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

First published in 2005.

About three things I was absolutely positive.

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him - and I didn't know how dominant that part might be - that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him. (book cover blurb)

Initially when I picked this book up off of a table in Barnes and Noble, I read that blurb and put the book right back down. Not interested. I only finally picked it up to read because my mom was borrowing it from my cousin and it was in the house. Why not? I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I plowed through it in a matter of days. Nice to know I can still read at warp speed. Granted it helped that the book was as dense as air.

This is one of the most thoroughly superficial books I’ve ever read. Is Twilight written as good as Harry Potter, since people are so inclined to make that comparison? I don’t think so. HP had depth right from the beginning. The world, both real and magical, were much more solid and right from the beginning the characters were deeper than puddles. I automatically sympathized with Harry because he was treated so horribly by the very people that were his family and it was done for no other reason than because he was the son of Petunia’s sister.

Twilight? Bella’s mooing about moving to Forks from Arizona and I don’t find out why she actually imposed the move on herself until, is it the second or third chapter, when Edward asks her why she moved. I was six pages in and calling my mom who’d already read it, making her explain to me why she was forcing this move on herself when she obviously didn’t want to make it. It bothered me that much.

Bella has a tendency to pity herself a lot, she doesn’t have much by the way of self-esteem and I swear if I read that she’s clumsy one more time I’m going to scream. She also has a tendency of characterizing people by their looks, especially Edward. Is everyone else that lacking in personality that it’s the only way to recognize people?

Her friends are as one dimensional as the broad side of a piece of paper. Their problems and bickering arguments are as petty, boring, asinine and overdone as fishing for belly button lint. And holy crap is Bella just one of the weakest characters you’ve ever met? Can she do nothing for herself except cook? If she’s not crying, pining over Edward or noting how clumsy she is, she’s being rescued by any number of phallus-swinging humans fawning after her. And it’s amazing how how plain she seems to be yet she has all those guys flocking to her. Are people in Forks inbred or something?

And then there’s Edward whose, at this point, only redeeming quality is his gorgeousness. He’s hot, beautiful and any other number of synonymous adjectives you can come up with. Aside from that, he’s commanding with Bella, ordering her around when he’s not sneering at her or moving vehicles out of her way or laughing at her. Oh yes! Where can I get twelve just like him? Is there a store? He’s an ass and yet she just can’t get enough of his looks. It seems to be the only thing she’s attracted to since it’s the only thing she mentions when he’s not around her (and even when he is). Maybe if Bella actually sat and thought about how he was treating her, you know, using her head for something other than air storage, she’d see just how he’s freakin’ treating her! But I guess looks overpower all. Good message to send.

By the end of the book both Edward and Bella are as one dimensional as they can be as characters, and I think that’s giving them too much credit. I didn’t care about them in the slightest. I wanted more information on Alice, who had no idea what her human life was like until she watched a short video on Bella’s beating. Or Jasper who’s the newest member of their group and has the hardest time controlling his hunger. There’s conflict, there’s unknown, there’s at least a second wall to the makeshift cube. Carlisle, Rosalie and her obvious conflict, Alice and Jasper, were far more interesting than Edward and Bella ever hoped to be.

I’ll give Meyer credit in giving the vampires something new to pine over and some new characteristics. I liked the skin in the sunlight idea even though it was a little too floofy for me. The whole “vegetarian” (in a fish-eating sort of way) concept, while isn’t new, is front and center so points for that even though I’m much more interested in drawing the beast out of Edward instead of watching him pine his way through 3 more books. But that’s just me.

The writing itself was nothing to write home about. Very mediocre and elementary, words in their simplest forms to portray characters in their simplest sketches.

What really bothered me about this book was the overwhelming lack of individuality and identity that Bella adopted once Edward was in her life. It’s downright scary, not romantic, to watch even a fictional teenager profess her undying and eternal love for a boy and claim that she only lives for him. Every moment away from him is pure agony. It takes what I’m sure many teenage girls feel when they think they’re in love (I know I was in that group a few times), exaggerates it and makes it ok. It’s scarily unhealthy to be that engrossed when you’re an adult, letting the other aspects of your life fall by the wayside to be replaced by a love interest but to watch a teenager do it, who's much more impressionable, is terrifying. The last thing any girl of any age should do is define herself by the boy or man she’s dating.

Yes, I understand this is a romance. Obviously. But really, is it impossible to have a romance, and a good one, where the female has a sense of self?

And Bella is just downright stupid. Edward obviously knows what he’s talking about. He’s been alive for 100 years. He’d be dead already if he were walking around with his head up his butt. Bella doesn’t listen to a damn thing he tells her, convinces herself of the exact opposite, doesn’t think things through clearly, is entirely irrational in the extreme and is constantly sacrificing herself for “his good” when he’s ready to put his head (and possibly hers) through a wall constantly telling her the contrary. I feel frustrated for him. I wanted to put my hand through the pages and backhand the twit for actually believing that the tracker had her mother, for only one example. Duh.

Yet, despite all of this, I couldn’t stop reading. I finished the book, including the preface and first chapter of New Moon in a couple of days. I still haven’t figured out what was compelling me to keep reading. Maybe it was hope that Bella adopted a sense of self although I highly doubt that will ever happen, even in the final book. Maybe it was purely for the cheese factor that I know is coming up. I have no idea but I've cranked through them and have one more to go (that I'm procrastinating on).

Maybe I see it as one disastrous train wreck and I just can’t take my eyes away from it. That might work.

I have to say, the movie is better if for the only reason being that we're no longer constantly in Bella's head. No more insufferable inner-monologue. So much more tolerable although Rob Pattinson's dead wombat hair was pretty distracting.


sharonanne said...

ouch. I haven't read any of this series. I don't like weak female characters who let men treat them badly so I probably would hate this book too.

Donna said...

A common theme that keeps coming up is that if you don't like Edward, you won't like the books. I know fans that doesn't even like Bella for how much of a shell she is. But I know that theory is try, at least for me. I couldn't stand Edward and since the series centers around him for 99% of it, it's not a surprise I didn't like it.

prophecygirl said...

This is my favourite book... lol. I'll go hide now. ;)

Wings said...


omg i love you!

I have just read all of you stephanie meyer posts so I will comment on all here.

First of all Meyer is weird...that is no secret, her writing is atrocious and her ideas about romance and true love are...creepy.

I read twilight when i was 17, at the time my views were a tas skewed in regards to love so i thought Twilight was the must read for everyone.

Thinking back now, and looking over the points you make as well as my own present views and newly accumulated reading experience...god you are so right!

That is pedophilia...even when i was describing the story to my bf (who doesn't read) he goes "shit, so he's like a kiddy fiddler...that's gross" and i was like...omg...yeah!

I always thought the movies, Kristen Stewart and R-Patz not being an even minutely close portrayal of the most beautiful being in the world ruined twilight for me.

I am almost scared to re-read the books for fear of finding out that assumption isn't accurate...because really...who would want any relationship like that.

I always thought the period thing was funny, and the sparkly thing...mildly disturbing.

My favourites were the werewolves and the cullen family (love alice!)but even in the movies...they disappointed.

I hate the Twilight franchise..and anyone who will listen to my ranting knows that...but now I am hating a bit on the books as well.

I was one of those readers that was re-awakened by Twilight...then i stopped reading for another year after that because I decided to read her other book The Host (painful!) and was put off again...only to be re-re-awakened by Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead...have you read that?

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