It's been a long time since my last book report. The one that brought me tons of new readers! (The kind that like to Google "a million little pieces book report" anyway.) The one that brought me my first nasty comment! (I think she was 13 years old. We worked it out.) The one that started it all! ("It all" being the endless loop of geez, it's been a long time since I've written a book report that plays in my angsty little mind from time to time.) Well, not to spoil everyone's fun or anything, but I just finished Twilight, and it's time to come out of retirement because I've never, ever been stopped not once but TWICE on my way to a bookstore register (and this was a small indie bookstore, no B&N) and asked where I got that book because it's supposed to be so good. So here we go.
This book is about vampires. (See #5.) This book is about a girl named, yes, Isabella Swan. (Stop snickering. I haven't even started.) This book contains many, many ellipses. And for you parents of teens out there who are worried about your daughters becoming engrossed in a vampire love saga, let me quell your fears. This book contains no sex. That's right. No sex. Which begs the question: is this actually a vampire novel? (Again, see #5.)
Let's list, shall we?
1. The author unabashedly, unashamedly, without the slightest hint of irony, uses the terms "alabaster" and "liquid topaz eyes." Physical features are so repetitively described, in fact, that I know more about Edward's "perfectly muscled chest" (twice in 10 pages!) than his fangs (see #5).
2. Speaking of #1, hair deserves its own item in this list. Meyer seems downright obsessed with her characters' tresses (a word she'd use, I'm sure). Don't believe me? Quick quiz. If you've read this book, only one of these should give you the slightest trouble: Who is the character whose hair is described as: a) artfully gelled spikes? b) cornsilk? c) soft, caramel-colored, and golden? d) dark curls? e) bronze? f) a dark pixie cut?
3. This brings me to the overt exposition that would drive me to drink if it weren't making me guffaw into my third beer already. The first, oh, hundred pages are full of clumsy nonsense where Bella reflects on herself in order to tell you important things, like that she's really clumsy, is character d above, and also is really smart. This author obviously never had a teacher intone "show, don't tell" at her. Or, as I like to tell me students (via Mark Twain) "Don't say the old lady screamed; bring her on and let her scream."
4. And let's talk about that clumsiness and those smarts. Having just finished up "My So-Called Life" (just released on DVD!!), I may not have been in the right place to accept a fourth-rate heroine, but please. No more books where the girl is smart and clumsy, and we know that because she reads Jane Austen under the trees, says she gets lost in bookstores, and knows about the Krebs Cycle. You could practically see Meyer with her high school bio book open, searching out some factoid she could use in the lab scene to make Bella look like a Smarty McPantserson. Can we have a heroine who is smart AND reads VC Andrews, like the rest of us? Please? I know Angela Chase, and you, Bella, are no Angela Chase.
5. Let's review what we all know about vampires, shall we? Only come out at night. Sleep in coffins or tombs (or satin sheets, if you're an "Angel" fan). Hate holy water, crosses, and garlic. Stake through the heart. Fangs. You're with me, right? Well, Meyer's not. Meyer checked "none of the above" and wrote in her own answers! How cheeky of her! Her vamps are sparkly, fragrant, mind-reading, and my favorite- can run really, really, really fast. And despite the great number of times she references their "teeth," she never can seem to bring herself to say "fangs." It's as if she wanted the vampire mystique, but not, you know, the actual monster. But no fangs? Say it ain't so! Kinda takes the bite out of it all. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
6. Adverbs, adverbs, adverbs. Oh, and speaker tags. No one just says anything in this book. They breathe their words (despite the no breathing thing). And they're remarkably active while speaking. Playfully ruffling hair, lifting their "glorious, agonized eyes" to each other, or "flashing" them, warning, muttering, approving, murmuring, setting their jaws, ordering, exhaling sharply, booming... It must be exhausting for them. I know it was for me!
7. So. Much. Face-touching.
8. Despite the fact that the back of the book proclaims Edward's vampiness, it takes something like 123 pages for Meyer to get around to the business letting Bella in on it. Meanwhile, well, see #6 and #9:
9. Constant. Dithering. No. Vampire. Sex.
10. I admit it. I was bored. The mere fact that Meyers tells us there's conflict in the first, oh, 200 pages of the book does not, in fact, produce conflict. There were some tantalizing hints dropped about Bella's parents and about Bella herself, but they never turned into anything. Maybe I was just hoping for something? The best characters, Jacob and Charlie Black, James, and Alice, get too little screen time. In fact, for me, the book really didn't happen until James came on the scene. But I can't give that away. (It's on page 376). The most interesting character of all is dispatched far too easily. And then we're back to the dithering.
So why did I read all the way to the end? Well, didn't you read # 1-10? It can be so fun to read with your jaw on the floor in disbelief. Plus, I kept waiting for James. I knew he was coming, since the back of the book promised a "terrifying race to stay alive." Had I been Meyer's editor, I would have cut about 150 pages off of the beginning. But what do I know? The NYT has it as a bestseller and an Editor's Choice. It's on the Teen People Hot List! And hey...if you needed another reason to read it, I have two words for you:
Grade: Woot! (ETA: There has been much confusion over this rating. Please picture me with my tongue securely planted in my cheek. This is the woot of irony, folks. I would no sooner hand this book to any teen I know and love than I would a copy of "Grand Theft Auto" and a Hot Pocket. Seriously. They have much better things to do with their time. Like read MT Anderson's Thirsty. Now there's a great YA vampire novel. My copy's headed to Kirsten's kids this week. Also, for those who were confused by my consternation at the lack of sex in a book meant for teens, I guess my opinion is pretty firmly thus: sex is not the enemy. But crap writing, crap food, crap-o-tainment, crap politics, and crap attitudes toward what kids can appreciate intellectually is. Off soapbox now. See- aren't I more fun with tongue in cheek??)
(Scale: Woot! Quite pleasant. Meh. Boo. Boo-Hiss!)
Run, don't walk!