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February 12, 2007

Twilight



Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Young Adult Fiction
Finished on 2/1/07
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)





From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 9-12. In the tradition of Anne Rice and YA titles such as Annette Curtis Klause's The Silver Kiss (1999) comes this heady romance that intertwines Bella Swan's life with that of Edward, an alluring and tormented vampire. Bella's life changes when she moves to perpetually rain-soaked Forks, Washington. She is instantly drawn to a fellow student, Edward Cullen, beautiful beyond belief and angrily aloof. Bella senses there is more behind Edward's hostility, and in a plot that slowly and frighteningly unfolds, she learns that Edward and his family are vampires--though they do not hunt humans. Yet Edward cannot promise that his powerful attraction to Bella won't put in her in danger, or worse. Recklessly in love, Bella wants only to be with Edward, but when a vicious, blood-lusting predator complicates her world, Bella's peril is brutally revealed. This is a book of the senses: Edward is first attracted by Bella's scent; ironically, Bella is repelled when she sees blood. Their love is palpable, heightened by their touches, and teens will respond viscerally. There are some flaws here--a plot that could have been tightened, an overreliance [sic] on adjectives and adverbs to bolster dialogue--but this dark romance seeps into the soul.

In the past few years or so, I’ve come across some exceptional books written for young adults: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, and, of course, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. All of these novels are thought-provoking, imaginative, and filled with beautiful and memorable prose. Their endearing characters, smooth dialogue and suspenseful plots lead to an enjoyable reading experience for all readers, young and old alike.

While I don’t generally read a lot of Young Adult fiction, it’s not a genre I’m adverse to, either. That said, I can’t think of the last time I perused the shelves in the teen section of a bookstore or library. Now that I no longer work in a bookstore, I’ve come to rely on my fellow booklovers to pique my interest and lead me to the gems of the genre. Twilight probably would have slipped under my radar had it not been for the glowing reviews by Heather, Andi, Sassymonkey, Stephanie, and Sheri. (Forgive me if I’ve forgotten someone.) I was a little worried about all the hype, especially after my disappointment in The Thirteenth Tale, but The Book Thief had considerable hype and it wound up being my number one read for 2006.

In spite of its 498 pages (albeit in a large font, resulting in fewer lines of text per page than a similar-sized adult book), I zipped through Twilight fairly quickly. I suspect it can be read over a weekend, if not a single day, but I wanted to savor the story and forced myself to make it last a bit longer. This was quite an entertaining debut novel and I was spellbound from the get-go. However, I do have a couple of quibbles. Typical of many teen novels, Meyer utilizes the “new kid in school” device to set the stage and present a conflict between the various characters. I didn’t mind this so much, but I did feel as if she allowed the initial build-up between Edward and Bella to go on a bit longer than necessary. Perhaps the long drawn-out tension works well with a young audience, but I found it a bit tiresome (almost to the point of annoyance) and felt it hindered the momentum of the action. Not necessarily plodding, but just enough to make me mutter, “Alright, already. Get on with it!” Once a declaration of true feelings was expressed by the main characters, my interest resumed, most notably with a fascination for the imaginative details described within the narrative. I ceased to suspend disbelief and quite honestly began to believe (in a remote manner, if that makes any sense at all) that vampires can exist, living in the overcast, rainy environment of northern Washington state, attending high school, practicing medicine and enjoying the all-American favorite pastime of baseball. Hey, why not? Ok, so I really don’t believe in vampires (or invisibility cloaks, for that matter), but Meyer draws her reader in to a world where it’s easy to believe in the unbelievable. Surprisingly, I had more trouble believing a high school student could be such a klutz than I did in buying into the likelihood of vampires. The constant reminder of Bella’s clumsiness was another distraction to my reading pleasure. Petty? Perhaps. But when I start to notice this sort of thing and it disrupts the flow of the narrative, I latch on to it like a dog with a bone and just can’t let it go. It just bugs me, and it makes that "willing suspension of disbelief" more difficult.

