Books: Twilight

Warning: spoilers ahoy.

I can’t believe I read the whole thing.

The Queen is also unable to believe I read the whole thing. She reacts to bad literature the way most do to curdled milk, spitting it out the moment she realizes what she is imbibing. And so, 30 pages into Twilight, she tossed the book over to my side of the bed and announced her intention to never touch it again.

So, I read it. And … uhh, whoops.

Twilight, for those who don’t keep their finger on the pulse of teen-girl trends like I do, is the newest YA Lit phenom, selling thirty-seven klonktrillion copies and spawning a movie that promises to be bigger than Jesus and The Beatles and Chez-Its combined. The plot, such as it is, revolves around beautiful (but doesn’t know it!) Bella, who movies to Forks, WA, and meets Edward. (Or possibly “Edwin”–thankfully, the details are already beginning to fade). Ed is exquisite and dark and moody and sensitive and thoughtful and heroic and dangerous and did we already mention exquisite? Did we already mention exquisite 430 times? Great! Only 212 more mentions to go.

If you still want to read the book after seeing this picture, then I’m afraid there’s no helping you.

Ed’s fantastic looks, it turns out, are a result of his deep dark secret which Belle figures out in about 30 minutes: he’s a vampire. He and his family (vampires all) live in Forks because it is perpetually cloudy, thus ensuring that they won’t be exposed to direct sunlight. And it’s imperative that Ed avoid direct sunlight because, when it hits him, he becomes EVEN MORE GORGEOUS. I am so totally not making this up. Also, he’s a good vampire, insofar as he doesn’t eat people. But he really, really wants to. Hence the brooding. And to make matters worse, he wants to eat Belle more than anyone, because apparently she has great smelling blood. But he’s also in love with her, you see. Oh my goodness, what a pickle! It’s as if you or I were dating an apple fritter.

Now, in my day, when you were tormented by Rampant Teen Love™ you lay on your bed in a dark room and listened to a Siouxsie And The Banshees album. But Belle and Ed are even too emo for that, and apparently LiveJournal isn’t available in Forks, so Belle just gushes over Ed’s exquisitability while Ed bellyaches about his colossal case of vampiric blue-balls.

That goes on for about 300 pages. Then, suddenly, the book becomes a thriller. And I’m not kidding about the “suddenly.” New characters are introduced and, just like that, you are reading another novel, all in the space of about two pages. This abrupt shift in tone might have seemed jarring or forced in the hands of a lesser writer, but fortunately Stephanie Meyer eases the transition by having it happen during a game of baseball played by the undead in a remote clearing of a dark woods. So, you know, you hardly even notice that there was NO FORESHADOWING WHATSOEVER.

Anyway, long story short: if you’re a fan of Sweet Valley High books and the line of Goosebumps novels, but wish someone could save you some time by combining them into a single series, then Twilight might be just the book for you! Or you could just watch the first two seasons of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, which covers the same ground with twice the aplomb and half the paeans to flawless cheekbones.

* * *

49 comments.

  1. Just wait until the last book when it goes from a mildly awful series to THE WORST BOOKS EVER OMG I JUST WASTED HOURS OF MY LIFE. Plus the complete character changes and sudden religious/moral undertones.

  2. oh man i’m so glad i mocked this series without any experience of it firsthand. can i just please hold to my convictions that there are better works on vampires out there? when i saw there was a movie, i just became so sad.

  3. dude, the Baby on Board reference was so much more apt than Chez-Its. Did you think no one remembered those ubiquitous items?

  4. No, Rachel, you’re being too kind. This series is not mildly awful, it is full awful from the start.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the incredible stalker-ish elements. Ed follows her to town, only to save her? Ed watches her sleep every night? Ed’s moody and prone to violent outbursts?

    That’s what I call good boyfriend material!

