Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Twilight of the Guffaws: A Review

The literary offenses of Stephanie Meyer are too numerable to account for in a review of this size. Her overuse of adjectives, adverbs, and crooked smiles is quite apparent to any seasoned reader, and this particular reviewer's opinion is that they--that is, the literary offenses--do not need additional exposure. Few would deny that Ms. Meyer is no Shakespeare. She is not even Edgar Allan Poe, who wears the laurels of America's best bad writer. Her writing--at least in her first novel, Twilight--is on a level higher up than, of course, internet fan fiction--but not that much higher.

I'm not here to quibble over Meyer's writing, though. It's bad, and everyone who reads her novels knows that. It is to Meyer's credit, however, that her writing can be so banal--and yet so entertaining. Yes, that's right. Meyer's writing is crap, but that doesn't stop you from turning pages. I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit it. I really am. In fact, I loath myself for not putting the book down after the second use of the adverb "frostily" (see pages 90 and 173). It will take some time before I can look myself in the mirror again.

Twilight is the story of Bella Swan, a seventeen-year-old geek magnet who can't walk three steps without tripping twice over her own feet. After moving to a perpetually rainy town in the American Northwest, Bella falls in love with Edward, a tortured, statuesque (not to mention "vegetarian") vampire who struggles to suppress his desire to eat Bella. Much of the novel is about the seemingly endless back-and-forth that occurs before this unlikely couple "hooks up," as kids these days like to say. Eventually, Bella and Edward engage in cliche high school romance: crooked smiles, kissing, cooing, love confessions, more crooked smiles, and, of course, tears. Finally, the novel ends with page-turning action and even a little blood spillage.

Not surprisingly, Twilight exhibits little originality; it is My So Called Life meets Dark Shadows on the set of Twin Peaks. And love stories between humans and vampires have been told before--remember Buffy and Angel?--and Bella and Edward bring little new to the table. So, why are people reading and enjoying Twilight? What makes it the popular success that it is? My wife suggests that the book attracts so many readers because Meyer nails the teenage girl psyche. Such an explanation makes sense, in many ways, although it hardly explains why I read (and [cough] enjoyed [cough]) Twilight. I mean, the book is really not my kind of love story (that is, neither lover dies in the end), and Meyer's monotonously bad writing style makes it difficult for me to read a page of it without guffawing two or three times.

Ultimately, I think I liked Twilight because...well, because I just liked it. That, perhaps, is Stephanie Meyer's greatest literary offense: she presents you with a horribly flawed novel (and let me drive this point home, folks, this novel is horribly flawed), and then compels you to like it for no other reason than that you JUST LIKED IT. The novel has too much gooey teenager romance (I don't recommend eating while you read this book--I gagged a few times), not enough violence (the novel's first-person point-of-view ultimately keeps the reader aloof from the story's most action-packed events), and definitely no terror (Bella's too tough of a protagonist to really be scared). But it has some charm, whatever that is.

Well, Stephanie Meyer can take her offenses to the bank. I am willing to bet that any sophisticated attempt to express admiration for this novel ends up sounding contrived and (WWSMS?) "excruciatingly" corny. Consequently, I'm going to quit embarrassing myself and draw this review to a close. I read the book. I liked the book--in spite of myself and my Masters Degree in literature. Those of you who wish to gloat about that fact, feel free. While you do, I'll be reading something tough and literary--so I can feel better about myself.
In fact, I've heard good things about some novel called New Moon...


  1. Poor Scott. It must really kill you to have to admit that you actually liked Twilight. Good luck with New Moon.

  2. LOL! Oh Scott - you make me smile. So - do you want to go to the store with me at midnight to get the new book?

  3. dude, your blog is like reading Twain. It's ok to end a sentence.

  4. Yeah, I think I'll continue to avoid this one. It's popularity is what initially turned me off and I don't think I'm prepared yet to let down my literary guards for a seriously flawed book written by a terrible writer.

    Besides, I really do swear I read something very much like "Twilight" when I was in high school. Teenage girl falls in love with vampire boy filled with angst. In fact, at the time I loved it. Unlike "Twilight" though, it didn't end happily. If I remember correctly the vampire dies. Now if only I could remember the name of that blasted book...

  5. I just stumbled upon your blog and I had the best laugh thanks to you! Meyer's books are like cream puffs. You know they take little skill and do nothing for you, but you can't help it.

    If there was anything more atrocious than the books, it was listening to the GROWN WOMEN in the theater during New Moon. When Jacob took off his shirt for the first of (too) many times, all of those women gasped and giggled like middle schoolers. Really? C'mon. The kid looks twelve. Gross. Just gross.