In brief, Twilight is the story of Bella Swan, a high school girl who falls in love with a vampire. Then about 80% of the way through the book, some other stuff happens.
That structure was odd. For 400 pages, this is a fairly typical teenage romance, except the boy happens to be a vampire. Suddenly we have evil vampires chasing Bella and everyone’s fleeing and scheming and hunting and fighting. It didn’t throw me out of the story, but I think the book could have been more effective had we seen how dangerous vampires could be a lot sooner. Edward spends a lot of time trying to persuade Bella that he’s dangerous and she’s better off without him, but like Bella, I never really believed him.
I mentioned in Twilight, Part I that it was a fast-paced read. Don’t want to rehash that, except to say it holds true for the rest of the book. Whatever strengths and weaknesses the book has, I kept turning the pages, and I finished it within a few days.
I was intrigued by what Meyer did with vampires, eliminating many of the traditional weaknesses. Holy symbols? Edward’s dad keeps a 300-year-old cross on the wall. Sunlight? Yay, sparklies! Edward explains that the only real way to destroy a vampire is to rip it apart and burn the pieces.
Think about that. Buffy would be out of luck in this world. There’s no way a human being is going to be able to fight a vampire; the only one who can is another vampire. (Or another equally powerful supernatural creature.) Humans? Helpless as insects. The implications are powerful, but I didn’t feel like there was any follow through. Maybe it gets brought up in later books. But heck, if vampires are this indestructible, why bother to hide at all?
As for Bella and Edward … yeah. This is the part you’ve been waiting for me to rant about, right? But I’m having a hard time judging Edward’s behavior the way I would a normal abuser. Controlling? Absolutely. Creepy? Oh hell yes. Breaking into a teenage girl’s room every night to listen to her talking in her sleep? The dude puts stalkers to shame.
But he’s not human. He is, as the book stresses again and again, better and beyond human in so many ways. He’s a century old, powerful and beautiful and unstoppable. Why should he treat a human with any more respect than you or I treat a pet cat? I like my cats, but I don’t consider it abusive to toss one off the counter.
This isn’t where Meyer was going with the book. Edward’s behavior is glossed over as part of our whirlwind teen romance. He’s treated as a normal human teenager, except when he’s not. As a normal human, he’s an abusive, controlling creep.
Having been young myself, I can certainly understand Bella’s infatuation and obsession. Been there, done that (though I cringe to think about it now). I just wish Meyer had been more conscious of the dynamics she was writing.
There’s so much going on here, and the book seems blissfully unaware of it. It ignores the implications of Meyer’s changes to vampire lore. It glosses over the unbalanced nature of Bella’s relationship with Edward until the very end, when Bella decides she wants to be a vampire too. (And why not? There’s no downside!) It shows us a jealous, controlling stalker and treats the whole thing as dreamy and romantic. This is where I think the book fails.
Don’t know if I’ll read book two or not. But in the meantime, please feel free to jump in with your thoughts and comments.