Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Twilight saga revisited

Yes, I have a stack of books--good ones, from the blurbs on the covers, or the pictures on the cover, which is usually what attracts me to a book (yes, I'm shallow.)--on my bed to read. There are hundreds in the bookcases. So in the last couple of weeks, I've reread Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. And I liked them.

Are they fine literature? Depends on what you call literature. After rereading the series, I don't see the reasons that many detractors say that they're so poorly written. Evidentally there's something universally loved in them, by tweens and moms and grandmoms alike. The Washington Post article that I linked to a couple of weeks ago said it well. I'm paraphrasing here because I'm just too lazy to look back and click on the link, but the gist of the thing is that it takes us (women) (okay, some women) back to a time of first love, innocence, not to mention that teen angst, depression, insecurity, etc. But the books really are innocent; kisses, hugs, snuggling, and it very strongly encourages abstinence. (For a few minutes I couldn't think of that word; all I could come up with was incontinence. That comes much later than the series ever goes.) I don't think that sex is even mentioned, much less implied, until Breaking Dawn, which is the only book in the series I wouldn't want my granddaughter to read until she's, oh, 30, but the first three are innocent fun.

For some reason it surprised me to discover that Stephenie Meyer is Mormon. A Mormon mom writes a series of vampire/shapeshifter love stories? Tom is Mormon, so I mentioned it to him. He said, why wouldn't a Mormon write it? She's human, she has a degree in English, so why not? Anyway, I think that maybe that's where the insistence on abstinence comes from. I'm really happy to see that someone with so much influence in the lives of teenage girls (and old{er} women) doesn't have her characters falling into bed, or the backseat of Edward's Volvo (although really, that car is much too small; maybe Bella's old truck?) or anywhere until they're married. Edward was very definite on that subject, although I think that Bella would have been okay with it.

So. The point is, who cares if it's good literature? In my opinion, it's good if it's something that I enjoy, that I want to reread, that takes root in my brain and rots it entertains me for months on end. I'll read the entire series again. I've started reading Midnight Sun, which is available as only a PDF file which cannot be printed and I hate trying to read stuff on a computer screen but the story (Twilight from Edward's point of view) is so damn fascinating that I'll have to read it anyway.

Once again I cried at the end of Breaking Dawn. It ends so perfectly. I was so sure, the first time I read it, that

***SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT*** (even though there probably aren't too many people around who want to read the series and haven't) (if you are one, then stop now, because I'm going to talk about the ending of the saga)

Bella was going to die. I simply could not accept that, and I seriously considered putting the book down before the last battle. Fortunately someone (Urban Mom, thank you so much!) persuaded me to keep reading, and I love it.

So what will I read now? I don't know. Maybe I'll start over. The whole Twilight thing has taken root and I can't get rid of it. I don't want to. I like the innocence of the characters (right, vampires and werewolves innocent? In this series, yes.), the whole story. The fantasy. No, not the fantasy inspired by visions of naked teenage abs, although that one is all right, too. It's the whole fairy tale that ends like a Disney cartoon.

And I love it.


Trillian said...

Stephenie Meyer has a degree in English? I'm surprised. there were sections of Twilight I re-read 3 or 4 times and still had no idea what was going on.

Sex was mentioned in Twilight, Bella asks if one of the cullen couples had sex. Edward tells her she and he couldn't ever have sex because it might get too rough.

anyways, I did not like Twilight, I thought it was poorly written, the plot was lame, and the characters were not well developed. But "to each their own", said the old woman kissing the cow.

Claudia said...

I feel like Vampires have been a part of my life forever. I've been reading Anne Rice's vampires for as long as I can remember. Reading and re-reading and re-reading. And I'm actually glad that only one of the books in her vampire series was made into a movie (although I loved that, too).

So, Twilight is very tame, indeed, for me. But it's fun. I don't care about it being good or bad literature. It's F U N. New Moon, for me, was the best of this series, but that's just me. I didn't love the movie as much as I enjoyed the book, but it was still fun.

I've read the True Blood books recently, too, because sometimes I just can't get too much about vampires. I've watched the series. I've watched The Vampire Diaries, which I love a lot. And again, it's all fun.

