Sunday, January 4, 2009

Twilight

I read Twilight in two days. Two wonderful days in which I was transported to Forks, Washington and into the world of vampires. The weather in my own world was grey, drippy, and gloomy---basically perfect reading weather. It was so easy to lose myself in this book.

I'm pretty much the last person to have read Twilight, of that I'm aware. So I'm not really going to go into all the reasons why I liked this book. Simply put, it was just a really good story that I didn't want to stop reading until I was finished.

But I will tell you what kinda bugged me about it. More specifically, what bugged me about the author. I'm one of those nerds that reads every part of the book. I read the Table of Contents, I read the acknowledgements, I even read the Library of Congress cataloguing information at the front of the book. So of course I read the author bio at the back. Big mistake. Because then I looked up more information about the author on the internet and there is something about her that bugs me.

Stephenie Meyer is a practicing Mormon, which is a fact I couldn't care less about other than how it relates to the story. And I think it has a lot to do with the story.

In case you've been living in a cave, the two main characters are Bella and Edward. Edward is a vampire. A good vampire. Bella is a regular girl. Bella and Edward fall in love but obviously are met with obstacles they have to overcome. It all makes for a really good, compelling story. But I was somewhat pissed by a conversation that happens between Bella and Edward a little more than half way through the book.

They are discussing sex and why they can never have it. Edward tells Bella that she is too "fragile" and "breakable." He says, "If I was too hasty...if for one second I wasn't paying enough attention, I could reach out, meaning to touch your face, and crush your skull by mistake."

Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal. But then I think about Stephenie Meyer. She doesn't watch R rated movies. So I'm betting that premarital sex between two teenagers (well, technically Edward is 100 and something) is out of the question in her book. This was about the time I turned to the back cover, stared at the picture of Stephenie Meyer and said, "It really feels like you're preaching to me Stephenie. And I despise that."

There are two thoughts I had when I realized that Bella and Edward were never going to have sex in this book. One being that I'm not real pleased with the way that Stephenie portrays sex as leading to death. And two, I think it's a very convenient way for Stephenie to not have to write about sex. As an author, I don't think she challenged herself at all and she certainly didn't leave her comfort zone.

Having said that, I want to make something clear. I don't go out of my way to look for sex in books. I don't read sexy romance novels and generally, if sex isn't there, I don't miss it. But I had always viewed vampires as sexual in nature, so I was expecting a little more. Also, I'm certainly not saying that every teenager should be having sex with the first vampire that they meet. I just don't want a lesson in abstinence from my romance novel. If I want to read about why sex before marriage is wrong, I'll go out to the backyard and get my bible out of the shed.

Despite the fact that I thought there was a small something missing from it, I really did love this book. I know I'm repeating myself, but it was such a great story to lose myself in. It's definitely a book I want to re-read. In fact, once I return this well worn copy back to Dawn, I'll probably buy one of my own. I would love to be a part of this world again. I'll just have to find my way out when I want to have sex.

13 comments:

Mari said...

Finally, someone who gets it. I like Forks. I like Alice. I like the idea of this vampire "family" that is cobbled together, and the other clans around the world. I don't like the religious parallels, and the fact that Edward is a control freak, patriarchal father figure and that Bella is a mindless pushover!

Tammie said...

i hear ya mari. i really dont like the way bella is always needing to be saved...i think there is something creepy about it.

plus, the more i read about the author, the more i find things that bother me. she says in one interview that she made bella be a "good girl" because that's who she was growing up and all her friends were "good boys" and "good girls."

i hate that kinda garbage.
and i think its a crock of bull. i also grew up with a lot of religious "good" kids and appearances are very deceiving.

but like i said, i liked the book and it really did take over my life for 2 days, i could have done without the religious undertones though.

kraftykash said...

WOW! You really do look "into" books. I am going to have to use your idea and read more books this year as a resolution. I usually dont like to say resolutions outloud, in case I dont follow through. :)

Daphne said...

I am two minds of this series... one the one hand, I totally loved it and just forgave all the stuff that I thought was tiresome or Mormony. I kind of think, well, if you look at the author, then of course, this is the book she would write. And I can't fault her for that. It's HER book. I also sort of *liked* that the characters couldn't have sex. I thought that was unusual and I sort of appreciated the extended longing and tension, you know?

On the other hand, if you take a step back and look at the construct of the story, then of course, Edward is totally controlling and Bella is a damsel, and it's completely backwards and silly.

