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I will be perfectly honest -- I would probably never have picked up this book on my own. I added it to my challenge list because heyheyrenay asked me to, because she wanted my take on it. I have a take, all right.

First off, this is an incredibly quick read. I opened it while waiting for the train to take me to the airport on Friday afternoon and finished it in the San Diego airport yesterday, and it's not as though I had a ton of time to read this weekend. It's faced-paced and a page turner, and I did find myself drawn in, wanting to know what happened next, invested in some of the characters. But oh, the characters.

Bella is probably the most obvious canon Mary Sue I have ever seen: brilliant, beautiful (but doesn't realize it even though every boy in town of the right age is falling over themselves to fawn on her), always in need of being saved, etc. Her severe clumsiness felt like the kind of flaw that bad fanfic writers give their Mary Sues so they can point at the characteristic and say, "she has a flaw, she can't be a Sue!" The romance between Bella and Edward is possibly the most problematic I've ever read, among those that fall short of outright abuse. They meet, they stare at each other awhile, he saves her a lot, and then she's so madly in love with him that she can't bear to be parted from him for a few hours and is begging to be turned so they can be together forever. Bella is supposed to be smart -- at least Meyer keeps telling us she is -- but her inability to act or think for herself is really disturbing.

Which leads me really to my biggest issue with the book: show don't tell. Among published authors, Meyer may be one of the worst I've ever seen with that. She tells us that Bella loves Edward, that Edward loves Bella, that Bella is smart, that Edward is conflicted. We never see any of it. And it's not that Meyer can't write detail; in some places, she even bogs down with detail -- meals, particularly, are described in minute detail that could easily be elided. Even Bella's clumsiness, a key character point that could easily be worked into the action, is introduced by Bella telling us about it, not by watching her trip and fall or any other of a thousand things Meyer could have done and made it more immediate, more interesting, less like something off a characterization checklist.

The frustrating thing is that this book isn't terrible. The writing itself is mostly good, although Meyer overuses said bookisms and occasionally stumbles over cliches. Some of the side characters -- Jacob, Carlisle, and Alice particularly stood out for me -- are wonderful, and I wish she had spent more time on them. The concept of the truce between the werewolves and the vampires got my attention, and the human/vampire romance story has plenty of inherent potential. But in the end, the difficulty with the romance and the man-woman dynamics bothered me too much to really enjoy it, and I might need to re-read Sunshine to get the taste of it out of my mouth.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 13th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
So when are you going to take my advice and read the Thief trilogy? I DON'T PIMP THEM OUT FOR NO REASON, YOU KNOW.
Nov. 13th, 2007 07:23 am (UTC)
Patience, they are on the list. ;) The list is pretty long, though, so I admit it might be awhile...
Nov. 13th, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC)
THEY DESERVE TOP-OF-LIST-BUMPAGE. The whole book! It is like my icon!
Nov. 13th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Yeah, I felt the same thing re: show don't tell. It was so much of her hammering over and over that Bella was clumsy, and Bella was smart, and Edward was indeed conflicted. He didn't seem all that conflicted to me. Whenever he got conflicted he vanished or didn't contact Bella.

Weakly done.
Nov. 13th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
Whenever he got conflicted he vanished or didn't contact Bella.

Yeah, I noticed that, too. Like he was doing the typical male thing of using an excuse to not deal with complex emotions, except that Mayer gave him the perfect excuse to do that. Really, I felt like she set up the story to be the perfect rescue fantasy, which is fine, except it's never acknowledged. And that bothers me.
Nov. 13th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)
I noticed that alot of the newbie NaNoWriMo writers in the Fantasy and Romance forums on the site are all about this book. That, frankly, scared me even before I read your review. :)

Personally, I don't read much vampire lit because it all starts to feel redundant -- of course, this is said by the girl who watches Moonlight and Blood Ties on Friday nights.

Nov. 13th, 2007 07:05 am (UTC)
Heh. I don't read vampire stories very often either -- one Anne Rice was enough, and I've never read Anita Blake -- but I do recommend "Sunshine". It's by Robin McKinley and it's excellent: well-written, engaging, different from other vampire lit.

I noticed that alot of the newbie NaNoWriMo writers in the Fantasy and Romance forums on the site are all about this book.

You know, that really doesn't surprise me? A lot of the problems I had with the book can possibly be chalked up to Mayer being a first-time author. These issues may smooth themselves out with time. Or they may not! At this point I'm not interested enough to find out, but strong enough recs from the right people might change my mind.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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