Monday, June 15

Book Review or Ten Things I loved About "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer

10) Twilight is the first in a series of four amazingly popular books about a vampire with a conscience and his youthful, blushing (HUMAN) lady love. Written by sensation Stephanie Meyer, from the point of view of a girl of seventeen year-old-girl (Bella Swan), the simple prose is clear, and lacking in the horror and gore that is usually off-putting or even frightening in a "usual" vampire story. Because of the intended audience for her book (young adult), Meyer writes a story that is suspenseful yet not scary, innocent despite the heat, straight forward yet thought-provoking, and (thankfully) lacking in the histrionics one might expect of a "young adult book about vampires in love."

9) Despite her intended audience, Meyer has created characters with as many layers as a southern belle's prom dress in the 1950s. You love them. You hate them. You yell at them. You cry with them. And because of the depth of these characters (not your cookie-cutter vampires and teenagers), mothers (who sneak to read Twilight after their giggly, brace-toothed daughters have moved on the next new thing) are just as engrossed and enamored of each character and their personal stories as their daughters were with Rob Pattinson (the actor who plays the main vampire character in the movie version of Twilight).

8) These vampires are pretty dog gone cool. Now based on nearly every vampire account we've ever seen in our lives ("I VANT to DVINK jour BLOOD!"), don't we all have the idea that vampires must always have a severe widow's peak, long and pointy canine teeth, a terribly guttural eastern-European accent and be dressed in all black clothes that haven't been changed since well, 1842? Well welcome to the 21st century vampire, boys and girls... to be so cold, these vampires are smokin' hot! They have a never-ending flow of money; they are smart because of their decades of education; they all have a penchant for driving insanely fast and beautiful cars; and they are all gorgeous... nice... friendly (even if for their own "selfish" reasons)... I'd probably have let myself be seduced if I were Bella Swan too! (I must admit that you don’t really get a clear picture of how friendly they are in Twiligh… that comes out in later books…) Below are my personal choices for the cars I would drive if I were a vampire...

7) I love the study of a creature's nature that is brought about when comparing humans to vampires. The vampire family is so obviously different from the humans in their world. By Bella's struggle to hang with the vampire Cullens family, it is an interesting study on what makes us all human. To me, these vampires are entirely more “human” than many people I come across in the world everyday.

6) I love the innocence of these characters. The main vampires in Twilight were mostly "young" for vampires - about a century old. Aside from their (literally) humane "vegetarianism" (they only drink animal blood) they maintain surprisingly Victorian morals despite their 21st century facade of cool clothes and cars (merely distractions). So even though Edward loves Bella with a passion that could easily be quantified as obsession, and every time he kisses her, it's a struggle not to kill her for her delicious-smelling blood, his true struggle is with feeling selfish for putting her in danger and ruining her human life. Even though she begs him to change her into a vampire so they can be together forever, pain- and danger-free, he doesn't want to damn her soul the way he feels his is. Chivalry lives, my friends! Even Bella seems to have escaped the self-obsessed preoccupation of the stereotypical teenager, which is probably why Edward likes her to begin with.

5) You actually get to enjoy the characters being happy together. Now, you can call me a cheeseball if you want to because I love reading about the happy ending of the couple... Usually the “happily ever after part” is a toss-away at the end of a book. As a kid, I can't tell you how many epilogues I wrote to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because I just wanted to imagine Charlie's life after he got the good things that were coming to him. Meyer pens the couple together way before the end of the book so at least you can appreciate their love. I guess what I'm saying is that "he loves me, he loves me not" is not the point of this story. It's just a factor that causes much more drama to swirl up and around fair Bella and thirsty Edward, and the story is the main focus.

4) The way I came to read Twilight is this: it was requested by my friend as a book group suggestion. I had neither the time nor inclination to read the book before we met, but I did watch the movie version. I was surprised at the fervor the other readers spoke with about the book when we got together in the twilight to meet (coincidence)... The movie had been enjoyable, so I decided to take a chance on the book... well luckily, my kids were out of town because for the next ten days or so, Bella and the Cullens family (and don't forget Jacob) were all I could think about as I sped-read through all four books in the series (now referred to as The Twilight Saga) in about a week. Anyway, I don't want to make this a movie review because once the book was read and I watched the movie again (just for proper comparison's sake) it paled in comparison... but the soundtrack to the movie, however has hooked me in a BIG way... you're listening to three of my favorite songs right now... it is all that has played in my car for the last week!

3) On Stephanie Meyer's web site, she tells about writing Twilight in the middle of the desert heat of Phoenix one summer, and how she remembers that summer as being cool and green and wet. I loved the way I felt like I was cold and damp, right in the middle of Washington myself. The movie does provide stunning visuals of the nature of the Olympic peninsula, and it does not disappoint... Forks, actually a real town, might actually be the rainiest town in the United States, but it is situated in a location almost as impossibly beautiful as our vampire hero himself.

2) You can say what you want to, but Myer creates a story that is intricate and suspenseful. If you can get over yourself and actually enjoy reading "a book written about vampires for a preteen audience," you will see that Twilight is a well-crafted story with layers upon layers of dimension, that only serve to thicken the plot for the subsequent books and provide a backdrop that is as close to believable as science fiction gets.

1) I read somewhere that Twilight has become a "pop culture phenomenon." Wow. I usually don't like being a part of those. While I did see Titanic, I only saw it once, and if it had a book that went along with it, I certainly didn't read it. I'm not in touch with pop music except when I have to be (teaching classes at the gym has a strange way of hooking you in to the newest, happenin' hit...), and I don't watch vampire TV shows. But I will freekt admit, in front of the internet and everybody, that the characters and the story of Twilight have swept me away into the glorious cloud of fiction in a way that I haven't been swept up in maybe ten years. Plowing through the entire 2000 pages of the series, I kept feeling like I should put the breaks on and slow down. But the pleasure of the suspense, the sympathy for the characters, and my hunger (thirst!) for more just couldn't hold me back. I was thankful for every one of the seeming never-ending pages. Upon waking, Bella and Edward were the first thing I though about (like I said, my kids were out of town). If I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom, I at least considered staying awake to read... once I even did it.

So there you go. Ten Things I loved about Twilight. On to the New Moon...


lsaspacey said...

My "fun" vampire car! LOL
You never thought you'd ever have that thought before, right?

Swestie said...

You know, Lisa, I would probably like Emmett's Jeep better for my "fun vampire car." But I hate to be a copy cat! (=

Yes, you're right though... things you think you'll never say.

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