I received this book a few years back as a present from my grandmother along with a copy of Inkheart. I love Inkheart. This? Not so much. After variou...moreI received this book a few years back as a present from my grandmother along with a copy of Inkheart. I love Inkheart. This? Not so much. After various moves across the country, I no longer own either book. And that makes me rather sad, because they were rather handsome hardbacks.
Well, in actuality, I couldn't care less about losing Little Women. I wish I still had Inkheart, as I love almost everything Cornelia Funke's ever written, but I can't force myself to like Little Women.
Now, I'm an atheist, but that doesn't mean I can't read Christian literature with an open mind. I like the Chronicles of Narnia and I don't like His Dark Materials. And the Christianity in Little Women didn't bother me at all.
Nor did I mind the characters. They were just as bland and one dimensional as the Pensive children. In fact, I'd say the March sisters are more interesting than Peter, Lucy, Edmund, and Susan.
And the writing? I thought it was pretty good. Sometimes, I wish I could write like Louisa May Alcott. In a way, her prose reminds me of Frances Hodgson Burnett's. And I love The Secret Garden as well as The Little Princess. In fact, I've read The Secret Garden six or seven times. Alas, I'm also missing my paperback copy of that. I will need to raid my bank account and hit up Amazon to fix my book collection.
So now I know you're wondering, "Then what’s the problem, Cory? You should've loved it!"
My problem was the storyline. Granted, I read this book when I was eleven or twelve. But I have a brilliant memory. And, no matter how much I liked certain elements of the book, I couldn't get down with the story. I suppose I should follow the individual storylines first, as there are four of them.
And before I begin, yes, I realize that it's unfair to judge this book in a modern context. But I've seen this book hailed as feminist and empowering. Yeah, no. I prefer Anne of Green Gables.
In all honesty, Meg's storyline didn't bother me that much. That is, until she married John.
I don't have a problem with housewives. I think women should have the choice to become one if they so choose. Meg didn't have a choice. And when she became one, she didn't seem content. She popped out babies for John and cleaned his house. Their relationship didn't seem fair and it certainly didn't seem like they loved each other.
I don't know what kind of feminist message that sends off. I'm not even going to analyze it.
If Meg was a Pensive, she'd be Susan. She's punished for being vain and has no talent worth speaking of. Honestly, I found her pretty irrelevant to the main plot. What's the message of her storyline? Be subservient to your husband?
To be honest, I'm kind of an idiot. When I was eleven, guess what I thought Beth's secret was. I thought she was a lesbian. Um, no. Not quite.
Her secret? She was dying. Or something like that. I think I might be too dumb to get the deep message surrounding her sainthood by Jo. I did like her bit with the baby, but other than that, her storyline was slow.
In addition, Beth didn't really have a talent, unless loving people counts as a talent. Did she sew? Perhaps. But this was never shown to be a productive talent. She didn't open a business, sew for the poor, or anything like that. Nope. I believe she died and turned into an angel.
Believe it or not, I liked Amy. I found her storyline quite humorous. In fact, I'd have rather this book been told from her and Jo's POV with a realistic, non Christian slant. Then this would've been brilliant. In fact, it could've been up there with The Bell Jar.
Starting with the pickled limes and ending with her marriage to Laurie, I didn't have a problem with Amy. Sure, she was a brat, but she had flaws. And she was somewhat independent. As a woman in that time period, going off to Paris to become a painter was rather impressive. Even Philip, in Of Human Bondage, had difficulty achieving that.
Jo, right before Meg, sums up my dissatisfaction with this book because she had such potential. A tomboy? During the civil war? And she's a writer? Sign me up for that!
Sadly, while Jo's story delivered during the first half, I was greatly disappointed by two events in her life.
a) Her complete dismissal of Laurie and the fact that he, like Jacob Black, comes back to her, as a brother no less, and their friendship automatically resumes. I thought bad YA love triangles started up in the 80's. Apparently not.
b) Her marriage to that old dude. I don't understand why that was necessary. To continue her writing career? To have raunchy old dude sex? Alright, that wasn't called for. Still, it felt kind of random, especially to my eleven-year-old mind. I was ready to throw the book across the room when Jo announced their engagement.
I don't have a problem with may-December romances. I do have a problem with rushed romances that are used to force an independent character into a marriage because, for whatever reason, the author decided to write up a quick love triangle.
I don't mind Laurie/Amy, but I would've preferred Jo/Laurie or Jo/Alone. She refused his offer because she wanted to pursue her writing. She wanted to become financially independent and defy Marmee (who I abhorred for various reasons).
Sure, she said they'd always argue and whatnot, but the purpose of this book (the Christian morals and all that) was to show that you could overcome your flaws. Jo's flaw was her temper. Marrying Laurie and overcoming that would've been best, don't you think? Apparently, Alcott thought otherwise. Giving up your life long dream and becoming the wife of an old dude is what all young women should aspire to.
