Sunday, January 25, 2009

Twilight Pt. 2: In Which I Review The Books

Ok, I did love the Twilight series. It's not good literature by any means, or the best books I've ever read, but I ate them all up.

My cousin Lex had been clamouring for me to read them for AGES. While I was having much fun with my friend Ali making up what we though the book was about, based on the Flair application of Facebook, I finally gave in this summer. Because really, what kind of YA book nerd was I if I hadn't even tried to read it?! (You'll meet Lex and Ali again later today in further Twilight-related posts)

In the supreme joy that is taking YA lit in grad school, I finally read Twilight AS HOMEWORK. As soon as I finished, even though I still had to finish reading Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels for the same class, I ran to the store and bought the rest of the series.

My review of the first book is the homework assignment I turned in, hence the slightly different tone than my review of the other three.

Twilight Stephenie Meyer

When Bella Swan moves to cold, rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father, she misses the warmth and sun of Phoenix. That is quickly forgotten, however, as she falls in love with the enigmatic and beautiful Edward Cullen. Putting a super-natural twist on the classic doomed lovers scenario, Edward is a vampire who both loves Bella and wants to eat her.

Edward is a romantic hero in the broody, sometimes cruel, mold of Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester, while Bella identifies her all-consuming love with that of Juliet. Meyer’s characters are flat and her dialogue often leaves something to be desired. Despite this, her take on the star-crossed lovers, full of chaste sexual-tension, will leave readers turning pages late into the night and clamoring for further installment so the story.

Also, in a bit I did *not* turn in, I must say that I have NEVER understood the attraction to Mr. Rochester or Healthcliff. Nor have I ever really understood Juliet. While Edward's swagger is typical of most romance novel heroes (and Twilight is a bodice-ripping romance, but without the ripped bodices) Bella lacks the spunk usually found in the objects of their affection.


New Moon Stephenie Meyer

The book begins with Edward leaving Bella "for her own good" and disappearing. Bella, meanwhile, disappears into her own grief and depression. Eventually, she starts spending a lot more time with Jacob, helping him restore some motorcycles, which she takes to riding. She starts engaging in some potentially risky behavior (motorcycles, cliff diving) because every time she puts herself in danger, she hears Edward's voice in her head, and she can't give that up.

A lot of people don't like this book, because there isn't a lot of Edward in it. And people who don't like Twilight in general don't like it because Bella's at her weakest.

And... this is my favorite of the series. While there is no Edward, and while Bella is really weak, I think it is an honest and raw portrait of depression and the reactions to it. The chapters in this book are grouped by month as the year passes. The sections for October, November, and December are beautiful and moving in their stark simplicity.

I must say though, I was SO ANGRY at Bella's parents for not stepping up and giving their daughter the help she needed. Just because she says she doesn't want to go to therapy doesn't mean she doesn't have to go! You have to pull a Lars a la Princess Mia and pick her up, chuck her in the back of the limo (or in the case, a pick up truck) and dump her on the therapist's couch.

Eclipse Stephenie Meyer

Edward's back and protecting Bella! The vampires and werewolves hate each other! Here's where the minor red flags that Edward threw up for me in Twilight made me want to scream RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY WHILE YOU STILL CAN! Cutting you off from your friends is NOT OK! Even if werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies! And while I loved Jacob dearly in New Moon, once he becomes a werewolf he turns into SUCH A JERK. At the end of New Moon I was very Team Jacob. At the end of this one, when there was blindingly obvious which guy Bella would choose, I was team "run away and get a life." They both sucked and were horrible choices.

Bella really annoyed me in the this one. She would be all righteously indignant at the crap Edward was pulling, but then when she called him on it, he'd be all "oh, I'm sorry" and she'd be all "OK! Let's make out!" Grrrrr.

And yet, I couldn't stop turning the page...

Actually, it reminded me of re-reading Forever . . . as an adult. When I first read it in Junior High, Katherine and Michael's love was true and pure. When Katherine's parents didn't want them to spend the summer together, they were SO MEAN AND EVIL. When I re-read it as an adult, Michael sent up every read flag very early on and thank heaven Katherine's parents were there to try and get her daughter to keep some perspective. Too bad Bella doesn't have a voice of reason in her life.

Breaking Dawn Stephenie Meyer

Bella may have turned into the ultimate Mary Sue in this one, but she grew a spine and started to kick some ass. I think her relationships become more healthy and she was less annoying. Although I did have to put the book down during the birth scene (and I've seen people give birth before!)

The final battle though was a little anti-climactic.

Overall, I really like this series. There isn't a lot of criticism that I've heard that I can disagree with, but I swallowed these up and enjoyed almost every minute of it.

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