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Book Review: The Twilight Series

Posted by Lissa on December 1, 2008

Well, you already know my weakness for vampire fiction, so it will hardly surprise anyone that I took a gander at the Twilight series.  Short review: A bit young — I think teenage girls are the main demographic target — but definitely read-worthy, and potentially addicting; I finished all four books over the weekend.  (See, THAT explains my lack of posting!)

Longer review: Okay, pretty classic storyline going here — turns out, vampires live among us, and gee whillikers, not all vampires are evil.  Bella (teenage heroine, aged seventeen) meets up with Edward (vampire heroine, also aged seventeen although he’s been seventeen for quite a while).  Luckily for Bella (and our story), Edward happens to belong to a rare family of vampires that don’t eat humans.

With such a seemingly-trite storyline, you may wonder why I (and half of America, seems like) found the story addicting.  Three simple reasons:

1) The writing is good.  I’m not pretending it’s Jane Austen, but there’s a good deal of humor, which always makes a book tastier.

2) Vampire books are fun.  No, seriously!  Check out the success of Laurell K. Hamilton and J.R. Ward and Anne Rice; all three exploited a simple not-all-vampires-are-evil premise and laughed all the way to the bank.  (Yes, I do have all three authors in my bookcase.)

3) Like the Harry Potter books, the Twilight books seem ALMOST believable.  It’s the kind of plot that has you kicking yourself — “Why didn’t *I* think of writing that?”

And yet, it’s something more. 

To be honest, I think this is the female equivalent of a well-done Batman, or Spiderman.  Growing up, what guy doesn’t want to step into those shoes?  What guy doesn’t want to believe that his awkward, gangly growing pains could be consumed in a frenzy of super-heroism if a radioactive spider happens along?  What grown-up guy doesn’t enjoy a well-made superhero movie?

What gangly, awkward teenage girl doesn’t have a massive crush on a guy and think, “He would never, never, never be interested in me, I’m not worth it”?

Bella feels that way about Edward; she knows she could never be smart enough, talented enough, beautiful enough to earn his attention, let alone his regard.  Yet as it turns out, she is unique in the entire world and has his full attention.

Simple, sure.  But it tugs at my heartstrings all the same: Bella’s absolute certainty that her major crush won’t — can’t — like her in return; the miracle that he actually does; the constant self-doubt and amazement that somehow this glorious creature loves her.

Of course, I could be wrong.  Perhaps only girls who go through an ugly duckling phase — mine was, oh, from when I was about twelve till I turned seventeen — recognize those feelings of loneliness, of unworthiness, and rejoice that somehow Bella was lucky enough to be intrinsically what Edward would want and need and desire.

Ah, well.  Lovey-dovey stuff aside, there are great themes to these books: friendship, self-sacrifice, restraint, family bonds, and men (er, vampires?) not afraid to be men.  (Remember this post?)  And, parents, the morals found in these teenagers are practically . . . Victorian.  Surely that makes them good books for your dear ones to read 🙂

To conclude: No, I do not eat my words regarding “the new teeny-bopper fetish — that o-so-studly (gag) teenage (vegetarian!) vampire.”  I never claimed to have high-brow tastes, y’all; consider me a 28-year-old teenybopper.  At least it’s older than the Little House books!!

P.S. I was playing my Classical mix while blogging, which includes the Hoedown from Rodeo

MIKE: “Am I the only one who caught the irony?  That you’re playing the “Beef! It’s what’s for dinner!” song while the pot roast cooks?” 

ME:  “Ummmm, no.  I just like that song!!”

Apparently my irony-meter is broken!

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15 Responses to “Book Review: The Twilight Series”

  1. Brad K said

    I like Kelley Armstrong – her “Ladies of the Underworld” universe includes werewolves, witches, necromancers, sorcerers, vampires, and half-demons living amongst us. Some are peaceable, relatively, there is a multiracial counsel, disharmony in the coven, the sorcerers are organized into mafia-like cabals and still hate the witches that showed them real magic just before the sorcerers handed over the witches to the inquisition. Both witches and sorcerers are still put out about that. Armstrong’s erotica is a bit less twisted than Laurell K. Hamilton’s.

