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Friday, January 09, 2015

Book Review:Twilight

Premise:A teenage girl becomes obsessed with a guy she finds out is a vampire.

Author:Stephanie Meyer

Genres:Romance, fantasy

Notes:First book in The Twilight Saga. Cover taken from Amazon.

Pros:Dark romance elements. Late book creepy.

Cons:Slow start. Thin plot. Poor protagonist. Anti-climatic villain. A handful of cheesy/silly elements.


Girl moves to new town. Girl meets boy who doesn't seem to like her. Girl obsesses over him and then finds out he's a vampire. Book series the girl inhabits is (in)famous for its badly written romance and characters, not to mention its rabid fans and equally rabid haters. Let's see how this goes.

Before I read this, I had seen mainly three kinds of people who had checked out Twilight.

1. Those who read it and enjoyed it (be it because they thought it was a good book or so-bad-it's-good) then carried on with their lives,
2. those who became completely obsessed with it and think it's the best book of all time, aka the Twi-hards,
3. the people that hated it with such a passion that they made it cliché to mock anything Twilight (who may hate me for pointing out anything good about this series).

I will say this:If you have a low tolerance for cheesy romance, stay far away. The main point is for Bella to draw closer to a dangerous boy that himself is starting to grow attracted to the young human. There's a lot of back-and-forth-should-I-be-with-her-or-not and there isn't much of a plot otherwise. And it took an awfully long time getting to the big reveal that Edward's a vampire, especially considering that's one of the first things you should know about the whole series (they even outright say it on the cover). For the first few chapters, you'll have to put up with Bella getting used to her new living situation instead of getting into the whole bloodsucker thing. And even after they do reveal it, the plot still moves slowly.

And then there's the fact that Bella is just a bad character. The book can't seem to decide if she's this special high-class girl who deserves better than normal people or an embarrassing klutz with nothing extraordinary about her. Somehow, she manages to be pretty dang popular in school without even trying and while barely remembering anyone's name or being very friendly. Within only a few days, she has three guys (four if you count Edward) vying for her affections. And it seems like every class covers something she already knows. There's no indication she's some kind of prodigy, making her less realistic and harder to relate to. It wouldn't have been hard to simply make her bored with school instead and still suffer from the same problems. Also, it fails to really explain why she goes to Forks in the first place if she hates it so much.

The villain is introduced rather late in the book, but I enjoyed his presence. He was creepy, clever, and provided the most intense and interesting portion of the book. But the ending was a pretty anti-climatic way to go.

Overall, if you can put up with cheesiness and a few other flaws, you might like this.


Sex:Even though Edward warns Bella that they shouldn't even be friends, he stares at her and they eventually start getting physically close. And yes, they kiss. While they don't have sex, their interactions are pretty sensual and they do end up cuddling on Bella's bed (during which time Edward smells her). She at one point thinks of how wonderful it would be to spend time with him in a hotel room. Bella finds out Edward has been spying on her and watching her sleep. He shows off his bare chest to her.
Bella goes on and on about how beautiful the Cullens are, particularly Edward. She compares him to a Greek god and says it's a testament to his good looks that she's staring at his face instead of his body. Her dad says the nurses that work with Dr. Cullen have trouble focusing on their work. A girl expresses disgust at the fact that his adopted children date each other.
Girls gossip about relationships and hot guys. It's mentioned that Bella hasn't ever been in a romantic relationship. She and her dad talk about who she likes, or as close as you can get when one of you is a teenager and the other's her dad. A couple of boys at Bella's school have crushes on her, though she sees it as more annoying than anything else. Then we find out all the boys want Bella. A little over-the-top there. A waitress flirts with Edward, but is ignored. Bella herself flirts with Jacob Black, hoping he won't notice.
Some guys corner Bella to gang rape her (they're stopped). Other references are made to rapists. One vampire legend is thought to be an excuse for men to cheat on their supposedly undead wives. It's stated that Charlie never got over his ex-wife.

