Here are my thoughts about the book:
- The sentences are not very good.
- There is a lot of repetition and redundancy.
- The plot compelled me to finish.
- Meyer does cool things with vampire myths.
- I am disturbed by some of the power/gender dynamics.
- After reading it, I feel as if I've eaten too much cake.
And I'm not saying number six in a metaphorical way to highlight the fact that it's candy reading, but I really do feel physically icky. Perhaps it's because I haven't read suspense in a while? Maybe it's some adrenaline kicking in that I'm not used to. But truly, after a reading jag (often before bed), I feel kind of icky and unsettled. Is it the bad sentences or the cool vampire component? Or perhaps it's the unbalanced gender dynamics and the idea of a 17-year old girl who's is ready to give up her life for her boyfriend?
But mostly, when I read it, I think, "Why the hell did I not write this book (or something like this book with better sentences and a stronger female character)?" I have always been interested in young adult literature, and I've been interested in vampire myth (and the history of Vlad the Impaler) for 12 years. And now, Stephanie Meyers, a member of the LDS church (What? How did that happen--that a Mormon writes these books?) who never thought about writing a book, has written books that people gobble up and that have made her rich. Well done, Stephanie.
Some might say, "Yes, but the writing is kind of crappy." Perhaps, but I have become much less of a publishing snob over the years. I still think Danielle Steele sucks, and I haven't touched one of her books since I stopped reading Zoya when I was a senior in college and suddenly realized that the writing sucked (I was a late bloomer). But I have to give props to someone who finishes a book that a lot of people want to read. And even Mary Wollstonecraft argued that reading crap--even romantic crap--is better than reading nothing at all.
These days, I pick up lot of books that I feel as if I'm supposed to want to read. Yes, the sentences are good, so I'm supposed to bow at the writer's feet and feel honored and proud to finish his or her wonderful book. But a lot of times, I find myself thinking, "Okay, so you can write beautiful sentences. But what about me? What about my needs? Where's the plot? Why must I push myself to finish your book? Isn't it your job to make me want to finish your fabulous tome?"
So, in sum. I kind of think the writing in Twilight sucks, but I like some of the vampire stuff, and I appreciate the fact that she wants to excite the reader enought to compel her to move foreward in the book. Call me a philistine if you will, but I'm grateful these days when a writer at least cares about entertaining me.*
But now I must log off, so I can write my own novel in three months and sell it to a top agent and publisher and become very rich, and then I can just write novels in my pajamas all day while I drink chai lattes.
*However, I do hope that Bella gains a stronger sense of self and empowerment in the second book. I am encouraged that, towards the end of Twilight, she tells Edward that she doesn't always want to be stuck in the Lois Lane role. I'm hoping that, as Meyer neared the end of her novel, she started to realize the gender problems (esp. when we're talking about teenage girls here) and that she deconstructs them, to some degree, in New Moon. We'll see.