I miss the TV series, Forever Knight. That was truly my most favorite vampire story to hit any screen.

But some days I'll take whatever I can get. LOL I'm glad there's someone out there like Stephenie Meyer to bring these kind of stories to younger people. I teach a class of 6th graders who are eating it up (well, the girls, anyway).

And I do remember reading articles upon articles when the Twilight movie was released about Stephenie being Mormon and her take on the whole sex thing. I can't remember much about it now, but yes, her background is, indeed, what kept most of her characters out of bed until marriage.

Bismuth said...

Orson Scott Card, my favorite writer is also Mormon and doesn't seem to have a problem writing about sex, though it's contained more in his short stories than in his more famous novels.

rita said...

Yep, to each her own. I've been caught up in the magic. But then I also enjoyed The DaVinci Code, and it certainly wasn't any masterpiece.

I can't read Danielle Steele at all; her writing style just bugs the crap out of me.

I think that my first vampire book was Salem's Lot by Stephen King back when I was 24. That was also my introduction to King. I don't know how many times I've read that book. I tried to read Anne Rice's first vampire book, but I couldn't get into it. I'll try it again sometime.

I love the whole True Blood series. I've read the first 7. I've got season 1 to watch but haven't yet because the stupid dvd player won't work without the remote, and the batteries are dead, or else the damn remote is! I'll have to check out Forever Knight; how long ago was that on tv?

Yes, the Twilight series is very tame; even the scenes in Breaking Dawn are relatively tame. But since they're considered young adult (9-12--when did THAT become young adult???), I'm glad that they are tame. Sometimes explicit sex adds to a story; in these I don't miss it at all.

There's just something about it that has caught the fancy of little girls (my granddaughter was discussing that phenomenon with me last year; she thinks the whole thing is lame) all the way up to old ladies. I've only met one boy who loves the series, and it's mostly because of the fights.

I wasn't aware of the Twilight thing when the first book came out, and I didn't pay much attention to the first movie until January sometime. There was so much talk in the tutoring program that I worked in; kids who normally wouldn't open a book were raving about it. For that, if nothing else, I'm grateful to Ms. Meyer. We have a very cool librarian (excuse me, media specialist) who has added tons of young adult fiction and the kids are responding.

Bis, I think that Meyer's books are more innocent that most scifi/fantasy novels; it also probably has as much to do with the fact that she has three young boys as anything in addition to her beliefs.

Anyway, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn were just as magical for me this time around as the were the first. New Moon is my least favorite because of Bella's depression (and the lack of Edward; imo Jacob was just an annoying little twerp in that book). Twilight on its own didn't capture my attention; I had to read the others before I was caught up in the whole thing. The only reason I read the other three is that kids were raving about them and I wanted to see just what was going on.

Georgi said...

You know, I had the same reaction about her being a Mormon, but then I decided it didn't really matter if people were actually reading a book (good or bad).
These books were originally written for young teen girls, so if an adult says they are poorly written, my thought is who cares. Especially if it makes a girl pick the book up and read. Reading anything is better than nothing, but there just seems to be something about these stories that attract females to them.
There are portions of the books that irritate me (Bella is very dependent on both Jacob and Edward and Edward is a wee bit controlling) but they are still entertaining. And I have read the whole series many times along with my youngest daughter, however my oldest daughter thinks they suck (but then she did not like Harry Potter either).

rita said...

You hit the nail on the head, Georgi. Kids who wouldn't be caught dead with a book are reading the Twilight saga. Eventually they'll go on to something else. There are other good young adult vampire series; they aren't nearly as captivating as Twilight, but they're good.

It's just good, clean fun. I've read some other "adult" vamp series and they're almost too much to slog through. I had to take a break on the Dark Brotherhood series after reading three of them; I have another 3 here to read, but I just can't get interested. They're some heavy (and x-rated) reading.

It bothers me that Bella is so dependent on the "men" in her life, and Edward is controlling. Once I saw the movie with all the pretty boys I decided that I didn't care anymore!