Monday, October 25, 2010

From the Book Blog: Twilight I'm not really afraid of vampires, but I am afraid of reading mass pop culture fiction. I didn't read any Harry Potter until the craze was over, and I really thought I'd never read Twilight. After being pressured by numerous crazed Team Jacob and Team Edward fans, I finally decided to pick it up. I am an English teacher after all.

If you don't know already, the Twilight series tells the story of a teenage girl named Bella and her new life living in Forks, WA. After her mom moved to Florida to be with a new boyfriend, Bella decided to move up north with her dad to make things easier on everyone else. While in Forks, Bella goes to a new school, makes new friends, and is especially curious about one, pale-faced, intoxicatingly attractive boy - Edward. Around page 250 you finally find out that he is, indeed, a vampire and living with his vampire family in the woods nearby Bella's home.

The story does have its moments of repute: some good actions scenes (that end abruptly) and occasional times where the narrative arcs smoothly. But here's the issue, everyone -- girls and guys. Listen up. What I'm about to criticize is not new, in fact, other critics have already said it. For those of you who haven't read other reviews, this should help inform your reading of the book.

Let's take Bella for starters. Stephanie Meyer gives her very few qualities. Bella is dark haired, pale faced, and plain. That's it. We know that school comes easily to her and that she's pretty independent from her parents, and that's it for personality. She is an empty slate...available for any female reader to quickly believe that she could be or could have been Bella in her lifetime. That's not too bad so far. It's nice to relate to characters, but that's a pretty shallow connection.

Next we have Edward. He's perfect. Tall, muscular, has really good breath (?), and is totally mesmerized by Bella. He's a bit angry and dangerous, yet protective and obsessive. So now here's what we have: Bella (insert yourself), plain and not particularly impressive physically or intellectually, devotes her whole life to this impossibly attractive vampire who is infatuated with her. My fear is that many impressionable young girls may not be thinking twice about this ludicrous idea and start to believe that giving up their lives for a guy seems like a fulfilling way to live life. At seventeen, Bella is convinced by the end of the book that all that matters in her life is Edward. Seriously?!?! Come on now! Girls!

If you're enjoying the book for the thrill (of which honestly I think there is too little) or the romance (of which there is definitely too much) then fine, but please don't let yourself be convinced that you are Bella and you need an Edward/Jacob too! It's just not REAL!!!