James's Reviews > Twilight

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
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's review
Feb 14, 14

bookshelves: modern-fantasy
Read in July, 2008

It turns out we don't need Dr. John Gray to tell us that men are from Transylvania and women are from Venus. We just need to read Stephenie Meyer books. For example, from this book we learn that the millions of women who have wolfed down the Twilight series (pun intended) want men who:

1. Talk about their feelings. Either Meyer's husband is the single-most communicative male on the planet and she doesn't realize how unusual he is, or she, like most of her female readers, is using her fiction to imagine a world where men not only have deep emotions but want to admit to having them and talk about them over and over, articulating even the most subtle of their internal dramas.

2. Make them flutter. But just being a sensitive new-age kind of guy doesn't cut it. A man has to be hard-bodied, chiseled, dashing, and have eyes that pierce the soul, if not the skin (even as they never look at your chest). This book suggests that a real man makes you constantly stumble over your words, bite your lip to refrain from exclaiming adulations, and lose yourself in the sweet smell of his breath.

3. Are fiercely devoted. That a girl of no spectacular beauty, who lacks any trace of conversation skills -- whose only virtue is that she smells really yummy -- can inspire an immortal creature of godlike power and grace to alter his entire existence to serve and protect her, watching over her by night (more on that in #4). This is a woman's ultimate fantasy -- to have the perfect man, perfectly devoted, for no good reason at all.

4. Want them so bad that they won't take them. This, alas, is the most transparent aspect of this book's appeal. It speaks volumes about the differences between men and women to have so many women toss their bodice-ripping romances aside in order to read how a feral man with otherworldly physical desires can contain his passion and lust out of his pure and perfect love for his beloved. It says that women really do wish they could have it both ways, to be an object of lust and devotion at once, to fulfill a man's desire without actually slaking his thirst for her. To have a man watch you sleep and not want to have even a little peek under the covers -- now that's hot fantasy for today's woman who is otherwise told on a regular basis that to be her best self she has to enage in casual and risky sexual behavior.

To see just what an indulgent fantasy this book is, just imagine the male-centric version of Twilight, in which a troubled teen boy moves to a small town to find the hottest girl in town is a vampiress. Such a book would be about 100 pages long (all the unnecessary internal dialogue would be removed). No one would talk except to comment on the awesome size of, um, one's videogame library. The vampiress would be simple: relatively dumb, incredibly hot, wearing almost nothing, and with no expectations of her man but drawn to him only by the smell of his gym bag. She wouldn't hold herself back from trying to bite her intended, but would get so distracted with his bedroom technique that she would never get around to it.

We would laugh at such a book (in fact, we know it would never be a book since men don't read; it would be a movie, and it would be a smash summer hit called American Vam-Pie-er, I'll start the screenplay right away). Somehow, when this story is told in a similarly indulgent female-centric vein, we don't reject it, but sympathize with it. I believe this is because women get to indulge in their fantasies so rarely outside of Jane Austen novels while men are surrounded with theirs. So far I have yet see spam email inviting one to "read hot things devoted husbands would say to their wives" or "see pictures of hunks promising not to get nasty out of respect for their women" or "buy this purple pill so you can stay up late and share your feelings -- seven times in one night!." So hats off to Stephenie Meyer for figuring out what it is that women really want and giving it to them.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 100) (100 new)

Brigham We discussed this in our family book discussion and your review set the tone. I completely agree and I can't wait for American VamPIEer to come out.

Bronson Thats awesome!

Elizabeth Allen so funny - it thanks for writing this because it totally articulates everything that Brigham wanted to say - but much funnier :)

message 4: by Mia (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mia Well said. As a woman who can't stand the traditional romance novels, I agree that Stephanie Meyer gets it right. Plus she includes vampires.

Mililani James, you cynic....(smile, smile, smile)I loved your review. Pretty much says it all.....and yes, women apparentll want the one without the other.

Jessica Sattler What a great review!

I'll add to your list list:

1.a. As women imagine ourselves in the role of the heroine, we *love* scenes constructed where we can listen in on two men outlining all our amazing qualities and arguing about who loves us more! Every girl's fantasy!


