At the end of November of this year, I challenged myself to read the entire series by December, and I did it. I went in with an open mind, and it took me 10 days of consistent reading, but I did it. My feelings were up and down — there were things I liked and things I didn’t. My review of Book #1:
Twilight – It’s not a good sign when I feel like I need to push myself through a book. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Meyer’s writing is actually awful in the first book — the dialogue is stilted and painfully awkward, there are inconsistencies, and attempts at suspense were lost with random Bella-thoughts. Ex. *after talking to Edward* “So few questions had been answered in comparison to how many new questions had been raised. At least the rain had stopped.” …What?? What does one have to do with the other? I won’t mention the number of words used unnecessarily and out of context. It felt more like I was reading the day-to-day diary of a boring teenage girl. I don’t know if I feel this way because I read it at 23 instead of 18, but it just had me rolling my eyes.
Bella, our main character: There’s hardly any description of her — except that she’s plain, average in every sense, and doesn’t relate well to people. Somewhere later on, it’s mentioned that she’s a brunette. We surprisingly know very little about her. Yet, somehow, every guy in school is craving her attention and in love, for apparently no reason — she is unbearably insecure, has no social skills, and hardly speaks. She sees Edward Cullen in the cafeteria and feels drawn to him because he is a beautiful creature. A few days later, she falls “unconditonally and irrevocably” in love with him for the same reason. Admittedly, I was interested to find out why Edward was ignoring her, and what was going to happen, but those feelings slowly dissipated. 3/4 of the book consists of sappy fluff between Edward and Bella. It felt romantic at first, but then got annoying and redundant. He is always giving her a half-smile, or acting cold and furious.
I tried so hard to understand their love, but I didn’t. The only reason given for Bella’s love is that Edward is beautiful, and the only reason given for Edward’s love is that Bella’s blood smells good. Edward is described in meticulous and painstaking detail, including his breath. That would have been acceptable, except that a part of him was described every few pages. I get it — he’s stunningly beautiful. Bella is constantly in awe and confusion over how this creature, or any boy, for that matter, could be interested in her. There is no plot until page 450.
Meyer then tries to build their relationship and help us understand why they love each other with a long slew of interrogation about each other’s lives, disguised as “conversation”. Honestly, I did like Edward and I thought he was interesting, but the Edward-Bella romance felt patronising, paternal and creepy. He chuckles at her comments, treats her like a little girl, and watches her sleep. It’s all portrayed as normal behaviour. Bella is so completely and pathetically dependent on him that it’s mentally crippling to be without him. It’s unhealthy, and was hard to read. Some Bella quotes:
*One day, Edward is not at school* “I’d lost my appetite – I bought nothing but a bottle of lemonade. I just wanted to go sit down and sulk.”
*Later in the day, he’s still not at school* “Angela asked a few quiet questions about the Macbeth paper, which I answered as naturally as I could while spiraling downward in misery.”
*The day is over and he didn’t come to school* “Desolation hit me with crippling strength.”
THIS IS BEFORE THEY HAD EVER EVEN SPOKEN.
Meyer creates Bella as such a weak and helpless female character that it’s hard to sympathize with her. Bella has no ambition or confidence; the only thing important to her is being with Edward. I would have liked her more if there was something, anything, that she had in her life, or about her character, that was completely her own, that she truly aspired towards. She doesn’t. She doesn’t seem capable of doing anything right (except for cooking and cleaning — female stereotype?), as she herself often bemoans, and needs to be saved by Edward (who follows her around) every few pages. She literally cannot even walk straight lest she falls down because she’s oh-so-clumsy.
Some messages that Stephenie Meyer conveys through Bella: It’s ok to have no goals or aspirations other than being with someone. Physical attraction is love. Boyfriends are overprotective and jealous because they love you. In fact, as you can see, life is bland and lacking true purpose without a boyfriend. Once you have a boyfriend, it’s ok — and often better — to distance yourself from your friends.
Things I did like: Meyer’s take on modern, contemporary vampires — it’s not the usual coffin/garlic stuff we’re used to. They are compassionate, they drink animals’ blood, not humans, and they are devastatingly beautiful. They’re a family. It was different, and I appreciated that. Also, the book definitely got more interesting towards the end, and became a real page-turner. I stayed up until 2 AM to finish it! The Cullen family is very intriguing, and I liked them all, especially Alice and Carlisle. I will read the rest of the series because I’m interested and curious about the overall story and I have a lot of questions: why can’t Edward read Bella’s mind? What is it about her that makes her blood smell so good to him? None of these are explained at all; we’re just expected to shrug, accept them, and be on Team Edward.
At the end of the book, I was hoping that New Moon would be better, Bella stronger, characters would have personalities, and there will be a concrete plot. Stay tuned for my New Moon review.