Two stars, but I will check out the movie. I can’t help myself. I love kid!Kirsten Dunst Winona Ryder. (less)
Not King's best. While I prefer the adaptation, there are a few elements I think Kubrick should've left—Danny Anthony Torrance, Danny's substantia...more2.5.
Not King's best. While I prefer the adaptation, there are a few elements I think Kubrick should've left—Danny Anthony Torrance, Danny's substantial role in the book, and Jack's anger/alcoholism.
However, King's biggest problem with his writing (it's in almost all of his books) is rather apparent from this quote: "Parts of the film are chilling, charged with a relentlessly claustrophobic terror, but others fall flat. Not that religion has to be involved in horror, but a visceral skeptic such as Kubrick just couldn't grasp the sheer inhuman evil of The Overlook Hotel. So he looked, instead, for evil in the characters and made the film into a domestic tragedy with only vaguely supernatural overtones. That was the basic flaw: because he couldn't believe, he couldn't make the film believable to others. What's basically wrong with Kubrick's version of The Shining is that it's a film by a man who thinks too much and feels too little; and that's why, for all its virtuoso effects, it never gets you by the throat and hangs on the way real horror should."
The big reveal shouldn't be left up to a big vague magical thing. Explanations are gold. This is why people hate King. This is why I hate The Stand. Leaving things up to the will of "God" or some vague mystical being annoys the fuck out of me and it feels like a cop out. It's the problem with It. The Langoliers. This. I could go on and on (I've read too much King for my own good).
Ultimately, this is why Misery and Dolores Claiborne will always be my favorite King novels/adaptations. Notwithstanding the awesomeness of Kathy Bates, when King focuses on the evil of individuals, on the flaws of humans, rather than vague, evil bad guys, he shines. But this probably stems from his problems with addiction. It's always easier to focus on the outside, rather than acknowledging that the problem starts with you.
It's interesting to compare Jack vs Paul, the hotel vs Annie Wilkes, The Shining vs Misery. Both novels are vehicles for his personal story on addiction and isolation, but both are so different. The Shining makes excuses for Jack. Misery makes no such excuses for Paul. Perhaps King matured and sobered up from both his alcoholism and cocaine addiction while writing Misery? Perhaps it was better to personify addiction and literally show a character fighting against it? All I know is that I prefer characters to fight against real, present threats, not vague, supernatural presences. But that's just me.
The only King books I'd like to read now are Pet Cemetery, Cujo, and Children of the Corn. But I have the feeling they suffer from Chronic Vague King syndrome. And, well, if I wanted more of that, I'd go for Dean Koontz. (less)
In 2009, I was naive to the world of YA. In middle school, I read Eragon, The Chocolate War, and Catcher in the Rye. Beyond that, I focused on Adult s...more In 2009, I was naive to the world of YA. In middle school, I read Eragon, The Chocolate War, and Catcher in the Rye. Beyond that, I focused on Adult science-fiction (Octavia Butler and Ray Bradbury), Adult fantasy (Tolkien and Zelazny), Adult horror (Stephen King), and the occasional chick-lit novel (The Devil Wears Prada and something by Janet Evanovich, which I never finished).
The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Thirteen Reasons Why were my first forays into modern YA. I loved them both. After that, I decided to give this much mocked genre a try.
I did a Google search for "best YA books" or something to that extent. Then I clicked on one of the first results. It was a question on Yahoo answers. Almost everyone recommended Twilight. I'd never heard of it. Keep this in mind -- I was homeschooled and, therefore, sheltered from popular fads.
At that time, I lived in Luxor, Egypt. Have you ever tried to find a library in a third world country? A country whose first language is not English? It's hard, to say the least. And there were no bookstores, outside of tourist traps, which sold postcards and travel guides. But I found a copy because, after all, this was Twilight. My expectations shot through the roof when I saw the cover.
Imagine my surprise when I closed the book one minute later. I couldn't get into it. One week later, I opened it and turned to the last page. There was a passage with Edward kissing Bella's neck. I closed it again. Something was wrong with me. Twilight was the most popular YA book and I didn't like it. I didn't know of its reputation as one of the worst books ever written. I didn't come into the book looking for something to hate.
For the record, I've never done that. Whenever I start a book I know I won't like, I never finish it because it's a bad book. I don't have the patience to read bad books. Nor do I have the time. I've started A Game of Thrones three times and not once have I made it past chapter one.
To be honest, I've never finished Twilight. I can't bear to drag myself across the finish line. I don't think I've ever read past the point where Bella flirts with Jacob.