James Agreed! "No, I love her more," "No, I do!" It's a theme that comes up again in The Host. Must be a personal fantasy of hers.

Joyce You are very prolific in your review....for a man :)
I simply LOVED reading this. It will make me smile all day!

Kristi *Smiling* Thank you for understanding.

Megan Loved your review. You're witty, charming, and quite frankly, better than Edward.

Melody Riches You nailed this one on the head. I may be able to get Todd to read the series now, if he will read your review.

Heather Great review! You made me want to read the male version of the story... American Vam-PIE-er sounds like a book I might enjoy! ;) Give me the smut please...

message 13: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Thank you for ADMITTING the guys' version! I laughed out loud when I read your review! My husband is dying to know why I bury my face in a book every night, and I'm directing him to your review...

message 14: by Mo (new) - rated it 1 star

Mo Nice review! Can't wait to see the movie, obviously.

message 15: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Made me smile! Your review alone was worth joining GoodReads.

Would love to hear your review of MIDNIGHT SUN - the first half of Twilight told from Edward's perspective.

Danielle Selby I really appreciate your review and frankly,(with a fluttering heart) feel relieved that a man can get so much from this book in many women's mindset of what, perhaps, is important to her but society claims differently and causes a woman to perhaps "forget" her true desires. Bravo!

Diana I think you hit the mark with your review! I actually started smiling while reading it. Very insightful!

Bih-Ning Lol, you've definately hit the mark with your review. I've always thought that there was something not quite right about Edward...but now, after reading your review, I've finally realized what was so unreal about him. :D

message 19: by Cynth (new)

Cynth I am really into reading anything dealing with vampires, but somehow this book just never caught my attention. Even after all the hype centered around the movie. But after reading your review, I want to give this book a try so that I may laugh as I compare your funny review to the actual stry.

message 20: by abmahoney (last edited Jan 13, 2009 08:49PM) (new)

abmahoney Thank you so much for your perceptive insight. All the while reading these books, I wondered why, why, why, do I keep reading this series against my better judgment? And more so, how did I get hooked in the first place? There's no denying its sweet and innocent charm surrounding the characters no matter how annoying they seemed. The biggest draw for me that held my attention to the very end, was my hope that someday Bella and Edward’s relationship would reach a perfect crest against all insurmountable odds -- self inflicted or not. Your review is illuminating and spot on! Thanks for sharing.

I can add to your list of manly perfections that indeed, sweep a female off her feet. Perhaps not as eloquent as you, but here it is...

Women, and especially teenage girls, love the idea of seeing something tender and vulnerable under a "bad" guy's hard exterior. This makes him more appealing, more beautiful, even sexy. We sense his guarded heart and we want to release it, hold it and nurture it. But taming it is not enough. Ultimately, we want it to love us back. Bella understands Edward's goodness and makes him realize it too. Which in turn, makes him love her even more. What woman wouldn't want that kind of power over a man. Not malicious power, but power all the same. How dramatic and utterly ideal is that.

message 21: by Crystal (last edited Jan 13, 2009 10:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Crystal I told my husband that it would behoove him and all men to read these books to get an understanding of what it is a woman really wants in her man. (Stephanie Meyer got it absolutely right for me! And this is coming from someone who put off starting the Twilight series until 2009 because I was so turned off by the hype, and because I abhor romance novels. ) Anyway, he didn't like that idea, so I just sent him a link to your review instead. Thanks!

Norablanco James, I enjoyed reading your review. I wish you had a column on my local newspaper to review the books released in my country. Congratulations, you are a good writer.

Felicia Gary I love your comments. They are humorous and started a great conversation at my family and friends night. I am just happy that Mrs. Meyer wrote a book that pre-teens, teens, and parents/adults can actually sit in a room together and discuss with great fervor. You are a very good critic and columnist.

Aparna This review was great! What Meyer couldn't do in 450 odd pages you did in two screen scrolls - made me smile and laugh out!
As you rightly put it, this is more of a female-wishlist than fantasy fiction, and what made it even better to comprehend was the unmistakable yet completely non-nasty sarcasm there!
You made my day! (trying hard now to finish reading the actual book)

Molly How do you feel about being named after an evil vampire? Just kidding. Sorry, I've been known to say dumb stuff like that.

