Sunday, November 23, 2008

Declare Yourself

And it is done.... I have come out from under my shiny little rock to admit that I have finally read Twilight.

The slamfest against Bella's character is really what has kept me from reading this book until now, but with a teenager living in the house with me, the hype was just too much to resist. I picked up the book off my TBR stack yesterday, and finished it this afternoon. Make no mistake, it's a page turner.

Now for the nitty gritty....

My overall impression of the book: Twilight is a very good, infectious story. Clean, romantic, with just the right amount of tension and mystery to keep the book going at a steady pace. I've passed the book on to my oldest with my highest recommendation, and can easily recommend it to anyone who likes YA and/or paranormal romance.

About the Bella bashing: There is a high level of sophistication that seems to be expected of the YA market that didn't previously exist - at least it didn't in the books I read when I was a teenager, and I think that stems largely from the number of adults who read YA now. Having adult readers in the mix, there is more expectation for characters to act wise beyond their years - specifically female characters - Hermione, from Harry Potter, is a good example of what I'm talking about.

Because of that, I think it can sometimes be difficult for adults to view YA books from a true, this is a book written for a teenager perspective. Age and experience gives us a better insight into life, a better ability to judge and avoid problems by using our head instead of our heart. I think that adult readers of YA are far more likely to project expectations and supposed maturity onto a teen character, especially once the character heads down a dangerous road, even if it's logically, from the mindset of the character, a fitting road for that individual to take.

The truth is a teen's logic and sense of justice isn't the same as when you're 33. There is still very much a black and white view of the world. Good versus evil often wipes out any visible gray path, and rarely is there a middle road to be found. I say that not only as a mother with a 17 year old, but also as someone who was a mother at the age of 17.

While Bella is a complete klutz and aloof to the dangers present around her in almost every situation, I found her character to be age appropriate in terms of mentality and romantic expectations - once she falls in love with Edward. In this day and age, considering how fast kids are becoming sexually active, Bella is actually quite tame in the physical sense. However, her expectactations of where her growing relationship will and should go with Edward - despite his insistence that he will not turn her - are right on the mark, in my opinion. At 17, I was persistent in the face of my first true love (I'm still married to him), but then again, I was also convinced of how worldwise and intelligent I was for someone my age. *forehead smack*

Bella was spot on, in my opinion. As for Edward.... As mysterious, handsome, and interesting as his character is, he is still a 107 year old man even if he is trapped in an eternally youthful, 17 year old body. That he and his siblings still hang around high school is a bit disturbing. Nothing can really excuse that in my mind. However, I guess for the sake of (physical) appearances, and for the sake of YA fiction, I can see why Edward would target his affections to someone in Bella's age range.

But at the same time, I can't help comparing Edward to Claudia from Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. Without a doubt, my view of the complexities of Bella and Edward's romance are biased by my age, as well as the previous vampire books I've read - most pointedly the affection shared between Claudia (a child vampire) and Louis (her maker) in Interview with the Vampire.
As complex as Edward may say Bella is, I find it extremely hard to believe that a 107 year old man would truly find a 17 year old girl "complex", even if he can't read Bella's mind as he can with other people. That he finds her beautiful, fabulously scented, and alluring, sure! But let's be realistic about complexities.

There is a certain intellectual refinement that comes with age, and it actually made me wonder if Stephenie Meyer's vampires (as with Christine Feehan's Carpathians) mature at a much slower rate than humans. After all, Bella is pretty transparent in everything she does, and she's admittedly no skilled liar. I don't see her pulling the wool over the eyes of a predator with any kind of skill. That in mind, Edward's relationship with Bella roughly would equate to Claudia (who happened to be an 80-100 year old predator at the time she is trapped and left to die in the sun with Madeleine), if she she decided she only wanted to befriend, or try to turn, children.

But then, that is perhaps too complicated a theme for a young adult book. And really, that is the only thing that threw me when reading Twilight: Edward being mentally "too old", "too mature" for Bella. At least, at his age, he should have been. When the newness of their romance wears off, what then? They plan to fall back on stimulating conversation?

I know that sounds pessimistic, and I don't mean it to. Truly, I did love the book. And I loved reading about Edward and Bella. My own floundering over Edward's development and the plausibility of vampires willingly remaining in high school long after they've paid their dues - meh. But that put aside, I can take the book at face value, and for as good as the storyline is, I can go on, accept the terms and conditions as they are, and that's what I did while reading this book. Twilight is well worth the time spent, and I will be picking up the next book in the series when I get the chance.