And here's the thing -- it's not the worst book I've ever read. It's just incredibly boring. And it's my least favorite book in the series.
Now that I’ve explored the YA genre, I realize that Bella isn’t the worst heroine in existence. I don’t like her and I don’t understand why people enjoy reading from her perspective, but I’m able to tolerate her. Her POV is simple, if not amusing, and she’s incredibly selfish.
Everything revolves around Bella. No, this isn’t atypical of the average teenager. If you’re as self-absorbed as Bella, chances are, you’re a sociopath. Never have I ever met a person like her, unless we’re referring to family members of mine with less than stellar reputations.
Unless a person is absolutely beautiful, they aren’t worth her time. And people say she’s just like the average teen. That’s incredibly insulting. She treats her father like a child and acts as if she raised herself, which, considering her attitude to humans, isn’t all that hard to believe – who’d want to stick around to raise a shallow, selfish child who somehow manages to judge everything and everyone?
And Bella isn’t meant to be an unlikable character. Quite the opposite. We, the audience, are supposed to like, and even root for her. I don’t know what her goal is, outside of dating Edward, but I’m certainly not going to root for her.
She’s rude to her human friends, rude to her mother, and to top it off, she’s rude to the human boys who find her attractive. Bella isn’t personality-less, quite the opposite. She thinks she can take advantage of everyone around her to achieve her shallow goal. For whatever reason, she flirts with Jacob to get information out of him. She doesn’t even try to care about her friends – Jessica and Angela – and as for Mike, Tyler, and Eric? They’re only there to prove that Bella really is beautiful, despite her protests.
When the vampires appear, Bella is instantly drawn to them, despite Jessica’s warning. I don’t know about you, but whenever a nice, well meaning girl tells me to stay away from a group of pale kids with black marks around their eyes, I follow her advice.
Bella becomes obsessed with Edward for no reason outside of his physical appearance. This, I don’t mind. I know people are prone to fall in lust, but a relationship can’t exist on it alone. There must be something more. What hobby do they share? What activities do they perform together? What common interests do they have? Does he make her laugh? Does she make him laugh? Do they engage in intelligent conversation? No. I didn’t expect Twilight to be great literature, but at the very least, I wanted to be entertained.
As for Edward, he fails as a love interest. He reminded me of a creepy, overprotective father. I don’t find fathers sexy, so I’m under the impression that Bella has an Electra complex. It fits with her upbringing. She denies her own father and insists on having a sexual relationship with a vampire who could kill her at any moment.
I don’t know why Edward likes Bella, outside of her scent. It would be pointless to explain his overbearing, borderline-psychopathic behavior. While I understand that he’s a vampire, his behavior is glorified. Regardless of his species, I don’t tolerate that from anyone.
As for the supporting cast, they were all so thinly outlined, I can’t bring myself to care. I liked Jacob Black. That was it. I can’t name more than two character traits for any of the supporting characters, and that right there is a problem. Sure, this is an epic romance between Bella and Edward, but that’s no excuse to write poorly fleshed out characters without an inkling of personality outside of jealous, perky, fatherly, motherly, brotherly, depressed, and talkative.
If it weren’t for the main characters, Twilight could get two stars. Sadly, it isn’t well written either. Whoever wrote, represented, and edited this book doesn’t know how to use a thesaurus. So many synonyms are incorrectly used in this book, it would take too much time to point them out.
In addition, the prose was littered with unneeded description. That’s called purple prose. It’s when a writer waxes poetic for an unnecessary length of time about something that has nothing to do with the plot.
I didn’t even want to mention the plot – or lack of a plot. I expect a commercial novel to follow a series of beats and keep me entertained. For the first one hundred pages, Bella does a series of mundane things that make even the worst Sweet Valley High book look like quality literature.
The villains aren’t introduced until the third act and I’m unsure of the point of this novel. What is the theme? Two teenagers can fall in love despite unfortunate circumstances? I can’t even say I understand why people were able to finish this book. I enjoyed parts of New Moon and Eclipse, and I liked Breaking Dawn, despite the third part. I can’t find anything positive to say about Twilight. Honestly, I don’t know why I bothered finishing the series. It must’ve been because of Jacob. And we know how that turns out.
As for the plot holes, science fails, and illogical inconsistencies? Well, it would take several essays to explain those. All I will say is this – whoever edited this book knows nothing about biology, history, economics, or anything related to the real world. I imagine that they live in a bubble, shielded from reality.
And yes, I know Twilight is little more than teenybopper entertainment, but that’s no excuse for writing a story devoid of character development, scientific research, decent prose, and a functioning plot. Commercial doesn’t mean first draft sent in by a first time writer right out of college. I expect a certain level of quality when I purchase a book. Sadly, as with movies, publishers and studios realize that the majority of their audience will settle for this. (less)