15 October 2008

Now That I'm Off The Crack

SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to read the Twilight series and plan on doing so, don't read this post. Go read something else. Like the Twilight books. Then we'll talk.

I finished the Twilight series a couple of days ago and I've been thinking about them since. Those books are total junk food (or crack): no sustenance but fun a plenty. And while I did enjoy reading them, I'm not sorry to see them go back to Quigs, who was so kind as to lend me her copies.

The stories were a little problematic for me. And maybe that's because I'm a grown-up, haved lived a little, and I'm not the target audience for this series (I saw 8th graders carrying copies at school today). But I read a lot of young adult fiction and a lot of fantasy lit. My main difficulty is with the characterization, or lack thereof. Each character, including the narrator Bella Swann, does not evolve or grow in any way. They're all very one note, though each one note plays well with the others. The chords are few and far between. Bella's parents are an inconvenience and completely on the periphery, as are her human friends. It's the vampires and, later, the werewolves that take center stage in Bella's consciousness. And while I appreciate the author's originality in quashing all the vampire and werewolf myths out there, supernatural romance has been done before.

One reader review on Amazon summed up Twilight rather nicely: We spend the whole novel reading her [Bella's] thoughts and they basically consist of: "Forks sucks. I hate cold weather. Edward is beautiful and gorgeous and perfect. Forks sucks. People here actually have the nerve to be nice and try to include me in social activities. Obviously they're just using me. Edward is beautiful and perfect and gorgeous. What stupid thing can I do today to get myself nearly killed? Edward is beautiful and perfect and gorgeous. Edward is a vampire. His instinct is to rip me to shreds. But he's beautiful and perfect and gorgeous. I can't exist without him."

What I don't like about Bella is her severe martyr complex, which is never really explained. Bella repeatedly chastises herself. Apparently, everything bad that happens (has happened or will happen) is her fault. This bothers other characters as well annoying readers.

However, the author nailed a mother's almost feral desire to love and protect her child. This was not evidenced in Bella's own mother (who shows up a handful of times throughout the entire series), but in Bella (the new and improved vampire-enhanced model in Breaking Dawn). The author also perfectly recreated the break-up of a first love and the insecurities a teenage girl can/does feel. That being said, I did not feel any sympathy for Bella. I didn't care if she jumped off a cliff or if she did anything else. Bella resonates with the core base of the series's fans (tween and teen girls) but she doesn't with me. She did not touch my heart.

I did like the writing. The author has an ear for dialogue and language, though it was stilted at some points. Her vampire family was much more interesting than Anne Rice's and these books were certainly not as preachy as Rice's book tend to get (I hated Queen of The Damned. Ugh. There's not enough money in the world to make me read that book again.). I'd like to know more about them other than just their all too brief back story.

I give the Twilight series 3 stars out of 5.

After a palate cleanser of Alison Bechtel's totally amazing comic, Fun Home, I started in on Naomi Klein's downer The Shock Doctrine. I have a feeling this book will be slow going. It's fascinating, eye-opening, but not a page-turner and reading it makes my stomach hurt. As much as it hurts I will read this book to educate myself no matter how scary it gets.

Belle Noelle is reading this as well. Care to join us?


Quigs78 said...

I completely agree that I was not the intended audience for the Twilight series, but I really enjoyed it. It was a little slow at times and I didn't understand the quick and shallow connection that Edward and Bella had, since it seemed like it stemmed from looks alone. (But I guess this is why it was geared for teenagers.) And we're still going to see the movie when it comes out next month - you in?

I got stuck on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series for my mindless entertainment. Still vampires, but at least it's got the adult conversation and the sex to distract me. :)

I did get Stephenie Meyer's The Host if you want to borrow that one. I did like Meyer's writing style, and while The Host was more sci-fi than I'm used to, it was a really enjoyable read and the characters seemed to have more depth than the Twilighters. Want me to send that over next? :)

Mommy, Queen Of Everything said...

I read all those books over the summer. Sometimes series books get on my nerves because you get annoyed with the characters but you have to find out how the story ends, so you keep on reading.

I liked the first book, Twilight, the best. The last book, Breaking Dawn, kind of creeped me out, the way Jacob fell in love with a baby. Pedophilia anyone? Yeah, yeah, I know she explained it, but to me, ew.

McBloggy said...

I read your post and ordered the first book online (the library has too long a wait and I can't bring myself to walk to the register with it). Sounds like the perfect book for some light entertainment.

The Fearless Freak said...

Did you read Midnight Sun? It is Twilight from Edward's POV and only available on her site (it was leaked through various other sources so she released the rough draft to not punish her fans that chose not to read the leaked stuff). It explains a little bit more about the instant attraction between the 2.

As for the characterization, I don't think that they changed all that much because it wasn't a huge span of time. Sure she was hunted by a crazy vampire, lost her first love, found another love, reclaimed her first love, became a vampire and had a kid but it happened over the course of a couple of years. 16-18, she was still in high school, not out in the "real world", sheltered, etc. I don't think most teenagers really grow and change that much in that period of time. They have a note and the stick to it, especially if it works for them. It isn't until they get in college or the work force that major life changes occur. Midnight Sun does a decnet job of explaining why the vamps don't change much throughout the story. I think it is mentioned in passing in one of the other books but Edward talks about it more in depth in that.

BelleNoelle said...

I think I wanna go (to the Naomi Klein Talk) wanna meet? The husband said that he could get me the book through the University library,but that has been slow going. I'll take you up on your kind offer if you finish before he gets it.