March 29, 2007

Marpril's Book: Twilight

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, is a love story. With vampires in it.

And before your nose can finish turning up at that description, I just have to mention how wholly addicting it is. Go ahead. Bet you can't read it just once. Here's a review from Amazon:

Meyer adds an eerie new twist to the mismatched, star-crossed lovers theme: predator falls for prey, human falls for vampire. This tension strips away any pretense readers may have about the everyday teen romance novel, and kissing, touching, and talking take on an entirely new meaning when one small mistake could be life-threatening. The novel's danger-factor skyrockets as the excitement of secret love and hushed affection morphs into a terrifying race to stay alive. Realistic, subtle, and succinct, Twilight will have readers dying to sink their teeth into it.
–Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library

11 comments:

Sharon said...

Ok, Wynne, you're right. I couldn't put it down. I finished it this weekend, two days after I got it. Very entertaining and an interesting look at the subject. I would never have thought of this, which is one of the reasons why I don't have a New York Times bestseller making millions. And the author really did a good job of making me like almost all the characters, even the less significant ones, which is kind of nice really. I just finished a couple of books where I couldn't like anyone in them.

wynne said...

It's the tension, isn't it? You can't put it down because the tension is so great you hafta know what will happen next...

I'm going to the library today to pick up my copy. To read again. Maybe I'll notice something new this time.

Sharon said...

It's true. The tension is insane. Nicholas Sparks could learn a thing or two (or several hundred actually) from this author. Have you read the second one? Third one's coming out soon too I think.

wynne said...

The second one is "New Moon," and yeah, I've read it. Of course. It takes a different turn (that felt a little forced to me, but I won't go off about that until we've read it) but the tension is still great and you can't put the dumb thing down.

Christina said...

SERIOUSLY addicting stuff here! Hooray on the choice! I own both books one and two and I have to say that book one is still my favorite. (Please don't have a heart attack...it's just me, Christina. Yes, I'm still alive. Miracle, I know.)

The only thing that got to me in the first book was how many times Bella remarked to herself how incredibly gorgeous Edward is...okay! I get it! I get it! He's an absolute babe and there is no resisting him...which is part of the allure of this book, wouldn't you say? I honestly don't think I've ever read such a sexy character before in my life...and I'm pretty good at picking up on that. So maybe if I were a 17-year-old, fictional girl, I might be thinking over and over..."Wow, this guy is too beautiful!"

Apparently this book has sparked fan clubs galore! Stephenie Meyer was even featured at the National Book Festival in DC (I live here and I missed it...I'm so ticked!). Check out her website (www.stepheniemeyer.com) to see just how crazy people are for her books...and for some more interesting tidbits and factoids about her forthcoming works.

One thing I'd love to discuss is under the link to Other Projects. After you've read Twilight, go read Midnight Sun. Interesting change in POV, eh? Okay, so I'm mildly (read excessively) obsessed with this book. I gave it to my married sister, thinking that she'd enjoy it, but probably wouldn't be quite so taken with it as I was (I am single). I was wrong. Happy to know that this book can be adored by married and unmarried alike! :)

And here ends my rant...until others have read and commented.

Shar said...

I have to agree with Christina. My main gripe with the novel is the continued comments about Edward's beauty. We got it already!
But I do love the novel, and my husband would say I am slightly obsessed. I think I am as obsessed with the novel as with the author. I am fascinated by her and her success story, and I love reading about it. (check it out on her website). I have even gone so far as to attend FAN CLUB parties. Woah. I never thought I would do that! I find myself telling everyone I know about these books and I've bought my own personal hardback copies which do not get loaned out, and loan out all the paperback versions.
But the question still comes down to: what about the story is so fascinating for everyone? There are legions of starstruck fans all over the world (granted, most are teenage girls, but there are plenty of adults who add to the mix. My husband even liked the story, though he most enjoyed the action parts, which take awhile to arrive).

So. I think I've come to the conclusion that there are several things working together to make this story successful. There are of course plenty of faults in the story too, but I'll focus on why I think it works.

1. Most women long for an Edward in their lives. And some lucky ones have even found one. We like to read about our Edwards, especially when they are superhuman.

Which brings me to 2. This superhuman story is believable. Though the characters are vampires, in some way or another we can relate to them. I think Stephenie pulled this off with great dialogue. Her characters come alive b/c they TALK to each other. I want to hear what they have to say, not be told what they have to say.

3. The tension Wynne mentioned is real. It keeps you reading, even when we're tired of hearing Bella goo over Edward. Because we want to know where she's going with all of this. What could possibly happen next?

