Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Format: Hardcover, 498 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publication Date: October 5, 2005
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance, Vampire Romance

Although I have read many vampire romances, both for adults and young adults, none of them have moved me as deeply as the books of The Twilight Saga, the first of which remains my favorite.  The poignant, bittersweet tone of the writing, the wonderfully depicted characters, indeed, the story itself, have made me a lifelong fan!  

Isabella Swan, usually known as Bella, leaves her beloved, sunny Phoenix for what she sees as the depressing, rain-drenched atmosphere of Forks, a town in the state of Washington.  She's doing this so that her newly-remarried mother, Renee, can spend more time traveling with her husband, Phil, a minor league baseball player.  Bella will be staying with her father, Charlie, who happens to be the town's police chief.

On her first day of school, Bella meets Edward, whose initial reaction to her is one of hostility.  This puzzles her.  After all, Edward doesn't know her from Eve.  Little does she realize how she has really affected this boy she is already mysteriously drawn to....

Later in the story, we meet Jacob, a young Native American, who lives on the nearby Quileute reservation.   During a conversation with Bella at a beach outing with her classmates, he hints that Edward and his family might be the original "Cold Ones", with whom Jacob's grandfather established a treaty, many years in the past.  These creatures turn out to be vampires, a fact Bella verifies when she does an Internet search.  She then realizes that the Cullens are, indeed, "the Cold Ones" Jacob had told her about.

Once she discovers the truth, she also discovers that she is madly in love with Edward, and that he is just as fiercely attracted to her.  Throughout the book, they strive to deal with their unusual romance.

One of the most endearing aspects of the novel is Edward's strong family ties.  I especially love Carlisle and Alice, although Emmett is definitely a blast!  Jasper remains very enigmatic and mysterious, while Rosalie actively dislikes Bella, thus making me dislike her.  Esme is very sweet and nurturing, and immediately starts to love Bella like a daughter.

Carlisle, as the family founder, is the one responsible for the ethical code the Cullens follow.  They refuse to feed from humans, preferring to hunt animals instead.  Edward jokingly refers to his family as 'vegetarians', but this is a very serious life choice they have made, one that sets them apart from most other vampires.

We also meet James, Victoria, and Laurent, nomadic vampires whose fateful encounter with the Cullens sets off the novel's drama, and highlights even more the strong love between Bella and Edward.

The romantic highlight of the book is the famous "meadow scene", in which Edward shows Bella why exactly why he and his family prefer to live in rainy, clouded-over Forks.  When he removes his shirt, his skin sparkles brilliantly in the sunlight (it was one of those rare sunny days in the area).  This is exactly what Stephenie Meyer saw in the dream that developed into this book.  This is something I've never encountered before in vampire romance -- a vampire that sparkles in the sunlight.  Instead of the usual avoidance of sunlight, because it will destroy them, Meyer's vampires avoid it because the sparkling will reveal them for what they are to the humans.  Although this feature of the novel has been criticized as silly by some readers, I totally love it!  It's not only original, but very creative, as well.

It's in the meadow that Edward first declares his love to Bella, with the famous line, "And so the lion fell in love with the lamb."  This is very beautifully poetic.  Indeed, Edward is an old-fashioned romantic (he is, after all, more than 100 years old, although he appears to be about 17) who woos Bella with intense gazes full of longing, and lines evocative of classic English literature.  In today's cynical, crass world of casual sex, I found this to be very refreshing indeed.  It also enchanted me, transporting me to a fantasy world in which true love does really matter, and lovers want to be with each other forever... Is this maudlin?  Only for those with not an ounce of romance and poetry in their veins!  To me, it was sheer magic!

Toward the middle and end of the book, Bella repeatedly asks Edward to turn her into a vampire, so she can stay with him forever.  He refuses, claiming that this will put her soul in jeopardy.  It is very touching to see how each is concerned about the other's welfare, although of course it is Edward who bears the major responsibility for keeping Bella safe.

I simply cannot say enough about this beautiful, exquisitely romantic novel.  It has immortalized the love between "the lion and the lamb".  This book is much, much more than just 'an entertaining read'.  It is a lyrical tribute to the purity and steadfastness of true love.   

I have already read this novel three times, and know that I shall read it yet again, and again... for a long time to come!



MY RATING: 





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Stephenie Meyer




4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review! Twilight is a very strange book for me, when I read it (I've read it twice), I'm definitely completely enthralled by the story, but then you hear all of the negativity about it (bad writing, horrible characters for role-models), and while I can't completely disagree with the negativity (though I think it's way too harsh, the writing isn't horrible, it's definitely easy to get lost in... it's just that it's not poetry).

    But no one can really disagree that Stephenie Meyer has done a fantastic job of getting readers to feel like they're part of the story, that's why I think it's done so well! And you really have to respect her for it. Not many authors can do that as well as her.

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    1. Hi, Rin!

      Oh, what a lovely comment!! I really appreciate that you took the time to explain your own feelings about this book, instead of merely writing "Great review!" Lol.

      I've always been baffled by all the negativity. For some reason, I have encountered it most on the Internet, especially on the blogosphere. A lot of bloggers don't like The Twilight Saga! What you say is very, very true, though --Stephenie Meyer HAS done a fantastic job of pulling readers into her world, and keeping them there, spellbound. Every time I have read this book, as well as the others in the Saga, I have felt that I was part of the story, that vampires and werewolves are real, that Edward and Bella really exist and love each other with a love more powerful than any obstacle thrown against them!!

      So I just ignore the negativity. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Twilight Saga, and most especially this first book!! NO ONE will change my feelings about these books!! EVER. In fact, I have just finished re-reading this one -- in Spanish!

      You're very welcome for the review! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. And thank you not only for your participation in my giveaway, but also for a very thought-provoking comment!! :)

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    2. P.S. One more thing: the writing is NOT horrible AT ALL. And yes, it IS poetic at times. Definitely!! It's just that nowadays (this started many years ago), it's cool to be cynical about life. People criticize these books VERY unfairly, because they're clean, and uphold high values. They call Edward and Bella's relationship "cheesy". They say that these books have "Mary Sue" plots. Not so!! So I will just go on ignoring these negative critics. Thanks again for your comment!! :)

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  2. You did read Midnight sun, didn't you =p ? (I couldn't find the review so I just post this message to make sure you knew about it)

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