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Books, Horror, Reviews

Twilight: phenomenon or what?

19.12.08 | Comment?

Well, it’s a week until the movie is on general release so we thought we’d provide a collection of thoughts on the saga for you to ponder.

Twilight is the kind of book you read with a torch under the covers at 3 o’clock in the morning. Why? Is it great stuff? Is perfect just another word for boring? Is it a well-written book? A poorly-written book with the X factor that makes it impossible to put down? Does it matter as long as people are reading? There are almost as many opinions as there are readers… here are some for your viewing pleasure (note that there are spoilers and some opinions that may differ from yours!):

1) The Twilight Saga (Melissa)
Melissa suggests that the real star of the show may not actually be Edward…

2) What’s all the fuss then? (Anonymous librarian)
An intrepid librarian decides to investigate the Twilight phenomenon only to find him/herself hooked as well…

3) Twilight: Awesome or Horrific? (Jenni)
Jenni talks about the love/hate relationship she has with the books and why – in the end – the scales might have tilted ever so slightly in the hate direction (spoilers!).

Finally, I really liked the article that Caitlin Flanagan wrote in The Atlantic, talking about why it appeals to adults. I think she’s about right.

So there you are. We could have added heaps more. Thank you to our three reviewers. Cheers.

1) The Twilight Saga

After the first page of Twilight I was dangerously hooked. I continued to be hooked throughout the two days it took for me to read the first instalment, even lugging it to school to read – I simply couldn’t be without it. The reason for this? Most people associate it to the fact that it is an idealistic love story, and all girls worship a good love story. However, despite what the rest of the world may think, I disagree.

Admittedly, the popularity of the books probably has something to do with how Stephenie Meyer describes the vampire hero, Edward Cullen as being ‘impossibly beautiful’ and the most amazing guy ever, but really, the depth and (slight) reality of the story comes from Bella – the clumsy, shy ‘new girl’ who doesn’t think that she is particularly beautiful, smart or in any way special. This is who teenage girls relate to. This is what makes the ‘love story’ even more brilliant – because it is the aspiration of ‘normal’ girls everywhere to one day meet an ‘Edward Cullen’ of their own.

Stephenie Meyer’s writing style is very appealing and immediately catches the reader’s attention. The plot is immaculately flawless and never bores you. Meyer has a talented way of portraying the characters’ feelings and emotions through their actions and is incredibly skilled with the way she outlines the ending on the very first page of the book, making it essential to read the remainder of the addictive and tantalising novel.

The Twilight phenomenon has been quickly spreading throughout my form with my classmates bickering over who gets to read the copy of Twilight currently floating around. With the added hype of the soon-to-be-released Twilight movie, the stream of the overwhelming Twilight wonder is not to be forgotten anytime soon.

Melissa

2) What’s all the fuss then?

With Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight quickly becoming more and more of a teenage sensation, and with over 150 reserves on the library’s 25 copies, I thought it was time to have a read. Not knowing what I was getting myself into I borrowed a friend’s copy, and as the weekend unfolded I found myself slowly and unbelievably hooked (I ended up buying my own copy). I found myself wanting to read it all at once.

Genre wise, Twilight wouldn’t usually be my kind of thing; I’m not usually a vampire, blood-sucking kind a girl, but really Twilight is a vampire story for people who don’t usually like vampire stories. With the relationship of Bella, the ‘normal’ small town girl, and Edward, the ‘blood-sucking’ Vampire, slowly developing and becoming more and more intense you get caught up in the story of Bella and Edward, learning more about the mystery that is Edward from Bella’s point of view.

And although it took awhile for the actual action to set in (the first 400 or so pages are everyday events, as Bella slowly finds out more about Edward and his family) as well as the writing being a bit ‘chunky’ in parts, it doesn’t take long to get engrossed in this tale of teenage romance, and the fight to stay together while everything that surrounds them is trying to pull them apart.

It starts with: “ I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.” From here on you will be hooked, and won’t want it to end…

Anon
 
3) Twilight: awesome or horrific?

