Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review: The Twilight Series

So why not start out with a blockbuster.  The Twilight Series.  This series holds a special place in my heart.  I had taken a long hiatus from both reading and writing.  This is the series that brought me back to both.  I casually mentioned to my husband that I would like to read "that Twilight Series" some day.  The next night he brought home the first book as a surprise.
But you guys aren't here to listen to how I got to the point of reading the series, you want to know if it was any good or not.  So, here we go!
Overview of the Series:  It has its strengths.  It has its weaknesses.  No, it's not great literature, but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying it.  I did have to put aside some of my common sense in order to completely get swept away in the Twilight world.
Seriously.  If you think about it, the story revolves around Edward and Bella (from Bella's point of view).  She's 17 and in high school and he's a 100 year old vampire.  And people talk about Hugh Heffner dating them young.  Technically, Edward is a murdering, bambi killing, pedophile and stalker.
"But he looooooves her!" you cry out.  Yes, and that's the whole crux of the story.  It's one big epic love story.  Stephanie Meyer could have written in a band of mermaids that like to do the can-can with their fins and the result might have been the same. 
It's all because of the love story.  Every girl, young and old, wants to be loved deeply and unconditionally.  Edward brings that to the table in spades.  In his eyes, Bella can do no wrong, even when she acts her age and becomes a whiney little cry-baby.
Bella brings a few things to the table too.  Even though she plays both Jacob and Edward like a finely tuned fiddle, ending up with a co-dependent, clingy relationship, she is also strong and independent.  She knows what she wants and she'll do anything to get it.  She is also extremely caring and self-sacrificing.  She will go to hell and back to protect those she cares about.
Finally, the last thing that made this series so popular, if unconditional love and self-sacrifice wasn't enough, was the Cullens.  Let's face it.  Who didn't wish they were adopted at one point in time during their childhood?  We've all done it, usually while serving some sort of grounding sentence while "the party of the year" was raging down the street, you being stuck in your room.
The Cullens are the perfect family.  Okay, yes, they are vampires, but other than that they are the perfect family.  I mean, it's not like they are "bad" vampires.  They live off the blood of animals instead.  If that doesn't scream Leave it To Beaver, then I don't know what does…
You've got the compassionate father figure (Carlisle), the loving mother figure (Esme), the quirky sister (Alice), the protective older brother (Emmet) and a bitchy older sister who's just jealous of you (Rosalee).  Oh, and a creepy brother who keeps fighting the urge to kill you (Jasper).  See, all normal.
The part that drew me into their family dynamic was that they all truly love each other.  They really are a family, even if they aren't related by blood (no pun intended…okay, maybe a little intended).  They would die for one another.  Yes, even Rosalee.
So, Bella, the self-sacrificer, gets unconditional love and a new family where 5 out of 7 welcome her with open arms.  The 6th family member would welcome her if he didn't want to kill her and drink her sweet, sweet blood.
New love, new family, new life.  What's not to love about this series?  Okay, so the plot is slightly unbelievable and we get all revved up for a good fight only to have it diffused and one side always ends up running home to their mommies. 
Here are the novels in order:

Twilight - It starts out very slow. Edward is the typical guy, quiet, hard to read, ignores her, makes jokes at her expense, etc. Then he saves her life and the cogs start turning in that brain inside Bella's head. She can't leave well enough alone and needs to find out what's going on.
This book showed how smart and resourceful Bella really is.  She's a sneaky little one.
New Moon - Bella's not the only one into self-sacrifice.  And while Edward is away the will play.  This is where the werewolves come into their own.  Their culture is fleshed out and we get a glimpse of their world.
Of course the love triangle is started here as well.
Note that everything in New Moon is hinted about in Twilight.  Nothing is really a surprise.  This was the hardest one to get through because through the majority of it, you're dealing with someone with a broken heart.  Where was that happy ending I was promised?
Eclipse - Okay, this take the love triangle element and puts it on steroids.  There's werewolves and there's vampires and none of them are happy campers. (There's a joke in there but you have to read the book to get it.)
We get more insight into the pack and the Cullens.  Most of the continuing plot lines are resolved.
Breaking Dawn - Maybe better called breaking Edward or rip out the werewolve's heart why don'tcha?  Okay, that's a bit of a long title.  Everything is resolved in this book.  It's technically the end of the series even though there's a draft of a 5th novel floating around out there.
The vampire world is reviewed in depth.  There's more vampires than you can shake a at.  Everyone gets superpowers and Bella finally completes her journey.
This is probably my favorite of the series, but, then again, I'm a big X-Men fan.  I kept comparing them all to mutants.  "Hmm, let's see.  Bella is Jean Grey.  Emmett is Collasses.  Edward is Professor X..."  Yeah, I gave them ALL names.  You should try it.  It's fun.
Midnight Sun - This is the first book, Twilight, rewritten from Edward's perspective.  If you are really into Twilight and you just HAVE to know what Edward is thinking, it's worth reading.  It does offer a bit of insight into the Cullen's and some of the surrounding vampires.
However, this is only a partial book.  The author was working on this particular book while they were filming Twilight the Movie.  She shared her partial manuscript and someone posted it on the internet.  She was so hurt and felt so violated that she stopped working on the project.  She did, however, post the draft on her website for those that just HAD to read it so they didn't have to pirate it.
Other Thoughts:  What drew me into this book was the author's laid back writing style.  It was easy to read and made me feel warm and fuzzy.  Even though absolutely nothing happens in the beginning, I still continued to read because of her style.  It was the characters that cinched it for me as a favorite series.  I felt like I knew them by the time I was done with the series and I can't say that many books/series.
The story isn't THAT bad.  There is actually some action and conflict, at least enough to make it interesting.  It's not just a brooding vampire in love with another high school girl.  Okay, it's a lot about that, but there are other things going on as well.
And now…here's where I declare my loyalties.  I'm totally Team Edward.  Yes, Jacob would be better for her.  He's all buff and sweet and is exactly what she needs.  But, Bella and Edward are fated to be together.  Who am I to mess with the fate of others?
In conclusion, I suggest reading the series.  It's good for all ages.  It's young adult, so there's no sex scenes and the violence is kept to a minimum (mostly referred to after the fact).  Yet, there's enough of a plot to hold grown up interests.

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