Lainey Zee You are so right on! James, I must repost your comment/review on my blog -- with proper credits, of course (please contact me if you want my blog's address)!

message 27: by Lina (new) - rated it 1 star

Lina Too funny. And even funnier are some of the comments ...:-)
Let me know if you write a book (or screenplay). I'll get them over another Meyer's.

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

That was hilarious and so true! Much kudos for your commentary. My husband would agree 100%, as he is tired of my carrying on about "these vampire books."

message 29: by Dawn (new)

Dawn This was a hilarious review that I could certainly agree with -from the woman's perspective.
As someone who has never understood the "vampire craze" that has seemed to infect everyone and having never read the books, you have sparked a desire in me to read them.
Thanks for sharing and being so insightful in a witty and honest way. Would love to read your thoughts on so many other popular books! I'm sure it would provide boundless entertainment and accurate assesments beyond the media hype.
And I'll add to the pleas for your male version....put me on the list for a copy!

message 30: by Renee (new)

Renee Knott As a woman (not a teenager), I am hesitant to admit that I enjoyed the book, as it pertains to fantasy. Especially after reading the not-so-flattering comments posted here. But isn't fantasty the purpose of books like this? To take one away from the dulldroms of the mundane life lead everyday. To wish for the perfect man, albeit a little cold to the touch. The paleness I can deal with. I mean who wouldn't want a man who sparkles in the sunlight? Besides, men who hold open doors, help you with your coat and leap from treetop to treetop are few and far between these days.

Having heard all the hype, I finally succomed to the pressure and gave it a once over. Although not a book I will keep on the shelf, I did enjoy the image I created and the model of Edward that seemed to defy your "Men Are From Transylvania" theory. I'd be happy to start my shopping there however, if indeed men like Edward were the product of the creepy Romanian county set high in the Carpathian Mountains. Perhaps it is Transylvania's Roman heritage that would create a man like Edward. Don't get me wrong, he's no chariot driver. But fast, strong and chiseled he is, in my mind anyway. Maybe there should be a carving in marble of him?

Your review was hilarious and made me pee a little. Thanks for the late night chuckle. I will sleep on it and might one day plan a trip to a mountain village on the other side of the globe. Who knows what I will come back with! A lion, perhaps? Bahhhh.

Cheryl Ah James, how did I miss this great review of "Twilight"??? And if all men wrote the way you do, perhaps those of us who are of the female persuasion would have less to bitch about! I had read your review of the final book in the series and appreciated it so much that I asked to be on your friend list, but somehow I didn't catch this review until today.

As you know, like Renee, I too have enjoyed the "Twilight" series, even though I feel a bit shame-faced in admitting it,and I've never been able to put my finger on quite WHAT the attraction has been.

I think you are "spot-on" with your assessment of the series' charms for women - - and I loved the male-centric version of "Twilight"!

Thanks for making my day.

James Cheryl wrote: "Ah James, how did I miss this great review of "Twilight"??? And if all men wrote the way you do, perhaps those of us who are of the female persuasion would have less to bitch about! I had read your..."

I've really enjoyed repeating the phrase "Men are from Transylvania and women are from Forks" lately, but as I hear more comments like yours I think it's more likely that "Women wish more men were from Transylvania since they are from Forks!"

Nidia great review and kind of true!!

Michael A great review. In fact, I'd say your review is better written and more thought out than the books....

message 35: by Adrienne (last edited Jun 26, 2009 03:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adrienne Thank you so much James! Now I know how to write the next smash romantic hit! Like some other reviewers, I'm relieved that you've analyzed my strong desires to live in the world of Twilight. I know myself better now.

message 36: by Gini (new)

Gini hi
please can you teach me how to rat with people like u

message 37: by Dawn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn Very amusing review. Some of my friends love Twilight and others hate it, but I want them all to read your review. My husband avoided the series for a long time as "chick lit" but when he finally read it he liked the "action thriller" aspects and focused on that rather than the (insane but appealing) touchy/feely parts.

