Last night, I read Stephenie Myer’s Twilight in 1 3/4 hours. The feeling of “Damn, I just wasted almost two hours of my finite life” was strangely familiar. Oh yeah, that’s how I felt immediately after watching the movie Twilight.
I have never before had the misfortune of reading more nauseating drivel than that which oozes from the 498 pages of this monumental tribute to human stupidity. Activities which I would consider more enjoyable and informative than reading this book would include: banging my head against the wall, pouring toilet water in my eyes, and going up six flights of stairs on my knees.
I am no snob – there is both a time and place for bad literature.
I’ve probably read around 60 Nancy Drew books in my short life. You know, the ones where she always gets “rendered unconscious” in the seventh chapter and the bad guys are easily recognizable by their inevitably “beady, darting black eyes”? I adore the Hardy Boys, though they are perpetually teenagers and experience the same lovely adventures over and over, clumsily disguised by disgruntled ghost writers. These books, and others like them, do not pretend to be quality. After reading them I feel amused and child-like.
After reading Twilight, I felt embarrassed to be a member of the human race. On the cover it says “THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER” and on Amazon.com, it holds 5 of the 6 places on the bestsellers list. This means that it is popular. How could this compilation of excremental writing be popular? Are there that many people with bad taste in the world? I find it hard to believe that there are enough enthusiastic emo teenagers to boost this to the top of the lists. Perhaps I underestimate their power…or perhaps ordinary people also love this book. I need to check the stats – the IQ of the U.S. must have just dropped about 50 points.
I must have some pretty hard-core standards, right? Surprisingly, no. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I rarely review books. In the subject of literature, I like to leave lots of room for individual taste, avoiding value judgments in most cases. Perhaps this is because I have meagre skill as a writer. However, I will not hesitate to say that Twilight is a stinking shit-load of putrid excrescense and a perfect example of unbelievably shallow and inept writing.
For example, there is no character development. At least it’s consistent… For 498 pages, Bella drools over Edward while Edward is angsty and beautiful (before, I didn’t think beautiful could be a character trait, but this book convinced me).
The writing is monotonous. Easily half the book consists of paragraphs such as, “But our eyes held, and the silence deepened – and changed. Flickers of the electricity I’d felt this afternoon began to charge the atmosphere as he gazed unrelentingly into my eyes. It wasn’t until my head started to swim that I realized I wasn’t breathing” (225).
The other half is mostly “I caressed his cheek, delicately stroked his eyelid, the purple shadow in the hollow under his eye. I traced the shape of his perfect nose, and then, so carefully, his flawless lips” (277).
In between these kinds of paragraphs, there is something bearing a slight resemblance to a plot line. Mostly just an episode, involving Bella’s mom and a cool vampire who kills people. Unsurprisingly, this bad vampire is no match for three or four of the Cullens. His only chance was Bella’s stupidity which, though carefully developed throughout the book, does not culminate in her death.
Myer’s first-person writing perspective, coupled with the incredible lack of character development, makes the prose almost unbearable. Slow-moving at best, it tends to pool at Bella’s incredibly mundane, daily activities and cross-eyed adoration of Edward.
Besides the mechanics of this book, the premise is also disturbing. Bella’s self-esteem is in the crapper and she displays hardly any traits to make her endearing besides her very ordinariness. She allows Edward to constantly manipulate her and make her “his own personal brand of doormat” (Cheri Windom, personal interview, 04/2009). Edward’s perfectness is almost as boring as Bella’s ordinariness in its predictability.
The Cullen family is basically the only part of this book that I found interesting. Despite their general kick-assness, they were unable to save Twilight from it’s mirky and soppy demise.
If you are tempted to read this book, despite (or perhaps because of) my criticism, there is a copy moulding in my dorm room. I would strongly suggest that you satisfy your curiosity and save your sanity by reading the title and then staring at the cover for two or three hours. You will have a better experience than I did.