In Their Words:
About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
Ah, Twilight. It’s one of those books that you can’t really come at from a fresh, new, unbiased perspective. Haters and fans alike have a lot to say about this book. So where do I fall? Well, let me give you some background.
First off, I first read this book around 2007, before the movies were out or the hype had exploded. I read it for one simple reason: a very close friend, who at the time didn’t read much, recommended it to me. I figured, if she loved it, and she wasn’t a bookish geek like me, there had to be something there.
I didn’t read it one sitting, but it was very close. I think she lent it to me while I was spending the night at her house, and by the time I finally feel asleep at around 3:00am, I was salivating for the ending. I finished it the next day.
I’m starting here because you need to understand, this book is good on sheer momentum alone. It’s got amazing pacing. If you’re not a fan of romance, you probably won’t agree with me. This is a 500 page book. The first 400 pages, almost exactly, are emotional/romantic plot; the last 100 pages are devoted to the “action.” If this bugs you, well, you’re probably not the target market for Twilight. Sorry, move along, nothing to see here.
So, more background: I didn’t read the rest of the books until a year later, because at that point I was still refusing to buy them, but when I did, I finished them in a similar flurry. And I’ll be very frank, I read them because two questions were possitively driving me crazy. One, will Bell and Edward ever get it on? And two, will Bella ever become a vampire? Ok, and there was some love-triangle drama in there for good measure, too.
I now just completed my fourth read of Twilight (for my Publishing YA class), and I have to say, it’s much less engaging when you know how it all ends. Stephanie Meyer’s writing is not really all that strong, and if you’re not rushing through it, all her little writing quirks start to stand out. But, when Twilight was first published, the publisher’s had no idea it would take off so much, so I doubt it got A-list treatment; meaning it wasn’t edited as heavily or as carefully.
Granted, all the religious undertones annoy me, but they actually annoy me less in Twilight than in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series. The Christian mythos is a very influential part of our culture, and a lot of great literature has used it. Plus, frankly, I’d hate for someone to criticize me for including my beliefs in my own books, so I can’t really fault Stephanie Meyer for it. I’m actually way more bothered by Bella and Edward’s chastity (abstinence-only doesn’t work) than I am anything else. But, I still found it believable. And this has got to be the sexiest book where no ones having sex. Stephanie Meyer knows her sexual tension, and those not-sex scenes are hot.
I also have to give Meyer props for originality. Not the falling-in-love-with-a-vampire thing, that’s been done; and done, and done, and done. But she definitely put a unique spin on her vampires; they are truly her own creatures. And I love the Northwest angle. I’m from Northern Oregon, which is really similar weather-wise to the part of Washington where Forks is. Of course, I was always a little weirded out that Bella seemed to assume everyone was from desert land, and would thus be as alienated by wet, green weather as she was, but that’s what comes of first-person narration, I suppose. I love the concept of vampires living in a perpetually-overcast area because they’ll blend in better.
I have to say though, in comparison to the movies, these books rock. I like Bella so much more when she’s not Kristen Stewart. She has emotions! And she and Edward actually have entertaining, witty banter! They’re relationship might not be the healthiest, but I can see why they’re together; they actually have chemistry! In a weird way, they do seem to fit together.
A lot of people don’t like Bella, and by extension the whole series, because she’s too passive. And I’ll admit, my first read-through I was hoping she’d whip out kung-fu action on the Evil Baddy’s ass, or discover she was some superhuman anti-vampire, and I was pretty disappointed when *spoiler!* she just gets saved. but I don’t think her relationship with Edward is as unequal as some people seem to think. There are obvious physical differences, but mentally they’re fairly evenly matched. They bicker, they argue, they push each other around, and they genuinely care about each other. And need I remind you, in the “action” part of the book, it’s Bella who’s coming up with all the good plans.
I love the cover. At the time, it was original and lovely, and didn’t scream VAMPIRE NOVEL. It looks more like a romance to me, with all that intimate skin exposed (wrists! *gasp*). There’s something sexy about it, which is very in-keeping with the book. The title page is also pretty, with a shot of the forest as a full-bleed across the page. It’s a very pretty book, and they sure as hell did a good job of branding the series.
3/5, it’s a really fun read the first time through, but it doesn’t really hold up on quality.