twilight.

It's been an embarrassingly long time since I've posted, I know. I could go on all day about why: because of work, because of extracurriculars, because of projects at home, because of friends, but I won't. I'll just spare the details for now.

While this post will mostly be dedicated to its title, let me preface to say that this entry (not unlike most of them) will mostly be shaped by my own personal history and bias. Read: this is a personal post. You've been warned: it's going to be a doozy.

First, a little back story into my penchant for reading and writing.

I think it officially started when I was in the 4th grade. I'd enjoyed books up until then -- I was a part of the Book It! program, I volunteered in the library reading to first graders, so on and so forth. But it wasn't until I entered in the Young Author's Contest (I lived in Illinois back then) that I realized that I could actually enjoy writing. Young adult adventures were my favorite. There was excitement, newness, not a lot of internal dialogue, and it stirred my imagination. It reflected my personality at the time; I was easily curious about anything and everything I didn't know about. This included, but was not limited to, trying to find Big Foot tracks, analyzing baby birds, and breaking into vacant houses.

So there's the brief back story. I ended up getting an honorable mention that year for my short story, "The Bad Dream." And while I felt as though my brief, young writing spirit had been crushed, it didn't stop me from writing in the following year's contest. I won that year.

Fast forward several years, and you'd find yourself watching increasingly more and more frames of time spent writing -- my love for the adventure genre had evolved to now include romance, mystery, and sci-fi. I read a lot of the same stuff: X-Files, Dean Koontz, various trashy romance novels, Stephen King, Bruce Coville.

But during my sophomore year of high school, it all came to a halt. I simply wasn't interested any more, or my priorities had changed. I stopped reading, and the only writing I did consisted of poems or brief, inconsistent journaling.

Fast forward again to this week, where I picked up the book, Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. My first recommendation was from my friend, Lauren, who divulges in reading as a hobby. I was curious as to why she brought up this book, I knew she read, but she hardly ever recommended anything to me, so I decided to look into it. I realized later that while the book was new to her, that it was in fact, pretty old -- 3 years old. I also learned that it was going to be displayed later on the silver screen at the end of the year.

Three days ago, I decided it was time to pick up the book. I opted to buy it, instead of checking it out from a local library. I started that night, around 11:30PM, intending on reading it for half an hour until I got sleepy. But I stayed up until 1:30AM.

Then finished it within 24 hours.

I know, it sounds dramatic. To think that a nearly 500-page teen romance fiction novel could hold my attention for that long. For starters, I'm not the target demo. I'm simply not a vampire junkie (although I did enjoy the Buffy film). And I hadn't read a fiction novel in years.

I'll start with the basics, I guess. (There won't be any spoilers) The story revolves around Isabella "Bella" Swan, a new permanent transplant to the town of Forks, Washington, where she spent various summers with her father. Her parents had been divorced for years, and she decided to permanently relocate when her mother remarried and wanted to travel with her new husband. The 17-year-old Bella struggles to fit in at Forks High School, where she happens upon the Cullens, the family that purposely outcasts themselves from the rest of the high school. They're all different, they're beautiful, and they're vampires. She takes specifically to Edward Cullen, and the rest of the story revolves around their affair -- the internal and external pressures of the dangers that surround their relationship.

There are several reasons why I was fascinated with this book. To say "I loved it" simply wouldn't be enough. There are many poignant scenes throughout this book that drew me back to them as soon as my eyes skimmed over the last few words of the epilogue.

I'm a helpless romantic at best. My personality wouldn't allude you to believe it, but the handsome hero in this book made me melt into a puddle of goo. There, I said it. But it wasn't as though Meyer described him as "hot," "rippled," "cut," or "amazing." She used other words..."Beautiful." "Dazzling." We see through the eyes of Bella that he's enchanting, that his scent is breathtaking. And of course, that half smile, the crooked smile. Seriously, who uses words like this? And how is it that they have such an effect that they make me want to absorb each and every description?

I listened to the first episode of Three Chicks and a Mic's podcast after finishing Twilight and they mentioned that one of the things they disliked about Bella's character is that she doesn't stick up for herself, and is pretty much a pushover. While I do agree with them, I felt that every time this weakness was displayed with Edward, it made him all the more attractive and alluring. Today's heroine is strong, smart, beautiful, and unique. Bella is not. She's awkard. She trips over herself and likes to hide behind her hair. She's terrible at sports and hates playing in snow. For me, it made their relationship and connection all the more meaningful -- this dark romance that seemed kindled for all the wrong reasons made perfect sense.

It's not a sappy love story by any means. The back of the book describes this element well, a story of "secret love and hushed affection." But this is not to say that the book did without suspense. It holds romance and suspense in a pretty even and healthy ratio, which also kept me flipping pages. This could be the naivete talking, but the fantasy element of the Cullens abilities as vampires was epic for me. Okay, epic might be too strong of a word, but it certainly helped. It was intriguing, the different powers each of the vampires have, and I'm curious to see how this plays out in the movie.

I haven't read a good share of teen romance novels, but I'd be surprised to find if Twilight handles stereotypes in a similar way to other teen fictions. At Forks High School, there aren't any cliques (save for vampires). There aren't jocks, snobs, or geeks. The others are just...there. The background characters supply subtle color to this book, but nothing bright and overpowering. A lot of the narrative consists of Bella's internal dialoging -- her fearless and inquisitive thoughts aren't annoying or meaningless, and compel the reader to learn about her as even she learns about herself.

I really could drone on for days, and days, but like I prefaced earlier, this is my personal take on Twilight. It's hard for me to articulate the fact that it's awakened me out of my imaginative coma. The book is an easy read -- no pretentious words, no confusing plot lines. And yes, there are predictable moments, not unlike most books in the same genre. Lastly, I'm not particularly excited about the movie, as books always seem to take us deeper into characters and stories than film ever will. I've grown to understand that they're two completely different mediums, oftentimes with differing agendas.

In closing...I do have expectations, mind you. I have high expectations in the physical and personal characters of Bella and Edward. Throughout the novel, Meyer describes Bella as unconsciously brave, unaware of her own frailty. This can be pulled off onscreen. Edward's eyes are smoldering -- I expect to see the glowing topaz and a lot of character expression; the book almost revolves around this entire physical feature. I think if they did away with the rest of his body in the film, fans would still be appeased as long as his eyes were in there somewhere.

Although that might be a little creepy.

1 comments:

Justincredible said...

Interesting back story, I enjoyed this post. I'm still wondering why you didn't just check it out from the library (unless you want to pass it on to one of your friends)