Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Seventeen-year-old Bella wasn’t expecting any sort of excitement at all in the perpetually rainy town of Forks, WA. When her mom remarried, she’d willingly left sun-drenched Phoenix behind to move back in with her dad, making it easier for her mom and new husband to travel. This isn’t a story about stepfamilies, though–Bella genuinely wishes her mom the best– if you’ve read the back of the book, you know it’s all about VAMPIRES.

Which is why, when Bella first encounters the exotic Cullen family clan in the cafeteria her first day of school, we all know why they’re dazzlingly beautiful, intimidate everyone around them, and oh yeah, don’t eat. Remember, VAMPIRES! (Bella, however, has not read the back of the book and doesn’t know this yet.) Edward Cullen in drop-dead gorgeous, and initially, seems to hate Bella on sight. They are paired up as biology lab partners, and his rapid mood swings and sudden class absences have our heroine very confused. But, as an almost-fatal accident in the icy student parking lot tips her off to the fact that Edward is very strong, and very, very fast, eventually the whole vampire bit comes out. Which brings a whole new level to emotionally-charged high school romance, as predator and prey have fallen in love with each other.

This… was a remarkably tame vampire story. There’s a lot of high tension between Bella and Edward, but his entire family of vampires? Are GOOD vampires. They only drink animal blood, and in Edward’s rebellious youth, he went all vigilante and the only humans he killed were bad people. I think my suspension of disbelief faltered right at the beginning when all these vampires are willingly attending high school. (I mean, c’mon, even if you were seventeen when you died, why would you do that? It’s not like they even EAT people.) However, the plot moves along nicely, with good levels of emotional tension and physical danger. The vampire mythology is consistent and not overly complicated–although the bit where they sparkle in the sunlight is a bit much, in my ever-so-humble opinion.

I think my biggest reservation is the relationship between Edward and Bella. There’s a whole lotta wish fulfilment going on here. She has this amazing, indescribable specialness that draw him to her. (I’m going to be horrible disappointed if there’s not a big, mystical reason for both this and her clumsiness in a later book.) He is pretty darn flawless, and always thinking of what’s best for her. Which is not to say Bella can’t think for herself; she is quite capable and independent. But the whole “I am powerful and experienced, yet still seventeen, let me take care of you” vibe really hit a wrong note with me.

I can see why the series is popular (the second book, New Moon, has come out recently), but I like my characters more flawed, and my vampires scarier with more moral ambiguity and less… sparkle. I’ll just be over here, re-reading Robin McKinley’s Sunshine instead.

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5 responses to “Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, about the flimsiness of this book in comparision with (worship, heart) Sunshine. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Twilight — it moved along well, but I was left with a bubble pop taste at the end… (and at the end of the sequel, which I read, too). Much of this was explained by the author’s comment, on her website, that she has kept the books pitched to a young adult audience, which, in her Morman sensibility, seems to imply much teenage angst but no danger of anything too sexual. She actually wrote a more robust version of the story as a present to her sister, I think, but said that version will never see the light of day, at least not for a very long time. Oh well. *digs up copy of Sunshine…. and one or two other, really well written vamp novels ;)*

  2. I think this book was actually very good and addicting. I read Sunshine and thought it was just okay. At the end of the novels I was craving more as I still am. My friends and i talk about a lot and yes there were flaws but altogether it held up nicely. I don’t even like fantasy. I read it in 6 hours from 8pm. to 3am. I couldn’t put it down. Like I said it was addicting.
    So I think that Twilight and New Moon are the best books I’ve ever read and that’s like a 2,000.

  3. Well, I liked Sunshine better because I like my vampire books to be scary, and I loved the whole world she created. But especially if you really like the romance, I can see how you’d like Twilight more.

  4. I am a 53 year old mother of five.
    Am I wrong to try to make this more than just a romance novel?
    I am get so tired of seeing humans portrayed as shallow, self-centered, foolish, and stupid. Humans can be noble. Teens can and do make good choices all the time. I want Bella to start seeing the nobility in the human race or at least to start looking for it. Her success in (real) life would depend on it.
    Right now, the Bella I see in this book has no pride. (Is that why Edward can’t read her thoughts?) To me, it is as bad as having too much pride, no, maybe worse, I think. It makes her want to DIE to ensure that he remains hers. Can it get any worse that that? It would AT MOST satisfy both their appetites. People are so much more than their appetites, unlike animals. We mammals ARE NOT animals.
    Bella seems more overcome by appetite than Edward, the BMOC, super rich, super good looking, Superman and the envy of every other person at school–no, that should read “in town”. No small ego trip; catching him, nevermind he is a vampire, but to give up EVERYTHING for Edward; please NO! Please make Bella smarter than that. Please give her SOME self esteem.
    Can Bella triumph over the lie that is Edward? I hope so.
    My twelve year old daughter is reading this book for school. I hope her time isn’t wasted or her perception of human nobility altered by a missed opportunity on the part of the author, Stephenie Meyer. So, am I wrong to make of this more than a romance novel? Consider your sons and daughters, born or yet to be born. Can they, should they, will they become more than appetites? Consider your grandchildren.
    Love,
    Mom

  5. Well, I think there are many excellent books out there for and about teens that explore serious questions of human morality, and show the extraordinary things that people can do. I don’t necessarily feel that Twilight is the best example, but that doesn’t make it a bad book.

    Twilight was clearly not one of my favourites, but if your daughter enjoys it and gets something out of it, then good for her!

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