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Not Everything that Sparkles Is Going to Get Your Daughter Pregnant

By Courtney | Books | March 24, 2010 | Comments ()

By Courtney | Books | March 24, 2010 |


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Admittedly, I came in rather late to the "phenomenon." I decided to read the books after a spirited comment thread on Pajiba. I didn't know much about the series, vaguely understood vampires were involved, and had only caught glimpses of the Robert Pattinson kid on Access Hollywood. Unwittingly, I had already been ensnared in what I like to refer as the Tom Cruise Syndrome: No matter how much you try to isolate one component, the others filter through and pollute or enhance the first. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who can watch Cruise and not immediately pull up the Rolodex of images of him jumping on Oprah's couch, Scientology, and the Matt Lauer interview. I have never even seen the interview, but I know exactly what it was about.

Therefore, it is next to impossible to write an impartial review on the Twilight series. Too much has permeated the social consciousness: the movies, the actors, Mormonism parallels, Edward Cullen body pillows, images of teens and adults in costume lining up at the Barnes & Noble... However, stripped down to the basics, here is my take.

The writing: Simply put, it's not great. Whether it's Meyer's lack of ability or sloppy editing, it's downright cringeworthy at times. How many times can a reader be expected to review Edward's marble-like-silky-cold scrumptiousness or his topaz eyes? We get it. The dude is hard, cold, and gorgeous. Please stop reminding us or at least invest in a Thesaurus. That being said, it is supposed to be a YA novel, and teens have the attention span of gnats so perhaps it's necessary to clue them in every other paragraph lest they forget the yummy forbidden allure of a dead guy. If you somehow manage to suck it up and ignore the more glaring and annoying written tics, it all boils down to the story.

The story: Screw y'all, it's entertaining as hell. Shy girl meets bad (vampire) boy, falls in love. Seventeen year-old love, no less. That's the best kind! It's so unabashedly simple and all-encompassing. Think back, people: before anybody ever dumped you, cheated on you, lied to you, or had enough time to earn a bad credit rating. Before you had to have a logical reason to love someone. Add to that the supernatural condition, and it's an easy sell. The angst, the idea that no one else on the planet is as important as the object of your hormone-riddled lust, that shit is comically true. Kids like it because they are living it; adults get it because they remember. Throw in some vampire wars and G-rated porn, it's not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Vampire purists have had a field day pointing out the inconsistencies in Meyer's fable. Sparkles, anyone? Now read that sentence again. People who believe in vampire stories think she got it wrong. Do I need to continue? All you Hot Topic Shoppers need to chill: it's her story. It's her imagination. Fantasy is in the eye of the beholder. I read somewhere that a fan had asked her if the events of the book were based on real life. She responded that no, other than a handful of anecdotes, the story was about vampires. [Insert "Duh"] Which brings me to another point: maybe vampires aren't your thing. Maybe you prefer Jedis or witchcraft or spy novels. If that's your thing, more power to you. But to critique something based on an opposite preference alone is childish.

Christian groups have jumped both sides of the line regarding the books' theme: one the one hand, it promotes chastity (good) but it involves vampires (bad). No one drinks or smokes (good) but Bella all-too-willingly dives headfirst into the cult-like Cullen clan (bad). I honestly don't think Meyer put forth a lot of deliberate effort into weaving religious symbolism into her book. Some of it, hell, most of it, makes sense: she's a Mormon, of course she's not going to create a heroine that smokes pot and gives out hand-jobs in the school bathroom. But to go so far as to believe that her ulterior motive was to subliminally communicate "A MESSAGE" into the minds of America's youth is a stretch.

That brings me to the whole Bella-is-a-bad-role-model rant. She is flattered that her boyfriend has been, for all intents and purposes, stalking her. She pretty much ignores anyone and everyone around her because her entire world rotates around Edward's marble-marshmellowiness-and-let's-not-forget-his-topaz-eyes. She marries young (she's in LOVE) and has a kid at 18. It makes sense to me! The girl is 17 and infatuated. This fits perfectly into her character. So now we get to flog Stephenie Meyer because she is polluting minds. Except that maybe, just maybe, it isn't Stephenie Meyer's responsibility to babysit the legions of Tweens with Daddy-issues who pine away at imaginary vampire boyfriends and who can't wait until they are 16 so they can get a "True love never dies" tramp stamp. Let's face it: these girls were already out there. Meyer didn't create them, entice them, nor is she enabling the Twilight charm bracelet addiction. Proof of that are the scores of middle-aged women who subscribe to that same fanatical devotion to the series. As posted previously, in the words of my 15-year old niece:

"Geez, let it go already! It's a freaking STORY, not a public service announcement! Dumb girls are going to have creepy boyfriends and slutty girls are going to get felt up by their boyfriends, and fat girls are going to fall in love with Robert Pattinson whether they read these books or not, and the rest of us are just bored and like to read! I never, not once, broke into someone's house and ate their porridge and slept in their bed even though mom tells me that The Three Bears was my favorite story when I was little."

Bottom line: the writing is average, at best; the story can be entertaining if you are able to choke past the writing. Still, it's just a story. Relax.

Unless you can prove otherwise, this review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Or maybe I slipped it in under the guise of the Cannonball Read in order to re-ignite one of my favorite debates.




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