Twilight

I read it. Have you read it yet? It’s suddenly a big thing: An adolescent vampire love-saga, and about as non-Anne Rice as you can get.

My dad gave me a copy, cus he lost a night’s sleep devouring the pages. I had a similar experience, getting through the 400+ pages in less than 36 hours.

But I donno if I liked it. I mean, I kinda liked it. The writing was compelling, but I don’t really think the writing was *good*. How can that be?

The story revolves around its narrator, Isabella, a 17 year old teen who has left her newly re-married mother in sunny Phoenix to move in with her father, Charlie, on the drippy wet Olympic Peninsula in Forks, WA. Her daunting task: To face a new high-school and a life with clouds and rain.

Soon after starting her new school, ‘Bella’ begins to notice a group of kids who seem different from everybody else. They are pale, elegant, worldly and absolutely gorgeous, particularly the younger boy, Edward. Interest develops into intrigue and as their non-conventional relationships develops, intrigue evolves into love.

The thing that most irritated me about the book was that, while the thoughts and motivations of her obsession and his vampire cohorts are given central stage through-out the story, the other characters, the ‘human’ kids who welcome Bella into their midsts with open arms remain strictly one dimensional. Almost caricatures of teenagers.

Countless passages mention the color of Edward’s eyes, and the meaning of their tone in correlation to his mood, but nary a sentence is spared on the possibility that any of Isabella’s human friends might have personal motivations outside of flattering interactions with the narrator. She does not seem at all interested in the possibility that Jessica, Eric or Angela might also have inner lives.

This type of self-involvement isn’t unusual; actually pretty typical for a human teenager, but unfortunately Meyer feels the need to account Edward’s obsession with Isabella to the fact that she’s different from anyone else. His words depict her as rare, unique. He says at one point that he can never predict her reactions, while I generally knew what she was going to do several paragraphs ahead of time.

Yes, I found her self-involvement irritating. Go ahead, smirk, the irony isn’t lost on me. At least the author is able to make Bella’s perspective interesting enough to draw you in- Not because her personality is particularly gripping, but more because interesting (usually perilous) things keep happening to her.

I got the feeling that the characters and the location were extremely solid in the author, Stephenie Meyer’s mind, and she was thus able to convey a vivid sense of place and action in the story.

So what’s my beef with the writing?

I don’t know. While I don’t require big words or major complications in my literature, I was still left with the eerie sense that somehow this bank of vivid pages never got beyond the surface layers. It was all laid out there, like a large, opened package. There weren’t any dimensions. It was like…

It was very much like… watching a movie: An entertaining, appealing movie. Yes, visually intriguing, believable; but it did not reveal any truth, or provoke tangents of thought beyond an immediate interest in what would happen next.

Yup, that’s my review in a nutshell. The book ‘Twilight’ is a pretty good movie.

And strangely enough, they are filming a movie of it…

in my home town.

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8 thoughts on “Twilight

  1. What a charming site. It’s like a piece of magic realism wrapped in literary analysis.

    I believe that the only good vampire fiction these days is being written in “young adult.” It’s the only genre that is able to take risks with regard to formula, which especially plagues vampire lit.

    I once came across a rake in my backyard. Not quite believing the physics presented in cartoons, I stepped on it. The physics were correct. Don’t do it. That has nothing to do with vampires, but I thought I would end this with a good anecdote.

    -Askerson
    http://www.askaskerson.com

  2. It often seems to me that quite a few books are written with a movie in mind. They don’t bother to delve deeply into the characters (or even the story sometimes) precisely for that reason. It won’t translate well on the screen, and even if it would, the whole idea is mindless entertainment.

  3. I agree with Robin… the quintessential difference between ‘literature’ and contemporary fiction is the ‘flash to screenplay’ ease that makes a ‘novel’ morph quite handily indeed, thank you very much, into the next vehicle for the cash-flush 14-30 demographic. Screw such idiosyncracies such as denouement, character progression, etc… let’s just feature the-next-Johnny-Depp’s good side, throw in enough gore to keep the kids talking, and allow the kiddies to spend all their allowance @$10 a pop.

    I’m willing to bet your review has more depth than the book/flick.

  4. Askerson- welcome! It’s nice to hear from you. I checked out your site the other day but now it seems to not be. ?

    Robin & Bob- I wonder how much Rowling had to do with that. She was *such* a success, a lot of people have said many new authors are trying to fill her niche.

    I really perceived a change in her books after the first four … well, five was in a category of its own, but I started to notice that she was creating a lot of moments that seemed cinematic. The books went more outer from the inner. The last one was kind of a disaster. It was kind of like that, I didn’t even know what was going on with many of the close calls with Harry/Voldemort because it was like they were filmed instead of first person.

  5. Huge Anne Rice fan, I don’t normally go for pulp fiction but her stuff is wonderful, addictive, pageturning wonderful, so it sounds like I wouldn’t like this so much. Can you get in as an extra?

  6. I agree with Robin about books being written by movies, but think it is more of the author’s frame of reference than considering a film tie-in. Many people see in “pictures”. Transcribing this vision, the story as your inner movie, can lead to a flat result.

    It sounds interesting. If there was a book that sound English fiction I’d pick it up.

  7. OMG, amuirin, have I heard of it?! My daughter and her friends talk about it every morning (or for the past several weeks) in carpool. They love, love, love it. Although they seem to be disgusted by Edward.

  8. HA! Nice review. Glad you pointed it out. It did feel a bit one dimensional to me. But as I said in my review it was a good read. I try not to tear things a part while I am reading them. Otherwise I may never actually finish what I started, but I had alot of questions after I read it. A really good book doesn’t make me wonder WTF was the author thinking when they wrote that.

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