I don’t normally write about the books I read. I read a lot and what I read really runs the gamut. I have been known to jump from Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series to Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples to the biography of Ingvar Kamprad the founder of Ikea to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. There really is no telling what I will read next.
Six months ago a good friend loaned me the first two books of the Twilight series. I was mildly intrigued but it fell to the bottom of my “Must Read” pile. After all, it was a series written for pre-teen/teenage girls. I figured that I would save it for a time that I was REALLY bored or in dire need of light entertainment.
In the subsequent months, many women I know fell prey to what I call “Twilight Mania”. They would rave on and on about how they read the entire series in the span of a few days. They found it THAT engrossing. Crazier still, these women were admitting to crushes on the main character Edward Cullen. Some were buying T-shirts and other paraphanelia that said “I love Edward”. Lunches were being arranged to discuss the books. Facebook profiles advertised their love of the books and/or the main character. Blog entries were written exclaiming how the books are the greatest ever read, etc., etc. There were others that anxiously awaited the the premiere of the movie based on the book. These are grown women, all over the age of 25. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was missing out on some fantastic party.
Six months later, I have not finished the first book. Let me be more correct. I cannot finish the book. The writing is horrific. Try as I might, I cannot get past it. Take every gawd-awful cliche from a 1980s Harlequin romance novel, add the vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure of a teenage girl trying to sound adult and you have a Twilight novel. Don’t believe me? Here’s a random excerpt from Chapter 11.
“The hour seemed very long. I couldn’t concentrate on the movie – I didn’t even know what subject it was on. I tried unsuccessfully to relax, but the electric current that seemed to be originating from somewhere in his body never slackened. Occasionally I would permit myself a quick glance in his direction, but he never seemed to relax, either. The overpowering craving to touch him also refused to fade, and I crushed my fists safely against my ribs until my fingers were aching with the effort. “
Seriously? Hundreds of pages of this drivel. I just can’t do it. Before you accuse me of being unromantic, I’ll have you know that I bawled like a baby when I read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. There are other romance books that have moved me to tears, but the point is that I am not devoid of emotion.
Aside from the horrific writing, the underlying theme bothers me. Girl meets boy, loses herself, gives up her life to be with Boy and once with Boy, Girl has meaning and purpose. Sara from Stinkerpants Design does a MUCH better job of articulating this on her blog. You can read her explanation here. I know this book is meant for teenage girls. This is another reason why I find the books that much more bothersome. Adults can think for themselves and appreciate fiction for what it is. How many teenage girls are going to come away with the idea that it’s okay to lose yourself for love? The answer is too many.
For those that defend the books and liken them to the Harry Potter series, save your breath. They’re not the same. J.K. Rowling can actually write. Author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez succinctly describes the difference between Twilight and Harry Potter in her blog. You can read that here.
Bottom line, skip the Twilight series if you’re a feminist or bibliophile or any combination of the two. There are hundreds of other worthwhile books just clamoring to be read. If you need a recommendation, just ask me. I’ll be the lone party-pooper sitting in the corner.