Friday, January 30, 2009

Swift and Sparkly Vampire Romance, or How I Caved in and Read Twilight

Okay. So I did it. I borrowed the book, I broke down and I read it. Despite the fan-grrrls obssessed with it (which is off-putting), despite the fact that it was a teenage vampire romance (which is trite), despite the fact that it is literally EVERYWHERE in my face these days (which is annoying), I still picked it up and read it all the way through. I was really and truly prepared to hate it. But...I didn't. I actually enjoyed it. Sure, it's not perfect; there are plenty of flaws. Despite its flaws, though, it's a damn decent YA novel.

First off, it won points on the strength of the writing. Either Stephenie Meyer is a solid A writer, or she has an outstanding editor. Writing is a deal-breaker for me - if the story is good and the writing is subpar, I will think the book is awful. It's happened several times. But here...Twilight is well-written. There's a good structure, a definitive style, smooth transitions - in other words, it has good bones. It also has well-defined characters, which is another must for me. Obviously, the main characters of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen have depth, but a lot of authors would stop there. Meyer spent time slowly building the characters of the other Cullen family members - particularly Alice - and some of Bella's other friends, like Mike and Jacob Black. Finally, the story really pulls you in. The plot is good, thought out, engrossing. It's one of those books that's hard to put down once you get started.

All of that aside, there were things that irked me about the book - for one thing, Bella. I have the same complaint about her that I always had about Dawson's Creek when it was on (and all of my friends were swooning over how awesome it was) - TEENAGERS SIMPLY DO NOT ACT AND TALK THAT WAY. Bella acts as though she's 30 years old when she's supposed to be 17! Even the most mature and astute teenagers I have ever known still act like teenagers - they can't help it, it's human nature. Also, how lax BOTH of her parents seem to be about where she is, who she's with, etc. - my parents were in my business constantly when I was a teen. I'm pretty sure most other parents are the same way. Because teenagers and sneaky and generally doing things they shouldn't be, and parents remember how they acted as teenagers. A book about a kid where the parents are virtually absent from the story is just not realistic to me.

So bottom line - it wasn't my favorite book of all time. But - it surprised me. I liked it much more than I really thought I would. I liked it enough that I plan to borrow the next one and read it, too. After that - we'll see. I'm going to commit one at a time rather than committing to the whole series at once. I guess I'm still a smidge skeptical :)


  1. My parents were all over me as a teen to the point that they totally overlooked my brother 4-1/2 years my junior. It was irritating that they'd call nightly when I was at college or just "drop by" on a weekend. Hello? I moved from Southwestern PA to Long Island, New York, there is no such thing. At that time I noticed just how they didn't seem to notice what trouble my brother got into, in fact they pulled back from being as annoying with him in hopes he'd "go out and be normal" something they never seemed to believe I was.

    I thought it was more sad that Bella was more mature and capable than her mother. At least with her father the dynamics changed a bit, he was just a failure in the kitchen. He seemed almost afraid of pushing authority on her as if it would make her want to run back to her mom. I totally didn't like that woman at all.

    If you continue reading the books, the dad starts acting more like a real dad. Renee however, is still blah.

  2. Melissa, I totally agree with you that Bella was far more mature and capable than her mother. And I also found that somewhat unbelieveable, just because I have certainly encountered immature parents before, but usually that just makes their kids bratty and irresponsible and immature too - kids usually emulate the parents they grow up with, not adapt to pick up the slack. Anyway. That seems to be a common character stereotype we're stuck with now, the kid who acts extremely mature and responsible to compensate for parents who are lacking, so I guess I'll have to just deal with it. Good to know that Dad does start acting more like a Dad, though. I'll read the 2nd book if I can find a friend who'll lend it to me, but I probably won't be bothered enough to buy it :)

  3. I think I have the second one somewhere; I'll look for it and you can read it. The books are a really fun diversion. Jay and I both read all of them pretty quickly. I like that Stephanie Meyer is able to provoke such a visceral reaction from the reader. That sounded really pretentious -- I just mean that when I was reading it, I could really FEEL the anguish that I remember when I was "in love" as a teenager. This was particularly true with the second book.

  4. Cathy, if you dig it up, I'd love to borrow it. And I am SO amused that Jay read them - I told Dave and now you know he will make fun of Jay relentlessly. I love it when the boys pick on each other; they're funny :)