I'm no fangirl...but I read Twilight

posted by Jory on Sunday, January 11, 2009
If you loved everything about Twilight, you may not want to read this review. If you want an honest, un-sugar coated opinion, read on.

I started reading Twilight on Wednesday. I finished yesterday. Then I watched the movie.

Since the book came first, it gets priority in my discussion. Before I say anything further, I want to point out that I didn't hate the book, or even dislike it. I don't really understand what kept me turning the page (possibly the fact that I had seen the movie trailer), but I was intrigued enough to finish it, and also to order the next books from my library. Which is something to be said.

Twilight was a long book. A lot longer than I felt it needed to be. (Nearly 600 pages...yikes!)

It's not that I mind reading a 600 page novel, but the fact that I didn't see the real plot show up until page 375 was what got me. If I hadn't known from the movie trailer that there was going to be some kind of conflict, I would have put the book down.

The beginning doesn't do much to develop the character of Bella Swan other than to tell where she comes from and why she's in a town that she hates. Other than her physical description, a little bit of spunk, and the fact that she loves her truck, there's not much of a personality assigned to her.

Instead, the first two-thirds of the book focus on the developing relationship between Bella and the vampire Edward Cullen. Edward is an intriguing character, a bit of a mystery, and I have to admit that if I were to meet him on the street I would probably fall over myself.

But was he worth 375 pages? Cliff notes please.

I also want to note on the quality of the writing. I will say that Meyer has a way with words. Her descriptions were believable and pleasing. But I think she needs to take a refresher course on the mechanics of dialogue.

Not only was much of it cheesy and not believable - the continuous, "I love you so much it hurts," and the likes - but it also got downright confusing at times over who was speaking. This was due to the fact that she often placed one character's action with a different character's dialogue.

(Ex. "You can't go in there, it's a restricted zone," I warned. John just glared at me, then pushed the door open.
"Watch me," he said.)

In the example above, John's action should not be in the same paragraph as Jane's dialogue. Instead, it should start a new paragraph and go with his dialogue.

Today, I finished the next volume in the series, New Moon. I think I liked this one a lot better. It opened the plot up a lot sooner, and even along the way there were sub-conflicts to keep me interested. So interested, in fact, that I read it in about twelve hours. And that's no less pages.

Bella's character was a lot more round and dynamic in this one, and I really appreciated the first person insight. I had no trouble relating with her or connecting with her emotions (tears, laughter, fear, etc.).

The dialogue was much better, though the words passed between Bella and Edward were still a little overbearing. Improved, yes, but still.

It still had the same formatting flaws as the first, but because I was more captured into the story, I was more prone to overlook them.

After I finished the first volume, I immediately watched the movie. I can't really say I liked it better or less than the book because I'm still undecided about the book.

The film obviously takes a lot of liberties, cutting out a lot of the getting-to-know-you parts, and I didn't really like that. Even though I expressed before that those parts of the novel dragged on a bit in the book, there was still too much there to be rushed through in the film.

The first thing I noticed was the makeup. It was heavy, especially at the very beginning. I mean, I know Edward is supposed to be the undead and whatever, but does he have to look like a girl? I mean, really? It looks a lot better toward the end (i.e. he blends in a lot more) but at the beginning I find it really hard to believe that people can't just tell he's a vampire from looking at him. Pale skin, bright red lips, and circles under the eyes just doesn't scream healthy human male to me.

Another thing that bothered me about the film was the music. There were a few songs on the soundtrack that I liked, and I was very pleased that they kept Clair de Lune in the film. The song Edward plays on the piano (Bella's Lullaby) was beautiful. But much of the rest of the score and a few soundtrack selections seemed very inappropriate.

I'm going to be brutally honest. Outside of Twilight (i.e. tabloid photos, interviews, etc.) I really do not think Kristen Stewart is very attractive. Maybe it's just the way she wears her makeup, or styles her hair, or seems to always be wearing a dead expression - really, is she incapable of smiling? However, I thought she was perfect as Bella, subtly beautiful, spunky, the right voice tonality - she was as close to how I imagined her as possible.

Robert Pattinson, though also beautiful as Edward, kind of made me cringe in real life. The hair...egh.

Suffice it to say, I preferred him as Cedric Diggory.

(Cedric. Sigh.)

By the way, does anyone else seem to think that Daniel looks a little bit like Frodo here?

Hmm, maybe it's just me.

All in all, despite Twilight's many flaws, and the fact that it is clearly written to appeal more to the pre-teen set, I'm going to keep reading. I do, actually, like it. Still not a fangirl, though.

However, people, please stop putting it in league with Harry Potter. There's no contest.


Emily on 11/1/09 2:40 PM said...

yeah, I pretty much agree with you on your analysis (though I have not seen the movie).
what really bugs me is the "character development" (or lack thereof)...essentially what is presented is a heroine who has an incredibly low self-image (and who does not ever come up out of that!), and a hero who is essentially perfect, indestructible, beautiful, a perfect gentleman, &c. Who then falls in love with the somewhat plain, 'there really isn't anything that great about me' heroine.
and then in new moon, you get another hero, who essentially is the same thing (beautiful, perfect) who also falls in love with her. Plus all of the other boys at school who are head-over-heels for her.
While she herself essentially has NO PERSONALITY!

also, it bothers me that she essentially discarded all vampire lore from the last several hundred years.
I don't hate the books, but I would label them as a 'fun throw-away' book for a lazy afternoon.

JoH on 11/1/09 6:08 PM said...

Can I borrow your copy of the book, then? :) I'm ready to cave.

I must admit, seeing pictures of RPattz in real life disturbed me greatly, on account of his hair. I always thought it was ready to eat an unsuspecting bystander (or screaming fangirl, maybe that's why he styles it like that).

Also, I changed my name to my usual initials so it won't get too confusing. (my family always labels my things JoH).

<3 the other one.


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