Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: Twilight

Written by author Stephanie Meyer, 'Twilight' is a young adult novel that explores the life of seventeen year old Isabella Swan and the difficult decisions she must face when she finds that she's fallen into an unexpected romance with Edward Cullen, an older boy - a one hundred and four year old boy - who also happens to be a vampire.  If that doesn't sound thrilling enough, trouble erupts very quickly in their forbidden paradise when Edward realizes that he can barely resist the urge to drain her sweet life's blood, an action that would most certainly change her from a  socially awkward and slightly misanthropic  teen to an even more awkward and far less interesting corpse.
    Reading 'Twilight' was a unique and unexpected experience for me. Like Bella, I too found it  difficult to navigate my way through the mire of uncertainty that she traverses while trying to stay alive and win her beloved's heart. Not only does Mrs. Meyer display an over-use of less than creative adverbs (a Cullen femme's wildly curly dark hair springs to mind), but she also seems unsure of which narrative tense she wanted to use throughout the course of the story.  The moments that I had to re-read certain passages to grasp the flow of information were both numerous and bothersome.
    Existing in it's paperback form at five hundred and forty-four pages (that's four hundred and nine-eight for you hardback fans), 'Twilight' does very little to carry its reader to the climax of the story, making the  task of finishing it a trying one. The first three quarters of the novel are spent in a tiresome back and forth between Bella and Edward, with Bella affirming the validity of her love for the vampire teen, only to have him skirt around the notion of a serious relationship. Of course, all of this takes place with Edward consistently and casually reminding Bella that he could essentially murder her at any given time.  While I'm sure that this sort of banter is marvelous for a fourteen year old girl, it gives rise to a glaring violation of traditional story telling - a distinct lack of a villain or antagonist.
 While one could argue that the forbidden love between Bella and Edward is the story's true conflict,  the fact remains that the actual villains of the story are not introduced until less than a quarter of the way from the end of the book.  Granted, there was a bit of foreshadowing via reports of alleged "bear attacks" in the forests outside the story's town, but it was so vague and sparse that it's easily forgotten, leaving the reader a bit confused as to who these new characters are when they appear or how they're remotely relevant to the story.  What's more, the exposition of the main antagonist  who wants to slowly torture and murder our main character for sport,  describes him only as "average and nondescript."
    I'm sorry. What?
     You mean to tell me that the vampire who has taken Bella captive, intentionally trying to ruin the life of our  main point of view character, is described in such a way as to evoke absolutely no emotional response from me?
    Even by looking at all of the above with a forgiving eye, it's hard to see past Bella's inevitable  rescue at the chalk-white hands of dear Edward. Further, when you see that the whole novel was barely anything more than Edward saving ( i.e.  clutching, hauling, or domineering ) Bella, it's really just not much of a surprise by the end. In point of fact, I don't believe that I've ever been more relieved to reach the end of a novel.
    There are very few redeeming qualities to be found within this book. There is not one character inside of 'Twilight' that exceeds more than two dimensions, and the author's ability to construct a coherent paragraph leaves much to be desired. If you factor in the utter lack of imagination when it comes to character description ( I think that I read Edward's face described as "perfect" at least six hundred and seventy-two times) and the unfortunate truth that there really is no solid story structure, 'Twilight' should by all right have never gotten to see the light of published day, sparkling pseudo-vampires or no. 
    If I could think of only one way to describe this novel to anyone, it would more than certainly have to be "average and nondescript".

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