I think ultimately, I liked it because it felt like a really good fantasy -- you know, it's the sort of thing that a teenage girl would dream up, with convenient answers to why she couldn't do things that scared her (sex), and the answers to all her problems arrived in the form of the most beautiful man in the whole world. Certainly there are faults with that vision, and certainly there are aspects of it that I vehemently don't agree with in my own life, but I have been that teenage girl, completely out of my head in love with someone, and that is EXACTLY how it felt, and I rather enjoyed being in that space again.

So. Completely absorbing, flawed, and somewhat disturbing if you take a step back -- but wonderful anyway. :)

melissa s. said...

love your critique. despite the hype, i haven't read twilight yet but i'll move it up on my reading list. and on a similar-ish note, i gave up eating In & Out Burger in CA when i noticed some scripture references on the bottom of their soda cups. preach-y fast food is not for me.

Tammie said...

daphne: i really did have to keep reminding myself that this is a teenage girl we're talking about and i did have to go back in time a bit and put myself in that spot again. once i was able to so that, i enjoyed the book more.
and (as much as i hate to admit it)you're right, convenient answers and a man to *save* me all the time probably were things at the top of my list of wants as a 12year old.

and as much as i hated the religious aspects of the book, i also think that the 12 year old me might not have caught them...i probably wouldn't have even been aware it was promoting abstinence.

i definitely agree with you that it is flawed but wonderful anyway.

melissa s: i do think you should read it. whether you love it or hate it, i guarantee you won't be able to put it down.

Bridge said...

i am the last one, I have not read it and everyone is asking me to. I need to.
i love a book that you lose yourself in and read fast!

Heather said...

Tammie- crackin me up with your "out in the shed".... good laugh.

You totally nailed it and I didn't even read it. But my 12 year old sis and 11 year old brother (then 22 year old sis had to read it too) and my super-Catholic mother all drooled over it, shutting down for days at a time so they could devour each one. I knew there had to be a catch. I only had to hear a little from them to figure out the jig. I knew it would be a good read if my over rebellious 22 yr old sis could stomach it, but convinced there was some kinda religious message if my "keep-them-as-sheltered-as-possible" mother actually approved. That sure helped me resist the temptation to neglect the 1 and 2 year old for a couple days reading. I'll add it to my list of things to do when they can feed themselves and wipe their own butts, next to my entry for "once per day showers" : )
I love getting to hear about all the great books you read, I'm sure you're saving me a ton of wasted time on crappy books, scoping all the good ones for me!

Elizabeth said...

Ha ha. I can't believe how many conversations I've had about this book -- all with people who don't usually read young adult fiction.

Here's my take: I had alot of problems with Twilight, even though I love the experience of reading it (and I liked the movie too). As far as the sex goes -- as a feminist, the whole sex=death thing is really annoying. But I think the lack of sex is part of what makes the vampire myth so sexy. He wants her sooooo bad, but they can't do it. The only thing holding him back is that he holds her life so dear. That's kind of hot, no?

As far as the Mormon thing goes, I think it is a handy way for her to avoid the sex talk, but I also think that graphic sex scenes would be inappropriate in a novel aimed at the 12-17 set. Part of what makes these books so attractive to teenagers is that there's a hint of sex there (which is exciting), but they don't have to actually deal with real life sex (which, to many girls, is scary). So it works out for everyone. Hooray!

Anyway, that's my take.

Tammie said...

elizabeth: i can see why you would say the lack of sex is kinda hot. i think if i didn't know the author is a mormon, i wouldn't feel like i was getting a religious lesson. im reading New Moon right now and im trying to not look up any info about stephenie meyer. i really dont want to know more about her since it ruins the books for me somewhat.

as for sex scenes being too graphic for 12-17...possibly. but when i was that age, my friends and i were reading vc andrews books, which were way filthier. i guess it's just a different time now though and the world has changed somewhat.

thanks for popping over here by the way. :)

thanks everyone for your comments on the book. you've all given me different perspectives and i love hearing your take on the story.

Jessie Earth Momma said...

T-
I'm still reading it. And I have overheard that our craving for intimacy between our characters, will be, um, fulfilled.

Peace,
J
Ps: down with sexual repression!

hester said...

So... I popped into the American Bookstore today in my lunch hour and checked out the first Twilight book to see what all the fuss is about. (We do have American books in normal Australian bookstores, it's just that I was walking past this one and I love it). I didn't have a spare 20 bucks so I'm going to borrow a copy and join the rest of the human race.

Layrayski said...

i haven't read the book either. I'm thinking that I'd finish watching all the movies about the twilight series before reading the books. I tend not to enjoy the movies when I've read the books already. Example: Harry Potter.

Oh and its very hard to get a copy of this book from where I am.