Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: Twilight

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

EDIT 3/2/2012:
Okay... I couldn't do it. After finishing half of the book, I found myself setting it down and saying that I would come back to it later. Later ended up being about three weeks later and when I picked it back up, I was a little reluctant to continue reading it. Why? I'm sure it had a lot to do with the fact that I really just didn't want to go through another two hundred pages of this never ending forbidden love.

Bella loves Edward, Edward loves Bella, but they're trapped in this somewhat flimsy "We can't be together because of obvious reasons" forbidden love drama. And yet... they STILL get together even if just to hang out and see each other and be together and NOT make-out. I mean, they're together, but they don't admit that they are officially together. But Bella DOES refer to him as her boyfriend even though they aren't official because Edward's afraid that he'll somehow lose his senses and kill her.

I say: "Just turn her into a vampire already! It'll solve all sorts of problems, really." But who am I to judge the logic of the Twilight world, right?

Maybe I couldn't finish this book because of the main female lead. I DO have issues liking a story line if I don't like the characters. I once did drop an anime series (yes, I watch anime too) because I couldn't find one likable character. And the story line didn't fair too well either.

The story line of Twilight isn't much better. Well, let me rephrase that: The story of a normal high school girl falling in love with a god-like vampire boy is something that I could probably buy into. However, three hundred pages (because that's how far I got) of a girl mooning over her forbidden love that was reciprocated anyway... I couldn't take it anymore. This story could have been edited down to around a hundred pages and maybe I would have been a little more forgiving. Or if the adventure started somewhere earlier on in the first book, I would have had a reason to keep reading. But as I was told, after Bella and Edward have their mutual affections not quite acknowledged by each other, some villain will show up and well... apparently that's when it starts getting interesting.

Okay... Well, why didn't we get the villain and the intrigue to begin with. At the very least, incorporate the villain somewhere in the beginning so that I have SOMETHING to look forward to. While I like the occasion romance story (since I'm a sucker for rom-coms and romantic dramedies all around) I don't mind a story being based off of just a pair of lovers getting together. But it should at least be interesting... and written well. If the narration were at least witty, then I could follow it a little better and have better thoughts of Bella.

But no. I don't like Bella for her personality, her wannabe emo drama queen tendencies, her complete dedication to letting her entire life revolve around Edward every day, 24/7, and her lack of witticisms. She is JUST not an interesting person to follow. And her tendencies to be arrogant where she shouldn't be about her academics, about the rest of the peanut gallery going to high school with her... Because this is a case of creating a dull character who is actually the most appealing character in the story just because every other supporting character is created to be even flatter than the main character. No one else in the story has a personality either.

And so, to all of those people who recommended Twilight to me, bugging me to read the book before I judged anything... Twilight is totally NOT the "Best Book Ever". Case closed. At first, before even reading Twilight, I didn't really have much thought about it aside from, "I'm not interested in the vampire genre." Now, after attempting to read it, my impressions of it have gotten even worse. I probably would have been better off just leaving it alone.

However, I DO repeat, that I DO understand where the appeal lies. I get the story and I get cult following. What I DON'T get is how people can say the words "Best Story Ever" or "Best Book Ever" without batting an eye. I mean, sure, it's a cute little love story, based off of the most cliched trope in all romances: a poor, under-appreciated Cinderella girl meets her perfect, worship-worthy Prince Charming. And that's all it is.

And that's pretty much all I need to say about it. I'm sorry I couldn't give a more fair review by finishing the entire book then making my opinions... but I just couldn't find it in myself to pick the book back up and knock out the rest of it without hitting my head with the book a few more times.

First Impression from 2/6/2012
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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