Oh, one last thing, just for the record. (And because I've already been asked a bazillion times, ROFL!) I'm officially declaring myself. I am 100%, without a doubt, on Team Edward. Romantic origins alone win out; Bella and Edward seem a far better match. Sorry, Jacob!

Happy weekend, everyone!

8 comments:

  1. Thank you, Cora. I too liked Twilight and thought it was being judged as a 'for adults' book when you only have to look at the line ups at the cinema to see it's hitting its market - teenage girls.

    I too found Edward's attraction to Bella (other than she smells like a steak to a starving man) rather creepy.

    As for being on Team Edward vs Team Jacob? Wait til you read New Moon and the later books. You may find yourself switching positions ... I didn't find myself aware of Jacob hardly at all in the first. But in the later ones? I definitely became a Team Jacob fan. (Until the last book ... but I'll wait until you've read it before we discuss that one.)

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  2. YOU READ IT! :)

    I agreed with your post completely, though for some reason, despite knowing Edward's age, I just sort of assumed he remained a brooding teenager once turned. He and his 'family' don't seem to have matured past when they were turned. Which I think is how SMeyer has kind of played it. They are in all respects in their early 20s, though they're all nearly 100. Does that make sense? I may be way off, but I felt all of them acted a bit 'stuck'.

    As for Team Edward vs Team Jacob - I agree with Leah. You may want to wait until you read the later books. I didn't even consider Team Jacob a possibility in Twilight. He just WASN'T a romantic lead. But... well, read New Moon. He may just change your mind. ;)

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  3. I have to admit I haven't read it yet. *gasp* My friend read them all and went on ad nauseum over a weekend vacation. I wrangled with the same 'age' issue, Cora. He should be mentally.emotionally to old for her--unless aging is stunted along with death. But, I must admit, the scene in the movie when he leans his head against her... *sigh* THAT was romantic beyond my mental pick-it-apartness.

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  4. Leah, it's the same thing I remember hearing with some of the later Harry Potter books: But he's so angsty! Mm...seems to be a teenage trait, in my opinion. LOL!

    But then, I think even toward the end of the HP series, JK Rowling had a hard time remembering she was writing, in effect, a children's book. She had too many adult readers by that point to appease as well.

    So I may have to declare myself again after reading New Moon? Oh dear... perhaps I've spoken too soon.

    I've heard about the train wreck that is the final book, but I'll have to give the others all a read before I go any further. I'll post about the other books as I go. Promise!

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  5. Yep, Isabelle, LOL, I finally read it. You won't have to chase me with a stick or anything now. ^_^

    The Edward age thing: The author tried to explain it as a way of hiding out - going to high school. And Edward doesn't seem overly enlightened for someone his age. So I thought maybe they don't mature very fast. (Like Christine Feehan's Carpathians, who are considered fully adult and into their own power when they reach 200years or so.)

    The thing that makes me question the Twilight theory is 1.)that two of the siblings at times live as a married couple, and 2.) Carlisle.

    Carlisle's not much older in appearance than the others, but he's holding down a hospital job, and for all respective purposes, running a household with Esme.

    Granted, his maturity could come from his extraordinary compassion, or from the fact he's a 17th century figure. Men grew up faster in those times - they had to. Still, he seems a little more refined than Edward, like an actual father figure, so I can only assume that was Stephenie Meyer's intention - for Edward to be teenage-like regardless of his age. However, that seems to be best left to be appreciated at face value, because that eventually leaves both Bella and Edward stranded as teenagers for the rest of their lives.

    Jacob! So there's another vote that leads me to think I may have to re-declare myself later. LOL! I saw Jacob in this book as a potential romantic rival, but in this book he seems more like Bella's non-cousin cousin or something.

    We will see.... *wink*

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  6. AE! I haven't seen the movie yet, but I intend to take Oldest. He wants to see it.

    The book is romantic beyond pick it apartness too, I've just been asked by about everyone I know who read the book to give it a run down once I finished it. LOL!

    Now that I've done it though, hopefully no one will want to smack me with a book the next time they see me. ^_^

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  7. I have got to read this book! Just too much hype to pass it up. I have one problem, and maybe I won't after I read it, but Edward is 100 some years old, wouldn't he fall for a woman & not a teenager? That's my only doubt, but then again, I still need to read the book. Nice post!

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  8. Nancy, it's a great book, and I have to be honest - it's better if you don't think about Edwards age. That was my one hang up, but once you put the age thing out of your mind, they make a very romantic couple. :)

    Note: my word verification is rable. Hm...*pondering*

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