  5. I read the entire series in about a month and the whole time I kept telling my husband “they’re so bad, so poorly written, so STUPID, but I just can’t stop reading them. I’ve never seen such an overuse of adverbs in mylife.” Lucikly, the fourth one was so incredibly AWFUL and strayed so far from the original “angst” of the other books that I’m cured now. Maybe we could pass a hat around and get Stephanie Meyers writing lessons.

  6. But Matthew, it just gets so much better in the next books. The heroine becomes suicidal because her exquisite vampire leaves her. Then there’s a happy ending where she’s barefoot and pregnant and loving it — just like all eighteen year old girls should be.

  7. Annie, I think you mean she’s happy just like all married eighteen year old girls who drop out of high school should be.

  8. A friend is trying to get me to read this, hard. She keeps loaning her copy out to other girlfriends first and I keep being in the middle of a good novel, thankfully. Someday, though, I’ll have just finished a novel and she’ll have that book handy…

  9. I just bought pre-sale movie tickets to Twilight for my daughter’s b-day party. The books were dreadful, except for vampire baseball. But I do secretly like Alice…

    Luckily, they are outgrowing the books fast enough to mock the last one. It’s like junk food- sometimes you can’t stop soon enough, and you feel a little queasy afterwards!

  10. On Sunday I heard my wife declare that “Twilight is to women what Warcraft is to men, fun, somewhat embarrassing entertainment.”

  11. I’ve been suffering through them (my sister-in-law read them all inside a week and LOVES them, and LOVES Edward and OMG stop). It took me about 3 weeks to read the 2nd one b/c I couldn’t deal with it for more than a few pages at a time. I read 3 other thick novels in between. I’m only trying to force myself through b/c my Sis-in-law likes them so much and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. but really? blech.

    The books fail one of my most vital “should I read this” tests: They are thick (many many many pages) but have GIGANTIC print and have way too much blank space on the page. That right there tells you not to bother. They could have fit the text into a small paperback book.

  12. I was looking for an easy second income recently because we’re having a baby in a few months. I think I’ll start writing shitty teen novels, there’s gold in there.

  13. Don’t get me started. Just don’t get me started. This is a completely ridiculous series and I’ve wasted hours of my life that I’ll never get back on the first two books. The first one was somewhat agonizing, the vampire metaphor for sex being particularly painful, but for some reason, I thought I’d like to see where the story went, thinking the second novel might find the author growing in her craft. I was wrong. I was so very wrong. Ranted about it on my blog, to which post I’ll link (http://theseatedview.blogspot.com/2008/08/goodness-true-love-rant.html) so I don’t feel tempted to re-write the whole thing, because despite it being 3 months since I battled through that dreck, I’m still pissed. This is what teenaged girls are being told is romantic? Control, disapproval, feelings of not being worthy? This is love??? Oops… I did say I wasn’t going to re-post the thing.

    And the guy they picked to play Edward in the movie just adds to the creep factor. Apparently, the casting agent forgot about how beautiful he is. Understandable, what with it hardly being mentioned.

    ARGH!

    p.s. sorry for hijacking your comment box there – I seem to have a few opinions on the subject. A-hem.

  14. About two months ago, I tweeted something along the lines of, “Peddle your shitty vampire books elsewere, Stephanie Meyer. We read Christopher Pike in this house.”

  15. Male friend at work was reading this at lunch. I was reading a Star Wars novel. It was nice to be able to take literary high ground for once.

    “I’m reading about Luke Skywalker and I’m STILL cooler than you right now.”

  16. I was a girls camp counselor this past summer and oh, you have never seen crazy till you’ve seen preteens, teenagers and twenty-somethings all freaking out about the same stupid series. It was like crack – very poorly written crack.

    That said, there are some hilarious recaps floating around that are worth mentioning: http://cleoland.pbwiki.com/Twilight#Bookdiscussionentries

  17. I never liked these books just on principle.

    Now I’ve got me some certified proof.

    Thank you for unmasking the unsubtlety of it all.

