Wendy's Reviews > Twilight

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
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Nov 20, 08

bookshelves: 2008, youth
Recommended to Wendy by: Donald Maass
Read in February, 2008

I know that I'll be at least stared at and possibly vilified for disagreeing with everyone who LOVES this book, but it really didn't do it for me. I read it because I mistakenly thought that Donald Maass cites it (or others in the series, and you have to start at the beginning) in his book Writing the Breakout Novel, and the associated workbook, and I am willing to learn by example. [EDIT: I later realized that I'd dipped in to the wrong vampire fiction series; Maass cites Laurell K. Hamilton's series, not this one.] But I have to say that I didn't find the book particularly engaging.

The protagonist, Bella, is a bit of a Mary Sue, from her name to her almost instantaneous and universal acceptance at a high school in a small town where she's a complete newcomer (and daughter of the local police chief). The pretty girls befriend her, the jocks befriend (and border on competing for) her, and even the freaky outcast Cullens accept her, and yet nobody ever takes exception to the company she keeps or judges or snubs her for her differences. Considering she's seventeen and in high school, that seemed a trifle... Sue-ish to me.

The majority of the emotional tension seems to come from Bella's head, and is primarily related to her insecurity about Edward. She's so well liked in town that we have to rely on the weather, or the unkindness of strangers, to put her in any kind of peril: the first time, it's because of an icy road; the second time it's a group of predatory men in the next town, and then finally a vampire who does in fact feed on humans, unlike the Cullens.

The love interest, Edward, was okay, but didn't do it for me romantically, possibly because Bella didn't shut up about how beautiful he was. She described him as beautiful, glorious, angelic, etc. and so on blah blah blah until I was sick to death of hearing about it. Okay, I said once or twice, I get it. Can we get on to the action, please? It would have been different if Edward's beauty were important to the story in some way (except as evidence that he's a vampire), but it wasn't - nobody else even figures it out - and I wearied of Bella's repeated allusions to it really quickly.

Bella is the kind of character to whom things happen, and that's less interesting to read than if she were the kind of person who made things happen, who took action. She spends most of the book being rescued, in the finest tradition of pretty princesses everywhere, and being revered for reasons that she doesn't quite understand. And I didn't understand them either.

And then we come to the setting - high school - and the "twist" - vampires. It's a rare book set in high school that can appeal to someone as far from high school (and delighted to be so) as I, and this book didn't do it for me. I don't remember high school particularly fondly, though it was pretty uneventful, but even inoffensive me rubbed Debbie G up the wrong way, and was challenged to meet her outside D block after school one day. Nothing of this nature occurred to dear Bella. Even the one person who is snarky to her soon learns that she's angry for no reason, and goes back to liking Bella. Where's the verisimilitude in that?

And then, vampires. On that head, I shall venture to say that I think "vampires and high school" has been done already, and to more entertaining effect. I'll take Buffy and Angel, thanks. I don't think I'll bother with any of the others in this series.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Alyson I've read virtually everything I can find by the author (interviews, etc.) and I agree with you that Bella is a Mary Sue, though I think SM would vehemently disagree.

I expected to dislike the books solely based on the high school aspect (la, why would I want to even read about high school?), or solely on the vampire aspect (have always disliked them). I just didn't think it was the sort of book for me. So while I was gobsmacked by liking it so much, I'm actually never surprised when someone else doesn't enjoy them.

Did you learn anything about the breakout novel? I sure didn't. Nothing recreate-able. That it is a breakout novel is indisputable; but even while I admit it caught my fancy, I didn't glean anything from it that made me think, "Now I know how to write a best-seller!"


message 2: by Wendy (last edited Feb 25, 2009 02:34AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Wendy Maass cites this series (but actually New Moon, iirc) in reference to enriching characterization. Specifically, what one thing would you character never do? (In Bella's case, apparently, let Edward chew on her neck [though at least in the opening chapters, she seems to be gagging for him to do just that:].) Now make her do that. (Apparently Bella lets a dying vamp drink blood from her wrist?)

I think there are more citations, but it's been a while since I worked on the workbook (*hangs head*), so I can't remember them all.

I think my biggest disappointment withthe book is that I was led to believe that Bella was a vampire hunter, and in fact all she is, is prey. Except with the borderline vegetarian Cullens, who all adore her of course.


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