Amy’s Marginalia: Twilight

twilightAs promised, I read Twilight.  And, in all honesty, it was far less irritating than I thought it was going to be.  I took it with me on my trip to Disney World, and I started it on the flight from Seattle to Orlando.  I was 50 pages from the end when the plane touched down, sadly, so I had to finish it the next day.  I seldom read 500 pages in one sitting, but I suppose there are always special occasions that warrant the effort.  It also helps when the font is something like 18 point and there are 2 inch margins all around with double spaced lines (I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea).

Harry Potter this is not.  By no stretch of the imagination does Stephanie Meyer write with the precise prose, careful allusions, tight structure, and complex characterization as J.K. Rowling.  Meyer bloats her sentences with overly emotive descriptions (heaving bosoms and all) and gallops along, full pace, from scene to scene, without much setup or hindsight.

But it’s also easy to understand how hormone saturated teenagers who have moved on from the Harry Potter years are eagerly embracing this next generation of books.  While they are far less demanding mentally, they are far more complex emotionally…which sounds just about perfect for adolescents, actually.

Having recently read the original Dracula, you know that I was interested to compare the latest vampire incarnation to it.  You can find my review of the original here.  As expected, the vampires lose their demonic undertones.  They are misunderstood, and Meyers went even further than I expected in changing the vampire mythology to soften them up a bit.

For example, Vampires don’t sleep in coffins; that’s a myth.  And that whole avoiding sunlight business is because they sparkle.  I can see Braham Stoker rolling over in his grave right now.  Interestingly, Meyer places the majority of her story in Forks, Washington (not too far from here), in the rain shadow of the Olympic Peninsula, where the sun rarely shines, to avoid too many sparkling incidents.

In addition, these vampires are heroic.  They are noble and good hearted.  Stoker’s vampires were leeches, parasites of humanity, demons from hell.   They had no noble elements, none.

And most importantly, these vampires have chosen not to consume human blood.  As if they have any free will in the matter.  Part of the overwhelming evil of Stokers demons was their all consuming depravity, their inability to escape the curse upon them.  That’s why they were also so scary.

These books demonstrate for me a subtle shift, a softening of former evils.  It’s the re-explanation of evil, morphing it into something good.  As if people in the past were too ignorant to understand what was evil and what was good.  And I find that slightly disturbing.  Sure, it’s fiction.  But what happens when this mindset gets applied to Truth?  What happens when we rewrite that whole Satan character?  He was just misunderstood, right? He really sparkles in the light and doesn’t hide from it.  He actually is heroic.  When he takes your soul, he gives you a lot of freedom to make good choices. I don’t think so.

It’s a fun read, don’t get me wrong. I think Meyer’s true talent lies in the eroticism of repressed sexuality.  The book is positively steamy, without a single “sex” scene!  She makes you swoon for a mere “cold” brush of the lips.

I’d love to hear what you thought of the book or the movie if you saw that (still waiting for it to come out on dvd to see it for the first time).

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Here is what my friend Tracy said:
    http://tster828.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/twilight/

  2. I have pretty much decided I wouldn’t enjoy these books even though most book bloggers have been raving over them. I appreciated your even-handed review.

    AL: Thanks. There has been a lot of “raving,” you’re right. I’m always one to try to read the books everyone is reading, so I’m at least current on the most popular books (to discuss them). But it doesn’t mean I have to like them. =)


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