Book Corner

Repost: Twilight Book Review

Kevin and I just finished watching “Twilight.” I had actually seen it before, but he hadn’t. I wasn’t sure if he would like it, given the, um, subject matter, but to my utter surprise, he loved it. He liked how the author took an evil aspect and made something good out of it. And he likes love stories — is this man for real?!

Anyway, the move reminded me of the “Twilight” book review I wrote and I thought I would re-publish it, just for kicks.

Watching the movie makes me want to give more Twilight books away. Perhaps I will … closer to Christmas. 🙂

This was originally published December 2008.

I’m embarrassed to say, I succumbed to peer pressure.

I’m not proud of this fact, but there you have it.

This is especially painful for me to admit because I pride myself on not really conforming to what is generally popular; I form my own opinions, thank you very much, and if I happen to agree with the majority then it’s because I happened to agree and not because I felt the need to belong to a certain group, wanted people to like me, or I was too afraid to be different.

So, to say that I succumbed to peer pressure is, well, not exactly something I will ever admit to – at least, not very often.

But I finally caved, I had had enough. I eventually cried uncle and yes, I read “Twilight”.

When the buzz first started, I wasn’t all that interested. I don’t generally read young adult stories to begin with; I think Harry Potter might have been the last time I had even picked up a YA book SINCE my young adult years. I immediately dismissed the genre – not my bag man.

Not interested, thanks.

But the enthusiasm for this book grew to the point that it once again caught my attention. There were enough people blogging about it that I decided to give it a closer look.

And then I found out it was about vampires.

Strike two. Now I REALLY wasn’t interested. I had no desire to delve into that super natural realm. None. I don’t understand how someone can be attracted to strange, inhuman beings. It sort of freaks me out, if you want the truth. That’s the biggest reason I could never swallow the fantasy genre – the thought of being romantic with an alien being just totally grosses me out. Let me reiterate: it completely turns me off.

I simply don’t “get” it. It’s not my bag of tea. I would rather spend my time reading about flawed human beings who eventually live happily ever after than about forbidden love with a creature who doesn’t possess human DNA.

But whatever, to each his own.

So once again, I fought the curiosity.

But then, I participated in this past Bloggy Giveaway. And I thought it would be fun to give something away that people obviously wanted – the Twilight Saga books. Even though I hadn’t read them, I knew other people wanted to read them, so, I bought them and set them up to give away on my blog.

I had over 200 people put their name into the pot. The response caught my attention and I finally gave in to my snooty attitude and bought my own copy of “Twilight.”

It took me nearly a month to finish it. Not because it was a terrible story, but because I was in the middle of NaNoWriMo. I actually had no intention of even starting the book until after the challenge was over, but I had to take my oldest son in for an orthodontist appointment so I grabbed the book to pass the time.

It immediately sucked me. (Pun intended).

And I’ve been sitting here wondering exactly why.

A. I don’t care for YA stories in general. They are, well, juvenile, for lack of a better term. Not only in premise but in the writing itself. And that’s okay, they are supposed to be – the target audience is 13 to 18 year olds after all.

B. I don’t really like vampires. They are creatures steeped in evil and I tend to avoid evil-based premises.

So, the fact that I ended up liking this book? Was puzzling to me.

The majority of responses to this book have been positive. People loved it. But there are a few who didn’t care for it at all and the reasons they cited are certainly valid, but I think they’re missing the bigger picture here.

Two of the biggest reasons were:

1. The writing was too simplistic and rife with slang.

True. But the story is being told from a 17-year old girl’s point of view. And even given the fact that Bella is pretty intelligent and ends up using words that some didn’t think was appropriate for a 17-year old (for example “absurd”… I can see a teenage girl saying this, especially if she was trying to appear older than she really was) it worked for me.

The writing itself was pretty good, I thought. It flowed. Meyer does a good job keeping the story moving so that I never really got bored or found myself skipping whole sections to get to the good parts.

2. They didn’t have sex.

This was the biggest complaint among those that didn’t care for the story. And even though I too ended the book feeling frustrated for our heroine, I believe that was the whole point. Again, this was a YA book. What sort of moralistic message is Meyer sending if she has her characters have sex?

True, it might not have been very realistic given the activities of our youth today, but really, it was the only option open to Meyer given the genre she wrote the story in. I believe she would have received a lot more flack if she had allowed them to do the deed.

I’d like to point out that Meyer did an EXCELLENT job of building the sexual tension between these two. I found myself tensing up and really wanting them to give in to their desires and do the deed, and yes, I was disappointed when they didn’t, but I ended up admiring Meyer’s writing style even more because she accomplished what she set out to do – establish several levels of tension between Bella and Edward.

Sex wasn’t Meyer’s goal here. She set out to tempt us into the unknown. This story was about passion, about an all-consuming love, about controlling our baser instincts and about dealing with forbidden love.

Hence the very clever cover – an offering of a red, juicy apple – the forbidden fruit.

I’ll be honest, I bought this story. There was something deliciously decadent about reading a story filled with darkness, seduction, temptations and dangerous attractions.

I think Meyer did an excellent job balancing the various elements just mentioned with the stringent guidelines imposed upon her when deciding to write this story in the young adult genre.

I think, in some ways, this story wouldn’t have been as powerful if she had chosen to write it for a different genre. The fact that she left us thirsty for more Bella and Edward is a testament to how well she succeeded in tempting our baser instincts.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

After writing this review, I stumbled on Summer’s excellent post, “Edward and Bella: True Love or True Lust?” and honestly, it’s a brilliant dissection of a rather disturbing attraction. I highly recommend reading it.

I have to say, this love story, nay, this character OBSESSION makes me want to write something equally steamy.

What did you think about the Twilight book or series? I haven’t read any further than the first book so please, no spoilers. 🙂


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