Twilight is one of those books that, even if you haven’t read it, you know what it’s about. It’s a phenomenon, a force, a sensation. You’ve heard it’s amazing. You don’t need me to tell you.
I resisted the lure of this book for months, but my preteen daughter begged and begged me to allow her to read it. “Everyone is reading it!” she insisted. After doing an informal survey of my daughter’s friends’ parents, it turns out “everyone” really means two. But whatever. She received it for Christmas, so I finally gave in, with the caveat that I would be reading it too.
What was I expecting? I’m not exactly sure. I knew the story, but I didn’t think it would suck me in. I’m a 40-something mom, after all. I’m married. I’m mature. But I didn’t realize how charismatic Edward would be, how strong and powerful and gorgeous. And Bella- so smart, so beautiful, so fragile, so klutzy. I liked the characters right off the bat, and I had to know what would happen to them. Would he give in to temptation? Would she put herself in harm’s way to be with the boy she loved?
How well I remember being infatuated with a boy, when all it would take was a meaningful look to make my heart race (my husband of 20+ years has to work a bit harder than that for the same effect!) Does he like me? Does he think I’m pretty? He said hello to me; what does it mean???? I remember a boy I had a HUGE crush on in the 9th grade. If he noticed me at all it was enough to turn my insides into jello, and the “incident” would take up 3 pages in my diary. So that is what Twilight was like for me- a trip down memory lane, except the boys I liked didn’t want to suck my blood. At least, I don’t think so. It was a fast, fun, absorbing, easy read. It’s the kind of book I would have loved at age 14 or 15. I probably would have read it several times. I’d probably want to read the whole series. I’d probably vow to name my firstborn son Edward.
On the other hand, as the mom of two preteen girls, I had some pretty big problems with it. Edward’s behavior borders on stalking. He’s totally unpredictable- nice one day and cruel the next. He watches Bella at school. He looks through her bedroom window and watches her sleep. If he tells Bella to do something, she darn well better do it (for her own good, of course. He is protecting her.) He doesn’t like her friends and is suspicious of everyone she talks to. He wants her all to himself. He is frequently angry with her for no apparent reason. He smirks when she tells him things. He’s condescending. He’s dangerous. He’s fascinating.
And Bella. She starts out as this smart, independent girl, but she ends up as the damsel in distress, many times over. She ditches her friends, lies to her dad repeatedly, and lets her boyfriend sleep in her bed. She deliberately puts herself in danger because she wants to be near Edward. He warns her over and over again that she shouldn’t be with him, but she doesn’t care. Her friend and his dad also warn her, but she ignores their advice. She loves him. He smells good. It makes no difference that he’s not human. The fact that he could kill her, and is in fact constantly fighting that very urge, isn’t a worry for her. He is beautiful, so so so so so so so so beautiful (did I mention he is beautiful?), with his hot car, cold lips, intense eyes (golden when he’s sated, black when he’s thirsty), smooth voice, and alabaster skin. Just the kind of guy you’d love your little girl to bring home, right?
So. My daughter and I have both finished the book. We both liked it, with reservations. It opened up the floodgates of an ongoing conversation about growing up, and about boys, and respect, and how a boy should treat a girl, and what kind of relationship is healthy and what is not. Which of course is a good thing. My daughter thought Bella acted “stupid” and said she’d never let a boy treat her like that. Hallelujah. But she’s just 11. The hormones haven’t kicked in yet. She also said something like, “Mom, it’s about vampires. It’s not like anything like this would really happen. It’s just a book to read for fun.” What a smart girl I have.
Now to decide if we should see the movie.. thoughts?
Filed under: Book Reviews, books, kids, movies, parenting, reading, Uncategorized Tagged: | Book Reviews, books, fiction, infatuation, junior fiction, obsession, preteens, reading, stephenie meyer, twilight, vampires, YA