Jen posted a review at 2009-02-16 01:45:42.
This book was on my reading list as one of those that I would get around to eventually. When a friend said this series topped her fantasy favorite list (even higher than Harry Potter or His Dark Materials) it became next on my list since we seem to enjoy the same types of novels. I sought it out and really, really wanted to enjoy it.
After the first dozen chapters or so I was unimpressed. The characters are shallow, action is lacking (it doesn't pick up until the last 1/3 of the book), and Meyer's writing style irritated me to no end. Don't get me wrong, I was intrigued by the story, which is a good one. I give Meyer credit for her originality, but perhaps it would have been better told from another point of view. First person POV can be extremely difficult to read if the writer is not, shall we say, good at it. Meyer's first person POV writing comes across as choppy and doesn't flow well. I'm used to authors like Anita Diamant (The Red Tent) writing in exemplary first person. Meyer's is simply flawed. She could have used this POV to her advantage and really molded the character of Bella into something amazingly complex, but Bella is the stereotypical insecure teenager. The only thing non-stereotypical about her is her exaggerated clumsiness, which becomes increasingly irksome as the novel progresses.
I was also hoping for some more complexity in the character of Edward. One would think a century-year old vampire would be far wiser and more rounded than this superficial, "look-at-me-I'm-a-Greek-god" hottie. Even Superman has more weaknesses than Edward, who can lift cars, play piano flawlessly, swoon every girl in the room, etc. Edward's seemingly only weakness is Bella, and not even Bella herself, but her smell. Some would say his weakness, of course, is that he must overcome his "need to feed" on every human around him, but apparently that wasn't an issue until Bella moved to town.
Their relationship is so incredibly dysfunctional it made me want to chuck the book across the room. It can be summed up like this: Edward gets angry at nearly every word Bella says, Bella grows more insecure around this godlike being, Bella whines and falls down, Edward saves her life from her exaggerated clumsiness and stupidity (which makes one wonder where common sense is for this supposed "honor student"), and then Bella gets angry at Edward--they apologize and make up (with some sensuous, cold vampire caressing on occasion). That is the gist of the story. There is no complexity in the relationship. I was waiting to see if the relationship would develop based on conversation, similar interests, hobbies, "normal" things--but Edward only loves Bella for her smell and Bella only loves Edward for his statuesque features and his ability to "dazzle" her.
By the time the action picked up toward the end of the book, it was over too soon--just when things were getting interesting. Usually a good novel will have a sense of balance between character developments, plot establishment, and climax. Twilight draws out a slow-moderate paced plot with very little character development and a whirlwind climax that ends before it seems to have even begun.
In this one instance I must disagree with my friend with regards to Twilight. It cannot possibly hold a candle to the writings of Rowling or Pullman, both masters of originality in creative children/young adult fantasy writing. It is a light read that doesn't require much thought (maybe this is where today's young adult fiction is headed?) and it will irritate anyone who is used to reading higher quality fiction.
With all of this said, I do intend to finish the series. It wasn't so incredibly awful that I refuse to read a single sentence more. It's reminiscent of fan fiction--a lower quality novel with a good, original plot that can occupy a few hours of my time.