Thursday, 29 January 2009

Book Report: Twilight Saga

Is the apple a symbol of forbidden knowledge, or evil stepmothers?

At first there was confusion. I saw posters for Twilight before I knew what it was. I thought it was True Blood or something like True Blood. Then I found out it was a movie. I decided I wanted to see it.

But I didn't see it. I had dinner with Deb, instead. She told me the movie is from a book by the same name. In fact, Twilight is one of four books about a vampire love story. And everyone I knew was reading them.

Okay, two people. And they both raved about the books. I was already reading a love story* at the time (unusual for me, I generally read actiony/thriller type stuff or Jasper Fford) and didn't have room for another just then. But not too long ago I was faced with a long day of airplane rides--three in total--and bought Twilight on a whim for something to read on the planes.

You don't actually have to read Bronte to get it.

Two weeks later I was finished all four books. Everything took a back seat to Twilight. I did somehow manage to get my school readings done--I'd grudgingly lay my book aside to learn about one thing or another. But Twilight was always in the back of my mind. The last time a book took over so completely was Harry Potter, and Neverwhere before that.

Twilight is, in many ways, unlike either of those. Yeah, it shares a lot with 'em, too, but there's a certain amount of preachy-ness in the Twilight saga. Unfortunately, it kind of put a bad taste in my mouth and tainted my enjoyment.

Good taste.

A short list of the unsolicited moral and ethical lessons in the Twilight saga:
  • swearing is unbecoming
  • sex is okay as long as you love each other
  • pre-marital sex is not okay even if you love each other
  • you must never leave your family even if you think it's the right thing to do, because it isn't
  • the Catholic Church is a patriarchal, power-hungry institution masquarading as a benificent orgainization of like-minded individuals
  • all your problems can be solved by reading the right Shakespear play or Bronte novel
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy Twilight. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It's a story about freaking vampire love. I mean, come on! But in an effort to maintain a certain amount of wholesomeness and to keep her target readership between 11 and 15 years-old, Stephanie Meyer misses out on an opportunity to write a really compelling story.

At least, that's my opinion. Four best-sellters in a row will tell me I'm wrong, but I just think there's room for so much more. J. K. Rowling was killing people all over the palce, good and bad; Harry Potter's a complete asshole for a good part of the series; the line between good and evil was sometimes ill-defined, and her books were meant for a much younger readership.

She solves mysteries!

The overwhelming popularity of Twilight marks what I think is a resurgeance in vampire fictions. Though True Blood doesn't cast quite as large a net as Twilight, its success will likely help move vampires into the top spot, pushing out the zombies who've been the favoured monster for a while now. There's a cycle to these things, anyway. Anne Rice, Coppola's Dracula, and Buffy were all roughly contemporaneous. Then Romero came back from the dead. And now it's the vampires turn again.

Makes me wonder if there's a conspiracy to keep werewolves down. Dogsoldiers is an excellent film but never got the credit or the audience it deserves.

*read: romance novel

Acknowledgments: I'd like to thank my roommate who loaned me books 2-4, and especially that last one because he wasn't finished reading it. I'd like to thank Deb who encouraged me to read these books to begin with and, finally, I'd like to thank Mina who was in no way helpful when she said I'd start reading the whole saga all over again as soon as I was finished.

Half man, half vampire. All man. Wait. What?

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