Today I am thrilled to have the most amazing Mike Schulenberg here as my guest, with his thoughtful and scientific review of Twilight. (He will explain.) Take it away, Mike!
The idea to review Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight came from a recent post on Laird’s blog where she confessed the series is something of a guilty pleasure for her. The ebook version of Twilight happened to be on sale that same day. I commented that while the book was alien to my peculiar tastes, the alluring sale price tempted me with its siren call.
Recognizing the hand of destiny, Laird suggested I review the book on her blog. Because I’m interested in reading outside my usual genres more often, I agreed to this bold experiment.
Before reading Twilight, my knowledge of the franchise consisted of two concepts—that some sort of vampire/human/werewolf love triangle was involved, and, rather than combust into flames and ash when exposed to sunlight, vampires sparkle.
“Sparkly vampires?” I asked my friend when he informed me of this. “Really?”
Then we both shook our heads and despaired.
But this knowledge did not deter me from approaching the experiment with an open mind.
Twilight chronicles the exploits of Bella Swan, teenage girl and crime-fighter high school student. After moving in with her father and acquiring a rumbling, gas-guzzling truck that shakes the earth beneath its monstrous tires, she begins attending school. She soon meets Edward Cullen, a pale specimen of marble perfection compressed into vampire form. While Edward regards Bella with apparent disgust, his compelling vampire magnetism consumes her, and it is not long before romantic repartee ensues.
But when danger threatens in the form of James, a diabolical vampire nemesis, will their young love be enough to ensure Bella’s survival?
Bella’s pleasant, easy-going demeanor and lack of a cannibalistic instinct make her a likable character. But her main flaw, a physical clumsiness so severe that it could potentially transform her into an unintentional assassin, is almost too extreme to be credible.
For the first half of the book, Edward does not treat Bella in a nice manner. He glares at her, speaks to her through clenched teeth, and overreacts to innocent things she says with undeserved anger.
“Don’t go for that guy,” I urged her. “Find a nice zombie or a leprechaun instead. Neither are known for their dark angst and either would make a better sidekick than Edward.”
But Bella refused to listen and before long, she and Edward are a crime-fighting duo couple. Edward takes her into the forest and demonstrates his sparkly quality in what must surely be a revelatory and shirtless scene in the movie. He also reveals his habit of sneaking into Bella’s bedroom while she’s asleep so he can gaze upon her. Pretty creepy.
You would never catch a leprechaun doing that sort of thing.
As the crime-fighting romantic relationship between Bella and Edward develops, the plot lacks sufficient conflict and complication to propel the story forward. Twilight misses an opportunity when Edward brings Bella home to meet his vampire family, who think Bella is more enjoyable as a person than as a snack. One of their number, Rosalie, could have created more complication, but she is underutilized.
Conflict escalates with the appearance of the sinister vampire James, who hunts Bella with the intent to inflict suffering upon her. The narrative builds to an exciting climax and is the best part of Twilight, though it cheats by glossing over the physical confrontation between Edward and James.
Overall, Twilight held my interest enough to carry me through to the end. I found more to like than I expected, so it was not a bad read, and it never compelled me to gnaw my own arm off to escape.
Thank you so much for reviewing this literary masterpiece, Mike, and I, for one, am glad you did not have to gnaw your arm off.
What do y’all think of Mike’s review? Have you ever reviewed something you’d never thought you’d read? Ever read anything that made you want to gnaw your arm off? Let’s hear your stories!