I hate this book. I will probably end up reading the rest of them, because if I don't, people that love this thing will think they can convert me if I just keep reading. (ETA (Jan. 2013): Never even remotely bothered to finish the series.)
In short: the writing mechanics are atrocious. The dialogue is stilted and absolutely wretched. The characterization is bad-- loose, jumpy, and the progression is occasionally senseless. The main characters themselves are not compelling: selfish, shallow, lacking the deep thought that comes with true passion and love and instead leaping recklessly into stupid and deadly situations when anyone with a brain could see sixty other possibilities that should have been tried first.
I can't express my disgust for the relationship between Edward and Bella. It's not romance, it's not passion, it's not love. It's selfish idiocy at best. Bella as a character is insufferable: her self-sacrificing streak is not compassion, it's sheer stupidity. It's hormones. It's a bad, bad example for the teenage girls who read it. Bella's whole life is tied up in her boyfriend. She has no goals, passions, ambitions, or dreams besides wanting to be with Edward, who could kill her.
Edward's element of danger is occasionally compelling, but it's totally overshadowed by the fact that Bella is completely oblivious to it. She doesn't fear him at all, and that doesn't come off like love: once again, it comes off as total stupidity.
Edward. What can I say about Edward. There is nothing lovable about him except that he is apparently the most beautiful thing in existence. He's selfish: he stays near Bella when he knows he could lose control and kill her at any second. He's a creepy stalker: he watches her while she sleeps, before she even really knows him. He's volatile: his mood swings are insane and ridiculous. He's immature: for someone who's been alive for a hundred years, he doesn't seem to have gained much experience. He's controlling: he doesn't want to let her out of his sight for two seconds. (Granted, she's dumb enough to get herself killed if he does.) He's insulting: he treats Bella like an incapable, silly little girl. (Which he's right to, but I digress. It's still insulting.)
I understand that Bella's smell and that Bella herself are irresistible to him. But if he wanted the best for her, he'd stay away from her, period, the end. The story is stupid, the love story is bad, and if that's what Stephenie Meyer is preaching to teenage girls, I think it's pretty questionable. It's not just "a fun read". There are girls out there who want to be Bella and who want to find an Edward.
I think I might enjoy the story a lot more if Bella's idiot head was not the one I had to spend time in while reading it. If I had to read one more description of how beautiful Edward is, I was going to choke a kitten. If it had focused more on the vampire family I would have been a lot more willing to forgive its faults. I thought Carlisle's and Alice's stories were really compelling, and Edward was finally accessible to me when he talked about Carlisle turning him into a vampire and how his family came to be formed, his life before Bella, etc. Some aspects of the vampirism were truly awesome: I found the idea that vampires can never sleep completely terrifying. That they never, ever get a break and never, ever get to rest... that is a wonderful and ghastly idea.
Entirely overshadowed by their flowery breath and the fact that they sparkle. Mothereffing ridiculous.
This is hardly the tip of the iceberg, but I'm trying to spare you at least a little.