Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Twilight and New Moon

The titles: Twilight and New Moon
The author: Stephanie Meyer
Publication: Little, Brown and Company, 2005 and 2006
Got it from: LC

It was inevitable that as soon as I swore I would never read this series, somebody would loan it to me with the exclamation that I would just love it. So over the past ten days I have been busy working my way through the 1,061 pages that compromise Twilight and New Moon. I plead uncle.

By now you've probably heard the basic plot of these novels, so I won't go into too much detail. Basically it's your typical sexy vampire dude falls for beautiful mortal woman, albeit they're both teenagers (technically Edward is over 100 years old, but we won't argue the finer points). As I was reading these books, a number of things kept popping up in my mind, and this being my here blog, you can bet I'll share them with you.

First of all, my general opinion. No, these books weren't awful. I'll give them that. They weren't terrible, wretched or badly written. Nor were they the stuff dreams are made of, either. I'll be the first to admit that vampires don't really do it for me. Given the right material, I'd be happy to be proven wrong. I'm sure somewhere out there is a vampire romance that has my name on it. Twilight, however, did not exactly make me want to run out into the woods, desperately searching for my own vampire studmuffin of love.

Yet I can see the appeal. My friend swore that they made her feel like a teenager again, bringing back all the emotions of first love. I get that. One of the reasons I love a good YA book is because it does bring me back to that stage. You know the one - where you can't eat or sleep or do anything but think about him 24/7. When everything is new and you swear eternal devotion after a week of dating. I read Meg Cabot books like they're my own personal crack stash because they evoke that feeling of first love so well. My inner 16-year-old sighed with happiness when Edward declared his feelings ever so poignantly to Bella.

Problem is, my inner 16-year-old has been subsumed by my inner 26-year-old. The person I am now, who is happily married, who understands that love is about a lot more than looking passionately into someone's eyes and spending every waking moment with them. And that person couldn't help rolling her eyes at the ridiculous love story of Bella and Edward. If I ever had a stage where I was drawn to the rebellious loner, it's long gone and replaced with my love for sensible men who are emotionally stable and mature enough to give me my space.

It's been mentioned on other reviews, and I have to agree that despite the all-consuming nature of typical teenage love, there's something particularly squicky about Bella's relationship with Edward. Neither one of them seems mature enough to handle anything. Take Edward. The guy is 100+ years old with superhuman strength and abilities, and how does he choose to spend his life? In high school. I feel it's only fair to mention his life outside of high school is exceptionally boring as well. Besides vampire stuff, his world consists of a bitchin' music collection (unlike, say, every teenage boy who's ever lived) and the occasional playing of piano. I'm sorry - what? If I had all that time and strength and ability, I wouldn't be within 1000 miles of a high school, except maybe accidentally burning one down while I was fighting my evil vampire nemesis. If I were a good vampire, I'd be some sort of bounty hunter or Nobel Peace prize winner or saving baby seals from global warming. If I were a bad vampire I'd be cooking up elaborate schemes in my ridiculously huge lair and plotting to take over the world.

Our Edward isn't interested in that. All he's interested in is charting cell mitosis and watching Bella while she sleeps and zzzz....

Excuse me, I just fell asleep thinking about how boring his life is. No wonder Bella consumes his every thought. I'd be stalkerish and possessive too if I had nothing else going on in my life.

Then there's Bella. You know, "beautiful" in Italian? That's right, she's the ultimate Mary Sue. She's me, she's you, she's every one of us, girls! She doesn't think she's beautiful, but every single boy in school wants to ask her out! I nearly choked with laughter when she got asked by three different boys to the dance on the same day. Careful now, you don't want to overdo the she's-so-desirable th...oh wait, too late. She's way too cool to call her parents "mom" and "dad" and refers to them by their first names. She barely has any parental supervision at all, in fact. She's such a saint, she babies her mom and practically spoon-feeds her dad, too. She's so special, she has all these abilities that no human has ever had before and confounds all the vampires. Even her "faults" are carefully constructed to make her appear like a beautiful damsel in distress. She's klutzy, and it's so cute. Now all the boys can save her. She was swooped into so many manly arms in these two books, I lost count. Oh look! Now Edward's saving her again, and he's constantly trying to protect her from danger. Ditto Jacob.

