Yes, most of my book reviews have been relatively short, since I’m reading so many. However, once I got started writing on this one, I just couldn’t stop.
I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re going to rag on something, you should probably have actually read it. That was the logic behind my purchase of Twilight at a used book store’s tent sale back in September 2011. I paid a grand total of a dollar for it.
And it was my determination to read all the unread books on my shelf that finally got me to pick it up and start reading.
My first thought, upon finishing it, was this: “There are three more books of this crap?”
It’s not utterly terrible, from a technical perspective. I have read utterly terrible. At least Stephenie Meyer stuck to her damn viewpoint and didn’t have egregious spelling and grammar errors every few sentences.
Yes, it was over-the-top and purple, annoyingly so at times, but she was writing from the POV of a love-struck teenage girl. Being overly descriptive and angsty with your prose is practically a requirement for that.
But I really cannot understand its popularity. I can make an educated guess, but I can’t understand it.
Bella is not a character. She has three significant traits: she’s clumsy, her blood smells good, and she likes to read.
She doesn’t write. She’s not artistic. She doesn’t play any sports, or dance, or throw pottery, or act, or speak other languages. I don’t know what she wants to do when she grows up, or where she wants to go to college, even though she’s 17 years old and should be thinking about those things. (Or actively avoiding thinking about them.) There is nothing remotely interesting about her.
And yet, she captivates the hottest, most desirable guy in the entire school. (Actually, she captivates more than just him, but we’ll stick with the one.)
Do you know how we know he’s hot? Because Bella takes every available opportunity to gush over Edward’s absolute perfection. And I do mean “gush.”
Literally three-quarters of the book is her and Edward hating each other (40 pages), Edward saving her life and getting unreasonably jealous every time she talks to another guy (100 pages), and then her and Edward going all googly-eyed over each other (200+ pages).
And yes, he really does freaking sparkle. Somehow, I still didn’t believe it until I actually read it.
What really hacks me off about this book is that I can see Meyer knows how to create cool characters. There are about 4 pages where Edward is telling Carlisle’s life story (he’s the patriarch of the Cullen family, and Edward’s “dad”), and it was easily my favorite part of the book.
Forget perfect marble, diamond-glittering skin. Carlisle was awesome — a vampire who became a doctor in order to pay penance for his curse — and I almost screamed in frustration when we went back to Bella and Edward. I would have read an entire book about him! HE WAS COOL.
There is no real plot here, either. A romance works because the hero and heroine are actually protagonist and antagonist. They’re working against each other the entire time. The Turner series, which I’ve mentioned in other posts, does a brilliant job of this: in each one, the hero and heroine are on opposite sides of an issue, and that’s one of the things they must resolve in order to live happily ever after.
Not so here. If there’s conflict between Bella and Edward, it’s resolved quickly. The book is 75% done by the time an actual bad guy shows up, and while the pace finally (FINALLY) picks up for the last 50-100 pages, it is quite the slog to get there. It also doesn’t help that the viewpoint character lapses into unconsciousness during the climactic fight.
It’s also frustrating to see how eager Bella is to throw her life away for a guy. I understand compromises, and I understand being so in love with somebody that you would do anything for them. But she would have to change her entire life, and this is for a guy she’s only known a few months. Once she meets Edward, nothing else in her life matters. It’s appalling.
And it’s not like this guy is anything to write home about. It seems Edward’s sole reason for existing is to look hot, and to protect and care for Bella. But he is the most dangerous thing TO her, he ADMITS that, and still he sticks around.
Not that she would let him go. When Edward says he should leave her because he’s, you know, a VAMPIRE, Bella actually thinks that she will voluntarily put herself into physical danger just to keep him around. (Because he can’t help himself. He has to save her life.)
Yes. That thought seriously passes through her mind.
“Not one has tried to do away with me today,” I reminded him, grateful for the lighter subject. I didn’t want him to talk about good-byes anymore. If I had to, I supposed I could purposefully put myself in danger to keep him close…I banished that thought before his quick eyes read it on my face. That idea would definitely get me in trouble.
I’m going to pause and comment on this particular development for a moment.
I know I was all googly-eyed and angsty over boys when I was a teenager (and I have the diary entries to prove it), but damn. What does that say about her psychologically, that she would consider that for even a fraction of a second? What does that say about her opinion of her own self-worth?
I know that it may seem I’m going overboard here — it’s just a story, fiction, don’t take it so seriously — but that’s just…no, okay? I’ve been reading romances of all kinds since I was a teenager, and it almost offends me that somebody put a character like this to paper.
I like romances, and I like romances featuring super-dominant, alpha males. But what every single one of those romances feature is a heroine who is his equal in some way. In fact, usually part of the story is her PROVING that.
This doesn’t happen in Twilight, and is in part why I was so annoyed by the end of it. Bella and Edward are extremely unequal, and it stays that way throughout the book.
I don’t think I could make it through the rest of the series, since the teaser chapter for New Moon at the end of the book made me so angry I almost pitched it to the wall.
For those of you who do like these books, please tell me: Why? Some people have said it’s because Bella is like a shell and they can pretend that they’re the ones with Edward, but Edward just makes me want to punch him.
I’m genuinely curious to understand what Meyer does right well enough to have gotten so many people to read, enjoy, and recommend this story.