Recently people have been asking me about the Twilight books and I’ve been telling them not to bother. Well, more accurately I’ve been howling, ‘noooooo don’t do it! It’s not woooooooorth it!’ which is an extreme response I’ll admit, and I have generally had to follow it up with an explanation.

I have a love/hate relationship with Stephenie Meyer’s phenomenally best selling vampire series. I was given the first one by a friend who recommended it. I had read a bunch of good reviews and I’m a sucker (excuse the pun) for a vampire story, so I read it. I still maintain that the first book is alright. On the whole it’s a good solid story with exciting stuff going on and interesting characters introduced. I managed to ignore the complete ridiculousness of the vampires that sparkle like pretty diamonds and the fact that Edward seemed to be creepily stalking Bella because he was intriguing and it was pretty sexy and I like vampires.

It all went downhill pretty fast in the second book. New Moon starts with Bella nearly getting munched by Edward’s vampire family, which they solve by moving away. Fair enough I guess, since they don’t want to eat her and she doesn’t want to be eaten. Then Bella reveals that actually she isn’t the strong female protagonist that we had thought she was in Twilight. She falls apart completely without Edward around. She is so devastated whole chapters of her life (well, the book) are blank. She simply cannot function without Edward in her life. This is upsetting to me, because I tend to think that women should be able to live their lives without a man if they so choose. I mean sure, have the huge dramatic emotional drama in your book by all means. But I want my characters to grow and learn from their pain, move on with their lives and become stronger for it. Bella wallows in emo sadness until she realises that another boy might be able to make it better.

(By the way Jacob is an amazing character and I love him to bits and I can’t believe Stephenie Meyer treated him so bad in the last book. Team Jacob all the way, he could make Bella so happy if she would just let him.)

So our lead character defines herself through the men in her life. And the most important man is an obsessive stalker who kind of wants to murder her all the time? This is not the ideal for 21st century girls is it? I get worried when I read reviews online from people saying that these books are the most romantic thing they’ve ever read. It’s interesting that this worry of mine is actually addressed in the books. If you’re familiar with the books you’ll recall that Bella’s favourite book is Wuthering Heights. I’ve read Wuthering Heights. I know it’s touted as being one of the great romances but if you really think about it it’s actually the story of two incredibly self obsessed brats destroying the lives of everyone around them because they love each other but they can’t be together because they are too self obsessed. I think Stephenie Meyer is trying to tell us something by having Bella and Edward talk about that book don’t you think?

In Eclipse there’s a whole werewolves-hate-vampires-and-then-have-to-team-up-with-them thing, and Bella admits that she actually does love Jacob back and could be happy with him, but she has to be with Edward anyway but she wants Jacob to always be around, and why can’t she just have both? Even though Edward and Jacob really want to kill each other but can’t because it would make Bella too sad. The bad vampires from this series are pretty perspicacious, because it’s still Victoria trying to kill Bella at the end of Eclipse by creating all these crazy wild ‘newborn’ vampires to be her army against Edward’s family. It’s pretty scary stuff, if they end up making this book into a movie it’s going to be a horror movie.

I was quite excited about the idea of Breaking Dawn, [but] I didn’t actually read it, I have to admit. I read Cleolinda Jones’ fantastic summary/recap of it, written in ‘real time’ as she read the book herself. There’s some terrifying stuff in that book…

So, if I have so many problems with these books, why do I also love them? Stephenie Meyer is a very good writer. I mean, her prose is very good and she knows how to keep you hooked in. Even when I was swearing out loud at the characters, I couldn’t put these books down. I had to know what happened next. You start to care about Bella and Charlie and Alice (I freaking love Alice too, by the way; she’s all kinds of awesome). Even though certain ridiculous things happen, you get worried for the characters and the action is exciting and you have to read the whole book.

So why do I tell people I know not to read Twilight? Because they are stories about awful things happening to characters you grow to care about, written in such a way that you can’t put them down. Once you start reading you have to know what happens. I’m not convinced that the pain is worth it. I say, don’t read Twilight. Of course, I can’t wait for the movie.

Jenni (blog: http://www.stonesoup.co.nz/talula/)


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