Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) 1*

Pure corn syrup.  The best thing about this book was its cover, so honestly I can’t recommend opening it.

You might as well watch the movie — this book is so incredibly low-density that its entire 425 pages are covered scene-by-scene in 122 cinematic minutes.  This is especially astonishing considering that the movie spends a lot of time on atmospheric shots and silent emotional close-ups.  Pride and Prejudice, may I remind you, weighs in at 367 pages and a weeklong miniseries.

The movie is also a lot wittier and pulled a few clever little edits such as making Bella a vegetarian (which dovetails nicely with Edward’s “vegetarianism”).  The Bella of the book eats meat, drives a gas guzzler, has no evident interests, and is mainly virtuous in that she cooks for her dad and does the laundry.  Twilight‘s characters are so weirdly empty that all I can see are Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.  One gay friend who loves the series says that he thinks Bella’s emptiness is the key — you can insert yourself and bask in the glory of being desired by the hot guys.

Note: I don’t care how hot Edward is — I’d still be skeezed out if he followed me around, watched me sleep, and eavesdropped on my conversations by reading people’s minds.

The editor said that she knew halfway through the manuscript that she had a bestseller on her hands and gave Meyer a $750,000 advance for a 3-book deal.  Twilight, like Sweet Valley High or Harry Potter,* feeds straight into childish wish-fulfillment and uses only the easiest of prose.  No vocab words, no sly metaphors, just pure corn syrup.  Bella is an awkward, clumsy girl who never fit in in Pheonix, self-sacrificingly moves to the Northwest because she wants to set her mom free, and immediately becomes the local hottie.  In one day, three hormonal little bachelors ask her to ask them out to the lady’s choice spring dance.  Then beautiful, perfect Edward just can’t stay away.  In 80-odd years he’s never met anyone like her.  Hahaha.

Because if I had immortality, obviously I would spend it by going to high school over and over again in a small town.

* Yes, yes, I know everyone says the Harry Potter books got better after a rocky start, but Potter-mania was already a phenomenon by the time I picked up that completely forgettable first book.


9 responses to “Twilight (Stephenie Meyer) 1*

  1. the movie was so much worse than the book IMO. The obsessive love in the book just comes across as creepy in the movie. I don’t think the books were well written (did anyone edit the book before it went to print?) but I enjoyed them anyway.

    • That’s interesting because, having watched the movie first, I thought the book was creepier. All that stuff about Edward watching her sleep and following her around. Not to mention reading everyone’s minds and eavesdropping on Bella via other people’s minds. That dude has no respect for anyone’s privacy. I can see how the movie could come across as even creepier, though, since it happens faster and with music.

      • Phillip was complaining to family about how awful the movie was (he refuses to read the books) with the obssesed teen love and all that.
        I chimed in, “but honey, we were teenagers in love” to which he replied, “and thank god we grew out of it.”
        anyway, when i read the book i could remember what it felt like to be 17 and in love with the man you are going to marry. the descriptions of how teen love tends to be obsessive love were pretty acurate.

  2. ahem. i liked the 1st harry potter book. it was charming and fun and introduced you to a nifty school in a fun world. i felt like the series slowly lost steam, sagging under too much plot device and too few ideas. just my opinion though.

    • HP1 wasn’t bad, just overrated. It was a cute mush of existing ideas with no real fire of genius to transform it into a different chemical compound. Someday I’ll sample the later books to see if the heat turned up.
      Also, Potter-mania was good for the world, whereas the Twilight phenomenon has enormous damage potential.

      • I’m with tejanojim on this one; I thought HP1 brilliantly created one of the most wonderful worlds with a superb moral adventure. Delightful for anyone and fantastic for a wide range of children. I love any combo of writing and advertising that will put quality into the hands of millions and millions of kids, while getting itself banned by the Christian Right at the same time. This is a win-win. I might remind you of the prejudice you came in with- that there was nothing serious in it, that “someone should die,” that predictable victories are brain-rotting. I couldn’t *believe* you made it years without soaking up the spoilers.
        “Lots of people die! Cedric dies, Harry Potter dies…”
        “Harry Potter dies?!?!?”
        “How did you miss this! And there’re torture spells and murder of parents in the first book.”
        You totally just didn’t want to like it.

      • I reserve judgment on the later books, but HP1 was no more (and no less) than competent. “Charming” is a good word to describe it–HP1’s world is small…and derivative. Maybe it filled out a bit more in the later books. I definitely appreciate Potter-mania and the boost that it gave to a lot of good books.
        My chief complaint, though, is the quidditch. Harry’s story is pure wish fulfillment. Lots of kids secretly wish that their mundane families aren’t their “real” families. Their “real family” is noble and important. So Harry’s real parents are dead–dead parents are the most idealized parents of all, and Harry’s particular dead parents make Harry noble and important. Press that wish fulfillment button and hold it down.
        Then he goes to magic school, where everyone adores or despises him–either way, Harry is the most important person in the entire school. He has the scar. He is the One.
        And did I mention he’s a badass at quidditch?

      • That’s pretty harsh about what it’s ok to wish for. You’re basically saying a kid shouldn’t be the hero in his own fantasy, and I disagree. Harry is no MarySue. His appearance is unremarkable; his friends are a mudblood and an ugly poor kid. Quidditch is the only thing he’s particularly good at, and he spends most of his time being unpopular. His parents aren’t nobility; we value their goodness. If a child has to pretend his parents are good, fine- let them believe potential is their birthright, no matter their surroundings. Do you cringe that people identify with him? It’s not like he makes kids feel bad about themselves, and it sounds like you’re saying that’s what his specialness does.
        The best part was that right off the bat we see Harry choose Ron over Malfoy, not knowing Ron at all. He knows everything he needs to when he sees Malfoy belittle someone. And the kind of trials they go through are about how to reconcile when you screw up and hurt your friends. Most kids’ lit is just adversaries-learn-to-play-nice, if anything.
        I think Harry knows he’s not the one, and he spends very little time as the center of anything. People mostly treat him as if he’s there by Affirmative Action. “You’re here because you’re marked, not because you’ve earned it.” It’s heavy on him, he doubts himself, but he’s really totally average. Plus the one talent for one position of one sport.
        Eh, I only read 4 of the books anyway, years ago, so I have one impression of them; the 1st isn’t separate. Whatever.

  3. Ditto on the great covers.
    I missed both the movie and the books, though, so I’ll have to settle for the cover art.

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