Monday, January 19, 2009


Stephanie Meyer
Little, Brown Young Readers 2006

In the opening pages of "Twilight," the author leaves a compelling question unanswered. By the time you know the answer so many other even more compelling questions have come up that the book is impossible to put down. I have never tried to wash dishes while reading a library book before, not until now. The library police will be after me, I'm sure.

But by about page 300, my enthusiasm had petered out. I was getting tired of hearing how wonderful and ideal Edward was, ideal except for the fact that if Bella so much as gets a paper cut in his presence he won't be able to stop himself from sucking her dry. The two of them were so into each other I was beginning to feel like I'd tagged along on a date with an engaged couple. I looked at the clock, it was only 10:45. I put the book down and went to bed.

To my surprise, I couldn't sleep. Meyer has an extraordinary gift. Her direct prose style, combined with a keenly accurate sense of internal emotions and motivations, gets right under your skin. It reminded me of Orson Scott Card. And, just like I dreamed I was enrolled in battle school the night after I first read "Ender's Game," last night when I finally did get to sleep I dreamed about Edward.

He was on a skiing trip with some dangerous, blonde woman who was dressed all in red. In my dream, I was torn between watching the two of them and finishing the book. Then several planes landed nearby, full of Japanese zombies, and I had to run for my life. Huh? I guess that's why everyone, myself included, is glad that I didn't write "Twilight."

I finished up the book this morning, tucking chapters into my morning routine. The pace picked up again, and the action climax was almost worth getting through 500 pages for. Overall it was an intoxicating read. I kept grinning like a fool at things Edward and Bella would say to each other. As silly as the book was in places, the characters felt so believable that I went right along with it.

But in the end, the most terrifying thing about the book was not the vampires at all. It was the behavior of the teenage girl. I have a daughter, and it shook me to my socks that Bella would lie to her father about where she was going to be, then willingly go off alone with Edward to some secluded spot in the woods so that she could have a three hundred page conversation with him about what it is like to be a vampire. And then, when they get home, she invites him to sneak into her room and spend the night! Did this girl's parents never have a talk with her about basic safety rules for dating? I sat down with my daughter and went over it all again, and insisted that there are no exceptions for cute vampires!

Still, I have to admit that Meyer is amazing. It is no accident that this book got picked up out of the slush pile and catapulted to the bestsellers list.

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