Before we begin, I’d like you, the reader, to keep in mind that everything written here is my opinion and therefore not stated fact. If you don’t like or agree, feel free to point out why. However, do so in a civilized manner and I will try to clarify anything you didn’t get or don’t agree with. I will be making religious comparisons here; they will be heavily influenced by my own observations and experiences with those who call themselves members of the LDS church. There won’t be a lot of them though.
Now I will be explaining a bit on what I thought of the book and why I think it has become so popular. I wasn’t all that impressed with it but that will be explained in a bit here. Also the reason why I’m going to pull in some comparisons to the LDS religion is because the ‘author’ is a member. I am not, but I have lived around them for over a decade and the entire time I read the book, I was struck with the similarities in their religious beliefs vs. the values in the characters and story.
Also, there will be spoilers, so if you don’t want to accidentally read what happens first, turn away. I have not bothered to tag anything as a spoiler so read at your own risk. You have been warned.
Anyway, let’s start with the first book: Twilight.
Now Twilight has a very simple premise. It’s a romance novel. The whole book centers on a teenage girl who ends up meeting and falling in love with a vampire. Sounds simple enough right? Not really, this is where the story gets off track. This vampire, and his adopted family, has given up human blood in an effort to be good. They are in essence, vegetarians, unwilling to harm intelligent life, preying on animals for their substance instead.
This is the first comparison or similarity that I see, the desire for evil to turn from good. Why someone who was turned into a vampire without prior consent would be considered evil is something I do not understand, but the concept that all evil desires the light is something I have encountered again and again among those I’ve associated with who are LDS. I’m sure this is probably true for a lot of other religions as well. The inability to accept that evil can be uninterested in being saved.
So basically you have Bella, a very typical Mary Sue, who falls in love with this vampire who has, of all things, morals. It’s not enough that they avoid killing humans for blood; they have to live fake lives with them, pretending that they are one of them. How else could someone like Bella be around one long enough to actually fall in love? It is also the catalyst to prove that he truly desires to be more by constantly proving, to himself, that he can live around humans without harming any of them.
Now as boring as that concept is, the author had to go and make it even more tedious with the execution. The entire book focuses almost exclusively on Bella’s fascination with the vampire Edward, and his struggle to not give in to his evil nature and kill her for her blood. Unfortunately, instead of taking the time to flesh out the characters to help you better understand them, the author literally drowns the pages with adverbs and adjectives to fluff things up. The world they exist in is never properly built.
I simply cannot remember the last book I read that was so utterly lacking in proper descriptions. Even the apparent special abilities of the other vampires were nothing more than a device to move the shaky plot forward. Most, if not all, of the other vampires were just as flat and about as appealing as a stale cracker. To make that worse, the author uses cheap villainous vampires who naturally focus on Bella, forcing the ‘good’ vampires to protect her. It’s the standard damsel in distress and instead of finding a real reason for them to have feelings for one another; she dives straight into the ‘must protect one’s love’ cliché.
The only problem with this is there just isn’t anything in the book to have you seeing this as anything other than superficial lust. I can see how the author is attempting to make it seem like a tale of evil tempted by the pure maiden and falling in love instead, but she doesn’t bother to back it up with any real development of the involved parties. This is another similarity that I see that mirrors the notion that evil wants to be good; and Bella and Edward snap into it as if they were brainwashed from birth to fill this role.
So bottom line for book one, it was dull to read. My verdict: A boring Harlequin romance novel with safe vampires in it. The only attempt to be creative, in my opinion, was changing the mythos behind how vampires are and behave. The special abilities they gained by becoming a vampire was also a nifty touch, even if it became a crutch for advancing the plot. A lot of people criticize this when it’s not the real problem with the novel, not by a long shot. It’s a moral story, a religious one, and poorly done at that.