Thursday, January 01, 2009

"He looks at you like you're something to eat."

I have been brainwashed. And I am not talking about my Facebook obsession any longer. I am talking about my Twilight problem. Yeah, I have a little Twilight problem.

A friend lent me the first book – and shockingly, despite its somewhat repetitive prose and mundane heroine, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Stephenie (note the “e”) Meyers isn’t so adept with normal people, but her vampires and their history, myths, and legends are fascinating.

I sealed the deal by going to see the movie. I was leery of the casting at first, but Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen) warms up and emerges into his role about twenty minutes into the movie, by which time I was crushing so badly I felt like I was 13. His eyes, people! My God, those eyes. Kristin Stewart as Bella is just lovely, and Charlie is perfect, although so much sexier than I anticipated. The bad vampires – Laurent, James, and especially Victoria – are incredibly perfect. I wasn’t sure about Peter Facinelli as Carlisle Cullen, but he pulls it off. His obvious love for his family is what clinches it for me, as well as his remarkable self control. It can’t be an easy feat to work in the ER as a bloodthirsty vampire, and I do like a man with self-restraint. A tortured soul with self-restraint? Even better. All the vampires were fine – Alice was especially adorable, even if Jasper had a bit of that Edward Scissorhands vibe going. The scene when Edward brings Bella home to meet his family, and they are all chopping vegetables and grating cheese to make her an Italian dinner, even though they have no need to eat human food? Priceless. Possibly my favorite scene in the whole movie.

The movie is better than the book (and oh so pretty); the movie somehow makes Bella a real person, not just a whining, obsessive nitwit (which is definitely how I feel about her in the book, even halfway through the second one). And the special effects are quite nice to look at - the scene where Edward shows Bella his super vampire skills is unbelievably sexy. There's something about a man trying to convince you not to love him...

That whole obsessive relationship thing that people squawked about? Doesn’t bother me. I mean, yeah, it’s maybe a little creepy that Edward watches Bella sleep, but she wants him there, and really, what the hell else is he going to do all night? Why the heck not? Aren’t there worse rules to break – such as sucking the blood of humans? Or murdering a bunch of humans to get to the one you want? What did bug me - at least in the book, the movie handled it much more subtly -were all the stupid excuses Bella conjures up to explain all her injuries. It was too reminiscent of excuses one hears for domestic abuse - even though that’s so not what is happening. In fact, Edward is indeed the last character in the book who would ever harm Bella – but also the most likely, should he ever lose control.

Here’s my new take on the Edward Cullen phenomenon: Everybody wants the bad boy. But in this case, the bad boy is also the very, very good boy (I mean, can you get much better than a vampire who is dying to sink his teeth into you but won’t because he loves you?) which makes it exponentially more romantic. (See: Mr. Rochester - if he hadn't been fooled by Bertha's family into marrying someone destined for insanity, he wouldn't be such a romantic figure - he'd just be an asshole.) So Edward's “bad,” (I mean, he’s a vampire for Pete’s sake) but we can love through that because deep down, essentially, he's GOOD.

So would I argue that Twilight is akin to Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? You know, I just might. I read Jane Eyre as an adult, and enjoyed it tremenedously, but it follows the same story arc - only Mr Rochester has a crazy wife, not venomous teeth. Wuthering Heights? Throughly, completely overwrought and full of angsty, melodramatic characters who wander around pointlessly on the moor, with not a whole lot of character development anywhere. How is this so much different than Twilight?

The writing in these classics is obviously so very much better, I am not arguing for the quality of Twilight's writing. Is Meyers a good writer? She’s adequate (although, as my friend A points out correctly, each book does get better - at least the writing does.) But honestly, the book reminds me of nothing quite so much as the long serial novels my best friend in seventh grade and I used to scribble during boring math classes.

My enjoyment of the books and Meyers’ take on her supernatural creations, and my crush on Edward, has been fed by the draft of Midnight Sun available on Meyers’ website; it is a take on the first book from Edward’s perspective, and it enlightens us as to his (admittedly bipolar-esque) behavior, and more of his history. It develops his human side by elaborating on his vampire side, also nicely highlighting Meyers’ strengths.

I am looking forward to reading the next two books, and even more looking forward to going to see the movie again. Which is, as the cashier at the box office informed us, geared to target the 30-something mom demographic. I feel oddly flattered. Or should I be insulted? I don’t care. I’d like a small popcorn, a small Coke, and Edward Cullen, please.

*Mike Newton to Bella, about Edward, "Twilight"


Anonymous said...

I've heard those books are oddly addictive. My teen niece and her best friend wore prom dresses and stood in line for the midnight movie premiere. I don't dare start those books. I'll lose what little sleep time I get as is! (I lack the self restraint to put a book down...)

Stomper Girl said...

I love your take on this, I somehow raced through all 4 books in a blur despite the fact that I really hated the heroine. And why did Meyers keep telling me what Bella ate for breakfast? Like I care? So the books' appeal is all about the sexy Cullens, and now after reading you I am quite keen to see the movie.

Anonymous said...

I think the Wuthering Heights comparison is totally apt, and a reason I disliked the Twilight series (and HATE Wuthering Heights): So many annoying, selfish people acting so self-important and overwrought ALL THE TIME.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your intelligent take on the Twilight phenomenon. I'm glad you enjoyed the movie and are enjoying the books.

We've got teenage girls here, and we're all Twilight fans. It's nice to see my dd, who doesn't usually like to read, inhale a book like I do.

I read the books so fast, I don't remember a lot of the details. I think I'll have to reread them before the second movie comes out.

You don't want to know how many times I've seen the movie, and I'm a little old for the 30-something mom demographic.

Andrea Shockling said...

your friend A wants to know if you're done with book 2 yet...;)

so does this mean you finished "midnight sun"? wasn't the scene with alice and the whole family (after the car accident) remarkable?

so i agree with you about bella in the movie - and how she is much more of a real person and not as whiny - but i also think that happens in the 3rd and 4th books as she matures. what i missed in the movie was getting to know more of individuals in edward's family. even things like alice getting bella all gussied up for prom (or even more - rose and alice doing so in the 'outtakes' on meyers' website) are so indicative of character, but for the sake of time they were glossed over in the movie. i missed them.

which is not to say we're not totally going tuesday?

KPB said...

Oh quit it with the book reviews, accept your fate and come play word twist with me.

Major Bedhead said...

I want to direct everyone who scoffs at me to this post, shake them and say "See? SEE??? I'm NOT wrong, I'm NOT crazy, this is a totally fun, thoroughly engrossing read."

And yeah. Edward Cullen. *siiiiiigh*