While not a work of great literature (and not one in which I found a single passage to quote!), Twilight is an entertaining read and I look forward to more in the series (New Moon is currently available and Eclipse won’t be far behind). Movie rights have been optioned and the author has a great list of her favorite actors for the various roles (not that she gets to choose, of course, but it’s fun to look at the possibilities). While trolling the Internet for information on the book, I was astounded by the plethora of fan sites and merchandise related to the series. It appears to have quite a following and I suspect the word-of-mouth endorsements (in both secondary schools and colleges) isn’t hurting any, either.

11 comments:

  1. Stephanie1:21 PM

    I am so glad that you read Twilight. It's what I like to call a perfect beach read - an easy, entertaining book that doesn't take itself too seriously.
    Stephanie
    www.thewrittenword.wordpress.com

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  2. Oh I'm so glad you liked it. It's not a perfect book but there's just something entrancing about it.

    I actually believe Bella's klutyness. Then again, I'm very uncoordinated. I trip up stairs and the toes of my shoes are almost all scuffed cause I trip over them walking on perfectly level and smooth surfaces. ;)

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  3. I have promised someone that I would read this one. It is far from my comfort zone, so it'll be an interesting read for me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it liked so many others. That's encouraging. :)

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  4. OK, that's it - I'm going to have to give in and read this book. You wouldn't think I'd be this reluctant, as I used to be such a big fan of vampire lit.

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  5. I have enjoyed both of Meyer's books as well. Not high literature, but very entertaining and fast reads nonetheless. There were a few exasperating moments in both books, but some of that I put down to teenage angst. I am looking forward to the next novel (did you know there is going to be a 4th one as well?). Interesting link about the possible movie and the author's picks for actors!

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  6. I regularly search both the young adult and teen sections of the bookstore. Some of my very favorite reads have come from those sections and some of the very best cover illustration is going on these books. It is a veritable gold mine of marvelous reading material.

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  7. Stephanie - You're right. It's a great "beach read" and one I'd recommend.

    Sassymonkey - I did! I did! Like you said, it's not perfect, but it's great entertainment, for the most part. As far as Bella's clumsiness, maybe it's not that it wasn't plausible, but rather just overstated.

    Joy - I think you'd like it. The vampire aspect isn't frightening and it's really quite a nice love story.

    Lesley - I want to re-read Anne Rice's Interview With a Vampire as well as her other works (and give her son's stuff a try, too). I haven't read much vampire lit and was surprised how much I enjoyed that aspect of the narrative. And, of course I NEED to read Dracula.

    Danielle - Yep, pure brain candy. I agree. There was a tad bit too much teenage angst, but then, that's the intended audience (whereas I never felt like Zusak's The Book Thief read like a Young Adult book). Yes, I had heard/read about the 4th in the series. She'll do well with her sales, I would think. She's got quite a following.

    Carl - I need to start venturing into the YA/teen section of B&N more often. When I worked at Borders, I shelved that section quite frequently and was able to see the new (and not so new) titles as they came in. I intend to read one YA title each month this year.

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  8. I read this book in the last couple of months and really liked it. I then moved on to "New Moon" and, while I didn't like it as well, still couldn't put it down. Loved the scenes with Jake. Now I am impatiently waiting for the next. I think it's coming in the fall. She also has one coming out that tells the "Twilight" story from Edward's point of view. Not sure about that but she said her mother liked it?

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  9. Kay - I suspect I'll have the same reaction to New Moon as you. She definitely writes a compelling story. Just not great literature, imho.

    I think you can read the first chapter of Twilight told from Edward's POV somewhere online. I'll go back and see where I saw that link and email it to you.

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  10. I read this because my daughter wanted to read it and I really enjoyed it also. We(dd and I) read New Moon together. We also didn't like it as well as Twilight but it was still good.

    I enjoyed visiting your site and your book reviews. Thanks!

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  11. Amy - I'm happy to hear that in spite of not being as good as Twilight, people are enjoying New Moon. I'll probably wait until later this summer to read it. I'm trying to read one selection of YA each month and since I'm planning to re-read all of the Harry Potter books before #7 is released, I suspect I'll be tied up with those YA selections until August.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Glad you're enjoying the reviews.

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