To be frank (next time I'll be Joe), neither character is very appealing. Edward is possessive and controlling to the point where it borders on physical and emotional abuse. He appeals to the sort of girl who will go bananas over Heathcliff once they reach college. They're the girls who, I'm sorry, don't have the ovaries to stand up for themselves and develop the self-esteem to appreciate someone who's actually stable. Bella, besides being a laughably bad Mary Sue, is incredibly boring. She has absolutely no life, no interests, no passions outside of Edward. She's rude to everyone who wants to be nice to her. I wouldn't know what to say to someone like that, because I would never be friends with her.

As for the stories themselves, they would have been far better served by being cut in half. New Moon, in particular, dragged like a carcass being hauled across the desert. Once Edward leaves, Bella spends approximately 50,000 pages living like a zombie, gasping for air because she can't live without him, crying, moping and having nightmares. I know love can be all-consuming at that age, but give me a break! You see what happens when you don't develop a personality before you plunge headlong into a bad relationship? By the end of page 1,061 I couldn't decide which was worse: Bella's moaning when Edward wasn't around or their gag-inducing vows of eternal love when he was.

By far the worst thing about these books was their complete and utter lack of humour. There was nothing fun, nothing tongue-in-cheek, nothing to even remotely lighten the deathly atmosphere once in these pages. I never even cracked so much as a hint of a smile. I can think of approximately 1,061 things that are potentially hilarious about teenage vampire romance and Stephanie Meyer didn't put any of those in. Want to know what a fate worse than death would be to me? No, I'm not talking about being turned into a vampire. I'm talking about being in a relationship where I can't just laugh and have some fun.

So go ahead, read these books on your Wuthering Heights, angsty, emo days. You'll relate. But I don't know why you wouldn't choose something more edifying with, er, more bite. Call me a cynical wench who's read too many novels in her life, but I just don't get the appeal. Twilight reads like a run-of-the mill romance for someone like me who's been around the romance novel block so many times they named a beverage after me in their cafe. At the risk of being trite, I have to say it: Twilight sucks.


Jessica said...

Hey Kathryn!

Twilight does indeed stink. I tried reading it when it first came out and died of boredom after the first 200 pages. The fact that this tedium allowed you to create your carcass in the desert analogy is the only upside to it. Ha Ha... carcass

Anonymous said...

I love these books for some reason. I couldn't put them down. I think it's the ridiculousness of the entire story. And some people will enjoy the ridiculousness, and some won't.

I don't understand why the Cullens keep going to school, either. Maybe ONE of them might have fun going to school but ALL of them? Wouldn't it be boring studying the same things over and over? ;)

And they stay away for experiments in biology because of the blood, but what if a student has an impromptu bleeding hangnail?

As for Bella, she is pretty boring. She's sort of the Winnie-the-Pooh of the bunch. Everything revolves around her, but she never does anything herself. Meyer has her being saved over and over and apparently chooses to empower her by having her shun feminine clothes and that sort of thing. As if there's anything wrong with that to begin with.

I liked the first 3 books of the series but DEFINITELY disliked the finale. It was...horrible. What I thought was going to be a battle between Bella and possible vampirism/immortality (in that she would finally have to make a decision for herself) did not happen. Maybe it would have been too difficult for Meyer to write. Or she was a wimp. But regardless, THAT was what the first book was headed for. That was Bella's conflict from the beginning. But it turned out like a series about choosing two houses to live in and then someone says, "You're living in THIS house" and the woman no longer has to make the choice.


Liz Lafferty said...

I liked the entire series. Granted, New Moon was a bit long on the angst, but I'm not one to over analyze what I read. It was endearing, popculturish young adult trash. Why would I want to read anything else...can someone say Edgar Sawtelle or Catcher in the Rye - blah.

It was light readying, required no commitment of emotion and frankly, it was a satisfying way to waste a few cold winter evenings.

KJH said...

I have not, nor will I ever advocate reading Edgar Sawtelle or Catcher in the Rye. By better I didn't necessarily mean highbrow. Lowbrow suits me just fine if it's done well.

Anonymous said...

I've only read CITR once. ONCE. Have you read Salinger's other stuff though? Highly recommend them.