A far cry from Bram Stoker

And now, for part two of my “What I read on Christmas vacation” report: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

TwilightTwilight reads as if written by a precocious teenager. In fact, if it had been, I would probably have been pretty impressed. Alas, it is not. The writing is unsophisticated and transparent (that’s either good or bad depending on your point of view), and the plotline is nothing short of predictable. That being said, there is something mesmerizing and slightly addictive about Twilight. It’s almost like the literary equivalent of Tomacco. I admit to breezing through its 500+ pages in just a few days. When Buki asked me if I’d liked it, I couldn’t honestly answer yes or no. Instead, I could only say that I understand completely what the appeal of it is.

I can definitely appreciate why it is fascinating to a certain segment of the population (mainly of the young, XX variety). The strong, protective alpha male who is nonetheless completely enthralled by the heroine is a common enough plot device and shows up frequently in both YA and adult literature. He’s dangerous but not bad (a stellar little bit of hair-splitting) and is able to overcome his dark, base nature for the love of the right (and righteous) girl. So, to those readers who feel that breaking into a girl’s home to watch her sleep is creepy and stalker-ish, I have to remind you that there are those who feel it to be swoon-tastically romantic and a sign of the intensity (and therefore quality) of his love.

As to the adolescent nature of the writing, I have to say that, though sometimes extremely annoying and repetitive, it is also appropriately indicative of the age and maturity of the narrator. Let’s not forget that our steadfast heroine is only seventeen after all. So, I think we can forgive her for her sometimes angsty and overwrought prose, such as the rather trite comparison of her lover to Adonis. The plot device I have the hardest time swallowing is, well…the SPARKLING. I would possibly have had an easier time with it if the author had been more scientific about it, stressing the properties by which Edward’s skin reflects or manipulates light. But to simply say that he *sparkled* is so twee it almost hurts. Again, this is really an adjective that a love-struck teenager may use to describe the effect, but in this case that doesn’t help me much. I at least have to give Meyer credit for trying to think outside the normal vampire mythology. Still…sparkles?

So, what made me finish Twilight and, furthermore, put my name on the reserve list for New Moon? Well, a book doesn’t need to be high art to be entertaining. Heck, it need not even be very good, so long as it resonates with you in some fashion. For me, Twilight made me oddly nostalgic for my high school years. That’s saying quite a bit considering there isn’t much that I would ever miss about that time in my life, aside from a handful of spectacular friends and a complete lack of adult responsibilities.

In the end, Twilight is nothing more or less than a romance fantasy. While I wasn’t over the moon about it, I certainly wouldn’t give anybody else a hard time for loving it to little tiny pieces. After all, I know there are many who would shudder with horror at some of my reading choices (Shell Scott, you say? Oh, yeah.). Of course, I fully reserve the right to snark to my heart’s content if the next book contains one or more of the following: angsty “I love you but I shouldn’t but I do anyway” dialogue; repeated use of hackneyed phrases; numerous situations involving Certain Death; repeated references to Edward’s marble-like physique, cold (yet arousing?) lips, golden/black eyes, or speedy Volvo.


2 Responses

  1. Well, I almost thought I was going to have to defend the book but with your consideration of who the narrator is, the fact it was written for a particular audience, and your admittance that it still had entertaining qualities shows that you gave it a fair shake. I can’t say if you are going to like the 2nd-4th book as they each take such wide turns. I wasn’t thrilled with the whole sparkle issue and it seemed that movie couldn’t quite get the sparkling right either. What I could also identify with was the high school relationships and how it could possible be the “end of the world” if someone did not like you. Glad you are going to give New Moon a chance!

  2. I see it as allegory.

    She’s working through that female rite of passage… glittery infatuation, a rush of love, a dreamed-of future, and then the crashing thud of reality that it will never, never work out.

    Darlin’, he kisses boys.

    At least, that’s how I see TWILIGHT. And really, it’s for only one reason.


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