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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

This is going to be a weird review because I'm essentially going to rip this book apart, but I'm also going to say that I didn't hate it and I'll at least read book 2, if not the whole series.  I know, strange.  But, this book NEEDS to be ripped apart.  There are too many people out there drooling over it, and frankly it isn't worth it.  The book ranks, for me, at the same level as bodice-busting vapid romance novels, which I enjoy reading in order to give me something to do, but don't deserve any type of accolades for writing.  That is really the key.

I wasn't really planning to read this book, but I was in BWI Airport and I'd packed the book I'd planned to read in the checked bag.  I can't sit on a plane with no book, so I hurried to grab one before the plane was boarding.  I was in a hurry and picked up the first book that I saw that had a title that I recognized.  It was as simple as that.  It was a quick and easy read, I read it in less than a week even though I was only devoting a small amount of time to it per day (since I was running races and gallivanting around Disney World).  It's long, but the print is big, just like Harry Potter.

I'm not a fan of vampire books, and I usually don't read the fantasy genre all that much.  It was the romance that was going to appeal to me in this book... and it was the romance that turned me off.  It was OVER THE TOP.  Through most of the book, Bella (the main character - the book was written in first person from her perspective) absolutely gushed about Edward, her vampire love interest.  I realize this is Young Adult Fiction, but it was really too much.  Bella gushes, talks about how much she loves him, how perfect he is, and named possibly 1,000 different ways to describe is eyes.  I think it's possible that Stephanie Meyer had a thesaurus nearby of adjectives for describing eyes.  It was really difficult to take seriously, and I found myself over and over again wanting to scream "ENOUGH!".  Too much.  Too many descriptions of every single aspect of their romance - a look, a touch, blah blah blah.  I know teens are probably so excited by this language, but if you've been around the block, if you're maybe over 25 years old, you're going to be rolling your eyes a lot (Example: She faints when he kisses her).

Bella herself was likable to some extent.  I can certainly relate to the fact that she is prone to strange accidents (as I have injured myself tripping over a cactus, falling out of bed, and I cut my leg up pretty bad on a shower radio).  However, I'm shocked she doesn't find it the least bit insulting that Edward feels he must stalk her and spy on her in order to "keep her safe," when she is just leading a normal life.  She went into town, she goes to school, she wasn't doing anything shocking... but he finds it necessary to break into her house, for example.  His excuse?  Well, he was frustrated that he couldn't read her mind.  It doesn't matter, she accepts everything, questions nothing, and does everything he says.

Bella doesn't really do much and it makes it fairly easy for her entire existence to suddenly revolve around Edward.  She doesn't have any real interests or activities, she takes little interest in her new friends (and seems to kind of be plastic towards them).  So, basically the heroine of the book is a high school girl with no goals or dreams who becomes admittedly obsessed with a dangerous man who wants to eat her.  He is much older than her, and she skips school, runs away, puts herself in danger and is basically willing to die for this guy.  You decide if that's a good role model for your high school daughter, and if you want them to immediately throw everything away for one guy, especially a "dangerous" one.   I found it disturbing in this regard, and when you add in the unrealistic and cliche ideas of romance, it's even worse.  Teens out there, love isn't like this.

Then there is the perfect Edward.  Pages and pages and pages and pages of this book were devoted to Bella describing how sexy he is, how beautiful, how perfect, how obsessed she was.  I never really understood the nagging question - if he's a hundred year old vampire, WHY is he going to high school?  Ok, he looks like he's 17, but he could also probably just as easily pass for 21.  If you had your choices, would you really spend all of your time in high school?  It just seems down right silly.  I had to go with Todd's explanation, which is that he HAD to be in high school in order to appeal to the teen audience.  Ah.  

Anyway, besides being a hundred year old guy in high school, he is also dangerous.  Despite the fact that he broods over the fact that he shouldn't put her in danger, he does.  Again and again.  Perhaps the reason he's in high school is because he still has the immature mentality of a 17 year old.  He loves Bella because she smells good and he wants to eat her.  Seriously.  It reminds me of the episode of Pee Wee's Playhouse where Pee Wee loved the fruit salad so much that he decided to get married to it.  I admit, I have had a couple of meals in my life that were really good, but not THAT good.  Are we serious??  Is that how we're going to play this?  He wants to eat her?  She smells good?  Women are swooning over this guy?  Is there anything else he loves about her?  I mean, I guess there was very little else positive that he could say about her, since Bella doesn't have all that much going on.  Oh yeah, he also sparkles in the sunlight and runs really fast.  I know he probably appeals to teenage girls because he rescues her and wants to keep her safe (I'm starting to think that is all that women are looking for in men), but...  I don't know, some realistic romance would have been nice - genuine reactions to things, something other than blind acceptance, some sort of conflict, perhaps?

Well, there was a conflict.  Another vampire gets a whiff of Bella and then wants to chase her around the country.  While this was the most page-turning section of the book, I still didn't buy it.  This guy would stop at nothing to get this ONE human... when the other vampires that she meets are not all that interested (with the exception of Edward, of course).  I had to explain it away in my head that maybe if you're immortal you have to occupy your time somehow.

So, in the end, the book is written as if a teenager really wrote it, which is why it appeals so much to teens and I suppose why grown women are slightly more skeptical.  I found it worth the time to read, but NOT worth the obsessiveness that is all over the internet over this book.  While I expected to be turned off by the vampires, there was little "weirdness" about this book and the whole vampire thing turned out to be ok.  It was just the overdone and completely immature romance that was the problem - including the blind acceptance by Bella of Edward's total and complete arrogance.  If something about it appeals to you, by all means pick it up, but if you're expecting adults to enjoy it as much as teens (like the Harry Potter series), you're going to be disappointed.  If you're looking for a good weekend read, go ahead and check it out.  Take it with a grain of salt, don't take it too seriously, that's all.

Davida let me know that the next book is better, so I'll give it a try.  However, I'm likely to drop the series if it's not better.  She also suggested the True Blood series instead.


Abby said...

I have the first of the Southern Vampire Novel series if you want it. I got it from that pile of books that Erika let us go through when we were over at the Truffer's. They are pretty enjoyable, I got the next two from the library and had a lot of fun reading them. I called them trashy vampire novels - fun reads, but not exactly great literature :).

Kim said...

That is where I am with this one... good enough read, but I expected more based on the hype. I will go into New Moon with lower expectations. It shipped today, so I should have it soon. I'd definitely love to try the Southern Vampire series... although like I said, vampires are traditionally not my thing.

Whitney said...

I just had to leave a comment because I thought it was weird that I stumbled on your site today. I did the Disney Marathon this weekend too and Twilight was the book I took with me. I agree with you completely about it being over the top, but I still wanted to finish it. Guilty pleasure reading I guess.

Kim said...

You weren't reading it the pool at Saratoga Springs on Sunday were you? Another person I saw there was! LOL

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