REVIEW: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

About three things I was absolutely positive:
First, Edward was a vampire.
Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife — between desire and danger.


Watch out kids.  This is a long one….

I have actually read this entire series a number of times.  In honor of Part 1 of Breaking Dawn coming out in theaters this Friday, I thought it would be cool to review the first three books in the days leading up to the release since I haven’t previously.  I am going to do this review a little differently than any of the reviews I have done before.  Instead of just giving my overall opinion, I am going to give the pros vs the cons.

We will start this off with the sugar.  As someone who had never seen the movies, I started out reading this series for the sole purpose of having read the books before seeing the movies.  As with most cases involving books gone to film, I was right and I am glad that I read the books first.  The movies are a success for what they are but I find that when watching the  movies, I spend more time mentally tearing them down for how they ruined the story and griping over the horrible acting than I do paying attention to the movie.  If the only exposure you have had is the movies, I strongly encourage you to read the books.  They are WORLDS better than the films and I firmly believe that they can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone.

Twilight is the first installment in the four part series The Twilight Saga.  For being her first whack at writing, Stephenie Meyer was extremely lucky.  It has been noted that she had never even written so much as a short story prior to sitting down to pen Twilight.  She hit the scene at the perfect time.  Young girls everywhere must have gone bonkers the first time they read this story.  Here you have a classic love story.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall madly in love, boy tries like crazy to not bite girl.  Not really a “classic” love story but it is definitely a mixture of romance, mental torture and danger – the perfect recipe for every good love story.  And dont forget the ever present third wheel to create the love triangle.

I want to talk about looking at this story for what it is.  It’s a paranormal romance for “tweens”.  I think that a lot of people went into reading Twilight expecting it to be more grown up than it is because it involves vampires.  However, this is not the case.  The book is labeled as Young Adult and that’s exactly who it was meant for.  On that same note, adults can certainly enjoy the series.  I did.  Like I said, I have read the entire series several times.

There’s lots of action, lots of mystery and (of course) the steamy unattainable boy that most girls pine over in high school.  He’s cool, he’s mysterious and no matter how hard the girl tries, she has a hard time figuring him out.  I am very jealous of the people that got to read the first book before they became hugely popular.  They had the benefit of going into this book, not knowing what to expect and getting SLAMMED with one heck of a surprise – Edward is a vampire.  I wish I had been in the first group but I was so out of the book world loop at that point that I never even heard of Twilight until the first movie came out.  By then, it was too late.  I think I may very well have been the last person on the planet to have any idea who Bella Swan, Edward Cullen and Jacob Black were.  Twilight was loose on the world.

I was very much against giving in to the craze.  I had read the synopsis of the books and, having read many a vampire tale in my time, felt that the story line was way too close to another series I had read back in the mid-90’s – LJ Smith’s The Vampire Diaries.  And no, I don’t mean the TV show.  The TV show is loosely based on the books and as someone who read the books many times over the years, the TV show is horrible.  The one major factor that I did not take into account was Jacob.  Jacob’s character and backs story are what makes this a drastically different story.  After holding out as long as I could, one of my friends (who had never read the Twilight series but LOVED the movies) convinced me to give it a shot.  I insisted on reading the books first and I am glad I did.

There’s a good mix of characters and lots of drama.  Stephenie Meyer even threw a little bit of comedy in there.  I am particularly fond ofAlice’s character.  I think she’s incredibly funny.  If you’re looking for an easy read with romance and intrigue, Twilight is for you.  As long as you’re not expecting an “epic” novel, you wont be disappointed.

Now, my issues with Twilight….  Hmmm….  First – and again keeping in mind that it is her first piece of writing – my biggest suggestion would be to dumb it down a little.  By that, I mean to not get SO detailed when there are scenes of Bella by herself.  For instance, the first time Edward leaves for the weekend to go “hiking”, Stephenie Meyer wrote out the morning’s happenings into ridiculous detail.  She goes on and on about her breakfast from pouring the cereal into the bowl all the way through the process of washing the dish.  I don’t care and neither will the young adults the book is aimed at.  There is nothing wrong with Bella thinking “…and I shoveled down a quick bowl of cereal….” rather than the 3 pages it took to say the same thing.  I found that I was starting to dread the long-windedness of Bella’s thoughts and that is not a feeling you want to spark when the entire story is written from your main character’s point of view.  So, yes, dumb it down a little.

The Messages.  The messages that this book sends to young women are deplorable!  I could be completely wrong on this and young girls may not read into the messages of the book as much as more mature women would but there are a few messages this book gives off that are not ok in my book.  One of the bad messages in this book is totally opinion based.  I am not a card carrying feminist.  I’m not.  Far from it.  However….‘A woman’s place is in the kitchen’.  Bella’s dad is a fully capable man who got along just fine prior to Bella moving in.  Yet, as soon as she moves in, she takes on a woman of the house kind of roll – like she’s his wife rather than his daughter.  I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being a home maker if that is the way you choose to or have the ability to live.  My issue is that she actually goes so far in one scene as to almost have a panic attack because she dozed off and dinner wasn’t ready when her father got home from work.  Tough noogies!  He’s an adult.  He can cook himself something to eat.  Instead, she scrambles to get dinner rolling in a race around the kitchen to look as busy as possible before he walks in the door.  Ummmm…….what exactly is she worried about happening if she doesn’t look busy enough???  As I said, if you have the ability to live that life and choose to, all the more power to you.  I am not saying that there is anything wrong with it.  What I am saying is it’s a very 1950’s mentality to have in a society where most homes require two incomes to survive and not something I would like my daughter to be taught as an every day way of life.  If dinner’s not steaming on the table at five o’clock, relax.  The world is not going to come to an end.  Life is much too short to stress yourself out over your dad not having dinner to shovel into his face the moment he arrives home from work.  Obsession.  Bella’s instant obsession with Edward…..not healthy.  There are many signs throughout the entire series that point to an unhealthy (almost to the point of mentally abusive) relationship.  Bella’s obsession is only step one.  Not to mention the fact that Edward’s behavior, if put in any other circumstances or switched rolls, would be considered “stalkeresque” and creepy.  If it were the girl climbing into the window of a boy and watching him sleep for weeks on end before they even had a real conversation, the girl would be locked up and fed extraordinary amounts of antipsychotics.

With all that being said, this is a young adult book and more than likely, it’s not being read into like that.  There are millions of girls all around the world who think of Edward in the book and see Robert Pattinson in all his romantic leading man glory.  So my issues with the book may not be real issues in most people’s eyes.  Completely understood and acknowledged.  As I stated in the beginning, if you take this book for what it is, a paranormal romance and not an epic life altering novel, it really is a fantastic (in the literal sense of the word) story full of love, mystery, adventure and beasts that only exist in our wildest dreams.

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