Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: Twilight

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: ? of 5 stars

Before anyone starts jumping down my throat about my unfair judgement, let me start by saying that this is sort of like my "Pre-test" to reading Twilight. This is the "First Impression" opinion; the future still holds many possibilities to whether or not my opinions change. And you know what? I'm entitled to first impression opinions too. In the future when I've read and decided whether or not I actually enjoy this book (or even the entire series), THEN we can let the "I told you so's" commence. Until then, bear with me because I DO have lots of opinions.

For as far as I've read (probably just chapter one), Twilight reminds me of something painfully embarrassing about my own past: my first couple attempts at writing my own stories.

Basically this is how it adds up: I take a basic plot and add an ideal heroine to it. Along the way, that ideal heroine ends up becoming more and more Mary Sue to the point that even I start to become annoywed with her. In fact, I keep adding on self-claimed traits that make absolutely no contribution to the story outside of bolstering my Mary Sue into a bigger Mary Sue. While I'm at it, I make said Mary Sue into a self-proclaimed loser... however, due to all of the other descriptive factors about her, we are pretty hard-pressed to believe half of what she says about herself. In essence, she has become the resident high school drama queen despite the fact that she has nothing to throw around about dramatic woes. She's the pretty, smart, misunderstood girl with a heart of gold; but in reality, she's got a nice family, people willing to get to know her, and she's really not as individualistic or alone as she keeps claiming, and honestly NOT that witty either.

For instance, Bella's little cheek about the high school kids of Forks not understanding sarcasm. This is a little snit that would have had more conviction if it had come from someone who was naturally sardonic to begin with; however, so far in her own narration, I have sensed no colorful or creative witticisms. In fact, she's really just telling things as they occur, making a comparison here and there, every so often that seem like an attempt to be witty, but ultimately just end up being flat analysis. If there had been some sarcasm intended in any part of her narration, I must have missed it completely, or just didn't understand it all (my bad).

At best, she seems pretentious and extra-emo-wannabe (which I don't condemn her for because she IS a high school girl after all and we've all been through that phase). At the very least, could she have been written a little more in style rather than on such a bland first impression?

What else can I add? Oh yes. Writing style. Simple, straight forward, yet unattractive and almost too monotonous. Once again, very much like the way I used to attempt writing my own stories -- like I had a stunted vocabulary or something like that.

Bella Swan is an extremely one dimensional character for all I can see right now. It's probably unfair of me to judge her so prematurely (only one chapter into the book), but the fact that she seems to have a lot of qualifiers for her own personality versus how she really sounds versus how she sees herself... it makes it hard to know in which direction she's supposed to eventually develop. She sees herself as an outcast, takes no pleasantries with her mood, attitude, or looks, but almost has an air of feeling like she's the one being singled out when in fact she's the one shoving people away. In terms of character, I'm already not liking her.

HOWEVER, to the benefit of the story itself, I have to admit that it's quite intriguing already. Its only downfall is that it's written with a style very akin to someone at third grade vocabulary level. Short descriptions, using the same expressions and words, no analogies, no words worthy of imagination... Random tidbit information that does story progression no good, but at the very least, they are brief and so you forget about anyway (which makes it kind of unnecessary and you wonder why we need to know about each and every class Bella is attending throughout the day). But the story's idea isn't bad; the premise is attractive enough that its gotten my attention for the next scene or the next chapter to come.

Why is Edward Cullen so hostile to Bella before he's even met her? What's up with the entirety of the high school who seem so curious about Bella? Most of all, already knowing the premise of this story line, what ends up drawing a vampire to Bella when he starts off the very first chapter resenting her very being, repulsed by her presence, and simply angry that he even has to breathe the same air as she does?

For the most part, I have enough of an interest in the story line to continue on with this book. At least I have an idea where it's going and where it will end up. I just want to know what happens to get it there. Unfortunately, it's the character of Bella Swan as well as the writing style that's got me conflicted about how well I'll be able to follow the rest of the story. Nonetheless, after this first chapter, I'm going to be adding this book to my reading list permanently. I'm a sucker for romance anyway, and so if the story develops ideally, then at the very least, I've got a nice romance and a possibly interesting story to follow.

After all, there HAS to be a reason why so many people are so in love with this entire series, right?

I realize that my opinions might seem rather harsh for only having read one chapter. And I realize that people might think that I'm not interested in giving Twilight a fighting chance either. And I admit openly that I really DID start reading this book with the intention of fully NOT enjoying it. Yes, I was looking for faults, which conclusively resulted in my finding of so many of them. Call it bias or call it an anti-popular trend streak I have, but whatever it is, this is exactly how I felt about the beginning of the book.

I'm not the type to be pretentious and hate everything that's popular. I've been on the Harry Potter bandwagon, the Hunger Games tent... so I'm not averse to popularity. And yes, I DO admit that I've had my criticisms of Twilight, prejudged before I've even read or seen the movies. I'm not a fan of vampire genres outside of the original Dracula novel, and have always had issues with weak female leads (of which I've heard so much from others, seems to fit Bella Swan's description). BUT, I'm willing to give this series a chance to change my mind because I don't want to be told that I can't judge a book before I've even had a chance to experience it.

And so, come what may... Maybe by the time I've gotten to the heart of Twilight's conflict (which I've heard doesn't even quite come around until Book Three?), I'll be fully engrossed with the entire world and the story. Maybe I'll even come around to like Bella. But for now, in this present, this post is exactly how I feel about Twilight: my pre-judgement and my "only-one-chapter-in-impression-so-how-dare-I-pass-judgement-so-quickly" first impression opinions.

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