  18. I’m a bookseller. I love these books.
    I just don’t read them.

  19. I’ve avoided these books on general principle plus I make sure I don’t mention it on my movie blog as I don’t want the Internet to implode

  20. I slogged through Twilight and vowed never to read any sequels. Vampires should not play baseball. Ever.

  21. Well, I unabashedly love the whole series. However, I think your review is spot on. What does that say about me? Hmmm.

  22. I liked the books an embarrassing amount until the final atrocious book, but I laughed my head off at this review.

  23. Twilight series – $60.00
    Getting my 13 year old to read for fun – priceless

  24. I just finished the book. I was compelled by all the hoopla–and I like to keep up with my pop culture trite.

    I kept thinking that the characters were like my own high-school romance, except mine wasn’t an exquisite vampire, he was from the trailer park and had a chip on his shoulder–but the broody and moodiness was the same. As was my rapture with the treatment.

    I would prefer teen books promote healthier relationships, but hey, to each his own. Overall, it was as good as Gossip Girl.

  25. You’ll love this:

    http://gallery.filmofilia.com/gallery/Twilight/image/2/

    I was on the fence about seeing the Twilight movie, but then I found out that when the Cullens play vampire baseball in the movie, they actually wear vampire baseball uniforms.

    I only wish they had team names on them, like The Forks Fangs vs. The Washington Sparklers.

    :[

  26. So long as the vampires aren’t gay. Can’t have that. Wife #4 wouldn’t approve.

  27. You forgot to mention HOW GOOD EDWARD SMELLS. I hope, that for the sake of the teenage fans, the movie has some kind of smell-o-vision. It would be a real shame to miss that.

    (The best part of the book going to film is that the dude playing Edward thinks the books are crap. It’s glorious.)

  28. You forgot to mention HOW GOOD EDWARD SMELLS. I hope, that for the sake of the teenage fans, the movie has some kind of smell-o-vision. It would be a real shame to miss that.

    (The best part of the book going to film is that the dude playing Edward thinks the books are crap. It’s glorious.)

  29. I’m even worse than you because I read the first TWO books of the bedazzling series. The moment you put the book down you are aware that Jesus that as Awful, but while you’re reading it that thought just sort of plays in the back of your mind.

    But. For full disclosure’s sake.

    I probably would have read all four books if (a) they ever got to humping, or (b), Edward sounded like someone I wanted to hump. I’m not interested in kissing frozen granite myself.

  30. Miss Grace, you reminded me of one of my favorite lines from Cleolinda’s recap of Breaking Dawn, which was something along the lines of: “But Meyer never answers the question that’s been haunting us for four books: was it like fucking a Popsicle?”

  31. Ha! I love this. I read Twilight last weekend and I’m reading New Moon this weekend. Twilight, at least, was so awful… it reminded me of the romance novels where the hero is slightly a rapist, but it’s only because he knows it’s best if you just let him control you. I found it to be infruriating and also embarassingly entertaining. I’m reading these books because I’m trying to bond with my sister (she has atrocious taste). I’m looking forward to the crash and burn of the last book. I must be a masochist.

  32. I read the first one and thought it was all right. Ridiculous, but not terrible. For comparison’s sake, though, I also survived the whole Left Behind series (which was both ridiculous and terrible, and I’m even an evangelical).

  33. I read the first one and thought it was all right. Ridiculous, but not terrible. For comparison’s sake, though, I also survived the whole Left Behind series (which was both ridiculous and terrible, and I’m even an evangelical).

  34. I’m thinking that this whole Twilight book thing will be a lot like Nicholas Sparks’ book The Notebook was for me – couldn’t stand the book, but rather enjoyed the movie.

    It’s a sign of a peculiarly bad writer to dream up an intruiging and interesting story and then destroy it with the actual writing. Keeps scriptwriters in business, I guess.

    Thanks for the review! I suspected these books were garbage, but it helps to have some outside source backing me up!

