Thoughts on reading: Twilight

People have had lots to say about Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I probably wouldn’t have picked this up if I hadn’t read so much criticism of it and it got to the point where I really wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

While I do subscribe to the view that all published fiction has something good about it, I recognise there are levels and types of goodness within that. So, in comparison to other published fiction that I have read, is Twilight any good? Surprisingly, it is. I wasn’t expecting that.

Plot-wise, there’s not much to it. Aside from Edward and Bella the characters are pretty lifeless. Bella’s friends and family are ciphers and she doesn’t seem to like them much. Edward’s family are more vivid, in the sense that I know what they’re supposed to look like, but by the end only Alice has a distinct personality. Edward and Bella are more fleshed out, especially Bella as the book is in first person from her POV. I can’t say I found either Edward or Bella particularly likeable. It’s an easy read; it’s 434 pages and I got through it in less than four hours.

The description of setting is variable; natural settings are brought out well with good writing but the town and buildings are vague and somewhat sketchy. Weather is also done well. The dialogue is ok, although Meyer is overly found of expressive dialogue tags, of which I think I found ‘snickered’ the most irritating. In fact, both Bella and Edward do quite a lot of snickering and chuckling and it is part of what contributes to making them unlikeable.

Yet, Twilight has something. By page forty, I was so engrossed I nearly missed my stop on the train and that doesn’t happen often. The relationship between Bella and Edward starts off in a standard Mills & Boon format. Edward starts off as angry boner man directing a violent and unpredictable temper at Bella. Then, about half way through, he ‘fesses up. Edward opens up and reveals that his anger stems from his insecurities. He still is a bit of a dick, but not so much as he was shaping up to be.

The romance between them is the intensely emotional yet virginal kind that you only experience as a teenage. This isn’t a young girl seduced by an older man, it is two teenagers experiencing first love. Edward may be a 100-year old vampire but in this respect he is a seventeen year old boy. There is a bit of touching, face, neck and arms only, four kisses with no tongue, and that’s it. Yet, it is so sexy. The passion between them is overwhelming and in the end that’s what pulls you in.

The writing is ok (it generally gets better towards the end), neither plot or character are compelling, but the relationship is absorbing. Twilight is good; it’s not great, but it’s not awful either.

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