Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Twilight Series and Other Books

Okay, I gave up and read the first in the "Twilight" series of books by Stephenie Meyer.

When the girls at work asked if I was Edward or Jacob and I said, "huh?", they gave me contemptuous looks as if I was so far from being "in", I couldn't even glimpse it from where I was at. (This was, incidentally, the same reaction I got when I admitted I'd never read a Harry Potter book back when Harry was all the craze).  They explained a little about the Twilight phenomenon to me. A series about vampires (Edward) and werewolves (Jacob) written for teens. It didn't sound like my cup of tea and I blew them off.

Then I had lunch with my friend, Donna, during which she asked, "Edward or Jacob?" This time I did at least know what she was talking about but I confessed to not having read the books. She told me that she started the series (there are now seven books) because her granddaughter was a great fan and she wanted to see what the kids were into. Turned out, she loved them on their own merits....and she's an Edward kind of gal.

"Read them, Vic," she encouraged, "I'm dying to know if you go for Edward or Jacob!"

So, I ordered the first book, Twilight, from Amazon.

Before I go into that, let me make clear here that I lean toward graphic everything - graphic violence, graphic sex, graphic language. I like my heroes to be a little twisted and deeply cynical like Ed Loy (Declan Hughes) and Hank Thompson (Charlie Huston) and Burke (Andrew Vaschss). I love the black and white characters of Josh Bazell and Adrian McKinty and Andrew Grant and Ray Banks. Even among the more mainstream authors, I like wounded heroes like Gabriel Allon and Micah Dalton and well, I could go on and on.

Furthermore, I generally avoid books with female narrators.

You can see that I approached Twilight with a certain amount of skepticism.

They are essentially romance novels written for teens. Although the main characters are vampires and werewolves, which might normally put them in the genre of horror, they aren't very horrible. The vampire clan in Twilight have turned away from human prey and live on the blood of animals.  They are characterized both by their beauty and their integrity, integrity not being a quality you normally associate with the children of the night.

I had a little trouble with Bella and Edward falling in love. Bella is the normal teenage girl who comes to town. She's inordinately klutzy and both smarter and braver than seems realistic although this is the way it usually is with the heroines of romances. The author explains that the attraction Bella has for Edward has its roots in her smell, which it seems he can't resist. I didn't find that quite believable. I mean, after all, Edward is really 104 years old. He is perfection in spades - fabulously gorgeous, brilliantly intelligent, sophisticated, courageous, honorable and of course, with physical capabilities miles beyond human. So why would be be drawn to a naive 17-year-old high school girl? Well, because that's what has to happen for the story to proceed, I guess.

And it does proceed and is entertaining enough to keep your interest. Bella and Edward and his clan have to take on the bad guys. After some twists and turns, they win, naturally....or there wouldn't be six sequels.

What Stephenie Meyer does best is draw an appealing picture of her vampires, Edward, in particular. She bathes him in descriptive adjectives. He is sensual and beautiful and muscular with a feline grace about him....well, all the various terms with which any reader of romances is familiar. Because, romances are about the men. Those wonderful, sexy, strong perfect heroes that women....and teenage girls, can safely lust after. Meyer handles the physical part carefully so that only the most priggish of parents could find it unacceptable.

I ordered the second book. Because, of course, I still have to discover whether Edward or Jacob is my guy and Jacob wasn't in Twilight enough to make a judgment.

And, heck, I'm not above wallowing in pure masculine beauty and sexuality every now and then.