Thursday, March 10, 2011

Twlight

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.

13 comments:

The Writer, not in residence said...

I think they all WANT to be 13 again:D.

Tim Pozza said...

That which you wish for locks you in a cage and throws away the key. You then spend the afterglow resenting that you attracted it with your wanton desire only to divorce it at 35 with two kids, a mortgage, and no discernible career. Go figure. And Sir Richard Attenborough says effective population control without eugenics is linked to career minded women. Looks like America is in for a wake up call.

gary gibson said...

Haven't read Twilight, but the thing that never seems to get mentioned much in these vampire romance scenarios is that, in all likelihood, the vampire, however youthful in appearance, is many times the girl's age. Factor that in, and the creepiness goes through the roof, frankly.

Rachel said...

I always describe the books as cotton candy. They're light, fun to eat, and you devour them quickly, but once you're done there's no substance. I can't go back and reread the series because of the lack of depth, and while Meyers does have the knack of hooking people to get them through the book, the issues you mentioned prohibit enjoyable re-readings.

Jamie Kress said...

My sister adores them. I couldn't even finish the first book.

I wonder if it isn't in some ways a factor of the times. With the economy struggling, war everywhere, rising gas prices, perhaps there is something appealing about a world where the only risks are unrealistic ones and everything else is idealized and simplistic.

It's the only explanation I can come up with.

The Grumpy Buddha said...

Nancy, may I ask if you've ever read Elmore Leonard? I love your writing books and I'm trying to wrap my head around his style re POV. It ain't easy!

bluesman miike Lindner said...

A

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Yet more evidence mens and womens think different.

Mens want to kill vampires.

Womens want to kiss them.

Jamie Kress said...

Speaking as a woman I often want to kill writers that create women that want to kiss vampires. Or at least rant at them for a long while. :)

EA Hirsch said...

I got sucked into Twilight for much of the same reason you did, Nancy. I saw this book that millions of people were totally rabid about and I figured I should read it, maybe figure out what it is that makes it so theoretically awesome.

I never found out. The characters were flat--and annoying--and I found myself distracted by several outlandish aspects. The vampire baseball scene made me want to turn back time and reclaim the ten minutes of my life it took to read.

That being said, I think there's a portion of the population that revels in the idea of soul mates, unconditional love, unearned love and obsession. Luckily, I'm not friends with any of them. :)

A.R.Yngve said...

I got so annoyed by TWILIGHT that I wrote a flat-out satire of it:
http://aryngve.com/aboutpages/aboutbloodandswine.html

KevinW said...

I work with a posse of middle-aged women who LOVE everything about Twilight, including a 55-year-old grandmother who took her daughter and granddaughters to see the movies multiple times...

and they laugh at us guys for liking James Bond? Sheesh...

The Grumpy Buddha said...

Nancy, Twilighteers -- I thought I'd bring this to your attention:

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2011/03/good-girls-tell-lies.html

Looks like an Anna (http://www.anamardoll.com/) will be breaking Twlight down, Slactivist style -- and if you haven't read the breakdown of the Left Behind series, woo-boy, you're missing some fun!