Sunday, May 4, 2008

Stephenie Meyer - Twilight (Book Review)

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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is currently one of the most popular books around here. All of a sudden, every girl who used to rave about Harry Potter (and, in some instances even about the pervy HP fan fiction) and is now a bit older started hyping Twilight. They even call it their 'brand of heroin'. Before now, whenever I talked with my girlfriends, they peppered me with disbelief...
"You haven't read it yet? OMG!".
Not to mention the usual...
"That Edward guy, he's so hot! <3."
So what was I to do but go and buy the damned thing? If nothing else, I got it cheap and it has a really nice cover. (Maybe it's even nice enough for one of Thrinidir's "Eye Candy Covers" articles?)
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The first thing I noticed when I started reading was that Twilight is not a fantasy book by any means - or at least, not in any conventional way. The plot is as simple, predictable and straightforward as with any of the stories that have a high-school girl which moves to a new town for a central protagonist. Isabella (Bella) has to deal deal with a major change - she moves from a big city (Phoenix, Arizona) to a small rural town (Forks) in the middle of nowhere to live with her father. She has no friends upon arrival and she feels miserable about it - we are all familiar with this narrative setting. However, the book had an exceptionally beautiful prose from the start on, so I kept reading despite the prosaic themes (and without a hint of any 'epic' elements, that I got used to expect when picking up a book labeled as fantasy). That said, Meyer's prose is probably the best feature of Twilight - no matter how implausible, predictable or just plain silly things are, the author still knows how to make them interesting to read about. It is a big and important bonus to the book.
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If I haven't made it clear enough before - Twilight is a book intended for girls (I'd say teenage girls, but Twilight is well-liked by older and presumably more mature women as well), especially for those who prefer an engaging and a beautifully told story above the quality of its contents. I wouldn't recommend this book for guys and those individuals who don't appreciate romance for what it is and what it can offer. Why?
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Twilight is almost completely without any discernible plot or action scenes, even the fangirls admit that. What little plot there is it revolves around a typical high-school romance, and the sole fantastical element I could find were the vampires (that's what determines this novel as urban fantasy, right?). Our protagonist is a seventeen-year-old Isabella Swan and she has to deal with the common problems of a teenager, the most prominent are (1)how to fit in and (2)being in love (awakened sexuality and every nuances that come with it). The real catch comes with the latter - Bella is in love with a vampire, the gorgeous Edward, and their problem is how to handle their relationship so not awaken Edward's desire for blood. Otherwise, everything evolves mostly around Bella's feelings and, of course, how incredibly sexy Edward is.
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Believe it or not, Meyer manages to pull the lackluster story through with flying colors. The plot itself is virtually unexisting and it hurts to think about it, but the ever-popular love theme and a sublime writing style are obviously the things that do the trick here. Nevertheless, this doesn't change the fact that the whole thing is still nothing more than an entertaining goodnight story that bursts with romantic sentiments - but it somehow manages to avoid being completely cheesy and it keeps you turning the pages. Twilight does not do deep revelations or hidden meanings, but it offers a great example of what can be done with abundance of style and a good idea of what to offer to your audience (a dazzling beauty & the beast vampire relationship).
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I have to admit that I enjoyed the book, but I don't think I'll read the sequels. They only reiterate what has been done here, or so I've heard, and while it was interesting this time, it would probably annoy the hell out of me the second time around. I've had my share of Edward and Isabella; I'll leave the sequels and re-reading to fans and those who have nothing better to read.
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To sum it all up, I'd recommend this book to girls who enjoy a stylish, hip and easy read that teems with (c)overt sexual tension. It's a very involving book and it hits the exactly right spots of its core audience, but otherwise has no literary merit whatsoever.
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~ Trin ~

9 Comments:

butterflynymph said...

In Utah where I live and the author of Twilight is from, her books have almost a cult following. Every girl/woman over 11and under 50 I've met has read it and the sequels. There was a time when I couldn't participate in a conversation at a playdate without having read at least Twilight. That said, I found the books highly readable but hardly favorites - they kept me turning pages but I felt infuriated at the silly characters. Needless to say, I will never name my future son "Edward" like some people I know.
~butterflynymph of http://womenfantasybooks.blogspot.com/

MadMax-imillian said...

I don't think I will be reading this one :D

MadMax-imillian said...

Oh, I read Heroes Die and loved it. tnx for introducing me to the book!

Trin said...

@madmax: better stay away from it, yes :D otherwise, it's great to hear your opinion on Heroes Die! I'm always glad to hear someone liked the book I recommended. :D

@butterflynymph: and I thought things were bad around here ... I'm glad I don't live in Utah :)

daydream said...

Um, I think that this is more qualified as paranormal romance as the plot seems to revolve around love relationship between human/vampire. Books that have the love relationship as an accent and the fantastical as background are I think paranormal romance, while Urban Fantasy is a bit more epic and has action scenes. The plot is connected to some sort of battle and the love relationship develops on the background. That is urban fantasy and mind you this is me talking from experience, cause nowheer will you find a description. I may be wrong.

Trin said...

I like the term 'paranormal romance' far better, but it's new to me :) they sell it as 'urban fantasy' in my local bookstore, but their knowledge on the genre is pretty limited :D

daydream said...

As I said, both genres are similar. View them as twin sisters, the one pink and fluffy, the other hardcore and bad to the bone. But the gene make up is the same. I am so brilliant with these deduction.

ThRiNiDiR said...

I like this one; the line between the two is still a bit more blurred, but you got the general idea nailed :)

Anonymous said...

I disagree with "I wouldn't recommend this book for guys". I am 17 year old boy and I loved the story. Me and my friends can't wait for Breaking Dawn to come out. I think we like it because there is the strong male character and the, for want of a better expression, "damsel in distress". Even though it is from a female point of view it doesn't make it any more a book for woman than it is for men. I recommend it for anybody that likes a fascinating story.

 

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