Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight by Stephenie MeyerBefore I get into the meat-and-potatoes of this review, I would like to begin by providing a small back story this writer went through up until purchasing all four Twilight books earlier this week.

I remember seeing the trailers for Catherine Hardwicke’s adaptation of Twilight, and was coloured slightly intrigued, despite saying off-hand that vampires were out in the day and flew around like Superman, I let it slide because, come on – this is Catherine Hardwicke! A great director and a great female role model for all creative women out there (I am of the opinion more women need to be in the film industry). I never went to see Twilight in cinemas because there just never was a chance. I picked the Blu-Ray disc up when it was released and watched it with interest, ending up with the whole “Well, it was good, but it’s highly over-rated” opinion.

Then the trailer for the Hardwicke-shafted New Moon appeared on the internet, and I immediately went “Woah. That was cool.” to Jacob transforming into a wolf. It was pretty much then on that, despite my reluctance to admit it, I became a Twi-hard. I still haven’t seen any films in the saga at the cinema (screaming females for two hours isn’t my idea of relaxation) so I’ve bought or received all films on Blu-Ray, and look forward to seeing both parts in the Breaking Dawn saga, slated to hit cinemas this and next November, respectively.

When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerising voice and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret…

I, too, along with many others, cried foul at Stephenie Meyer’s version of vampirism. My only problem with the sparkling vampire aspect of Twilight is that is doesn’t serve a plot purpose besides visualising how beautiful Edward is (which happens so many times in this book – I dare people to have a drinking game whenever Bella says Edward is beautiful and finish the book in one go). I can believe a great many things in a story, be it a novel, film or television, as long as it serves a plot purpose, which sparkling vampires does not (although was used cleverly in the Eclipse film adaptation, showing vampire’s insides as white crystal).

My main problem, having bought the film tie-in edition ages ago was Meyer’s writing. It’s criminally elementary – and I’m pretty sure the concept of a thesaurus doesn’t exist in the Meyer household. Besides her writing “style” (if you want to call it that), Twilight is safe, harmless romantic fun. There is actually a point where Bella stops being this whiny, ungrateful, admittedly nasty person (which is who she is until about chapter ten, “Interrogations”, 172 pages in). However, she goes from being a whiny, ungrateful, admittedly nasty person to being a girl with a one-track mind about how beautiful Edward is.

Things drag on for a while (there is a lot of talking about the logistics behind being a Meyer-vampire) until a vampire baseball game (in the movie, I too, went “What?!”) where three vampire nomads rock up to ruffle some feathers. It is here Bella becomes more of a character, thinking for herself and arguing with the Cullens about hers and her father’s safety. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last for very long. Chapter twenty-four is almost entirely Bella telling Edward how much she loves him after being attacked by the main antagonist, James.

This is also a rare occasion where the film and book on which it is based sit comfortably side-by-side. Books, adapted 100% word-for-word never work because novels and films are two completely different beasts. However, despite a one or two small concepts (like where Alice came from), the film did a good job of staying faithful to the source material while being its own creature. Thankfully in the film the antagonists are introduced earlier and we have none of the pathetic Bella internal monologue.

Stephenie Meyer’s writing does have an advantage, however: one is able to glide through the book at a break-neck pace (I rarely finish books, if at all), so that is one small advantage to the book, however it still doesn’t excuse Meyer from being a poor writer. Plot points don’t necessarily mesh well, exposition is handled sloppily and girl seriously needs a thesaurus. However, if you have seen the film and wish to read the book on which it is based, take your expectations of or your reaction to the film and apply it to the book – both are similar, so if you see the film and not read the book, you’re not missing out on much. I still have three sequels (and a spin-off novella) to plough through, though…

Three-and-a-half skulls.

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