I felt a bit like a vampire myself, these last six days. I literally devoured all four books in the Twilight series, plus watched the movie–all while doing my usual work of interviews, writing, and grading. I just hardly slept at all–literally, about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. But I could not sleep! I had to get through the damn thing!
I came away with a profound appreciation for the depth and breadth of Stephenie Meyers’s imagination, as well as her abilities to create a compelling and completely believable plot that spanned over 2500 pages of text. Amazing. Superb, even. I can really learn some things from her. She lacks in the area of actual writing style–I got really truly tired of how many characters rolled their eyes, for example, a very cliched, often-repeated phrase she used; and I winced at a lot of the overwrought dialogue–but what she lacks there, she makes up for in monstrously huge talents in those other two areas I’ve already mentioned. I really desperately cared, through all those pages of text, about what happened to Bella, Edward, and Jacob. I wanted them to be all-right. I wanted them to figure out their love triangle in a way that would be satisfying to them–and to me. Furthermore, in the fourth book, the one where the final climax occurs, she takes Bella’s nothingness, her absolute lack of abilities other than the one (keeping everybody who has magical powers from reading her mind or affecting her mind), and turns it around into a huge advantage where Bella is, after all, the active heroine and not the passive heroine she is in the first three books.
Having said that, I’m still disturbed by the vision of love that Bella and Edward offer, the suffocating obsession of it, the fact that Bella can’t breathe without Edward nearby. But I will say that although she is absolutely, totally dependent on him and his presence in her life, she is astonishingly stubborn to do what she wants in the face of him trying to coerce her or plead with her to do something she doesn’t feel is the right course. (She’s usually wrong, however, another factor that is problematic for me in terms of her character and her relationship with Edward.) But I’m still wondering how Meyers pulled it off–Bella is really such a weak person, but all the character traits I would have pointed out as weaknesses are turned around into strengths in the fourth book. Dang it.
Last night, a South African writer and her two boys (15 and 9) came over to have dinner with Jon and Marie, the couple I’m staying with at the moment. I asked Davey, the 15-year-old, if he read much–and he said, “No, not much anymore, I don’t have much time,” then he said, out of the blue, “Have you read Twilight?”
I laughed and laughed. I admitted that I was obsessed this very week. He told me that he has two friends in history who hide Twilight behind their history books so they can keep reading while in class, so while he hasn’t read it himself, he’s gotten intrigued–because he keeps reading over their shoulder. So he’s planning to tackle it soon.
If I was that history teacher, I’m sure I’d be annoyed and I’d punish them if I caught them. But as a writer for young adults, and a lover of fiction, I think it’s fantastic that they’re doing that….Because I was homeschooled, I always had more time on my hand than most other kids my age, so I usually read a good 8 or 9 books every week. But if I’d been forced to spend my waking hours in a classroom, Id have found some way around it, too, so I could read just as much as I wanted…