Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Book Blog -- Twilight

The biggest YA since Harry Potter reeled me in too.... for my 22nd book of the year.

I am really enjoying reading a lot of YA lately. It is one thing my girls and I now do together and it is so fun. At night we read together - right now it's Narnia, which I haven't read since I was a child and so am rediscovering almost from scratch, to be honest.

But I bought the Twilight series for ME. And then I will let the girls read it later.

There's a lot of hype surrounding these books and now I get it. I'll admit - for the first 7 chapters or so I really didn't. I didn't like Edward. (Gasp!) He did a lot of smirking and other negative body language. Bella was drawn to him but at the same time she felt extremely excluded...he kept laughing at her and she did not know why. Building this great love and attraction just didn't work for me during that segment.

But then it all turned around. And it happened when Bella and Edward actually started spending time together. Having conversations, even if they were frustrating. In essence, actually interacting.

It did bring to mind why in category we are told to bring the heroine and hero together asap. Because for me, that's when the story began. I actually think you could take the first hundred pages and cut them for pacing. Is some of it necessary? Absolutely. But it could have been much tighter. And the reason we need to see them together has a great deal to do with the fact that we're in first person. Once Bella and Edward start talking, then we get to see the WHY behind some of Edward's actions. We can't see that before because we're always in Bella's head and so he seems like a jerk. It is a challenge of first person writing and I think it's part of the reason why the first chunk was disappointing.

The turning point, again, for ME, seemed to be the trip to Port Angeles. Suddenly we have upped the stakes. Bella is in danger. Edward is there. Bella seems to be clueing in to the fact that he's "different". They have dinner. Edward drives like a maniac...ok, finally, here is the sexy, enigmatic, bad boy that girls DREAM of capturing. He is EXCITING. He likes her, a lot. He is a protector. He has an edge of danger. Yes, yes, yes.

And towards the end it got even better. I can't wait to see how Jasper develops. Jasper made me cry. When he tells Bella that she IS worth it, I was so touched. And there were a few other spots where I was sniffly too, towards the end.

Now, as a final note, I've also seen the movie. There are some great things about it that the book could have benefited from, actually. For one, in the movie, you know about the danger from "the others" as there are a few unexplained deaths. That is a crucial tie that should have been in the book. It is the plausibility factor that links the others with the anxiety of the native tribe and puts the family in jeopardy of being discovered. When Carlisle says their hunting habits have caused problems, it doesn't make sense in the context of the book like it does in the movie.
But a few things that the movie left out that I loved in the book was a slightly bigger development of Emmett who comes across as beefcake in the film but in the book is very loyal to Edward and supportive of Bella and actually quite FUN. He has a playful side you don't get to see. As well, the link between James and Alice was FANTASTIC and I would have liked to have seen that. It does explain why Alice does not remember being human before she was turned.

A long review this time but I am very much looking forward to New Moon.


  1. Donna,

    Have you and your girls read The Mother-Daughter Book Club and its sequel, Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick? My daughter and I love them both!

    I love the Twilight saga too. My daughter is a bit young for them as yet...not quite 10 years old...but I've promised her she can read them when she is older. :-)

  2. I haven't read Twilight yet, tho one of my book club friends with a young daughter has enjoyed the experience.

    Trenda, my 10-year-old granddaughter talked her mother into allowing her to read Twilight. She reads a lot, and on the strength of a bookstore clerk commenting on the 'wholesome' nature of the relationships, my daughter-in-law went ahead. I am all for youngsters reading widely, and more importantly mother and daughter do read a lot together, as Donna and her daughters do. (I read Gone with the Wind when I was 10)

  3. Trenda, I haven't read that, No! I'll have to put it on my list. We go through many books so I keep my ears open to suggestions all the time.

    My youngest is not quite 9, and while I wouldn't MIND her reading it, I think she'll enjoy it better in another year or so. (she loved the movie) My eldest is 11 and she says once she finishes her current Meg Cabots, she's going to start it.

    There is lots of sensual tension, but in a gorgeously restrained way. Nothing beyond kissing and yearning, but lots of high tension moments where a simple touch takes on great importance.

    SOme books I know my kids want to read on their own, not out loud. If I have doubts, I read them first. :-)

  4. D -- Just curious about the whole argument surrounding the "abusiveness" of the relationship between Edward and Bella. Did you get a sense of that, or no? I still haven't read the books, myself, and I'm wondering. What do you think the message is that's being sent to teens and preteens with the story?

    Inquiring minds, and all that... :)

  5. Abusiveness? NO. Not in the least. In fact, Edward says many times how he knows it is better for her if he stays away. He is fully aware that he puts her in danger, and he is ultra protective. And it should be remembered that Bella also represents a different kind of threat to them as well.

    Edwards actions in the first bit make sense when you realize that what he is doing is FIGHTING his attraction. Bella might be a bit over eager and trusting, but in my opinion Edward doesn't abuse that. He's been alone for nearly a century. Here is a person who accepts him for exactly who he is. So while he comes across as a bit of an arrogant jerk in the beginning, I don't see abuse.

    I'm sure if you looked really closely you could probably find bits to support the theory (we both know words can always be twisted to suit a theory or agenda, don't we). But I know where you're coming from and I think it's fine and IMO unfounded.

  6. And the message sent?

    Here's what I liked....there was an intensity of emotion and attraction that we both know is on par with raging hormones at that age. LOL. That being said, clothes never come off, body parts are never touched, it is all very chaste except for that heart pounding LONGING and some great near-kisses. (The part where Edward is trying to convince Bella to let him "carry" her to the baseball field is extraordinary IMO).

    Yes, he's a bad boy. Don't we ALL dream of bad boys? But he is also, IMO, a guy who, despite being unable to fight his attraction for her any longer, does his best to protect her, to love her, to accept her. As she does in return.

    And at risk of spoiling, in the end when Bella ASKS him to turn her so they can be together, he refuses. He knows what she is asking and does the "right" thing even though giving in would mean they could be together in all ways.

    There are also strong family loyalty messages.

    I have no problem with mine reading, and believe it or not I had MORE problem with some of the parts of Anne Frank than I did with Twilight. Go figure.

  7. Hi Donna,

    I enjoyed reading Twilight but kept wondering wondered why 108 year old Edward wasn't way to mature to be interested in a 16 year old schoolgirl. Or was his age frozen when he became a vampire and he didn't develop mentally?

  8. Remember when she asks him how old he is, and he says 17? And she says how long, and he says, a while?

    Realistically, in some ways Edward is quite mature and yet in others he is, and always will be, 17. I think it is one of those things that just requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief.

    I can only imagine how awful it would be to realize you were ALWAYS going to be the same age. And Bella too, while in some ways very teenager, is old for her age. She has always been a kid that looked after her mum and now her dad. She doesn't tend to go in for the usual teen activities - she's an outcast, much the same as Edward. That's why it works. :-)