So I am currently waiting for some videos of my kids to upload. My computer is painfully slow right now thanks to a problematic battery. As a result, I have some time to post about silly things. Prepare for a lengthy post without any pictures.
I’m sure you all guessed that this post is about Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. For the past several years (since about the time I finished reading Harry Potter in 2007) most women I know between the ages of 12 and 45 have been reading this series and telling me to read it. I resisted. A lot.
I had my reasons. First of all: I like to read good books. Secondofly: I have a very long list of those books that I want to read, and I couldn’t bring myself to bump Twilight ahead of the likes of East of Eden and Crime and Punishment (neither of which I have read still) and Count of Monte Cristo (which I did finally read). Third: It sounded like a romance novel. I’ve unfortunately read a romance novel by a Mormon author once t wasn’t a mistake I was ready to make again. Fourth: I sometimes like to pretend I’m more mature and refined than adolescent girls. Fifth: I hate vampires. I don’t like stories about them. I don’t think they have ever made for books that are anything more than glorified romance novels.
In spite of all of these objections, I finally decided I would make a compromise and see the movies. If only because I kind of like Kristen Stewart from her other stuff and it seemed like something good to watch for a girls night with my mom and my sister. So, when I was in Utah this summer, my mom and I rented “Twilight” and “New Moon” and set out to watch them. My dad joined us because he is a good sport and there wasn’t much else to do. Not surprisingly, mom fell asleep about halfway into the first one and I ironically watched the first two Twilight movies with my dad.
Can I just say Yipes?! The first one was tremendously bad. It was boring and went pretty much nowhere until that last half hour or so. If I had to watch Robert Pattinson make a pained expression one more time, I was going to have an aneurysm. It was hard to tell if he was constipated, or just trying really hard to not look at the camera or something. I thought Kristen Stewart was believable, but the character was obnoxious. At least I got some joy out of some 24 alums. Sarah Clarke (aka Nina Myers) in a small role as the mom and Billy Burke (aka Gary Matheson) as the dad. The score was terrible and did nothing to fill in the gaps, which was unfortunate since the whole movie was gaps.
I actually kind of liked the second movie. Possibly because Robert Pattinson and his painfully pained expression left shortly into the movie. While Taylor Lautner is not a particularly good actor, he was adorable and likeable in Pattinson’s absence. Kristen Stewart was again believeable, but the character was still obnoxious. At least they did a quick montage to glaze past the months of her pathetic moping, and the music was a lot better. Actually, I should give Kristen Stewart more credit because she really dominated the screen time and somehow managed to make me not want to kill her character, who probably deserved it.
I watched the third movie by myself. I liked it. I’m sort of ashamed to admit it, but I did. Taylor Lautner grew into his role, Robert Pattinson was grimacing less, and Kristen Stewart was good. It helped that Bella was less obnoxious. I liked the vampire family (except for Rosie). I really liked Jasper and Emmet and Dr. Cullen. The music was actually really fun, and the villains were interesting. The middle was still painful to get through, though.
I decided I had to find out for myself if the characters were any better in the books, so I finally broke down and started reading them. I also told myself that I was also really skeptical of the Harry Potter books and made fun of people who read them. I was way off on that one. I sort of skimmed the first three since I had seen the movies. I was just trying to find the stuff that wasn’t in the movies. While they were quick reads, and I didn’t absolutely hate them, I have to say that I was right about them.
The characters lack depth and don’t really function as real heroes or protagonists. Edward is definitely more likeable than Robert Pattinson makes him, but even then, not until the back end of the third book. Bella is an annoying, love-stricken teenageer, which would be fine, since that’s normal for a girl of that age, but she’s supposed to be mature and an “old soul”. I think Meyer just said that about the character so the reader could get behind her falling so desperately in love with a guy she barely knew and be so sure of it, even after he took off and came back. Note: It’s hard to really get behind a teenaged girl finding true love with a creature that is, by all accounts, built to make people fall for him. I never quite got what made her infatuation with him more meaningful than every other girl who would have dropped everything to be with him, other than the fact that he noticed her, as well. Which is another problem, since he really only noticed her since her blood smelled super delicious to him and he couldn’t hear her thoughts.
The writing is straight forward and unimaginative and tends to drag in all of the books. They are driven in good part by internal monologue, which doesn’t work very well when the writing is bad and the characters are uninteresting. Stephanie Meyer has a bad habit of making sure nothing really interesting happens until the last 10% of the book. Even when interesting stuff happens in the middle of the book, she manages to make it seem boring.
Ultimately, the books had a couple of chances to be good and maybe even have some substance, but missed the mark. I guess I shouldn’t have expected more out of books for young adults, but I sort of did after reading Hunger Games. I kept waiting for there to be anything thematically of value, but it just didn’t come. It really is just a love story about a girl, a vampire, and a werewolf. I can see how people like it, as it is better than most other love stories for that age group, but it’s unwise to look for anything else out of it. I guess I’m glad I read them, because it definitely did add something to the movies. The characters are easier to understand, and the vampires are given more depth and back story. Also, I can now honestly say that I don’t particularly like them and have it be an informed opinion. I have to say that I agree with Stephen King’s take on Meyer’s place in the juvenile literature worl: "the real difference [between J. K. Rowling and Meyer] is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer, and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good."However, King understood the appeal of the series, adding, "People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it's very clear that she's writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It's exciting and it's thrilling and it's not particularly threatening because it's not overtly sexual." (Link to the article)
That is all. Look below for really cute videos of Ben and Penny, as a reward for making it through this post.