KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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SpecFic Challenge Book #2: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

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.
Tags: books, grr argh, speculative fiction challenge

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