Siyuan's Reviews > Twilight

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
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's review
Nov 14, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: unrecommended
Read in August, 2007

Where to even begin. Books like this (along with the Da Vinci Code, that Eragon series) infuriate me. I have never seen any reason to shun any genre or plot devices, because good writing and narrative talent can make reading anything a pleasure. That said, Meyer's series is dull, at times laughable, unstructured, unoriginal, and just badly written, hopelessly falling short of realizing any of fiction's potential. to be fair, her writing isn't as atrocious as that of dan brown's and whatever that dragon kid's name is. but that doesn't save her from being a grossly overhyped, weak example of something that's already been done, and done far better. as plotlines go, there've been more outrageous and ridiculous ones by far, but a well-executed book can withstand that. If teen (and adult) readers selected books not by their publicity and popularity, they would easily be able to find better examples of the same genre among other books that have to share shelf space with Twilight.

there were so many parts where i wanted to cry, but not because i was so very, very moved:

after only a few interactions, edward says things like "bella, you don't even realize it but you're so much specialler and better and unusualler and different from every human on the planet. i can't solve this incredibly complex rubik's cube that is you." this is often the premise of having a hero/heroine/antagonist in a story. you want them to be different, to stand out somehow, to be special. the problem is that at the point in the book where edward starts saying these things, meyer hasn't actually given the reader any evidence at all that this is true of bella. the reader is in her head, so it's not like she can hide anything, and the only special thing about her is that she is the new girl in town, not as used to rain, and very clumsy and disdainful. the fact that meyer actually needs one character to explain to the reader how they should feel about the main character/first person narrator kind of gives it away, doesn't it?

edward also says furiously things like: "jacob must be punished, O beloved, divinest long-necked white bird. for he saideth that you're pretty. OMG, YOU'RE NOT PRETTY! you're a transcendentally beautiful cygnet, and so far beyond pretty that for him to call you pretty is like spitting on you so i have to go break his bones now. your blood smells good and i glitter, so i can't let anyone insult you so horrendously."

bella: "Don't hurt him, i'm sure he didn't mean it."

edward: "All right, but only because you say so, i'll let him live. but if he ever dares call you pretty again, i'll make him sorry."

at this point, i wondered why meyer was showing any restraint at all, and why she wasn't having edward earnestly say things like "Did it hurt, when you fell from heaven?" with a straight face. and mean it.

i can't even begin to understand what emotional mechanism is making this character and this writing seem attractive to the primarily heterosexual, young adult female readership.

i think part of the guilty pleasure many young women (myself included) have gotten from several books comes from the appeal of the fictional characters, and sometimes from the romantic appeal of the male characters. it's embarrassing, but it's very often true. that said, the improbably-named "bella swan" herself as a character is nothing to look at, personality-wise.

mr. darcy's appeal: subdued and aloof, but passionate despite himself, and all of this Austen managed to convey with skill and restraint. howl, owner of the moving castle, is vain and cowardly and flamboyant, but a good writer makes all that somehow appealing! anne's gilbert is natural, genuine, the schoolboy chum who grows up fairly quickly to be a very respectable man. twelfth night's duke orsino is...not very inspiring, but viola-turned-dashing-cesario more than makes up for it (not technically a male, but whatever). across genres and historical periods, writers have managed to sketch out nuanced, compelling characters, from the rough, deeply, fallibly human to the fantastically, impossibly unattainable superhuman. but edward?

edward glitters in the sun and says terrible, terrible lines that not even fictional vampires living in washington state should be allowed to utter. bella screams in terror while riding piggyback on her motor-velociraptor-cycle of a boyfriend, rolls her eyes at everyone in her town who's not a vampire, and angrily trips herself a lot.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline I agree 100% with everything you said in this review. And yet... I still enjoyed the book. In fact, I am reading the next one. Alarming!

