“I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly.”
-Edward Cullen, Twilight
I think the above quote summarizes my jump into Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I’m not actually sure what to quite think about this first book and will probably discuss it by just writing what comes to mind as I just finished reading the thing a few moments ago. I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled or impressed by it either.
I think the best way I can think to describe Twilight is “Mediocre Fanfiction.” It’s like, what you read when your favorite author isn’t updating and your alternative is something literally unreadable. It’s not good, but it’s not bad either. It’s in the middle and writing wise it’s tolerable. As someone who reads a lot of fanfiction (good, bad and ugly) I can’t really say anything against the writing style without sounding too hypocritical because I’ve read worse for leisure more than I probably should have.
Plot wise, I think “Harlequin for Teenagers” seems appropriate. It’s about 70% Bella describing what Edward looks like (I think she used at least eight words to describe his eye color in the first three chapters alone…) and what he does to her on the inside. Her feelings, how much she loves and adores him, blah blah blah. It’s a ‘guilty pleasure’ at its best. To help things along? It’s written in first person so if you try just a little bit, the name “Bella” can be replaced with your own and it’s like reading your own little love story where the vampire’s in love with you.
While not a huge fan of first person writing in general (when I read fiction I want to read about someone else’s life…not pretend mine is different), it did put how this book got so popular into focus. The teenage girl audience it was aimed at can put themselves in Bella’s shoes and live her life.
Though why they would want to is beyond me. Bella is quite possibly one of the least likable women I’ve ever met. She’s cruel to her father (in the beginning, she improves eventually) for no discernible reason (a description of what exactly he did during his & her mother’s divorce might have been nice to fill that in. Because the man’s a little awkward, but there’s nothing wrong with him from what I could see…), she’s almost falsely modest (she described herself as being plain and blending into the background, yet on her first day of school she gets asked out by at least three guys) to the point where she’s constantly berating herself for being ‘uninteresting,’ and she’s well. She’s dumb as a brick for someone who gets straight A’s in all of her classes and reads Wuthering Heights for fun. She’s also a bit of a drama queen and constantly whining when she doesn’t get her way. Edward has every right to be mean to her half the time. She deserves it. (And she refers to her parents by their names in her head…what kid with a good relationship with her parents does that!?)
And I think this is where it gets into the ‘bad’ area that so many people complain about. 70% of Twilight is tolerable. About 10% is actually interesting and well, good. (Carlisle’s backstory, Alice’s backstory, basically all the Cullens sans Edward.)
The other 20% is just unforgivably awful.
It’s been a while since I stopped reading a book to just stare at it and go “Huh? What? No.” And then I reread the section to confirm that I had read what I read. There is a scene (mind you this is after Edward has displayed feats of super speed, super strength, and lots of cryptic hints about his soul being damned) where Jacob is describing the legends of his lands and he goes on to talk about “The Cold Ones” (Edward has been described as ‘cool’ and ‘cold’ and a million other things that describe his body temperature as being frigid) which should have been a big hint. But then he goes on to literally say “The Cullens are the Cold Ones who made a pact with my grandfather. They’re vampires.” – Now it’s not in those exact words, but he did name the Cullens and he did call them Vampires.
Bella does not put two and two together at this point.
Instead, she goes home and looks up Vampires on the internet. And comes to the conclusion that Edward doesn’t fit any of the characteristics of vampires, except…that he does. Instead, Bella compared him to Superman or Spiderman.
But I digress.
That’s just one of a few scenes that are well. Just bad. Not writing wise, just story and plot wise. It makes no sense and interrupts the story with its absurdness. But what’s worse than that? The good stuff!
Carlisle. Edward talks about his backstory (very, very briefly) and describes him as the son of a minister who instead of mimicking a salem witch hunt and killing innocents, goes to find the real monsters under the city. And you know what? Through careful work he does. And he manages to corner a vampire by himself – but unprepared for his super strength and powers, Carlisle finds himself being bitten. To his luck (or horror) his back up arrives and he’s dropped to the ground while his friends chase down the vampire. Forgotten, the venom flows through his veins and he realizes he’s turning. To save his own life he crawls behind a sack of potatoes and waits out his three day transformation. After that, he tries many, many ways to try and kill himself (and fail) before realizing that animal blood works as well as human to sustaining his life and body. From there, he starts making use of his eternity and meets up with others like himself and eventually gets tired of them trying to turn him over to human blood. Lonely, he gets it in his head that he wants to create a companion that can share his ‘vegetarian’ philosophy. Enter Edward, dying boy with flu.
You see that above paragraph? It’s interesting right? You’d like to know more about Carlisle and his transformation and what he did in more detail? Me too. But you know what? That above paragraph is basically all you get in the story. I’ve counted at least four to five pages of Bella describing Edward in near intolerable amounts of detail, and Carlisle’s entire backstory takes a page and a half. Alice suffers the same fate later on in the book.
It’s a very frustrating book, and I still have three more to go.
Well, any farther and I’ll be mostly repeating what you’ve all read before concerning this book. I’ll admit, it’s got its place in fiction and I can see where the appeal is. I did find myself smiling in parts (when Bella wasn’t describing Edward…) and kinda’ liked it at the end of the day. But before I go – I want to touch up on the movie.
I saw the movie before I read the book (I heard that the movie was a fairly true adaption so I figured it was about the same) and afterwards found that the movie did mirror the book fairly well. There were a few minor changes that included Bella remembering who Jacob was (and Jacob not actually telling her the Cullens were vampires, they cut that out thankfully) but not much else I can remember at the moment. Mostly the cutting of her friends backstories. (And Bella getting asked out by like five guys…).
I liked the movie more than the book. Probably because while watching the awful movie, I was laughing. It was so bad it was hilarious – the book didn’t quite fit that description. When the book was bad, it was just bad. At least the movie I could find some joy in my sides hurting.
Plus? I loved the side cast. The Cullen family was amazing, I adored Charlie (Bellas’ dad was amazing) and Jacob Black was one of the best actors in the film. Anyway, in this case the movie > book.
Now then, moving on to New Moon! Wish me luck.