Ebookwormy Thanks for your excellent review. I enjoyed the books, though I recognize the fantasy aspect of them.

But, I also think they are valuable in creating intergenerational discussion about some of life's important themes. Sure, the differences between men and women are there as you have so wonderfully articulated. But i think there are also some strong concepts about what does it mean to be moral? What does it mean to be different? What does it mean to seek to control your (sin) nature in a world in which others don't? Is love more about commitment or feeling? Does love change over time, should it? What about salvation - do our actions in this life matter, and how do you know?

I agree most of these are questions that appeal to women, as we tend to work out our morality in the context of relationship. But, as a discussion starter between men and women, and even more potent, a discussion starter between moms and girls, mentors and young adults Twilight has a lot to offer.

Holly Your review is funny and insightful. Your review articulated all the reasons I actually didn’t like the series. I know, as a female, that’s just weird for me to not really care for these books… I did read them all but I agree with your three star rating. Maybe I’m not from Venus either.

message 40: by Jade (new)

Jade I havent read the book yet but your comment is very funny.

message 41: by Sara (new)

Sara Although you've already heard this quite a lot: you're review was amazing. It was undeniably truthful and resonated a tone that wasn't mocking (ahaha, I do love to mock Twilight--I'm not going to lie).

I'm appalled at the positive response Meyer's half-decent writing has garnered, and being fourteen I've seen the affect it's had on young(er), impressionable females. I have friends who broke off relationships with really nice guys "for Edward", and those more drastically, who have chosen to abstain from dating until they find their "Edward". They're crazy over him for the exact reasons you listed; and they're so jaded by his impossible perfection they don't even consider finding the joys or taking the time to fall in love with peoples quirks. Anyway, I find it ludicrous; thank you for posting this! :)

Siera Oh my heavens!! I cann't tell you how true that is and how hard I laughed. Hilarious.

Manny That was very funny!

So far I have yet see spam email inviting one to "read hot things devoted husbands would say to their wives" or "see pictures of hunks promising not to get nasty out of respect for their women" or "buy this purple pill so you can stay up late and share your feelings -- seven times in one night!."

Have you seen the Mr Wonderful doll? http://stuck-on-you.com/mrkeychain.html

James Ha! I love the Mr. Wonderful doll, reminds me of the Porn for Women calendar I saw recently in a gift shop (http://www.wannasnuggle.com/index/ -- don't worry, no porn is actually harmed in the making of this calendar, it's all hunky men fully clothed doing the dishes, vacuuming, and offering to watch chick flicks).

message 45: by Robin (new) - rated it 1 star

Robin This was the most enjoyable review of Twilight I've ever read.

message 46: by Jennifer (last edited Dec 30, 2009 09:18PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer I agree with Robin. I have emailed this review to people a billion times. Your analysis is just so accurate, and you expose the truth about the book in a way that answers all my questions about why I like the novel even as I recognize that, as literature, it pretty much sucks. Nevertheless, I continue to read it... Honestly, your review is fabulous. Published books or no, you do have a way with words! Good luck with that, by the way!

message 47: by Shannon (new)

Shannon How can so many people miss the satirical tone of the review... or am I wrong.

Women need to get a grip and accept men for who they are and stop fantacising about what they could be. Men don't have vaginas therefore they will never measure up to a woman's expectations. When women finally understand this there will probably be fewer divorces.

Contrary to what post modernism wants us to believe, there are huge differences between the way men and women think.

Susan I loved your review, mostly because you put into simple language all my conflicting emotions over these books. I have been reading them non-stop for two weeks (even neglecting my beloved Jane Austen :0 ). As an English major and lifelong lover of books, I have been unable to reconcile this obsession I have with this series of books that clearly need lots of editing and reshaping. I am forwarding this review to my husband so that he will understand why I have become so "unlike myself".

Katie Just saying, vampiress is a sexist term. I'm not extremely offended or anything, but come on now, a female vampire is still a vampire.

Heather Your review was very insightful. I hate how people say there was too much details and that Stephenie Meyer is anti feminist. All you simply did was explain the appeal it has to women and did it in a very respectful way. Unlike some of the other inmature men who thought it would be funny to bash it.

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