Saturday, August 15, 2009

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I'm torn between 3 and 4 stars for this book. I listened to it on audio book (free! from the library) because I've been wanting to see the movie and really wanted to have read it first.

It's classified as YA - young adult, which in book lingo really means younger teenagers. I'm not sure why the word "adult" is in there. When I think of young adult, I think 19 or 20 - 24 or 25. But that age is old enough to read Real Adult books, whereas the younger teens are a little old for children's books and a little young for Real Adult books. Hence Young/Adult which I prefer to think of as 2 separate words, rather than Young defining the age of the Adult. Adults read YA all the time, and in addition to the hordes of young teens in love with Edward (and Bella) there are hordes of adult readers who loved it too.

In light of the fact that I read - and love - romance, and it qualifies in many ways as romance, I read it, not sure what to expect. My first impressions: I can definitely see the appeal for younger readers. The teenage girl feeling out of place, both with her mom in Phoenix where she grew up and with her dad in the small Washington town he lives in. That is a feeling many young people get - I don't belong, I'm not like everyone else, and I think it's a fantasy of many that somehow you, the young teen, can take control and make decisions that will change your life. Bella chooses to leave her mother and live with her father as a sacrifice - she hates the small town, but her mother needs the freedom of not having a child to look after. I don't think most of us had the ability to make this type of decision at this age - to move across country.

Then there's the Boy - Edward - that she's so drawn too, and who is drawn to her too. Again, she has control of the situation, because although he can read everyone else's minds, he can't read hers. It's heady stuff - she has control over him because she can mask her thoughts. And he's hopelessly fallen for her, which takes a while to get to the point (sorry if that's a spoiler - although how can it be when everyone knows they get together?)

Here's the YA thing: they hardly even kiss, and really there is no sexual tension at all. OK, maybe there's some slight sexual tension underneath, but you're led to believe that what he's feeling is some vampire thing that humans don't experience - really, he's drawn to suck her blood and basically kill her, not boink her blind. No mention of Sensitive Body Parts. No thrills that shoot to You Know Where. Nothing that even hints of Doing The Deed. In fact, when she describes his body - cold, marble, white, hard (not THERE) - his lips as icy, his hands as frozen - well, I didn't feel anything but Teenage First Love there, not even a drop of lust.

There is some violence which is hinted at strongly in the opening Prologue, and no doubt in the movie will be spectacular. It isn't anything you didn't see in Buffy or countless other prime time tv shows and popular movies. Apparently in American culture, blood, guts, violence, it's all ok for kids to see, just keep the body parts out of it. Oh - there were no bad words that I recall either.

I enjoyed it, but didn't get caught up in Twilight/Edward&Bella fever. For one thing, it's made clear over and over that she's only a junior in high school - so what she thought and felt didn't appeal to me as much as heroines in my Real Adult romance novels, even when they are not much older. The fantasy of being 17 and having so much control over my environment isn't one that strikes my fancy any more, although God knows I indulged in that fantasy for hours when i was that age (and younger, especially younger - yes, I was going to go live with some relative in a completely different state, go to a new school where no one would know me, use a new name, be a different person altogether!)

The story, for anyone who doesn't know, is that Bella goes to Forks, Washington, where she meets the Cullen "family" - a young doctor and his wife and several adopted "teenagers". They're actually vampires who have managed to subdue their human bloodlust, and feed on animals instead. They live in an area as long as possible, then move on to another small town and start over - after all, they don't really age so after a while it might be suspicious that the teenagers never graduate. They're different; she's different. It's a match made in heaven. Like all good vampire tales, the heroine is the vampire hero's soul mate - and he has to have her at any cost, but fights it because it will OUT their vampire-ness. Meanwhile, she's not unpopular there, and makes a lot of friends. But once she develops a tendre for Edward, the shit hits the fan.

There is the Indian tribe that KNOWS and has a treaty with the vampires to keep them off their land. There are the "in" crowd kids who think the Cullen siblings are too creepy to be friends with. There's the protective dad who is also the law there - he likes the Cullens but feels protective towards his daughter's chastity (which is not compromised). And there are The Others - well, you'll have to read the book.

Does Bella become a vampire? Well, not in Book 1, but it's a long series so I guess I'll have to keep reading (or listening) to find out. Now I can rent the movie!

3 stars- that's my final answer. I liked it. I didn't love it.

No comments: