Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review: Twilight

On Friday, Nov. 21, the highly anticipated film Twilight opens in theatres across the country. The film is based on the best selling book of the same name written by Stephenie Meyer in 2005.

The story follows a young teenage girl named Bella as she meets and falls in love with a vampire named Edward Cullen and faces all the dangers that go along with loving a creature of the night.

Many people have compared Twilight, and its three follow-ups, with the highly successful Harry Potter series. Having suffered through the nearly 450 pages of Twilight, we don't see this comparison holding up.

Twilight is told from the first-person perspective of the lead female character, Bella. If how Bella's thought process is portrayed is even remotely like how women in real life think, it is no wonder why men have such difficulty understanding them.

For the first 300 pages the reader must suffer through the repetitive ramblings of why young Bella believes Edward Cullen to be a vision of eternal beauty. For the author, this beauty apparently constitutes true love because the author fails to treat readers to any of the experiences that fertilize the seeds of budding desire.

Forgetting for a moment that a 107 year-old vampire falling in love with and dating a 16 year-old girl might constitute a tad bit of pedophilia, you'll probably start to ask yourself how it is that a 16 year-old girl can meet up with a walking and talking reanimated corpse that roams the night. By dispersing the key aspects of vampire mythology, sunlight means death, that's how. In Twilight, the sun doesn't burn vampires, it makes them sparkle like a blood sucking disco ball.

In addition, Meyer figured out that to explain the fact that her vampires attend high school without their sparkle power attracting unwanted attention, she'd have to mask that ability in some way. So, she set the story in the Pacific-northwest where it rains 110% of the time and walla, day-time vampires.

The perversion of lore doesn't end their. It seems that in the Twilight saga, vampires are more like superheroes than harbingers of death. Edward, the hero, is blessed with the ability to read minds. On top of that he can fly, run super fast, and throw punches that even the Hulk would cower from.

Not all of the vampires in her world share these same skill sets. Various members of Edward's adopted vampire family can see the future and read emotions, among other things.

The reader is finally treated to the primary conflict of the story in the latter quarter of the book. A roving band of nomadic vampires has travelled to the town of Forks, where Edward Cullen and his family make their home. The problem, the Cullen's are the vampirical version of vegetarians so they play well with humans while the travelers are full blown carnivores.

Edward is thrust into a situation where he must protect Bella from James, the leader of the rag tag team of hobo vampires. James's special ability? You guessed it, bloodhound-like tracking ability. He can smell her blood. There is nowhere the petite Bella can hide from her determined hunter.

Just when you finally think you are about to be treated to an epic finale, Stephenie Meyer robs the reader of any climax. It's not that there isn't one, you just don't get to know about it. Without giving too much away, it's kind of like sitting through the first 2 painstaking hours of Peter Jackson's King Kong only to find that when the boat finally reaches the island where Kong lives, the natives have already killed and eaten him. And the only evidence left that would indicate anything of significance has happened would be a tuft of black fur stuck in some Aborigine's teeth.

To say the climax was unsatisfactory would be a colossal understatement. Most readers will look back, after having read hundreds of pages of teenage ramblings about the chiseled features of some high school crush, and wonder where they send in the necessary paper work to get the last several hours of their life back.

One thing the film apparently has that the book simply does not, is some action and intrigue. Just from the trailer we see that a murder has taken place in the small town of Forks, WA, something that simply did not occur in the book. We also get a glimpse of battle between James and Edward that was also not contained, nor even mentioned in the book.

Stephenie Meyer has announced that the fifth book in the Twilight saga is her current project. Unlike a sequel, this new book retells the story of Twilight from Edwards perspective. Perhaps she realizes that her debut novel is an incomplete piece of crap and that her readers deserve the story that was promised, but never delivered. But, we won't hold our breath.

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