  35. I’ve been to Forks, Washington. I saw a guy dressing out a deer hanging from a tree in front of his double-wide off of highway 101. This is the most supernatural thing I’ve seen in Forks, Washington. I also bought American cheese slices. We were camping.

  36. The theme of all these comments appears to be (1) “omg these books are so awful” and (2) “but I have read all four”.

    I am firmly in both of those camps. They’re like cocaine. CLEARLY addictive, OBVIOUSLY bad for you but mmm, buzzy warm feelings of invincibility!

    I am dragging my boyfriend this week to see the movie. It’s that bad.

  37. Thank you for reading this so I don’t have to! Buffy fans accept no substitute.

  38. The comments are as wonderful and insightful as the review. Thank you. I haven’t read these books and probably won’t but I have to admit I yearn for some respectable, original vampire porn, er, literature that escapes Anne Rice and doesn’t copy Buffy. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of other people out there that feel the same way and that’s why these wastes-of-paper keep getting published, read and sold!

  39. “respectable, original vampire porn, er literature” May I recommend the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon? Plenty of vampires, angst & outrageously beautiful characters, but also LOTS of humping…and very entertaining. Yay for adult fiction.

  40. I liked the movie and the books. I liked the book, Vrakluna:Origin of the Vampire better. It was more adult romance and definitely had blood in it. Shouldn’t vampires actually feed on blood? I have an extra copy, hit me up or you can go to Amazon. The author’s name is Benjamin G. King.

  41. I have one thing to say: Bill Compton could so totally kick Edward Cullen’s ass.

  42. Read Octavia E. Butler’s _Fledgling_. There, that ought to take the awful _Twilight_ taste out of your mouth. Then just read everything by Octavia E. Butler. Because she’s awesome.

  43. Amen. Vampires that SPARKLE in daylight… no. I think it’s time for torches and pitchforks. Your wife (as usual) was the smart one, but I confess that I, too trudged it out until the end. And paid for it.

    Additionally, since when are cold hands sexy?

  44. I read the entire series and I actually enjoyed it. Aside from the suicidal teen angst, creepy stalker boyfriend, and marry me & get me pregnant at 18 themes, I was sucked into the books and had fun at the movie with Eden from Fussy.org.

    Mind you, when I have a break from teaching (winter and summer break)I gravitate towards reading that involves very little brain power…I definitely try to read good literature but it’s at times like these when I have been known to hide in a bedroom in my grandma’s house and read Danielle Steel…

    Oh god, did I just write that out loud?

  45. ‘Sucked into the book’

    Genius.

  46. I fucking HATED this book. I tried to read it right after it was published, tossed it aside about 50 pages in, and then, because I want to write YA fiction and this book is so damn successful, figured I should slog through the entire tome. Reading this book was a walk across the Sahara in lead-covered boots. I bitched the whole time to anyone who’d listen.

    Bella’s a hand-wringing, spineless, completely unsympathetic character. And the shifts in the text from pages-long angsty internal dialogue to explosive action were jarring and just horrible. HOW DID THIS WOMAN GET A 4 BOOK CONTRACT?

    Damn. The country is in an even sorrier state than I thought it was. A steaming pile of you-know-what garners a first-time novelist a contract?

    Good for her. But scary for the rest of us.

  47. i liked them….easy relaxing read. get over yourselves. you negs out there. who watches the movie first anyways????

  48. LOL I loved your review! I read it because my teen daughter read it, and I grew up with Anne Rice, so I just thought I’d give it a try… His golden eyes, flashed his brilliant teeth, his touseled bronze hair…geez I couldn’t take it anymore! I need new adjectives! I liked the book…just wow, I loved your review even better!

  49. Just watched this hideous waste of film. Robert Pattinson looks awful; he needed a better make-up artist, and other than the baseball bit, this was one wonky movie.

    Maybe this is a movie that seems better after one has had about Five Zombies, followed by a few Bloody Marys.