4. Stephenie Meyer is incredibly smart. She not only created characters that are alive for people, but she KEEPS them alive through her website additions and by being willing to attend PARTIES for those characters. If you've looked at her website, she adds chapters that may have been cut in the editing process, or tidbits of information in answer to fans' questions. She keeps her characters alive for people PAST the reading of the novel. I think this is one of the smartest things an author can do to keep people coming back for more. After reading Twilight, you have all these questions about the Cullens and Bella, and what does STephenie do- she builds up the world beyond the book. (check out www.twilightlexicon.com - it's a fanclub site, which can have a lot of teenage angst over things, but also has a lot of interesting additional information that Stephenie has shared with the moderators. See the "Personal Correspondence section specifically.)

So in a large nutshell, those are 4 of the reasons I think this series has taken off like it has.

And now I find myself rambling and hungry for lunch after a three-hour meeting, so I don't know if any of what I said made sense, but I'll come to a close quickly. :o)

Belladonna said...

HMMM, A VAMPIRE book? Not generally my genre, but what the heck. Maybe I'll give it a go when I get done with what I am reading now.

I think the whole issue of loving someone who is potentially dangerous / unhealthy for you could be explored in a lot of ways.

Marie said...

I enjoyed it -- very readable, with very likable characters and some really funny bits. There's always a danger with practically-perfect-in-every-way characters that you will have no way to relate to them in any meaningful way, but the author managed to chisel him like a Greek god, add a creampuffy soul, make him a concert pianist who is excellent at biology labs, give him exquisite taste in absolutely everything, make him shimmer in the sun, and somehow keep it from getting nauseating. Ane while the characters were well-drawn and the dialogue was natural, it was really the premise of the thing that made it fly. Very clever.

Beyond the exhilarating rush from near-lethal doses of teen wish fulfillment fantasy (wheee!), there was something that I liked: the parallel between electricity generated by the forced restraint of the two leads and the lives of hormonally charged but sexually abstinent teens, who are getting rarer every day and being viewed more and more as prudish and naive. It excites me to think of thousands of teenagers devouring the book and its convincing case for being able to love someone well and truly without hopping in the sack with them. Particularly by using the vampire motif (which has always been a very sexual thing) to suggest that certain intimacies are downright dangerous in certain contexts. It doesn't have to preach or offer up dry platitudes -- a spoonful of vampire helps the medicine go down! I hope it makes a difference to the way at least a few teens view their interactions with the opposite sex.

I wonder if these characters are headed for a Harold and Maude ending -- that would be a really daring direction for the teen crowd.

Thanks for the read -- a real page turner!

wynne said...

I just finished my re-reading of this book, and I now have a new perspective on it.

I have a bone to pick.

It isn’t with the book exactly-—the book was executed perfectly and achieved exactly what it intended to for the audience it was written for—-but rather with our culture that perpetuates this sort of…well…

Let me start by saying the first time I read it, I couldn’t put it down and finished it quickly. The tension was grand and I had to know what happened next. As soon as I was done with it, I picked it up again and re-read some favorite bits. I was obsessed. I read it so quickly I didn’t have the time to be annoyed with anything. And it was so gratifying-—so satisfying-—to see a person so infatuated with another and have the infatuation equally returned. Exciting read.

And Marie, I completely agree with you about the sex thing-—how refreshing was that to have some characters try restraint for a change? Nice touch.

But now that I have read it again, and the bloom of that first rush is over…well, there was one thing that really bothered me, and then there is that bone I mentioned.

The first thing: Edward. Of course he is ridiculous as a real person, but it’s all okay because, after all, he’s not a real person, he is a vampire. I’m fine with the fact that he sparkles, that he smells wonderful, that he can read minds. I can even accept that when he sneaks into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep, this is considered sweet instead of downright creepy. What I can’t handle is how much he “took care” of Bella. I’m not talking about him saving her life—-that’s all hunky-dory—-and it’s great that he makes her feel so safe, even when he’s tempted to eat her. I like that. But it’s when she says something like “put me down” or “I can walk” or even “please, Eddie, I can feed myself, that’s why I have hands”, and he ignores it, and forces her to do what he thinks is best for her own good/to keep her safe/whatever. That I don’t like. No one needs to be rescued all the time, and if someone insists on rescuing you from little things that you don’t need rescuing from at all—-well, it’s demeaning. It promotes helplessness. Why didn’t Bella feel like a useless twit by the end of the novel? Drove me crazy. Enough about that, though.

