Thursday, April 24, 2008
"Twilight," by Stephenie Meyer
The Chick: Bella Swan, a girl who moves to live with her dad in Forks, Seattle ("The Rainiest Place on Earth") from Arizona, in order to give her mother and her new hubby more space. Needless to say, she doesn't take kindly to having to adapt to this new climate.
Shady Past: She's whiny, has low self-esteem, and both of her parents are self-centred, oblivious morons.
The Dude: Edward Cullen, a super-hot, super-emo vampire capable of reading people's minds who treats Bella like shit for half the book and spends the next half playing yo-yo with their relationship.
Shady Past: Was sired by Dr. Vampire (Carlisle Cullen) when he was dying of influenza in the early 20th century. Is sparkly. Likes to eat woodland animals. Can't make up his mind worth a damn.
The Plot:Bella: I hate Forks! I hate rain! I'm such a nice person, but I hate Forks! And rain!
Mike, Jessica, Various Other Forks Residents: Hey Bella! Let's be friends! Sit at our table! Cheat off our homework! Can we bake you cookies?
Bella: Anyone who could possibly like Forks must be an idiot. Sure, I will deign to sit at your table and let you shower me with friendliness, but I will remain in my comfortable depressive funk and will continue to think that you are all hicks. Who's that?
Bella: Wow! You're the perfect guy for me! Date me!
Edward: We musn't!
Edward: I can't resist you!
Edward: NO! This is WRONG! I am too dangerous and sexy for you!
Edward: I love you!
Edward: I'd love you for DINNER! NO! NO I MUSTN'T!
James, The Tracker Vampire Who Gets to the Point: Ooh, human girl. TASTY. *tracks, catches Bella*
Edward: *kicks fucking ass!*
Edward: Bella, I love you! But I'm dangerous! But you're so pretty! But I'm a monster! But you're so...
Bella: You could just, uh, MAKE me a vampire. That'd make things easier.
Edward: I can't do that! Then there wouldn't be any sequels, silly!
Romantic Convention Checklist1 Conflicted Vampire Hero
2 Careless Parents
1 Romantically Lackluster Rival
1 Efficient Villain
1 Clueless Best Friend
The Word: M'eh. I'd heard so many things about these books, but I never got around to reading them. Writing for Green Man, I was often given a lot of paranormal romances with vampires and demons and crap (Working for the Devil, Blood Ties Book One, and Moon Called) and I just got sick of them. Tired out. Vampires are almost universally gloomy, sad, sober characters and I HATE those, quite frankly. You rarely get a vampire character with a happy, devilish sense of humour or who's cheerful or anything - they're always conflicted, boo hoo, "I hate myself because I'm a monster," blah blah, "our love can never be but while you're here we might as well have hot kinky sex," yadda yadda.
But Twilight just got so much hype, and for once, I didn't hate the vampire characters - Edward Cullens and his adopted family (or "coven") of vampires run by Carlisle Cullen, or as I like to call him, "Dr Vampire." Edward was pretty good - conflicted, hell yes, and pretty much completely indecisive (every second sentence out of his mouth towards Bella that isn't "I love you" is "we totally shouldn't be together because it's stupid and wrong"). His yes-and-no game can get tiring, but he's wry and heroic and has that cocked-eyebrow thing going for him so he's fine by me.
Actually, it was Bella I didn't like. I nearly put the book down after the first hundred pages because she's such a wet blanketed bitch. I mean, she earns goodwill points by doing a pretty selfless thing (moving to a town she's always hated to give her mum a chance to have fun), but she flushes those points down the toilet by acting incredibly selfish in Forks. Everyone in Forks pretty much bends over backwards to be friends with her and she brushes them off and acts peevishly uncomfortable with all the positive attention. I get it, she's in a town she hates, but when she's so determined to remain unhappy that she treats the genuinely nice people in town like dirt for having the gall to try and cheer her up, I nearly gave up right then. Even worse, she blows off all the genuinely nice people in town to hang out with the guy who treats her like dog shit right off the bat. Oh, it's going to be one of those stories, is it? I thought.
Eventually Bella warms up to people, but throughout the book she continually treats Edward like the only person worth living and everyone else like lesser annoyances she has to deal with. It's a little easier to understand her aloofness once you realize that she's had to be independent, since both of her parents are those irritatingly airhead-neglectful types who never talk to her except the occasional obligatory, "You're not pregnant are you?" and are obviously too obsessed with their own lives. It's still incredibly hard to relate to her, though. She has a few reasonable faults - like clumsiness and low self-esteem and, but really, she doesn't actually demonstrate a whole lot of positive points either.
The main reason Edward ends up falling for her is because he's can't read her mind like he can everyone else's, so she has that air of mystery. But she has nothing else. I like a good hero as much as the next romance gal, but the heroine has to be worth loving too, and Bella gave very little back to the relationship, in my opinion. So, while the vampire characters were well-written and most of the book relatively pleasant, this isn't a keeper by any means, and nor will I read any of the sequels. Unless Bella finally decides to get her head out of her ass and treat people like people. B-.