Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Twilight

TwilightTwilight by Stephanie Meyer

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Lately, I’ve noticed how so many horror novels are being published and marketed toward YA audiences. It’s hard to find a good horror novel for adults, and I’ve even noticed that some of the past big names in horror fiction (Rick Hautala, Nancy Holder, Christopher Golden, and Kathe Koja, to name a few) have made the jump from writing horror for adults to writing horror for YAs. I’m not sure what this says about the genre, but I hope that the trend comes full circle so I can read some impressive adult horror fiction again.

Twilight is another in the long line of vampire novels for YAs. It’s about Bella, a 17 year-old girl who decides to move to Washington state to live with her father. Her mother has remarried after their divorce, and her new husband is on the road, and she wants to spend time with him when he travels. Bella doesn’t want to go, but she feels like she has to, and when she arrives in Washington, she finds herself the center of attention. She’s attracted to Edward, who sits next to her in science class, but his initial response to her is repulsion. The conflict starts there, and it’s not until several strange things happen before Bella starts to entertain the notion of his being a vampire.

I have to say, I found some serious flaws with this book. Part of it, I’ll admit, has to do with my age: Twilight focuses so much on high school and teenagers that a lot of the description became repetitive and grating. I didn’t care much about proms and cliques when I was in high school, so I sure don’t want to have to read this sort of minutia as an adult. Even though I could come to terms with that barrier with this novel, I still found some problems with it.

When Stephen King’s On Writing first came out in 2000, I noticed that he suggests that writers use adverbs sparingly. At the time, I couldn’t understand why; I’ve long been a user of adverbs, because sometimes they have the right sort of punch I want to make a sentence sound just so. I’ve seen other, more popular writers use adverbs to great use, and I even read Neil Gaiman’s defense of them through his blog. With Twilight, though, I now understand why writers should avoid adverbs: You wind up telling more than you show. The author wrote that her characters said something “sharply,” or “coquettishly,” or “insipidly”; she relied too much on that type of description to express a character’s feelings, instead of showing those feelings through dialogue, action, or narrative. It lessened the impact of the story, and created a distance between the reader and the story.

Furthermore, there are two main characters in this story, Edward and Bella. All the other characters (and I do mean all of them) are there just for filler. To the author’s credit, all of them move the story forward, but none of them have a large impact on the heart of the story. They were thin, two-dimensional, and disposable, and gave no further depth to the story.

The pacing was also skewed, partly from the details of high school life, and partly because the story took a long time getting to the action. The significant conflict (other than what existed between Edward and Bella) didn’t even begin until the last fifth of the novel, and then it took off. The action was well done and effective, but it took so darn long to get there, and then it concluded so quickly that I wondered if I hadn’t missed soemthing. It was exciting, nonetheless, but almost came too late in the story.

The dialogue became a bit repetitive, as well, since much of the drama (or melodrama; I’m not clear on the distinction between the two) existed through Edward’s desire for Bella, tempered with his monstrous nature. He spoke continuously about how he struggled to compose himself and his nature in order to be around her, and after a while, I was left thinking, “Yeah, yeah, we get it; get on with it.” Maybe this is because the story is, at its core, a romance, and I have so little experience with those that I wouldn’t know if that’s typical or not; I just know that it didn’t quite do it for me.

Having said all that, though, I have to admit that I found myself compelled to finish the book. Somehow or another, I was caught up in the story enough to have to see what happened next, and whether or not Bella and Edward wound up together. I have to give the author credit for pulling me in like that, but I also have to say that I can get sucked into any drama, given enough time; I think that explains why I can get hooked on some reality TV shows.

I think this book is good for its target audience. I think teenage girls will find a lot of themselves in Bella, and they may have a better time relating to the whole drama between her and Edward. I wouldn’t recommend this for adults, though; I think it’s just too “teenish” to break through to a larger audience.

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June 26, 2006 - Posted by | Reviews, YA Fiction

2 Comments »

  1. ILove this book!!
    and you gave such a good summary.
    the third one is better though…
    well…yeah thought u should kno.

    Comment by Amanda | November 6, 2007 | Reply

  2. As you have noted, Twilight is not horror, but paranormal romance. YA paranormal romance, which explains the lack of sex. And you are the first person to comment on how pacing is skewed in this; I thought I was the only one who thought that.

    Comment by sonia | September 23, 2009 | Reply


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