The big bone, the bone that really has more to do with our culture than with this book, is this: What is the difference between infatuation and love? I think that pop culture confuses the two. Of course it does. But—-how do I begin?

I don’t believe in “love at first sight.” Infatuation at first sight? Oh, yeah: that instant rush of attraction, the high of meeting someone new and finding much of yourself, your interests, your values being reflected out of them and back into yourself, and the anticipation of getting to know them better and experiencing more of the same. Yes. And infatuation often leads a couple into the more mature relationship of love. (This is how I see it, anyway.)

What I am opposed to is how pop culture confuses the two, and how the addicting rush that goes with infatuation is labeled “romance.” The problem is infatuation ALWAYS dies, without exception, and if you’ve gotten lucky, love takes its place: a feeling much less heady, but more hardy. Infatuation brings two together, but love is what keeps them, seals them, brings the two into one. Love is caring about another more than yourself, whereas infatuation is powered by self-love: being able to see reflections of yourself in another.

Okay. I did my best to explain my views—-have no idea if it makes sense, but oh well-—time to move on. This book is saturated with infatuation and the rush that goes with it. (Ooo…it’s so romantic!) Positively dripping. I was looking at some of the responses to the book, and noticed that more than one person (myself included) used words like “obsessed” “addicting” “fascinating” and “rush” when describing this book. We're all obsessed because it's about obsession. And that's fine, as far as it goes.

It bothers me, not because I think that Bella and Edward aren’t going to arrive at love (because of course they will-—with such a strong foundation of sacrifice and restraint, they’ll be just fine), but because I’m afraid the author won't let them. What if she believes, deep in her romantic heart, that infatuation should always last? What if she has bought into pop culture's stupidity about "romance?" And because she is the author, and she can do what she likes, she makes it so that they are always stuck in infatuation? (Two teenagers, together forever, absorbed in each other to an unhealthy degree for eternity. Ugh. If a vampire truly is damned for eternity as Edward believes, is there a better way to damn him then to be eternally infatuated with your food?)

I’m bothered because when it comes to love, I don’t want a fantasy. I want the real thing. I want a relationship with real intimacy (meaning really knowing each other, all the good and the bad, getting absolutely sick of each other and still loving each other-—reality, you know?) and there is no evidence in this book that these two are at that point, or that the author will ever let them get to that point until she puts down her pen (or stops typing, as the case may be). And I feel cheated.

And...this is too long and too much about the baggage inside my head rather than the book. My apologies. (But what can you do? Delete my comment?)

And this doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop reading the series. Heavens, no. It’s a guilty pleasure, like eating an entire bag of Hershey’s miniatures in one sitting (when Jeff isn’t looking, of course) because even though I know it’s not good for me, I just can’t STOP.)

Anyone interested in continuing the series in another month? Or should we try something new, possibly non-romantic?

BLUEYEDBOYS said...

By way of introduction, I'm the mentioned married sister of the funny and insightful Christina.
She sent me Twilight and I got lost right into it. I have also listened to the audio version. (It's Christina's and I somehow still haven't managed to return it to her.)

I want to disagree a little with the almighty Wynne.

(My thoughts about this may be colored by the reading of the second book and bits of the unfinished Midnight Sun) I think the theme of restraint is a precursor to the development of love and not just the applauded resurgence of abstinence. I realize you said something similar but had concerns that the author may not allow real love to flourish.
I think Stephenie Meyer is actually allowing two "teenagers" to discover the magic of a relationship so consuming that all else becomes background music. Truly I question the durability of any relationship that begins in High School, so why not showcase the infatuation? My what a boring read without it. (Ok probably not boring as there would still be all of the hot vampireness.) It would be a little strange to find the deepest understanding of another's soul between a High Schooler and a man hung up emotionally as a teen.
But don't you think the ability to cleanse her blood showed that things could really be heading towards a fulfilling (no pun intended ;)) relationship?
Ah well I guess the real disagreement we have is on how optimistic we are that the author will be willing/able to deliver Edward and Bella up to love .

*sigh* He is fascinating though isn't he? I enjoyed one or two excellent daydreams...

wynne said...

I do agree that they are headed for real love, yes, but I still think the author will only write about them as long as they are deeply infatuated...

Honestly, this is a persona;-wynne issue and really should be entirely ignored! The book was about infatuation, which was why it was a fun read, and if I am the only one that gets a wee bit nauseated by a few things, I think it's kinda...because of stuff in my head, you know?

Almighty, indeed. Would've been more to the point if you had said "eternally longwinded."