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. 

Okay. 

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? 

~~Angie

12 comments:

Kathy said...

My 17 year old daughter and 18 year old son were talking about them last night and I'd not heard of them before so I'm glad to hear you say they are good and don't have the dark stuff in them,

17 million books? Wouldn't mind those royalties at all.

Smilingsal said...

I won a copy of the first one in a giveaway, and it's on my TBR shelf. I'll get to it soon.

Christy Lockstein said...

My 15 year old daughter and I went to see the movie last night, and we both loved it! She's read the series many, many times, and I've read it through as well. We are both Jacob fans, and we disagree about the final book. I hated it and felt that the author violated her readers' trust, not because of the more mature themes, but because the characters act out of character. My daughter agrees that it isn't as good as the rest of the series, and she won't reread it as often as she does the other titles, but she's ok with it.

It's been a good series for the two of us to bond over. On the way to the movie, we talked about how bad we expected it to be and how Robert Pattison looks nothing like Edward. On the way home, we raved about how amazing it was, and how he was fantastic in the role. LOL

Shauna said...

I thought a few of the plot elements in the last book were just silly, but I liked the series overall, especially the first book. They do really pull you in and take over your life. I haven't read a huge book that quickly since the last Harry Potter book came out!

Doni Brinkman said...

Loved them. :) Count me in on team Jacob.

Carrie K. said...

I read the fourth book aloud to my tween daughter, so that I could skip over the honeymoon scene and any other scenes that were too intense. I would just summarize for her what happened. The honeymoon scene itself was tastefully done, I thought, not explicit, and I love that they waited until they were married.

Laura in Texas said...

I read all four books within a two-week period in October and LOVED them for all the reasons you mentioned, Angie, plus the fact that she does such a good job with dialog -- I get so annoyed with books whose characters talk in ways that people just don't talk. After I read the first two, I gave the first one to my 17-year-old daughter (who'd rather text than read), and she's devouring them -- already into the fourth book. These books are LONG but are fast reads -- and the author is a master of pacing, ending chapters in such a way that you MUST turn the page and read "just one more". Haven't seen the movie yet, but will soon, with my daughter.

Nicole Ledford said...

As a middle school English teacher, this series is terrific! I don't think Harry Potter came anywhere near as close to generating as much dialogue between my students, and what teacher doesn't beam to hear kids gushing over a book? It's hilarious to see positive peer pressure in action. Kids who, as one blogger aptly put it, would rather text than read, are toting books around and sneaking peeks at it during class! I'm loving it!! My generation never got so excited over a book, and I can't help but feel optimistic about the lifetime readers Meyers has helped create.

Andrea said...

Angie,
I have to say that I was surprised at your hearty endorsement of these books. It would seem that this author is amazingly talented, but I have some concerns. I believe they are well summed up here:
http://www.pluggedinonline.com/read/read/a0004206.cfm

Was curious to hear your thoughts on this.....

jan said...

i am relieved to hear the positive comments on this series. now i think i can read them and not feel quilty.
thanks,
jan

Caitriona aka Catherine said...

My 17 year old daughter said to me, do you know what Angie is reading? Then she told me. It feels like you are practically family. Between the 2 of us, one reads the blog and if the other hasn't well, we fill each other in. I hope you and your hubbie are having a wonderful cruise, if he can pull you awa from the book long enough. :-)

Rylee said...

I agree, and it's exciting to read your comments. Before I began writing novels, I wrote freelance articles in the inspirational market for home and family life magazines. We need books that teens can relate to, and the Twilight books are definitely that! As you say, there is much in these books to admire. Nice blog.