Several years after everyone else, and in the name of research into current YA novels, I finally read Stephenie Meyers's mega-bestseller of vampire love, TWILIGHT. I finished it with very mixed reactions.
First, if I had been given this book at age 13, I would have loved it. At 13 I read absolutely everything that came my way, and with an absolute lack of taste or discrimination. I would have fallen for the book's central theme: A gorgeous guy falls totally and almost instantly in love with a normal girl, loves her romantically and unconditionally, saves her life over and over, and would risk anything for her. As she does for him. No one else in the world can disrupt their love; no one else even matters much. My overly romantic 13-year-old soul would have thrilled.
But I'm not 13. And so I was put off by that very excess of romanticism; real love does not occur instantaneously; other people and pursuits do matter; no love is unconditional, and shouldn't be. Edward now seems to me not romantic but creepy: breaking into Bella's house to watch her sleep, obsessing over her every move, all but stalking her. She seems to me immature in her disdain for everyone but Edward: the "friends" she makes at school, the father who gives her a home and tries to please her, the entire Olympic Peninsula. The vampirism, in fact, seemed to me more believable than the relationship.
Nor did I like the writing much. Characters seldom just say something: they "growl" it or "decide" it or "agree" with it (even when the dialogue already carries agreement). Everyone glares a lot; that seems to be the author's favorite verb. Meyers isn't bad at description of weather and landscape, but the only words she can find for Edward, used over and over, are "perfect," "magnificent," "gorgeous." He even has a "crooked smile."
Yet millions love this book. They can't all be 13. Go figure.