Monday, November 24, 2008
The Twilight Saga
I heard about the Twilight books some time ago: teenage girl has a vampire boyfriend.
I thought the idea sounded silly.
Then I heard the stories were remarkably chaste--and the vampire boyfriend was a "good" vampire who only ate animals, not people. And the author, Stephanie Meyer, was a Mormon mother with three sons, not some zany with a point to prove.
Then I heard they were making a movie. And that the books had sold over 17 MILLION copies (that's a lot of books).
Then one of my (adult) girlfriends read all four books and just kept gushing about them. I mean GUSHING. So last month at our book club I suggested the first book, TWILIGHT, as a possible title. Never mind that we usually read books that are a little "higher brow." I thought it might be nice to see what all the fuss was about, and the other ladies agreed.
Well. I'm here to testify that I could not put these books down.
I read the first in a couple of days. I read the second in one day--at long stretches, where I hardly got out of my chair. As I write this, I'm into the third book and I've just come from the movie, and I'm pretty sure that by the time you read this, I'll be done with the fourth book and probably starting the first book over again.
Why do these books fascinate? Several reasons I can see. First, they are filled with tension. Second, the author absolutely NAILS what it's like to be a teenage girl. The protagonist is clumsy, introspective, feels like a fish-out-of-water, daydreams, and comes from divorced parents. She's Everygirl. The love interest, Edward the Vampire, is NOT the bad boy dark angel he's been often been assumed to be. He's protective to a fault, chivalrous, caring, intelligent, and beautiful in face and form. Not hard to see why the girls are swooning, huh? He's superman, and he's always there to swoop down and rescue Bella, the protagonist.
One note: these books are NOT demonic. The "otherworldly" elements are confined to vampires and werewolves--no evil spirits, demons, etc. I don't like stories that fictionalize things that are real. I don't mind stories that fictionalize fantasy.
Furthermore, the "I want to bite you, I'm drawn to bite you, but I can't because it would hurt you" is clearly a metaphor for sexual temptation. And the way Edward treats Bella with tenderness and respect is quite noble.
If your teenage daughter hasn't read these, might be a good idea for you to read them together and talk about the books. Does your daughter want an "Edward" or a "Jacob?" (She'll know what you mean.) The books even have discussion questions at the end for further reflection.
Caveat: I haven't read the fourth book yet, and I understand that in it (trying not to give a spoiler) . . . well, let's just say the relationship deepens in a mature but appropriate way. This may not be a volume you'd want your younger girls to read. That's a decision only you can make. I can't say more because I haven't read it yet.
These books are impossible to put down--and I rarely say that about any book. The adventures are adolescent, but they've made me feel seventeen again . . . and that's not an easy thing to do. :-)
The movie? Like all movies, if you read the book first, you'll be able to "fill in the pieces" as you watch and you should find it an enjoyable experience. I would definitely recommend reading first.
So--who else has read them? What did you think?