Tuesday, November 25, 2008

on twilight.

Surprise, surprise, at my job as a teacher, I've been hearing about this book, Twilight, that all the little girls are loving on. But here's the thing: I read it and...it's not all that bad. It was predictable, it could have been a lot better in places, and, as with many young adults books' authors, Stephanie Meyer needs some serious work when it comes to dialogue.

But let me say this, before I get to the serious criticism: I don't care. I couldn't care less if Twilight was the worst book ever. I couldn't care less when someone thinks that a kids fantasy book is encouraging heathenism so I really don't have any nits to pick when it comes to the negative aspects of some of the typical young adult fiction genre. Twilight is a solid book that the kiddos love to read. And let me tell you what I mean when I say that they love to read it: I mean that this book has a waiting list of approximately 100 names in our library. Any book that can get kids that excited is good by me. I'm psyched any time kids are excited to read, and I'm especially excited that so many girls have told me, "This is literally the first book I've ever read." That's great.

So, on to the bad stuff.

Uh, the book really isn't that good. It's a novel read, but it doesn't really have anything original to it. It's the same old love story that's been told forever, and it's such an obvious cliche that, for someone who grew up with Interview with the Vampire, it's not a huge twist to have the love interest be a vampire instead of Montague vs. Capulet. It's the same old thing where the girl thinks that guy isn't bad (at least not for her) and that, maybe, she can change him. So that's problematic.

But more than that there's the whole issue of the conflict in the story. If we discount the basic love-story aspect (which I'm hoping you can tell that I did), the conflict doesn't arise in this book until the thing's dang near 4/5 of the way done. That's no way to properly run a plot! The conflicts that run through the book aren't true conflicts: Bella moves, she doesn't fit in, she's unhappy that the guys like her, her friends are unhappy with her because they like the guys. I mean, hell, that reads like a diary, not a story! And then, when we finally do get the conflict, it feels rushed, because Meyer's almost run out of room to run through the whole thing.

The dialogue is its own issue when it comes to this genre. I will say that, while I know that many kids think this way, I've never heard them actually speak this way. Falling in love after seeing nothing of a person (love at first sight?) might be a common cliche, but it's not actually so terribly common in real life. Not even in high school. Not even in middle school.

All this being said, I will not lie: the movie was great. I even thought it was better than the book, because it cut some of the extraneous stuff and put forth the story in a kind-of summarized version. For as much flack as the soundtrack got, I thought it fit well with the movie and will probably end up downloading it. (Things that I'm not ashamed to admit that I might probably should be?)

I'm gonna conclude this by again saying that any book that gets kids reading is A-OK with me. Also, despite my unhappiness with the original book, I'm psyched to read the next three because almost everyone that I've spoken with said that each and every one of them is better than the first, by different degrees.

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