The Twilight Saga — Review by Chris

Spoiler alert: this review contains spoilers, so if you have not read all of the books and do not wish to know major plot points, stop reading now. Consider yourself warned!


Okay, let's just state the obvious up front: I am not your typical Twilight reader. However, I am certainly not your typical "young adult fiction" reader, and yet I am a fan of the genre.

I also am a fan of Twilight.

I read the saga at the recommendation of my friend Corinne, whose taste in books I admire. She and I have shared similar opinions on many books over the years, so I decided to pick it up. (Maybe then the Facebook Flair would make sense!)

I was not disappointed. It was a riveting series with engrossing storytelling and rather likeable characters.

For those of you who are under the same rock I so recently inhabited, let me sum it up: Bella lives in Forks, a small overcast town in Washington state. She meets Edward, a fellow high school student, and falls madly in love. One problem? He is a little older than she is. Okay, about a century. He's a vampire and will eternally look like a high school senior.

Once he admits he can't live without her, she admits she can't live without him — even though he's a vampire. To complicate matters, so is his entire family (a.k.a. coven). They're not "bad" vamps: they live on the blood of animals, rather than humans.

These are not the only members of the supernatural circus that surround Bella — and thank the heavens for that. Bella isn't the most graceful of characters and finds herself in a few pickles in her time. From threatening would-be attackers to psycho vampire trackers to bratty teen girls, she is not safe around any corner. (This is played up a little too much in the series for my taste, but at least I understand why.) Edward, on the other hand, is rather indestructible, so one can see why he hates to leave Bella to her own devices.

Charlie, Bella's father, is a little clueless for a police chief, but in the end it's possible, just possible, that he might be a little more savvy than readers have been led to believe. After all, I saw the Plot Complications coming, so why didn't Charlie? It is a very unfair, hackneyed characterization of small-town cops and parents.

The saga is told in four books, which I can summarize swiftly: Twilight puts Edward and Bella together, New Moon wrenches them apart, Eclipse puts them back together and Breaking Dawn completely changes everything.

To summarize is quick and about as cold as Edward's chiseled flawless frame. To read is to savor some terrific storytelling with the warmth of Jacob. The characters are richly drawn and complex, the plot twists aren't always the standard fare — and, quite simply, a girl simply must fall in love with Edward.

Oh, I know there's a Team Jacob, and I understand that camp. I, too, adore him and would gladly have chosen him had Edward not returned. However, Carole and I agreed: Bella could put Nessie on Jacob's back with total confidence that she would be safe for all time, but Bella's first, last and enduring thoughts will be her love with Edward Cullen.

I probably could have walked away from the series after Eclipse. The fourth book was weaker than the others. Stephenie Meyer should have split that book into two novels. Breaking Dawn already is longer than the others (which is saying something). Additionally, so much happens so quickly, and the final storyline of the novel is sufficient for a book in itself.

Breaking Dawn was relentless in its storytelling, and the reader deserves the loving treatment s/he experienced with the first three books. I even took a break of two weeks between the third and fourth novels, and it still didn't help. I fear Meyer suffered from the "Thousand Pound Gorilla Syndrome" and the publisher let her do what she wanted because her formula proved successful. (Note to publisher: be as judicious with the final book as with the first, and readers will love you for it.)

Don't get me wrong: Breaking Dawn was enjoyable. It just was too much.

Carole and I also agreed that Bella's self-deprecation was excessive. First, she droned on to the point of "shut up already!" about how she was so clutzy while Edward was perfect. She perceived herself as a stupid sack of meat in comparison to Edward's chiseled marble perfection. Only when she achieved her goal to be like Edward was she satisfied — and then she was unbearable as a perfect immortal. Thank heavens Corinne and her friends do not mirror that absurd thinking. I hope that's the same with other teen girl readers.

Aside from one spoiler from the Washington Post review (thanks a lot!), I walked into the series blind — and I am glad I did. I hope you did, too, and that it allowed you to savor the surprises, the great tale and the magic of a great epic adventure/romance.

I recommend it to every reader. It's a good read and a wonderful story. Just don't try to consume this generous gift at once. Pace yourself, and take your time. Cleanse your palate between books. Trust me: Meyer won't let you loose your place.

1 comment:

goldmin_k said...

What a great review. I'm also not your typical fan of Meyer's teen vampire romance saga-- I have a niece who in no time will be rdg YA lit. But I'm crazy about these novels! Three books in I can't wait to get my hands on "Breaking Dawn"&, unfortunately, you're not the only person who've indicated that it may be a bit of a disappointment-- sigh.