02 August 2010
Twilight has become something of a pop culture phenomenon. The fact that all the hullabaloo started with the writing of a practicing Mormon mom makes it all the more interesting. I recently decided to put aside my preconceived notions about the Twilight series and give it a fresh look by actually reading the books. I've made it through the first two in the series, and here are my thoughts:
Book 1: Twilight
This book is pretty much a 500-page pamphlet advertising the beauties of Edward Cullen. I do not think it is an overstatement to say that at least half of the printed words in this book are describing Edward’s various perfections in one way or another.
One thing that quickly got on my nerves while reading this book was Stephenie Meyer’s all-too-frequent use of similar descriptors. In particular, she was constantly writing about Edward’s “crooked grin,” “trying to hold back a laugh,” “smirk,” or some variation of those three. Within one half-page, I actually counted the phrase “crooked grin” repeated three times. Okay, Stephenie, we get it! He likes to grin crookedly a lot! Use the space to tell us something new, for crying out loud. I wish I had gone through the book with a highlighter and marked every time a variation on those descriptors came up. I’m sure the number would be in the hundreds.
All of the conversations between Bella and Edward are exactly the same, and it got quite tiresome having to re-read their same spiel so many times. Basically, their standard conversation goes like this;
Edward: Bella, I’m no good for you.
Bella: What?!? Don’t be ridiculous. Can’t you see it’s ME who’s no good for YOU?
Edward: (grinning crookedly) You’re hanging out with a vampire, and you’re worried about me?
Bella: (angrily) Don’t even say anything like that! Can’t you see that my life has no meaning without you?
(Much passionate touching, kissing, and crooked grinning ensues, repeat ad nauseum)
Book 2: New Moon
This book was an improvement over Twilight in many ways. The biggest improvement was the absence of Edward for the majority of the book. Now we didn’t have to listen to Bella’s repeated descriptions of his perfections, and instead some interesting stuff could happen. Jacob Black is developed into a truly likable character. He and Bella actually do stuff together, like friends in real life should. Bella doesn’t have to take the time to describe Jacob’s awesomeness to make you like him (as she tried to do with Edward), because you get to know him by the way they interact and the things they do together. Talking, working, going out… You know, the stuff that lets you actually get to know and care about another person. All the stuff that was left out of Bella and Edward’s relationship. I found myself hating Bella for refusing to devote herself more fully toward Jacob, instead clinging on to her memories of Edward and the “gaping hole” he had left in her chest.
But, sure enough, Edward had to ruin everything by coming back at the end of the book. And again, the book quickly devolved into repeated descriptions of his beauty, interrupted by standard conversations such as I recited in my review of Twilight.
I don’t think I’m revealing anything when I say that Edward proposes marriage to Bella toward the end of the book. What really bothers me is Bella’s reaction to his proposal. I’ve just read 500 pages of Bella describing how she: a) will never get over Edward and no other man could ever fill his place in her life, b) is eternally devoted to Edward in every sense of the word and would rather die than live without him, and c) desires transformation into a vampire so that she can be eternally entwined with Edward. And yet, his proposal of marriage comes across as surprisingly repulsive to Bella. It upsets her and she describes various ways she is considering to get out of having to marry him. WHAT?!? I can’t begin to describe in words how utterly stupid Bella’s reaction is. It makes me hate her even more. She is eternally dedicated to Edward and would rather die than live without him, but whoa, whoa, whoa! MARRIAGE?!? Cool it, Edward! You’re moving too quickly! I’m not ready for that kind of a commitment!
Stupid Stephenie Meyer.
It is also worth noting that Sister Meyer continues to ramp up her use of profanity as the book series progresses. In Twilight, she timidly used the word “hell” 2 or 3 times, like she was testing out the waters. Apparently she liked being a naughty girl, and in New Moon several more “hells” appear along with a few “damns.” At the rate she’s going, I’m currently holding my breath to see if the “F word” appears by the end of book 4.
Originally published 20 December 2009