Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Twilight Series

When Twilight first hit the shelves, I read it all those years ago, before New Moon came out, before it was a bestseller, before movie rights and screaming teenage fans. And you know what I thought? "Meh." It didn't make me want to rush out and buy the rest of the series.
Now obviously I'm wary of criticizing other people's work. I know what its like to toil over words and sentences and paragraphs.
The reason for this post is because I recently went to see New Moon and I must admit, without hearing it from Bella's point of view, I was much more interested in the storyline. So I borrowed the last two books off my sister-in-law because I wanted to find out what happens, even though she (and a couple of other people I know) warned me not to because Breaking Dawn in particular, is not great. I'm 3/4 of the way through Eclipse now, and it really is beginning to drag on me. I think once again, its partly due to Bella's character, but also to do with what I call the Harry Potter phenomenon, which I'll explain in a moment.
There are a couple of reasons I don't like Bella's character and partly, Edward's. For one, I actually really want Bella to end up with Jacob, even though I know that's not how the story is going to go. I also find it a bit annoying the way Bella just decided she was going to be a vampire, in detriment to anything else. She's so willing to give up her whole life, family and friends to become immortal, yet balks at the idea of marrying Edward first.
I read a paragraph that really struck me as wrong last night and cemented my decision not to like her. Despite knowing that when she turns, she'll most likely lose control and kill people to feed, she all but dismisses the idea, even though from the start of the book, she's been torn up about names listed in the news of people in Seattle killed by a group of newborn vampires. I think the sentiment was something along the lines of, if it meant being with Edward, she would just deal with it, or whatever. And it struck me as very selfish and a tad unrealistic. And did I mention extremely selfish? Like, hey, you five people have to die just so I can be immortal and live with my high school sweetheart for eternity.
It also annoys me how good she is at ignoring the feelings she has for Jake and won't even consider the possibility of any other life when she's only eighteen and can't really know what she wants, plus she goes on about how mature she is, when I find her actions quite immature and ignorant. People, in particular Edward, are trying to convince her to wait so she's sure its what she really wants, but she's hung up on getting older and won't listen to them. In this respect, I guess it makes her a pretty typical teenager.
So though I'm nowhere near finishing it, and I will finish it despite the fact I'm not enjoying it, I'll be interested to see how much worse it gets in the last book, which a couple of my friends expressly warned me not to read.
Ah yes, the Harry Potter phenomenon. This is where a newly published author hits the jackpot and makes it big on their first book/series out. As subsequent books are released, the publisher knows no matter what's inside those pages, people are going to buy it and read it because its not an author or title any more, its a brand. Therefore, it is my belief (and someone feel free to correct me if they know better and I'm wrong here) that the editors only do the most cursory revision of the manuscript and publish it basically as the author has written in. This results in pages of scenes and conversations that either don't need to be in there, or could have been condensed down into a few succinct paragraphs and probably had more impact. Which is why I never finished reading the last few Harry Potter books, there just seemed to be pages of rambling I found hard to wade through. As it is with Eclipse, while pages and chapters are going by, nothing really seems to be happening as Bella flits back and forth between Edward and Jacob, determinedly wanting to become a vampire while at the same time, still too scared to make the huge commitments. In my opinion, this book could have used a good pruning to weed out repetitive or unnecessary scenes.
So I never quite understood why these books were as big a success as they ended up being. But that's just how I feel and obviously I'm not in the majority here.

3 comments:

Augustina Peach said...

I agree with you about the "Harry Potter" syndrome. When I read the first book in the series, I delighted in how every scene seemed to pull its weight. Once the series became popular, though, I thought there was such a rush to get the books out into the market that the "editing" was probably nothing more than proofreading.

I haven't read Twilight yet, and your post doesn't make me any more eager to do it!

Greta Marlow

Catherine said...

Oh, man, I loathed that last book so bad I literally gave it away. I don't know who ended up with it, but I'm pretty sure they'll have passed it on by now too. Just terrible. Which is something I feel bad saying, because Stephanie Meyer obviously put a lot of heart and crap into it, but it did not work for me at all. None of that series did (Kill Bella! Then Edward!), but that book especially.

For Harry Potter, there is a lot of waffle - most of it in book five - but in retrospect, it's what makes the books good. It's world building and shows a lot of character. Sure thirty pages of cleaning sounds boring, but when you get to the end and you realise everything that's actually happening in that cleaning and it's extraordinary. There's no such thing in Twilight. Which isn't to say there is a bit of Harry Potter phenomenon syndrome going on. I'm talking too much.

Kill Bella!

Cathryn Brunet said...

I have girlfriends who are obsessed with the Twilight series and keep begging me to read it but I can't bring myself to fork out money for something I'm not convinced I'll enjoy.

If someone loans me a copy of Twilight I'll probably read it, but as it stands I have way too many other books on my to-be-read pile without adding more to it.