I know, right? Two things. 1.) I am well aware that I am quite probably the last person on the planet to read this book and therefore you don't really need to hear my thoughts on the subject since you all have already read it yourselves and formed your own opinions which are unlikely to match mine. 2.) You certainly never thought you'd see me read this book (or maybe you just thought I'd never admit to it, former book snob that I am) but I like to be full of surprises. It would be a surprise if I liked the book, wouldn't it? OK, I'm not *that* full of surprises, folks. In simplest terms, I fail to see what is so appealing about this at all. Perhaps I went into this with a bad attitude, not liking vampires at all, being skeptical of any book dubbed "the greatest love story of all time" written in say, oh, forever. I was afraid it wouldn't live up to its hype. And before all the Twilight defenders either unsubscribe from the blog or leave nasty comments (you wouldn't do that, now would you?) let me say that even had this been a good book, it couldn't have lived up to the hype. Unfortunately, this was not a good book.
I read it for two reasons. I hate being out of the loop on books that are causing conversations all over the place, even in the non-book world. I have resigned myself to being out of the loop when people gush over the likes of Nicholas Sparks because I actually read one of those once and went into insulin shock while trying to wrench my emotions back from the blatant manipulation oozing through the treacle and well, I just can't tolerate another dose of Mr. Sparks as a result. But this one... I could overlook the vampire angle and give it a shot and join the conversation, right? The second reason I read it I've already discussed on here, the fact that the elementary school banned it from being brought in and read by students even during their sustained silent reading or whatever they call it these days. That, my friends, was the true call to arms because I could have procrastinated over reason #1 long enough for the whole thing to die away. But reason #2, well that needed immediate action.
And did I find anything objectionable in it that made it worthy of barring it from the school? Well, other than egregious writing, nope. Yes, I am sorry to say that it really is dreadfully written. And yes, I get that Ms. Meyer is laughing all the way to the bank and I am sitting in my freezing cold basement pounding out this quasi-review for no money whatsoever. As a matter of fact, right about now, my hands and feet would rival the ever cold Edward and family temperature-wise. The universe does love irony. But back to the writing. I'm sorry to say that I can't get over the stone and marble descriptors of Edward every time the poor reader is forced to encounter Bella in Edward's arms or kissing his cold lips. Go ahead and throw in the alabaster brow and get all the hideous cliches out of the way all at once. But see, Ms. Meyer doesn't just use these completely ridiculous descriptors once, she uses them every last time, throughout all 498 pages of this bloated, overdone piece of...teenaged entertainment. ::Ahem:: Trying to keep this rated PG and all. As if she didn't trust her readers to hold onto the important descriptions of her characters, we have Bella's clumsiness and Edward's beautiful, cold stoniness reiterated over and over again. Really, where was the editor with the red pen scratching things out?
As if the cliched, repetitive descriptions weren't enough, the reader is also treated with the cloying, facile character of Bella. "Oh. You're a vampire? Ok. I totally trust you not to kill me. And furthermore, please kiss me; I'm sure you'll control yourself and I want to touch your alabaster lips. Oh, and don't forget to swoop in and save me from my stupid self each and every time I decide to go off plot about something I know nothing about. Because I love you and will love you forever." Argh! This is the girl every teenaged girl wants to be right now? Sure, there are teenaged girls out there who are simple and naive. And there might even be some as simple, naive, and stupid as Bella is but I for one don't want to read about them. And as an author you can't create a character you tell us is amazingly smart and then have her be a complete and total nincompoop. Because you see, we stop believing your "telling" and believe your "showing" instead and start wishing that Edward would just shred the little ninny and put us all out of our misery. As for Edward, we never really do get a fully rounded picture of him since we see him through Bella's rose-coloured glasses all the time. But perhaps it's a blessing that we don't know him all that well. I can only imagine the extended passages of angst over him being bad for Bella that we'd have to read. Oh wait, we get to hear this very thing (repetitively) whenever he and Bella have almost any conversation. And while she's thicker than a block of wood about the danger of having a vampire interested in her, I, as a reader, am pretty smart, got it on round one, and didn't need to waste valuable reading time seeing the same argument over and over again.
I have read reviews by other people who thought that the picture of teenaged obsessive love was disturbing and the fact that Bella is forever a damsel in distress needing her vampire charming to come and save her was a blow to feminism and I appreciate these arguments. I even agree to some extent. But I'd venture a guess that much of this social and political subtext goes right over the heads of many of the intended audience. And those who do catch it are smack in the midst of a time of life where the drama of romance and love reign supreme. Do they care about the whiny, insufficiency of a character like Bella? Do they even notice? Would I have noticed if I had read this back then? I mean, who can tell with the teenaged psyche?
But despite the larger thematic problems, I still go back to the less than stellar writing showcased in this novel. It absolutely grated on my brain. Reading the dialogue aloud made me laugh, especially when it wasn't supposed to be funny. The descriptions were tired and modeled after the worst examples of the romance genre (this coming from a happy reader of romances). The characters were one dimensional and predictable. And the scenes that were meant to be revelations after a climatic build? Well, they were farcical. Sparkly vampires? Really? But assuming things like this, our author then conveniently ignores her set-up when they no longer suit the plot. If vampires sparkle, they must live in dreary, rainy, cloudy places like Forks. Not sunny places like Phoenix. When they get to Phoenix (by night of course), they hide out in a hotel room. Until, of course, they have to go to the airport. But their car has tinted windows, right? And apparently they used a Star Trek transporter to get into the airport from the car since no one noticed these creatures made up of diamond lights walking in their midst into the terminal. Likewise no one noticed these same creatures heading en masse to the dance studio to rescue our idiotic heroine again. It must have been one of those multiple rainy days for which Phoenix is well known, ya know, in order to maintain plot integrity and all. What plot integrity? My point exactly.
I do not understand the appeal of this book. I won't be going on any further, I will not see the movies. I will shake my head and try to keep my mouth closed on the topic unless directly confronted by someone over it. In short, I will respect that it is a publishing phenomenon and realize, once again, that I just don't get the general public. And in an effort to say something nice, I will say that I am exceedingly grateful that it was simplistic enough that it took under 3 hours of reading to finish a book of almost 500 pages. Do I weep for the trees that died to print this book? No, but I weep for the authors who are masters of their craft who deserve this kind of readership and yet lose out to something of this calibre. And I am eminently thankful that my daughter has evinced no desire to read this one (although her choices are often not much better).