A teenage girl falls madly in love with a strikingly handsome, mysterious boy at her school. The fact that he’s a vampire adds some complications to their relationship. That is the premise of Twilight, the first of a four-novel series for young adults by Stephenie Meyer. It sounds awfully similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (one of my favorite television shows ever), but it’s actually quite different.
I just finished reading the book, and while it was far from a Pulitzer award-worthy, there was a lot to like:
- The Vampire Mythology – I have always been interested in the vampire genre, whether it be books, movies, or television. (Remember Fright Night from the ’80s? I was totally there. As I was for Buffy, Angel, and every vampire-centric episode of The X-Files.) The standard stuff of vampire legend doesn’t all hold true in the world of Twilight (such as has no reflection in a mirror, must sleep in a coffin, can’t stand sunlight). I was intrigued by the different spin that Meyer puts on vampire lore. I won’t mention any details here, since part of the fun of reading the book was discovering what Edward was capable of, how he became a vampire, etc.
- The Teenager in Love Motif – As I read this book, I couldn’t help but see something of my own teenage self in Bella Swan. Since she is the narrator, we’re able to know what she’s thinking, and in typical teenager fashion, much of her thought process is over dramatic and obsessive. Especially in the first part of the story, when she’s trying to figure Edward out, she analyzes every move he makes, tries to interpret the slightest of movements or the briefest of conversations. That was totally me 15 years ago, and is probably most teenage girls. They tend to get caught up in their own little universe, and the drama that unfolds therein. This aspect of the novel was nostalgic for me, adding to the fun of reading it.
- The Setting and Atmosphere – Most of the story takes place in Forks, Washington, a place where the sun rarely shines and the rain seldom stops. This sort of gloomy atmosphere is perfect for an angst-ridden vampire and the introspective girl who loves him.
- It’s a fun, easy read – Sometimes you just want something mindless and escapist to read. This teen fantasy thriller is just that. Last night as I was finishing up Twilight, my husband was reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. He kept saying how depressing it was, and then he read a sentence aloud to me that rambled on about a falcon killing a crane and carrying its lifeless body over the barren landscape of post-apocalyptic America . Now I think McCarthy is a fantastic writer, and I plan to read more of his books (I started with No Country for Old Men). However, sometimes you want more feel-good thrills, and less disturbing carnage and mayhem. So while Twilight isn’t as elaborate and well done as another “not just for young adults” series – Harry Potter – it’s still worth reading.
I look forward to reading the second, third, and fourth installments of this trilogy in the near future. I also plan to watch the movie adaptation that will be released in November. Should be more escapist fun!