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Good for a rainy day fantasy...
on July 27, 2008
It seems this book has received massive amounts of acclaim, but I never heard of it until I decided to watch The Dark Knight. A preview for the movie Twilight came on and mentioned that it was based on the best-selling novel by Stephenie Meyer. Since the preview looked good and I prefer to read books before seeing the movie, I picked up a copy.
Now that you know why I purchased the book, I should also mention that I'm not necessarily the target demographic and haven't been for a few years. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the good YA fantasy fiction book every now and again. (I've been called a perpetual teenager on more than one occasion.)
I'm going to try and keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. In case you haven't already gathered it from other reviews, or the book description itself, Twilight is about a young girl named Bella Swan who moves to Forks, Washington and finds herself in love with a vampire named Edward Cullen. The climax of the story happens when a vampire who doesn't abstain from feasting on humans, as the Cullen coven does, decides he wants Bella. Up until this point (first three quarters), the novel progresses at a moderate, but not lagging pace and then instantly picks up.
The book itself is a rather easy read, however, the characters seem somewhat shallow. Bella is supposed to be an honour student, but behaves exactly the opposite. Edward, who has been in existence for more than a hundred years, should be more intelligent and far wiser than is portrayed in his character. Armed with this tidbit about him, Meyer had plenty of room to play around and mold him into so much more, but never truly took that opportunity.
In fact, after finishing the first book (I've read both Twilight and New Moon), I wondered what a century old vampire might find utterly attractive in a seemingly average 17 year old girl, besides the fact that she smelled delectable, could pick out a common tune by Debussy, and had a penchant for identifying the mitotic phases of an onion. Even Bella herself wonders the same thing and makes it plainly obvious by asking almost every other page what this magnificent Adonis can possibly see in her, which became rather tiring.
(On another note, I'm still trying to figure out how any person with dark circles under his eyes and lavender eyelids can be likened to Adonis. It could just be me, but the way Meyer described their features, I couldn't help imagining a well-fed crack fiend half the time.)
While I don't understand how the love between Bella and Edward can be so true and deep as made out in the book, considering they only knew each other for a few months, I can understand how Bella formed such a strong attachment to Edward: he saved her life on more than one occasion and, in a sense, has become her personal Superman. Is this right thinking? Dunno, but I guess constantly saving a girl who can barely walk without tripping does equate to being inexplicably lovable.
By the end of the novel, I realized that Bella's character, though stubborn, was unbelievably insecure--more so than one would expect from the typical teenage girl--and Edward, arrogant as he can be, used this insecurity to his benefit (whether consciously or not), thus causing multiple crises of conscience for "putting [her] in harm's way".
When one really steps back from this novel and looks at the entire scope of it, the true dysfunction of their unhealthy relationship is obviously apparent.
Plus, Meyer's overuse of the word incredulous began grating on my senses, not to mention all the glaring, whining, cringing, grimacing, and her overwhelming need to append a "he said" or "she said" to almost every bit of dialog that transpired. (Surely, even truly young minds are able to keep up with the general flow of dialog). And let's not get started on the editing: You know the editor was asleep at the wheel, or either non-existent, when there's a glaring grammatical error within the first ten pages.
But, despite all of that, I enjoyed the book. Meyer is a wonderful storyteller. There was a cliffhanger at the end of each bite-sized chapter pressing the reader to continue on, if for no other reason than to see who else is glaring or grimacing at whom. The story also had a light-hearted comedic edge which played in its favor.
Rather than feeling as though I were trudging through a heavy piece of fantasy fiction, I was able to let my mind relax and float into the story as if I were watching some strangely intoxicating reality show about a clumsy teenage girl and a thoroughly confused vampire. In the end, despite their flaws and not fully understanding their logic or reasoning, I even enjoyed the characters Meyer created.
This is a novel you should pick up when you just want to shut off your brain for a little while and escape reality. Basically, you shouldn't try to read this novel with too serious an eye. Ideally, it should be read while curled up in your most comfortable outfit eating your favorite snack with the lights dimmed, and television and phone turned off.