By Ekta R. Garg
July 17, 2013
Rated: Borrow it
Three or four years ago my sister—a decided non-reader—told me about a series of books she’d read called Twilight. It was about a girl who falls in love with a vampire and a werewolf who added to the drama by forming the third point of a love triangle. My sister added a disclaimer that the author had intended the books for young adult readers, so some of the overall story would seem a little melodramatic for someone my age. Despite the disclaimer, though, she still encouraged me to read the books.
But my sister is not a reader. At all. And yet she has now recommended not one but two series to me (I’ll address the second one in my next “Books of Hype” entry.)
Second, the whole idea of vampires made me cock my head to the side and say, “Huh? Vampires? Really?”
Third, even though I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter, I’d never really looked toward the young adult genre for my reading pleasure. So I didn’t know if I would like reading something aimed, in its writing, at an audience younger than me. Could I feel that same level of satisfaction—that same thrill, that same delight—that I get from my favorite adult books?
Still, my sister’s description of the books did intrigue me. Due to my life commitments and my professional aspirations, I didn’t get around to reading Twilight. But one day as I browsed the used books sale in the library, I saw the first book of the series on sale for 50 cents. So I figured I’d give it a try. Worse comes to worst, I’d lose two quarters.
I read Twilight, the first book in the series, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I checked New Moon out of the library and raced through it. When I began Eclipse I had high expectations, which dimmed somewhat by the time I approached (and finished) Breaking Dawn.
I really liked Twilight as a concept and in its writing. Although it annoyed me how much Edward glared at Bella in the beginning, I found myself as charmed by Edward as Bella. For the first time in a long time I found in Edward a character with a great deal of nobility. I’ve read characters who exhibit bravery and love and heroism, but many characters don’t actively exhibit nobility. I really liked that about Edward.
Twilight had a simple premise: Edward saves Bella. In New Moon Bella saves Edward. But I found the stories of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn harder to enjoy because their purposes didn’t come across as clearly as the first two books. I felt like in New Moon and Breaking Dawn author Stephenie Meyer began treading water a little bit to give her time to develop Jacob’s character and to give Edward and Bella an active external conflict to add an extra level of depth to their relationship and their entire situation. To me the climaxes of New Moon and Breaking Dawn served as backdrops for conversations that Edward, Bella, and Jacob needed to have with one another and other characters to lead them from one situation to the next.
Still, after reading the books I completely understand their appeal and why they turned into such a major phenomenon. Meyer took a somewhat nightmarish, sometimes comical idea—that of vampires—and turned it into a milestone of twenty-first-century literature. She made the old idea of these nocturnal creatures hip again, and no matter how many people write or make TV shows or movies Meyer will always possess the distinction of setting the trend. Much like Edward and Bella’s relationship in their world set a trend between vampires and humans.
What the ratings mean:
Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection. It’s definitely worth it!
Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.
Bypass it–Free time is precious. Don’t spend it on this book!