Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: Twilight

I love vampires and vampire stories. I love Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I love Angel even more. But I'm a little conflicted by these Stephenie Meyer vampire stories.

I'm conflicted because the writing is lame to the point of distraction; but I really wanted to like Twilight because many of my reader friends like it--"can't-put-it-down" like it; "read it again and again" like it.

The gist of the story is that this girl falls in love with a vegetarian vampire--a vampire that doesn't feed on humans. Ha ha. He reciprocates, even though she is a clumsy dork who has never kissed a boy. They engage in lots of adolescent sexual tension: shivers, cheek touches, hair smelling, meaningful glances across crowded rooms, and a couple of kisses. It's very chaste.

It's also repetetive and harlequin romance-esque, with eyes that brim with unshed tears and lips that quiver, hearts that pound, and innocent touches that send electricity coursing through lovers' veins. Yada yada yada. For example:

"Bella?" I turned and he was leaning toward me, his pale, glorious face just inches from mine. My heart stopped beating.

"Sleep well," he said. His breath blew in my face, stunning me. It was the same exquisite scent that clung to his jacket, but in a more concentrated form. I blinked, thoroughly dazed. He leaned away."

I was unable to move until my brain had somewhat unscrambled itself.

Meyer uses the word "glorious" to describe vampire Edward's beauty at least four times. In the first 80 pages. She also overdoes the beauty adjectives when describing the perfect features of her ancient blood-suckers, as though she has never heard the first rule of writing: show, don't tell. For example:

"devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful" p. 19
"dazzling face...flawless lips" p. 43
"his livid, glorious face" p. 65
"his stunning face" p. 65
"his too-perfect face" p. 74
"his eyes were gloriously intense" p. 84
"his deep gold eyes" p. 89
"his heavenly face" p. 107
"his burning gold eyes" p. 108
"his flawless features" p. 162

Edward also smiles crookedly about once per chapter, and don't even get me started on his muscular chest and his cold skin. Apparently I'm not the only one who likes to catalog literary flaws, and who noticed the insane amount of adjectivizing going on in this book. You will thank me if you click on that link, and especially if you scroll down and read the parody, entitled Duskiness.

Compare all of this with Stoker's subtle but compelling sexual subtext:

With a mocking smile he placed one hand upon my shoulder, and holding me tight, bared my throat with the other, saying as he did so, "First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions. You may as well be quiet. It is not the first time, or the second, that your veins have appeased my thirst." I was bewildered, and strangely enough, I did not want to hinder him. I suppose it is a part of the horrible curse that such is, when his touch is on his victim. And oh my God, my God, pity me! He placed his reeking lips upon my long this horrible thing lasted I know not; but it seemed that a long time must have passed before he took his foul, awful, sneering mouth away. I saw it drip with the fresh blood.

It's no excuse to suggest that Meyer's writing is more simplistic because it's targeted to a juvenile audience. JK Rowling writes for the same audience without insulting them, and without pissing me off.

And maybe I'm just an incurable anti-romantic, but the intensely intoxicating effect that Edward has upon Bella is completely insipid and unbelievable; and not only that, but the relationship is characterized by an unhealthy dependence and a ridiculous lack of awareness. Bella gets all loopy when she doesn't see Edward for 24 hours. I hate being minus Mr. Peevie for very long--but does "desolation hit me with crippling strength"? No, it does not.

This is not to say that I don't think that Twilight could make a good movie. It's only getting 50% on the TomatoMeter, but I might give it a try.


Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Mrs. Peevie! Just caught up on your blog. Sucks about the new broken leg. This was post hilarious! I enjoyed all 4 books, couldn't put them down yada yada, even though I thought they were stupid and COULD NOT STAND Bella! Oh but I hated that girl for just being so lamely bewitched with a cold ass man. Really? I'm gonna forward this post to all my Edward loving co-workers. Anyway, I'm here to warn you about the movies. You will hate them. The first one is passable. Barely. The second one... just don't even waste a dollar for the Redbox rental.

Anonymous said...

Elbee - How can you say the second movie "New Moon" wasn't good? That was the BEST CURE for my insomnia I've had in years!

Vincent's Wife

E. Peevie said...

Elbee--I've missed you comin' round here. And I know what you mean about not being able to stand Bella.

Maybe I'll just save my money and skip the movies.

Mrs. Vincent--Ha.