i could just watch you in your room…

So, I read it. Twilight. All of it, every dad-gum page.
And I’m not entirely sure how to review it. So I’m going to give you the positives first and then behind the break, the negatives.

Once Meyer gets into her stride (say…150 pages in, when we finally get into the Edward/Bella goo-mance) she drops into a more comfortable swing and shows us the majority of her talent. Setting her vampires up in a new and original way, we are as intrigued as Bella as she falls in love. Mind-reading, seeing the future, controlling people’s emotions – who knew that vampires were each special snowflakes? I thought they were just blood-sucking soul-less mammals. I found Meyer’s version of Dracula much more entertaining and less whiny than Ann Rice. I enjoyed the “family” dynamic of the Cullens, the backstory about where they had been and how they lived.

Meyer also was very good at getting her audience caught up in the all-consuming passion of those first months of falling in love. We feel as obsessed as Bella. We want to know all the answers to her questions. We’re frustrated with her about his unwillingness to answer our every query. And hey, who doesn’t wish that their significant other wanted to know their favorite color and favorite gemstone and favorite childhood memory. I literally devoured the book once I hit page 200. We find ourselves completely consumed with Bella.

Which brings me to the other side.

This is seriously one of the most screwed up teenage relationships I have ever seen. Would anyone here be okay with their teenage daughter’s boyfriend if they found out that he had been staying overnight in her room (even just watching her sleep (cue the Clay Aiken song used in the title)) without her knowledge? He consumes her life literally overnight, and she abandons her few budding friendships (although they’re so one-dimensional, I can’t say I blame her) and heads into situations where she lies to her parents and skips classes…

I would ground my daughter.

And the writing. Oh, like fingernails down a chalkboard, the writing. On the one hand, her writing is not that different than the choppy style I adopt when blogging. I use paragraphs with the key thoughts in pithy short sentences that sometimes improperly begin with a conjunction.  But I’m blogging, not writing a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Which to me, makes all the difference. I guess what I’m saying is that her editor should crawl into a small, dank hole and die of shame.  The second chapter’s second paragraph is four sentences long, talking about why Bella hates her new home. They start out, respectively, with the phrases “It was worse…”, “It was worse…”, “It was miserable…”,  and “And it was worse…” Do I even need to point out what’s wrong with that? If the “miserable” was the last one, I would understand, but it’s just chucked in the middle.

Meyers is also overly fond of the adverb. Now, I admit, I like a juicy adverb or two, since it’s nice to grin ecstatically and laugh maniacly and dance joyfully. However. Not every verb needs an adverb of its very own. By page 200, I was so tired of everyone doing everything enthusiastically and glumly and unwillingly and significantly. For one, the sheer volume was killing me, but also, who in the world uses the phrase “teasingly outraged.” Um. What?

I think that this issue tied into her general problem of over-description. This could probably have been at least a hundred pages shorter if Meyers hadn’t felt the need to tell us what kind of ravioli Bella at at the restaurant, or how she normally made her steak and potatoes, or exactly what off of the full tray of food Edward brought her she pretended to nibble on. Worse than that, she over-described every emotion. We should be able to tell how Bella feels without her explaining every fleeting mood to us. Does anyone who has ever read The Witch of Blackbird Pond doubt for a moment how much Nate loves Kit? Does Nate ever tell Kit this? Does Speare ever have to tell us that Kit is falling in love with Nate in return? No. She doesn’t. Because it’s obvious, in every little interaction. Part of what makes The Witch a masterpiece of children’s literature is the very understatedness of the romantic tension. See, and that’s what’s wrong with Meyers. Her tension is literally spelled right out in front of us, and I feel like some of the joy of our own imagination is stolen from us. The brain work is already done.

Nowhere is this more obvious than right smack on page 14. “I can do this, I lied to myself feebly. No one was going to bite me.” Seriously. Seriously. I don’t really think you can call that foreshadowing. That’s the whole friggin’ eclipse of the moon. (See how I did that? Smooth, huh?) And yet, it is not until two-thirds through the book (page 328, I think) that we finally get to a plot other than “I love you.” “Don’t love me.” “I love you.” “I’m dangerous.” “You’re beautiful.” “I’m so strong and powerful and will keep you safe. I’m dangerous.” This is the point where we discover that Alice sees some visitors in the future, finally pointing us to the drama that we remember from the preface.  By all rights, the werewolf subplot introduced with Jacob at the beach should be the danger, because it’s introduced at the correct point in the plot line, followed through by some awkward Billy/Edward moments and reeks of future conflict. Instead, we get random vampire #8 who just really feels like a fight and surprisingly has the answers to burning questions we really weren’t asking.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m really tempted to read the others. I really enjoyed the feeling of falling in love, the remembering what it feels like to be consumed by another person, and was completely drawn into the mystery and intrigue of loving something so dangerous and other.  But I’ve already been warned by a little bird that they are much of the same, and I know that Jacob doesn’t win out in the end, even though I kind of already like him more.  Perhaps if I was more into bad boys who are moody and dangerous than straight-forward fellows who tell it like it is, I would be more into Edward. As it is, I’m going to go feed my brain some sterner stuff. (And if I relapse and read the rest of them, I’ll be sure to let you know.)