Violence:Edward tries to stay away from Bella mainly because of his increasing desire to eat her. He even mentions the ways he thought of getting her alone so he could do it. In one case, he dismisses another human as easy to take care of (i.e. kill). And given his strength, it wouldn't be hard for him to kill her by accident. The Cullens joke about having a human for lunch. Bella makes cracks about massacring people at a dance.
Bella mentions her dad keeps his gun ready and no longer bothers to unload it because he figures she won't shoot herself (whether by accident or intention). Bella nearly backs into a truck and entertains the thought of running over someone or totaling obnoxious people's cars. Jokes are made about Bella being accident-prone and about a guy dragging off a girl's body to bury it in the woods. A car nearly hits someone (she's thrown out of the way and hits her head on the pavement).
Edward says animal blood helps keep the thirst at bay (but not %100) and talks about his brood hunting animals like bears and pumas. He says it would be a bad thing for any humans nearby because they surrender to their senses. And he drives wildly with a mortal passenger (apparently the rest of his family drives the same way). He also runs dangerously fast with Bella on his back.
One vampire mentions during his human life, he caught a deadly disease that killed his parents. Another barely survived falling from a cliff. Hunts for supernatural creatures are mentioned, along with the innocents who died in the process. A man who became a vampire repeatedly attempted suicide, never succeeding thanks to the resilience of his new species. A woman also tried to kill herself, though it was because her baby died. Other infant deaths (some caused by vampires) are mentioned.
The bloodlust is said to be stronger in young vampires. One curbed his thirst by becoming a vigilante who killed criminals. And the process for going from human to vampire is said to be extremely painful. Like wishing you were dead painful. Killing a vampire is difficult, with the most certain way being tear it apart and burn what's left. There are plenty of ways we hear of how people die thanks to such creatures.
One building is vandalized while another is burnt down. A girl is smashed into mirrors and badly injured. A vampire breaks someone's leg by stepping on it. A boy gets head wounds from a car accident. Bella thinks of self-defense moves like popping eyeballs or hitting someone's nose to force the cartilage into their brain (the way she talks about it makes it sound like she really doesn't have a clue about self-defense). Sports injuries are mentioned, many of which Bella causes.

Language/Insults:"H*ll" is used fairly often. "D**n" is said once.

Drugs/Alcohol:Is there a vampire story in existence that doesn't have drug and addiction parallels? Edward even compares it to alcoholism and heroin addiction. Then he and Bella call her his own brand of heroin. He tells her she can't possible understand the thirst because she's not addicted to drugs. He jokes she can't drive because she's intoxicated - by him.
Bella takes cold medicine to sleep. A patient in a hospital is given sedatives and painkillers. Someone is told to take Tylenol for pain. Bella notes her seats smell sort of like tobacco.

Spiritual:I have said "vampire" several times by now, right? We're talking immortal and invincible creatures, though many of the usual parts of the myths end up false in this universe. Among them is using crosses as vampire repellent. The undead each have a special ability based on their human talents (Edward has telepathy that Bella's immune to, Alice has precognition, Jasper can manipulate emotions). When Bella first sees the vampires, she thinks they look beautiful, like paintings of angels. That's not the only time vampires are compared to angels (or gods for that matter).
There are also werewolf references. It's mentioned that Jacob's dad is an elder of an old Native American tribe and he does indeed believe the old stories about vampires. There's talk of creationism versus evolution, with Edward finding it hard to believe that the world happened by accident. There are references to Christianity spread throughout.
A website references priests and other church officials, as well as demons and ghosts. It also mentions a certain kind of vampire that is the enemy of evil vampires. A huge cross is on display in the Cullens' home, having belonged to Carlisle's preacher dad. Said father was a fanatic who persecuted other religions and supported witch hunts (both proverbial and literal). Bella enters a bookstore that's on the mystical side (with things like crystals, dreamcatchers, and books on spiritual healing).
A man is said to be almost worshipfully grateful to someone. Someone mentions they don't consider rain to be an omen. Bella calls Forks her personal Hell and mentally curses a girl to Hades.


So what was your opinion?

© 2015 by M.R.R.

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