Adventures in Reading


Fiction: Twilight by Stephanie Meyers

When I decided to finally pick up a copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, half of my co-workers cheered while the others half groaned. This sensationally popular young adult series has been flying off the shelf, but I confess I have had relatively little attraction to it. First, I’m not much of a fan of vampires and particularly when these mythic creatures are explored in the traditional manner. That is strong, ethereal beauty, stylish, almost immortal – too near-perfect for my taste. I have similar sentiments towards werewolves, which is why I did find Sharp Teeth such an appealing book.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself swept away by Twilight. Bella has decided to move in with her estranged stepfather in Forks, Washington. Bella’s experience at her new school is dramatic and enticing to most any reader; she is immediately popular—particularly with her male peers—and attracts the attention of the bad boy of the school Edward Culleton: who happens to be a vampire. Meyer’s vampire story is not traditional in every sense as it unfolds in a suburban, high school environment and some vampires have acquired special characteristics, dare I say superpowers, carried over from their past human life.

Bella is the normal outsider favored in contemporary novels. Though placed on the edge of peer acceptance, she is an attractive, slender, intelligent, well-read, and well-spoken teenager. Her one flaw, beautifully represented throughout the novel by Meyers, is her clumsiness. Perhaps Bella’s most endearing quality is Meyer’s quality ability to inject high-school desires into Bella believably and simultaneously pulling (even long stagnant) heartstrings of the reader.

Vampire violence itself has a sexual connotation to it through penetration, passion, and spilling blood. Twilight is not exempt from this interpretation. Repeatedly throughout the text, Edward comments on how he must control himself from “taking [Bella],” which literally refers to drinking her blood but is a barely disguised euphemism for sex. The sexual tension throughout the book is taught and is one of the more alluring and well-written tensions in the book. Likewise, at the conclusion when the traditionally virginal Bella pleads with Edward to “change” her it’s likewise a reference of offering herself to Edward.

But Bella is no longer a “virgin.” Andrea Dworkin describes in her book Intercourse, when discussing Bram Stoker’s Dracula, “The place of sex is moved to the throat; and the meaning of sex is in draining her body of all its blood.” When Bella is lured by the vampire James to the dance studio, is violently attacked, is bitten by him (though in the hand), and all while being videotaped—it’s an experience synonymous with a violent rape and at that a recorded violent rape.

The “vegetarianism” that the Culleton family has resigned themselves to, that is rather than attack humans they hunt and drink the blood of animals, is a rejection of vampirical violence and in a sense the sexual violence that accompanies it. The Culleton’s have refused the misogyny of their kind, which is an interesting parallel to Bella’s English report on the misogynistic tendencies of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

I admit, I am taken with the series and am looking forward to picking up the next book in the series Eclipse. Perhaps what I am even more impressed with though is that I would disagree with the oft heard banter that it’s a fun or fluff series: candy for the brain. An argument that too often cuts the legs out from under “children’s books” and refuses said books to be considered seriously. Though I still think roughly 50-pages could have been chopped from Twilight to make it a tighter novel, it really is a sensational book to read for pure enjoyment or literary interpretation.

Other opinions: books i done read, Necromancy Never Pays, Two-Legged Animal, and the Lit Connection.

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7 Comments

Well said, although personally I was somewhat annoyed by the displaced sexual tension by the end, and spent the last third of the book thinking “God, just DO IT already.” I’m not entirely sure if I meant vampire conversion or actual sex… but probably both. :)

Comment by fyreflybooks

This is a well-thought of review of Twilight. So different from the usual takes on the book. Such an engaging read indeed (your review that is). I think I basically said in mine that I liked the first book a lot, something to that effect.

Comment by Lightheaded

Thanks for the interesting and entertaining review of Twilight. I have to say out of all the reviews I’ve read about it, I like yours the best.

Comment by Amanda

I have read this book myself and read dozens of reviews on the book, but I haven’t read such an insightful review as this one.

Comment by Chrissy

fyreflybooks: Though I haven’t posted my reviews yet, I will say you’ve hit the nail somewhat accurately on the head why I have not enjoyed the two middle books in the series compared to the first. I think at times Meyer depends to such a great degree on the tension that the plot begins to flounder.

Lightheaded: Thank you for the kind words! I knew going into these books that I am pushing it at being the last book reviewer online to read Stephenie Meyer (or so it seems!) and wanted to inject something knew into my post.

Amanda: Thank you!

Chrissy: Thank you for the comment. :)

Comment by bookchronicle

Thanks for the recommend- I’ve been procrastinating on this one. However, the upcoming film is one my sister would like to take me too, and I don’t want to end up liking the movie and wondering if the book might have been better.

Comment by Rachel

I loved this movie. I read the book first and was expecting not to like the film for some reason, but ended up falling in love. It is so true to my imagination, and Bella, Edward esp were perfectly cast. I didn’t think that they could match up to the book characters but they really are perfect. Edward is much more likable in the film than the book – less moody and domineering. Great film version. I didn’t really ‘feel’ Carlisle though. For some reason totally obsessed with the iconic apple

Comment by Tom McRae




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