Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Story Time . . . TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer

I don't often read "in" books. Not that I have anything against NYT Best Sellers, I just don't often have time to read anything but the CBA books I get for review. But my best friend threatened to disown me if I didn't read Twilight and even brought me the first two books in the series when we saw each other in Denver in September. So when I was sick last week, and not up to doing anything else, I cracked open Twilight, telling myself I could even write a review on it for the Christian Review of Books, since I know a lot of parents wonder if they should let their teens read it.

I readily confess--within a few chapters, I didn't much care about any excuses or reasons. I didn't care about the pounding in my head or the nausea in my stomach. My sole concern was keeping my kids happily snuggled in beside me on the couch so that I could keep my eyes glued to that book.

Twilight is the story of Bella, a klutzy seventeen-year-old who just left her home in Phoenix to go live with her father in the rainy town of Forks, Washington. After being invisible in her huge school in Arizona, she's unprepared for how interested in her everyone seems to be in Forks. But her attention is snagged by the too-beautiful Cullens, particularly the brother named Edward. A more beautiful creature she has never seen--but when she has to sit beside him in their lab class, he recoils from her as though she just rolled out of a garbage can . . . and then doesn't show up at school for the next week. Surely it can't be her fault, right? How could he possibly hate her when they'd never even spoken? And when he comes back, he acts perfectly normal. Friendly even. Even kindly saves her life the next morning--in a way that brings a few things into startling clarity for Bella.

Edward Cullen is more than he seems.

Okay, so I figure everyone knows these are vampire books, so it isn't too hard to figure out that the Cullens are the vampires. That's not what makes these books so awesome. For starters, Bella is a character whose head you will love to be in. She's delightfully insecure, refreshingly honest with herself, lands in the emergency room constantly with her clumsiness, and has that certain something that sets her apart without ever cluing her into the fact that she's more than the norm. And then there are the other characters--the noble vampires, fighting what they are every day because they don't want to be monsters.

For those parents who are very strict about this sort of thing, here's what you might take issue with: there are vampires, both the noble ones above and the evil kind. There are werewolves (in the later books). There's a certain amount of sneaking behind her father's back, particularly with Edward being in her bedroom, though there's no sex of any form. Barely any kissing, even. (Though what there is is oh-so-filled-with-tension. Very nice;-)

Here's what makes these books totally awesome for anyone, especially teens: the whole point is about fighting lust, about denying your baser instincts and striving to be better than what "nature" may say you are. It's about putting love above your own happiness, about sacrificing for those you care about. The characters remain pure sexually; for all her occasional-sneaking, Bella respects her parents and makes many a decision to love and protect them, even at a cost to herself. I noted a few mild curse words in New Moon, but I don't recall any in Twilight.

And, the most important thing, these are just wonderful, well-written, fully engrossing books. I read the first two in two and a half days, and I would have devoured the second two right afterward if my niece had had them handy. ;-) I'm not "into" vampires, and I can promise my love of these books won't lead to the vampire-obsession that seems to be going around, but WOW. I can't remember the last time I've read anything so consuming. I highly recommend these books--and recommend you wait until you have time to neglect everything else, because trust me. You won't be putting them down.

1 comment:

  1. DITTO

    I read Twilight because I'm a YA writer and got tired of saying, "No, I haven't read Twilight yet. Yeah, I hear it's really good. It's on my reading list."

    Now I'm so obsessed people give me Twilight birthday cards :) Soooo glad you liked them, girl. I'd love you just the same, but it'd be the elephant in the room :)