Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The #1 best-seller in America

After months of hearing women and girls of all ages sing the praises of the best-selling Twilight series, my curiosity overcame me and I borrowed the first novel from a friend. I admit that just reading the back cover made me want to return it, but having gone so far as to obtain a copy I figured I might as well go through with it. I will openly admit I had very little hope of enjoying the read, but I had to find out why all of my friends and family, ages 10 to 50, who had read it had fallen in love with a fictional teenager.

I have nothing against the vampire genre. Bram Stoker's Dracula is a fabulous book. Yes, I know it's also a classic and hardly in the realm of pop-culture vampire lore, but the fact that there were vampires in the book did not turn me away. However, the teen romance aspect did. I found it extremely difficult to take the romance seriously. Besides the obvious problem of age difference, my main skepticism was that the two were on speaking terms for a mere couple of days before suddenly they were so in love she was willing to give up her life and family to be with him forever. Maybe this is just a personal preference, so I'll leave it at that.

After reading a few sentences I was already appalled at the writing. But fear not, my dear little children, should your sentences grow short and dull, should your word variation and vocabulary shrink, should you repeat the word "was" on a single page 45 times, surely you will not feel the wrath of an editor's red ink. Nay! Even if your grammar should imitate that of a casual email your writing shall not perish, but rather be blessed! It shall soar on the wings of an eagle to the very pinnacle of the best-sellers lists and shall be praised by a hundred thousand tongues! For the readers of this land are both merciful and forgiving to the unskilled writer and shall not look down on your six word sentences, nay, not even those with five! All such grievances will pass away before a sexy and romantic vampire who needs neither grammar nor plot to engrave his name upon the hearts of the women of this country. Ahem. I mean, Amen.

Ahhhhh.... the plot. This is my favorite part and I have to say I am thrilled to have the blog medium at my disposal just now. I can take a deep breath and state my points at leisure with no chance of an interruption. I had read about half of Twilight when I stopped to recount everything that had occurred thus far. The last 300 pages had gone by in a breeze since I had no long words to stumble over and no complex sentence structure to navigate. I sat back and realized (I must warn you now that I am about to reveal huge plot spoilers) that nothing had happened. Nothing! The main character, Bella, moved to town, spent a few weeks in school, met some people and had her life saved twice by Edward the vampire and got a crush. Surely that didn't take 300 pages, you say. You're right, it took more like 400. As filler, the author had Edward (or his fellow vampires) behave in an unexplained or unusual way. A short while later, the action is explained in a long conversation. Then, along comes Edward doing something strange again! Sure enough, the next chapter he has a heart-to-heart with Bella to explain it. Or maybe it was his sister that explained it. Or she did the strange thing and the mom explained it... I'm getting it a bit confused. In any case, I found this method for engaging readers rather tedious if you realize what the author is doing.

Fast forwarding past the first 3/4 of the book, Meyers finally decides to try her hand at action. She introduces her villain at this point, a "bad" vampire who decides Bella must die. Then, in a barely suspenseful turn of events reminiscent of TV crime shows, the "good" vampires fail to keep Bella safe and she ends up alone with the bad guy about to die. So what does our most evil of recently-introduced villains do? He launches into that age-old tradition, the I'm-about-to-kill-you speech! What a glorious moment. The bad vampire from Twilight united with villains from Spiderman to Disney movies to James Bond to Zoolander. In those crucial minutes while the good guys are fighting to get to the end scene before it's too late, our villain is spilling his secrets to our poor protagonist just in case she wanted to clear some things up before she has the life blood sucked out of her. How very sweet of him! It's too bad for Bad-Vampire, all that talking gave Edward enough time to sweep in a save Bella's life yet again leaving room for a nearly-touching hospital scene and, of course, a sequel or two or three.

So what about Edward? He says all the right words at the right times and has a "bad boy" streak, so what's not to love? He's a bit smothering and over-protective for my liking. I also find no appeal in hugging or kissing someone who is icy cold. I guess I just lucked out. I am already married to a man who has Edward beat hands-down. He is lacking the bad-boy streak but that's way more trouble than it's worth anyway.


Kim Kautzer said...

I haven't read Twilight, nor do I plan to. But your commentary was far more enjoyable than I imagine the book to be. Thanks for a witty, entertaining review!

Lij said...

Haha! Thanks, Janel! I have a lot of friends who love this book, and I just haven't been interested enough to pick it up. And I'm not against trends, either! I mean, I love Harry Potter as much as the next girl. But this just hasn't interested me one bit, and thanks to your review, I feel much better about my disinterest!

Mandie said...

Interesting! I haven't read it yet, thanks for the review!

Natosha said...

I haven't read it either. Nor do I plan on it. Thanks for letting me know it isn't worth my time and effort.

Paula said...

At the very least, the series' popularity does provide very interesting, albeit disheartening and frightening social commentary of present teenagers' and womens' psyches.

Your review is so tactful!