Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Book Review: Twilight

I'll admit, I was skeptical. Teen vampires are not so much my preferred reading subject. Actually, I don't like supernatural books in general--Harry Potter notwithstanding. But Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, was thoroughly entertaining. It even had a big smash-bang ending that truly kept me up until midnight, eager to finish it.

You know I hate writing book synopses, but I couldn't find a concise one, so here you go: 17-year-old Bella is the new kid in school in the rainy, gloomy town of Forks, Wash. She meets and falls in love with Edward, a vampire, who loves her back. But wait. Their passionate love is challenged as Edward fights his desire to...suck her blood! Mwah ha ha! (Sorry.) Plenty of romance, suspense and sexual tension ensues, leading to that big smash-bang ending.

I realize I'm about 10 years older than the target audience for this book, and that's probably why I have to stop short of saying I absolutely loved it. It was good, and plenty exciting. And I thought Meyer's portrayal of a teen's first experience with love was so perfectly real. I can remember feeling that way after I started dating JB in high school. Plus, sure enough, Meyer avoided Bella and Edward having sex but still managed to keep the passion and sexual tension high and realistic, no easy feat. (The reason given is they can't get too physical because Edward might decide to take a bite out of her neck after all.)

One thing that bugged the bejeebies out of me: practically every other sentence included a new description of someone's facial expression. And apparently facial expressions change A LOT in Forks. I picture the action in a book as it happens, so this constant changing of moods, facial expressions, etc. continually brought me up short in my reading. It was kind of jarring.

During my creative writing classes in college, I had the "show, don't tell" philosophy shoved down my throat. My profs were constantly banging on about how the dialogue should reveal the speakers' emotions, making descriptions of facial expressions minimally necessary. But good heavens, they're all over the place in this book. It reeeeally bothered me at first, but I eventually got used to the narrative voice.

I guess you could argue that since the story is told in first person from Bella's POV, the excessive description is justified because teen girls overanalyze everything. And I won't argue with that.

One more grammarian's pet peeve: the story is in first person, but sometimes the narrator assumes feelings and thoughts of other characters. She'd say things like (and I'm paraphrasing), "He wondered what I was thinking," instead of something like "He looked like he was wondering what I was thinking." Or better yet, showing this detail through actions.

Ok. Enough with the overanalysis of Meyer's writing style. Unless you are a closet grammar snob like myself, just ignore those last, oh, four paragraphs.

If you're a fan of vampire fiction, teen fiction, have ever been a teen girl or dated one, you'll probably like this book. I certainly liked it enough that I'll definitely read the next ones.


Chad Aaron Sayban said...

I'm not much for vampire stories (I'm still smarting of The Historian, check my review of that flop). Was this the first book of the series that she just finished up?

Anonymous said...

Have you considered self publishing your blog? I found what I think is a new website, WorldWide Alliance of Writers, What you get is 5 printed copies of your book and a listing on their ecommerce web site for $80. Not much is on there yet but nothing like being an early adopter...

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to blog about this series. There's so much interesting about it.

Weird how being a writer changes how we read things.

Nice (new) typewriter. :)

Anonymous said...

I just bought this book and am planning on reading it during my sabbatical (that's what I'm calling the days I am taking off work to recover). I'll let you know what I think about -- as someone who is leary of teen vampires but also fell in love with one wizard named Harry ;)