Please, feel free to leave comments about this. I can’t decide if I’m being overly harsh here or not.


10 thoughts on “i could just watch you in your room…

  1. NOT TOO HARSH IN THE LEAST! (yes I used the obnoxious all caps approach.) I, too, devoured the book – read it in an afternoon. Your review was dead on. Oh – please don’t read the rest (cuz then I might have to. ; )

  2. I ate up the other books as quickly as I did the first, and actually thought that the fourth had the most solid attempt at a plot out of them all.

    HOWEVER, it also had the most cop-out ending I’ve read in a non-Mary-Sue-fanfic. Also a really gross birth story.

    I loved Jacob the whole way through… he’s super persistent later on, and some people really hate that about him. I don’t know what the poor guy was supposed to do- Bella would say, “Oh, Jake, you’re such a great guy, don’t EVAH leave meeeeeee.” and then, “I love Edward more than ANYTHING.” and then, “I would be lost without you, Jacob!” andso on to infinity.

    He’s a teenage guy. If it sounds like “try harder” to me, I guarantee that all a teenage guy would hear from that is, “I really like you, but I need to get over Sparkly Fangface first.”

    Have I mentioned how much I love these books? I totally don’t get it. At all.

    I guess I just love the enthusiastically purple prose…

    1. Also, Rach, I was thinking, that perhaps, along with her lack of ever having Twoo Wuv despite having a husband and 3 children, S.M. may have had a horrific birthing experience that she wanted to share with the world. Or maybe she had a dream about the horrific birth experience. (Alright, now I’m just being mean.)

      The worst part of this book was the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that if I had ever finished my story with the characters Rosh and Marie, or better, my story of crusades wherein a princess dresses up as her missing maybe killed brother to lead her troops into battle and save her father’s kingdom or any of your novel length scribblings, we too could have become a #1 NYT Bestseller. Seriously. My writing probably had some points that it was stronger than hers. An English major in college does not an author make.

      As one reviewer pointed out, this book would have been much more acceptable coming from a 15 year old girl who had never been kissed.

      Okay, I’m going to stop making snarky comments, because I did enjoy it.

      And I nearly died when I read your comment about “Sparkly Fangface.”

  3. I disliked it enigmatically and enjoyed it conflictedly.
    Yeah, I strongly suspected from the get-go that I would like Jacob more. Except for that one point when I was under 13 and really too dumb to know better, I have always been into the ridiculously wholesome boys, you know?

  4. I’ve only read the first one so far, but I am in total agreement with you. It’s lousy writing, soppy ridiculous teenage romance, a main character I want to hit in the face, and yet… I ate it up! I don’t know why! It’s like Hershey’s chocolate: not very good quality, pretty bad for you and completely non-sustaining, and yet so delicious anyway.

    1. Bex, I’ve been considering a trip to Memphis to see Matt and Emy sometime later this year. I’ll see what I can work out….I’d like to see you before you go back to Camel-land. :-)

  5. Your title is hysterical. {{twitch twitch}}

    I think the reason that the book did so well is because SM was able to capture what girls who have never been in love hope love will be like—all-consuming on both ends and romantic and white hot and with the best looking boy in school who no one (least of all you!) thought would ever fall for plain old you. First love is supposed to feel like it has only been like this for you, and no one else has ever been in love this deep.

    1. Katie, I completely agree. I think that if I had gone to school, I probably would have felt so much like Bella, it wouldn’t even be funny. I also think that the feeling of having someone be consumed with you in all of your ordinary glory is one of the things about love that convince you that what you have is completely original. Surely no one else as ordinary as you has ever felt this beautiful and special, you know?

      On a side note, I would like to say that I felt a bit guilty ripping this to pieces, since I know my sister loved it, and I was pretty sure you did too. Emy and I decided that my problem was that I didn’t let myself just enjoy the story, I had to take an editor’s pen to every page and critique it along the way. I really do see what’s remarkable about this book, I’m currently working on a list of other books that have some of its positive qualities, and maybe different strengths. We’ll see what I come up with.

  6. “I also think that the feeling of having someone be consumed with you in all of your ordinary glory is one of the things about love that convince you that what you have is completely original. Surely no one else as ordinary as you has ever felt this beautiful and special, you know?”

    This is exactly what I was trying to say. You’re so much more eloquent than I am! I’m glad you got it. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed Twilight so much was because I remembered my first love being like that. I tend to let myself run away with stories, and SM was able to make me remember what it was like to be the girl who was in love like no one else ever had been with all of life’s choices lined up before me—and they all seemed like good ones to be get to make.

    We don’t have to agree on every book—I’m still going to blogstalk you and put most of your recommendations on my to-read list. ;)

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