Larissa's Reviews > Twilight

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
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's review
Jul 21, 08

bookshelves: kinder, vampires, 2008, usa, young-adult, fantastical
Read in July, 2008

The fraught romance of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight is the stuff of a teenage girl’s most cherished dream: to be loved, obsessed over, and rescued from mortal peril (over and over) by a beautiful, “godlike” older boy who constantly confirms his (literally) undying affection for you. Meyer’s feisty heroine, Bella Swan (a name so completely inviting of slash fiction I can hardly believe it), is klutzy and pale, new to her town and school, and in her mind, relatively unremarkable. And yet, here she is, being idolized and adored by a creature who sparkles in direct sunshine, can withstand the impact of being run over by two cars, and is almost fatally intoxicated by her scent. New line for all teenage girls to fall asleep hoping their boyfriends will say to them: “You are my life now.”

Now, I grant you that by playing into these fantasies, Meyer is perhaps not exactly furthering the cause of feminism in YA lit. However, her Bella is plucky enough that we might be able to appreciate the compromise that she’s making: the gal might need to be saved over and over, but (at least once) she’s being saved from a very real and present danger (she gets cornered by four adult men in an alley), and moreover, she’s a level-headed, unfazed and individualistic teenage girl who is praised for having an ‘unreadable’ mind and routinely adjusts herself to new dangers and threats in her life. So, there is some good here.

Another interesting aspect is the balance between the unavoidable sexual parallels invited by the vampire genre and the morality that Meyers is able to counter that with—all very subtly and without a hint of religious overbearing. For while Meyers may be a well-publicized Mormon, her young lovers are not ‘saving themselves’ for moral reasons. It simply isn’t physically feasible for them. Buffy’s Angel lost his soul in the moment of “Perfect Happiness” he achieved while sleeping with the slayer (Again—what kind of expectations are we setting up here? Perfect Happiness the first time? Jeez.). Bella’s Edward is simply too strong, too fast, too afraid of ‘losing control.’ (Whoa there.) “You don’t understand how breakable you are,” he tells her, as if the loss of virginity metaphors weren’t thick enough. Additionally, the book is nearly overrun with vampire couples—eternal partners who are certainly fulfilling the ‘till death do us part’ vows. The oldest vampire—Dr. Cullen has his partner Esme, and Edward’s other ‘siblings’ both found their mates as well. They all (minus one hold out) tell Bella how happy they are that after all this time alone, Edward finally found his companion. No one mentions that they’ve only known each other for less than a year. Or that she’s only seventeen. This is true love, folks. Permanent, instantaneous, and unbreakable true love.

Ah, back to the real ‘ick’ factor. Bella is seventeen. So is her lover…technically. Actually, though, he is about 90-some years old, and can’t seem to stop himself from playing father-figure throughout the story. He cradles her in his arms like a child, tells her that she can’t take a trip to Seattle by himself (it’s too dangerous for her alone), and encourages her to make their relationship known to her father—who he gets along with, but nevertheless, pretty much castrates in the authority category. He’s a pretty pushy sonofabitch, and likes to remind Bella that he’s much, much older than her and has much, much more worldly wisdom than she does. There’s perhaps nothing to be done with this but to bristle a little. He is a vampire after all, and unfortunately, eternal life seems to breed a certain amount of smug arrogance. But that doesn’t mean that every once and awhile it doesn’t get to be a little too blatant. He’s your boyfriend, Bella. Not your daddy.

I pretty much devoured this book on a single lazy Sunday. Lucky for me I didn’t catch on to what the kids were reading until three books had been published and the last installment was ready to hit the shelves in less than a month. So, no Harry Potter reprise for me. A vampire/teenage love series binge it is.

Oh, and not that it will matter to any non-Arizonans, but when asked what she misses most about the desert is, the first thing Bella mentions is the smell of creosote. Apparently, we've all been drugged by this plant.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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leigh I love your reviews... In the later books I often found myself wanted to shake this fictious character, she does the really stupid teen girls thing a little too well.

message 2: by Larissa (last edited Jul 22, 2008 12:40PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Larissa I only knew this series existed because of you, buddy. I got the second book and started reading it yesterday, but I'm having trouble. I hate her. Hate, hate, hate Bella.

We'll discuss...

message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Thanks, Larissa. I wouldn't know anything about these if it weren't for shuttercal... all the teenage girls (we have a growing number on the site) are swooning over this series. And then there's the mid-20s girls who work or used to work at B&N who keep talking about it, and then the mothers of middle and high school aged girls keep talking (or more correctly, posting pictures) about it. I can't believe all the fuss.

So thanks for your illuminating review. I was curious, but I sure wouldn't be caught reading it. It's nice that you were able to do it for me!!

Larissa YA lit has some really fascinating--albeit frequently disturbing--trends, I'll give you that. I'm happy to weed things out for other people in the name of research and morbid fascination.

message 5: by Mary (new)

Mary Reason #114 that Larissa is awesome?

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