    Patricia Briggs started with SF/Fantasy. And drifted into Urban Noir – the vampires-among-us and other underworld race novels. Her “Moon Called” is compelling – and the novelette “Alpha and Omega” as published in “On the Prowl” is touching and wonderful, continued as the novel “Cry of the Wolf”.

    Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” traps an honorable vampire – with a kidnapped woman. As the sun is coming up. McKinley is the celebrated YA author of “Hero and the Crown” and my favorite, “Beauty”. Don’t miss her “Deerskin” – quite a dark tale.

    If you are looking for a dark tale, consider some science fiction – Susan R. Matthews’ “Exchange of Hostages” and other novels of The Jurisdiction. A noble son of a prominent family is pressured to serve as a ship’s surgeon by his family. The talented neurosurgeon’s conflict is that his family isn’t aware that ship’s surgeons have become instruments of the ruling judges – as torturers. Andrej is tormented by his need to heal – and denying his lust for causing pain, and by his skill in both fields.

    The theater where I work a the concession stand is showing Twilight. It seems to be drawing a bunch of dating couples, and women older than YA, too. The other film we are showing is “Secret Life of Bees”. Just a few people each show, mostly middle aged or older women or a few couples. Almost as moving as the book, but they left out a few of the more spiritually rewarding scenes, and simplified a couple of story lines.

    Have you seen the Twilight movie yet?

  2. Lissa said

    Nope — as a bona fide book snob, since I liked the book I’m boycotting the movie! (Almost ALWAYS I hate the movie if I love the book; I’m still not keen on the Lord of the Rings movies, and everyone says they’re great.) I did like “Sunshine” ; I’m sad she hasn’t continued that saga, but it does work well as a stand-alone. Thanks for the other reading suggestions!

  3. Ted said

    You might also like Fred Saberhagen’s vampire series of novels. I quite liked them.

  4. Ted said

    Link seems messed up. My HTML-fu is weak. Try here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Saberhagen#Dracula_sequence

  5. […] Well, you already know my weakness for vampire fiction, so it will hardly surprise anyone that I took a gander at the Twilight series. Short review: A bit young — I think teenage girls are the main demographic target — but definitely …[Continue Reading] […]

  6. […] Well, you already know my weakness for vampire fiction, so it will hardly surprise anyone that I took a gander at the Twilight series. Short review: A bit young — I think teenage girls are the main demographic target — but definitely …[Continue Reading] […]

  7. secretlivesofscientists said

    “To be honest, I think this is the female equivalent of a well-done Batman, or Spiderman.”

    I think that would be Buffy.

  8. Lissa said

    Hmmm, good point. Perhaps it’s the female version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame? Only I haven’t seen or read that. Aladdin?

  9. […] by Lissa on December 2, 2008 Shoothouse Barbie’s comment here made me ask myself the über-important […]

  10. Brad K said

    Lissa, if you are interested in a science fiction, backhanded, vampire-as-a-social-disease, goofy version, Robert Frezza wrote “McLendon’s Syndrome.” This is a reluctant hero, his friends keep maneuvering him into impossible positions, etc. A fun read.

  11. Ted said

    Hey, check out Insty!

    The definition of “expert” is “someone who’s 10 minutes ahead of Instapundit.”

    😉

  12. Ted said

    Gah. My Linkiness-fu is weak.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/28596/

  13. Lissa said

    LOL 🙂 Of course, I have neither the desire nor the time to write the kind of in-depth article he linked; perhaps that’s why I’m a blogger and not a writer?

  14. Em said

    You know, with all love to Buffy and Ziva, there haven’t been any *real* female superhero movies lately, Twilight not withstanding. I mean REALLY. We’ve had Hulk, Ironman, and Batman in the past year. I guess there’s Selma Hayak in the Hellboy series, but that still doesn’t hold its own against the good ol’ comic superhero archetype. The only one that came close to a central character who literally kicked ass was Angelina as Lara Croft. They should make a third movie.

  15. Lissa said

    Think you mean Selma Blair honey, and I’m waiting for Anita Blake to rock the screen (before she gets all sick and twisted and sexually obsessed, that is. I like vampire fiction, not screwed-up poorly-done erotica)

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