OK, it's a huge best-seller. Teenage girls have read the entire trilogy multiple times. The fourth book, to be released this August, has bookstores across the country holding midnight parties a la Harry Potter.
My students fell in love with Twilight by Stephenie Meyer this year, so I eagerly picked it up a few weeks ago to find out why.
300 pages into it, I'm still wondering.
I know some of my blog readers have read and enjoyed this book, and I know most of you aren't teenage girls, so I'm curious to know what the big draw is.
Storyline: awkward teen Bella moves to a small town and finds herself inexplicably drawn to Edward, a perfect/ godlike/ beautiful/ dangerous "bad boy" sort of hero in school. The problem? Edward's a vampire.
My problem with this book? The first half is incredibly slow, a day-by-day account of what Bella wears to school, who she sits with in lunch, how she finds Edward so amazingly gorgeous she can hardly breathe when he's around...By the middle there is marginally more action, but I'm somewhere around page 350 and there's still not a whole lot going on.
My bigger concern, though, is the way the two main characters are developed. Bella is 15, plain and clumsy according to her own accounts...yet within the first month of school 4 boys ask her out. There's a whole lot of "poor me" whining on her part that drives me up a wall. Not only that, but her insecurity makes my teeth ache. She mentions how beautiful/gorgeous/breath-taking/perfect Edward is on at least every other page. OK, I get the teenage fascination with a good-looking bad boy who's out of one's league. But I get angry when an author reinforces the idea that a plain girl who's shy and not terribly graceful is not possibly worthy of someone with good looks. Bella is absolutely submissive to the mere idea of Edward, and her world revolves around the moments he looks at her.
And Edward, by the way, is not really a nice guy for the first half of the book. Here's the thing: if you're going to give me a hero, you better make sure I like something about him early on, despite his flaws. But Edward is rude, smirks (I'd like to count how many times the author uses that verb to describe his actions), and makes fun of Bella and other kids in the school. So when my students say, with great heaving sighs, "I want a guy like Edward," it pisses me off. Why are we still raising a generation of girls who think that it's OK for a physically gorgeous, unattainable guy to be emotionally manipulative? For a girl to throw away plans with friends and lie to her father for the mere chance of spending time with a good-looking guy who at one moment is kind and the next moment is incredibly distant and rude?
My students say, "Yes, but Edward's only keeping her at a distance to protect her...so he won't eat her. And he saves her life!" Yes, he does, more than once. He rescues her from being crushed by a careening truck and then later from being assaulted by a group of unsavory older men. For those reasons alone, I am finishing the book and reserving judgement, to see if Edward turns out to be a hero worth admiring. But I won't be running out to pick up the next book in the series.
I'd love to hear from anyone who's read Twilight and honestly enjoyed it from start to finish. Please tell me if I'm way off base here...