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Twilight: A Review, Part 2

September 12, 2008

4. What did you think of the series? Story-wise, writing-wise, etc.?

The Good

Gretchen: We’ll start with the positive. The story-telling is actually decent. The plot pacing is uneven, but the suspenseful moments are, well, suspenseful. They’re easy to get hooked on, I guess? It really is like cocaine in book form. Unhealthy, but you keep coming back for more.

Jen: For the most part, I was okay with it. My expectations weren’t that high to begin with, so I just enjoyed myself. They were all fun, quick reads. Meyer certainly has a way of grabbing a reader’s attention, and she had mine throughout most of the series. The first book was, to me, the best. I went from “I’m not reading this crap” to “Look! Vampires are playing baseball!” to “Heavens to Mergatroy! A sadistic vampire is torturing Bella in a dance studio!” in the span of a few hours.

Marva: I think the one thing Stephanie Meyer knows how to do, is to create that sudden need to know what happens next. In the first book, from the baseball game to the hospital room – I was into the book. Classic conflict. Drama. We got a guy and girl and a guy who decides to kill the girl. Throw in the fact that Edward is hot – and I’m in for the ride. I’ll go ahead and say it. Vampire fighting is sexy. The bad vampire seducing the good vampire into a fight by killing his girlfriend is an enjoyable little bit of literature.

The Bad

Gretchen: The main characters have waaaay too much drama going on in their lives. The supporting characters, on the other hand, have zero depth to them. I think my main issue is the way Meyer describes things. Granted, the tale is being narrated by a teenage girl, but it got to the point where you could make a very convincing drinking game (I mean, I don’t drink but if I did I would totally play this) for every time someone growls, glares, or sighs. Or anytime the word “smoldering” is used. It’s trite and obviously painful. Case in point, this is from the famed Ch.13 of Book One. “He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare… A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal.” Whoa. That last fragment of a sentence is just four cliches sloppily strung together. For this she gets millions? I’m hard-pressed to believe any eighteen year old is going to use the word “incandescent” in her journal.

Jen: I found the second book hard to read for about half of it(melodrama ahoy!), but enjoyed myself once Bella snapped out of it. I enjoyed the third more than the second, though I didn’t agree with her suddenly being in love with Jacob. I wasn’t thrilled with the direction of the fourth (I spent the entire middle of the book yelling “What are you DOING?!”), but I’ve made my peace with it. Too “Mega-Happy Ending” (a la “Wayne’s World) for a lot of people, but I actually liked Part 3 of the book better than the other two. As mentioned, I think it was a case of Meyer trying to satisfy everyone. All in all, maybe not the best books I’ve ever read but certainly not the worst.

As for Bella – In a way, I knew it would be harder for an audience to identify with Bella once she became a vampire, but I had some fun with that. Then again, I though it was hard to identify with Bella anyway at times. The clumsiness? Absolutely. Fear of marriage? You bet. Poor dresser? The worst. The mood swings? I don’t think I’ve ever been that dramatic. I’m sure there are people out there who can identify with her in this aspect, though, and if so, I wish them luck. And vicodin.

Marva: I think that at times, or maybe even most of the time, both the story and the writing were a little juvenile. In the beginning of the first book particularly, and the middle of the second, I felt like I was reading something a junior high girl writes in her journal about the latest teeny-bop celebrity. Edward was just SO beautiful, and she was just SO in love. I can’t even remember what happened in the third book because it was my least favorite. But the fourth book also had its very immature sections.

Writing-wise, I felt it came off as inexperienced – the whole plot point that the vampire baby grew super quick seemed to only make the story easier on the author – there was no reason for it otherwise. And the immaturity level of the writing and the story itself, I think did the series a disservice. Never once while reading the books did I think that Bella SHOULD be a vampire. She didn’t deserve it. While other characters called her “an old soul,” I couldn’t think of a more immature teenager. She moves to Forks because she doesn’t want to share a parent with another person. She manipulates boys whenever possible but continues to put forth a mask of insecurities. She gets dumped in HIGHSCHOOL and finds this a reason to throw tantrums and to nearly kill herself and pretty much ruin her father’s life, AND she jumps at the chance to irreversibly become a monster for the rest of eternity without ever thinking twice about it. She’s a whiny nag of a girl. She doesn’t deserve any of the good things that happen to her in the book, yet she demands them, over and over, and becomes pathetic and worthless whenever it merely appears that things might not go her way. So it’s hard to tell – was the immature style of writing on purpose, to help carve out this underserving character even more, or was it an accident that severely harmed any chance that I may have had at connecting sympathetically with her? I don’t know. I wish it had been a little more mature.

The Ugly

Megan: I thought they were awful books. Really. I think they were 3/4s whining and 1/4ths semi-interesting vampire story. The ending of the first book was good enough to keep me reading and by the time I got to the second I was halfway through so it seemed like a waste of time to not finish.  I thought the writing was on the whole not good, and I think if any real people trembled or yelled with as much frequency in real life as Meyer’s characters, they’d be placed in an institution. I realize they are told from the perspective of a 17 year old, but I don’t ever recall experiencing that much angst in real life. It was like Dawson’s Creek on crack. Story-wise, I lost interest as soon as Bella became a vampire. I mean, really? That’s it? She gets immortality and a monster baby? Isn’t there supposed to be some big lesson about the value of living life and experiencing things? I realize Bella didn’t want to get old, and I don’t think there are many people who don’t wish they could be 18 forever, but I think that was the wrong choice to make. And I agree with Marva; she wasn’t cool enough to be a vampire anyway.

Marva: I think Meyer was just trying to finish the series off in some way that best reflected her ideals. She wanted a happy ending — which for her is that Bella gets married and has a baby. And Meyer was willing to be a bad writer to do that. Whether or not I’m dissapointed or surprised, I can’t really say. I mean, it’s the ending to be expected. One couldn’t have read the first three books and expected anything else. OBVIOUSLY, she would be with Edward, and becoming a vampire would ultimately turn out to be nothing but pleasant. Everything is pretty easy in the first three books. The fact that she allowed things to become even easier in the fourth was a little distasteful, but. What can you do?

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