Ah, the Twilight series. “A love story with bite,” sayeth one review. A pair of star-crossed lovers for the new millennium. The young-adult world has not seen a book craze this outlandish since Harry Potter.
My friends began the craze, swapping the series at our monthly book club meetings. In trying to foist them on me, they’d say, “Oh, you’ll love Bella; you’d identify with her.”
“I’m not going to read those books. I have so many other things I’d rather read,” I said.
Then my co-workers, many of them older adults, began to succumb. This time, they cited the “powerful love story” and “exciting plot” as selling points, as well as one who is obsessed with “dreamy Edward.”
“I did all my vampire reading in high school,” was my reply. “You remember Anne Rice did it first, right?”
All of this to no avail. They were incredibly persistent, so much so that finally I threw up my hands and said, “All right, all right, I’ll read the first one.” I must admit, they had piqued my curiosity. Why are so many people obsessed with these books?
And so, I was lent a copy by a co-worker and I read it in less than a day. I’ve always been a very quick reader, which is lucky if I’m reading something particularly awful.
Twilight, dearest reader, is pretty awful.
Now, perhaps you have been slumbering peacefully under a boulder, co-existing in harmony with moles and the like, and haven’t a clue as to what I’m referring. Let me proceed by telling you the plot.
(Here there be spoilers aplenty, so if you really, really, really, REALLY want to read it, you can skip this entry. The rest of you – i.e. the people who read this blog regularly – will probably just continue).
The main protagonist is a 17-year-old girl named Isabella Swan, or “Bella” to those in the know (giving many a tween girl a cutesy name for their future baby), who comes from a broken home. Her mother is a flighty, one-dimensional divorcee with a baseball-player boyfriend, which keeps her flitting about the nation. Bella’s father, also not very well-rounded, is chief of police in the infinitesimal, perpetually cloudy town of Forks, Washington; is unsure how to handle his teenaged daughter; and watches sports.
Bella arrives in Forks and is gifted with an old, rust-flecked truck of her very own. And she loves it. Because she’s not superficial – get it? The truck was rebuilt by the Blacks, Billy and his son, Jacob, Quilute Indians who live on the nearby reservation. Jacob knows Bella from when they were kids, and it’s obvious that he really likes her from the beginning (for nothing is subtle in this book).
Now to the meat of the story. Bella starts at her new high school and encounters the Cullens at lunchtime. They are pale and gorgeous, so of course, they’re the vampires. However, Bella does not know this yet. (She puts two and two together when Jacob tells her all the vampire myths and legends that his tribe has been passing down for generations) . She just knows that they all sit away from the other students and they’re all impossibly beautiful. This repetition is not poor writing on my part, rather Stephenie Meyer being unsubtle.
The book then devolves into a very run-of-the-mill teenage story of average girl Bella falling for bad-boy Edward; Jacob appears every so often to warn her, or try to date her, but let’s face it, buddy: all these girls want the assholes. And Edward is an asshole with 200 years of experience. He pulls Bella closer and pushes her away, confusing her and making her want him more. Deep down, he can’t stand her, not because she’s annoying, which is a good reason, and gets herself into stupid situations, which is also a good reason, but because he’s attracted to her blood so very much.
Did I mention that the Cullens hunt animals for their blood so they can keep humans from harm? No? Well, the Cullens don’t hunt people, they hunt animals. This is something that I don’t understand. Why do they deny the so-called natural order? Why do they care so much about humans? This is something that is not really explained.
Edward wants Bella’s blood so badly, you can almost hear the desire. That is the only type of desire, which is muted, for there is no overt sexual longing in this book. Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon. Pre-marital shenanigans are a no-no, and none of these normal teenagers experiment with alcohol, marijuana, or even tobacco. However, when Bella and Edward finally start “dating,” if you can call it that, he comes in her room at night and watches her sleep. Is that what the kids are calling it these days? Tweens probably think it’s sweet and romantic. I call it creeptastic.
Edward and the other Cullens have special powers, like seeing the future and other inane shit. Edward can read other people’s thoughts, except – get this – for Bella. Surprise! Not really. This book is so ham-fisted, it’s almost sad.
Everything you wanted to know about the Cullens but were afraid to ask – they don’t sleep in coffins; that’s a Hollywood myth. They don’t turn into bats and fly, but they can run really fast, and they love to buy little sportscars and tool around at 90mph and faster. They can go out in the daytime, but only when it’s cloudy, which is why Forks is a perfect place for them. Do you want to know why these vamps can’t go out in the bright sunlight?
Because they sparkle.
I’m not making this up. Edward exposes himself, in a fashion, to Bella one sunny afternoon in a meadow. La la la.
To finish the tale – not only is Bella’s blood so sinfully delicious-smelling to Edward and the rest of the Cullen family, but to these strange vampires from the wrong side of the tracks who lack some self-control when it comes to humans. When they discover Bella, the one vampire named James desires her as well, and lures her to a place where he can kill her in relative peace. Or so he thinks. He uses her mother as a decoy and Bella runs to him.
Edward’s “sister,” Alice (they’re not really related, but who cares, right?) can see the future and works in tandem with Edward and the rest of the Cullens to save Bella’s sorry ass. They do, but not before he bites Bella’s hand and nearly kills her. Edward sucks out the venom and is very careful not to continue to leach all of Bella’s blood, so he does have self-control. He can save himself for marriage! Ahem, wrong book – or is it?
And then they all go to the prom. The end.
One more thing that drives me insane – the merchandise. Yes, the Harry Potter franchise had lots of items for sale, but most of them were tied into the books in some way. T-shirts are always ubiquitous, and bumper stickers. However, an umbrella with Bella and Edward in the meadow? Now they’ve gone too far.