[Today's post is my review of the book Twilight for Mental Mama's book club. To read more reviews or to submit one of your own, drop by!]
I must confess... I have a fascination with vampires. Not a "here's my neck, have at it" fascination, but a fascination none the less. From my secret crush on Barnabus Collins in Dark Shadows to Interview With a Vampire to the Anita Blake/Vampire Hunter series, I am on board with Vampire lore. Bring it.
Despite this open heart (But not vein) approach to all things vampire, I did not want to read this series. Even when my oldest daughter recommended it. Even when I started reading other blogger's recommendations. I looked at the book at the store and held out. I knew it was young adult, and I like a more sophisticated tale... I didn't want to read about high school vampires. Heck, I don't want to read about high school, period. I disliked high school.
So when MPM started her book club and then declared Twilight the first read, I was reluctant. But, I'd committed, so I borrowed the book from my daughter and finished it the next day. And demanded the second book. I read all four books in 4 1/2 days. Then I saw the movie. Then I re-read them at a slower pace. Then I saw the movie two more times. I'm okay now.
The books, unlike other young adult/ teenage angst/ cheerleader tryout books, do portray sophisticated thoughts. From family pulls and tugs to thoughts on cultural differences to the variances good and evil within a race. Even some of the more youthful concerns of fitting in, being unnoticed, fear of social clumsiness and parental conflicts are handled well. The heroine, Bella, our main protagonist seems balanced between typical teen angst and being the caretaker of those around her, certainly her parents... who seem unable or unwilling to assume a parental role with her.
As much as the book manages a thoughtful slice-of-life in the small town of Forks, throughout the unfolding story is woven the supernatural attraction between Bella and her Vampire. As seen through Bella's eyes, the clues slowly began to come together and as she realizes what Edward is, the story becomes more complex. The author explores Bella's fascination with Edward, Edward's fear of killing Bella and we see the background yet pivotal reactions of family, peers and other "interested parties".
As I was riding the train home from the game last night, I heard a group of teachers (who didn't sound as though they'd read it) discussing it and the term "nothing but a romance" was used. While there certainly is romance in the book, unlike other romantic tales, the end is not a given. And there is much more to the book(s) than just a resolution of whether they will continue seeing each other. There are secrets, danger, warnings and the influence of outside parties that keep the story moving.
I think to be balanced I can point out one area where the story didn't work for me and that is exploring the foundation of Edward and Bella's relationship. It seems superficial. She admires him because he's a "vegetarian" and he's not going to kill her. He's attracted to her because he can't read her mind and... and... and what? They like Debussy? I think the author missed a real opportunity to explore the fuller parts of their relationship as much as she explored their attraction to each other.
Despite all that, I (obviously) loved the story, the books and the movie (mostly).
To read other reviews of Twilight, visit Mama's book club!