Siyuan yeah...I realize, but can't always remember, that what makes people tick is often a very individual thing, and that tastes can inexplicably vary. And I've often found myself liking, or enjoying on some level, things I knew that rationally I should not like. So I probably shouldn't come down so harshly on Twilight's appeal and those it appeals to, but I was so completely immune to the book's charms that the hype over it outraged me that much more. i have to admit that if the series was not the sensation it is, and i picked up Twilight by accident, i would probably put it down quietly and not have to throw a tantrum over it. I saw that you liked it, and I was like... "But...I trust Cari's taste! She's a writer I envy! I am confused!" But I don't think we always agreed in SCW anyway (Sunny and I often did, obviously only because of the initial sameness). So I think I'll just have to chalk it up to me not having the right tastebuds for Twilight, the way some people don't like cilantro or chocolate.

message 3: by Caroline (new) - added it

Caroline Yeah, I think it's interesting that we have fairly similar writing styles at times (and you, too, are a writer I envy!), but I think our reading tastes vary more. And there are plenty of books I enjoy reading on a read-for-pleasure level that I would utterly hate on a read-for-academia level (like Twilight). Maybe every book should have multiple reviews based on what your purpose for reading is? Give Michiko Kakutani (sp?) a little extra homework :)

I totally feel you on the Eragon thing, though!!!! That drives me TOTALLY NUTS.

message 4: by Siyuan (last edited Feb 25, 2009 02:08AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Siyuan yeah, I think part of my reaction to this particular book came out of my embarrassing reading habits as an adolescent--where I read a lot of vampire-related fluff. so i based my evaluation of Twilight on what I'd encountered before. Which, in a lot of cases, were also not of much literary merit, but maybe my 12-year-old memory of them outshone my adult experience with Twilight.

and yep, there were a lot of writing similarities (no idea if there still are, because I have not been writing!) and I think a lot of it had to do with water. Maybe we were shaped by oxbridge and New England prep schools. Did I tell you the president of my company put me in touch with the founder of the oxbridge programs? and I see that you are reading Snow Crash! definitely NOT a read-for-academia book, but I think it's a lot of absurd fun.

message 5: by Red (new) - rated it 5 stars

Red Is well actually when i read all these revews it looks like this book isnt very popular. i myself adore this book but i guess im not your ordanary kid anyway. i hated eragon to but how in the world do you compair these two? have you read the book or put it down when it wasnt interesting?

Molly Can't agree with you on Dan Brown, he is a far better writer than Stephenie Meyer, her horrid, limp prose and teen-fantasy Harlequin Romance writing is among the worst I have ever seen and that includes OTHER romance books and any and all fantasy.

Meyer is so bad I cringe and wonder how the hell any editor ever thought this stuff printable as anything other than a Silhouette MEN OF THE UNDERWORLD!! Romance.

♥ Rachel♥ sHE beLIEveD I totally agree with you. And I really don't see why girls are attracted to Edward. At all. Or how they even know what he looks like (because they all say he's HAWTHAWTHAWT). Bella spends so much time describing him...yet can someone please please please tell me what he looks like?

message 8: by Jen (new)

Jen I have trouble believing people READ this book, given the passivity of the extraordinary pedestrian prose. Personally, I couldn't get past the snippet on the inner lining of the cover, other than to read the first page. My thoughts at the time? This must have been written by a child of thirteen.

Just no.

Daria I agree with your hatred of Twilight. But Eragon is an amazing series that only people with low IQs dislike/

message 10: by Jake (new) - rated it 1 star

Jake Wall Dan Brown is not a great author but he is dickens compared to Meyer while Christopher Paolini (the author of Eragon) is Shakespeare in this comparison.

Dan Brown is interesting enough to keep you reading while board and Paolini has produced genuinely good and fun to read works

message 11: by Deanne (new)

Deanne B I was going to leave my comments on this book, but you pretty much said all that I was thinking. I find it simultaneously insulting and hilarious that Stephanie Meyer has compared herself, or at least her horrible writing, to Jane Austen, and Bella Swan to Austen's heroines. (Really? Meyer takes an enormous shit on Austen, feminists, and anyone who appreciates literature by suggesting this.)

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