Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Twilight Series

I started reading the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer only a week ago. Over the last year or two, I simply haven't understood the obsession that tween- and teen-aged girls have for these books, and I have been even more surprised that some of my own acquaintances and friends have also found themselves addicted to the books. Currently four books have been published in the series: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn; the next book is "on hold indefinitely," according to the author.

Elizabeth started reading the series in mid-December and received the four books of the series for Christmas, either as gifts or purchased with gift cards. And she was nearly as thrilled (and addicted) to them as she has been about the Harry Potter series, an addiction that I also share. So, I finally broke down and started reading the series last Wednesday.

Today, a week later, I have read two books and am two-thirds of the way through the third, Eclipse. I will admit it: I am completely hooked. The books keep me on the edge of my seat with quick action, deeply-realized characters, and a complex plot that twists and turns more than Highway 101 up the California coastline. The writing on occasion gets a little hackneyed, but for what it is supposed to be (an action-packed story), it's fine. We aren't expecting Jane Austen quality, after all.

The books are very hard to put down -- the mysterious plot keeps me turning pages, loathe to close the book even at the end of a chapter. And the characters are so intriguing: Bella, who is physically weak but emotionally and mentally strong; Edward the cold-as-ice vampire who falls in love with her and who wants her to remain human for her own sake because he hates being a "monster" who must kill to survive; Jacob who also morphs into a horror-movie character and is also in love with Bella, but whom Bella loves only as a best friend.

Then the other "vegetarian" vampires who hunt animals rather than people are very interesting: Dr. Carlisle Cullen, his "wife" Esme, and their "adopted children" Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, and especially little Alice -- all of these had no choice when they became vampires and don't understand Bella's decision to become like them. Then there are the "other" vampires, the "non-vegetarians" who feed on human flesh. Battles rage between these normal vampires and the peace-loving Cullen "family." The Cullens are forced to work together with Jacob and the other "special" Quileute tribe (I don't want to give anything away) in order to protect the humans of Forks, their town, especially Bella and her father, Charlie.

The movie version of the first book is pretty good -- it follows the book fairly well and definitely picks up the tension well, even if it loses much of Bella's dry sense of humor and innate intelligence. The next movie, New Moon, is due out in November of this year, and Eclipse in June of 2010. I saw the film version before reading the books, and thus Bella will always be Kristen Stewart from the movie for me and Edward always Rob Pattinson (a.k.a. Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter films). But I can handle that. In certain ways, I think it works just fine, in fact.

If you are a lover of fast-paced mysteries and/or deep characterization, then the Twilight novels may surprise you as much as they did me. I can't wait to get back into Eclipse and see what happens as the big battle for Forks (the human town near the Quileute reservation) nears. And I also can't wait to get a good night's sleep and not stay up far too late into the night reading.

UPDATE @ 9:00 p.m.: Finished Eclipse and will be starting Breaking Dawn tonight. Elizabeth has lent her copy to a friend, but fortunately, the local library had a copy. And as it doesn't belong to E (who is extremely picky about her books and wouldn't let me read them in the Jacuzzi because of possible steam damage), I can read it tonight in the spa! See ya. L.A.T.E.R.

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