Review Posted October 11, 2008.
Megan Tingley Books (Little, Brown), New York, 2005. 498 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2007: #4, Fantasy Teen Fiction
I took a Resources for Young Adults class last quarter. As part of the class, I signed up for a Listserv on which librarians serving teens discuss good books. That's where I heard about Twilight, as well as some of my classmates mentioning it as the best vampire novel they'd ever read. I read an extensive article about the author, Stephenie Meyer, and I was intrigued. She's a Mormon, and promised that she would not include graphic sex in her novels. It sounds like her values are similar to mine. I was intrigued, so I put myself on the wait list for Twilight.
I have to say that the only thing I didn't like about Twilight was how late it kept me reading! I thought I'd read one chapter before going to sleep--and finally managed to close the book hours later. But I have to admit, I like it when a book engages me that thoroughly.
Bella, the heroine, is everygirl. She was easy to identify with, and I felt sympathy with her from the start. Stephenie Meyer keeps you reading by not answering every question. We wonder, along with Bella, why that handsome Edward seems so angry with her, after meeting her eyes once, that he stays away from school for a week, and she can't help but feel it's to avoid her. Then, how does he move with superhuman speed, but deny it? Why does he say he's bad for her?
I'm not giving anything away by saying this is a vampire novel, since it's on the cover of the book and in any reviews. But even knowing that, Stephenie Meyer manages to keep you guessing as to how Bella will find out and what, exactly, that means.
I've never been a big vampire novel fan, but this book doesn't have the usual feel of a vampire book. Instead, it's a powerful, sensual love story. Since Edward has to be careful not to get to close to Bella, so as not to be tempted to taste her blood, the tension between them is extreme. Today's TV writers would do well to learn a lesson from this book. Sometimes less is more when it comes to describing romance. This is good clean fiction that packs a punch.
Twilight is hugely popular with teen girls, and I can see why. 43-year-old abandoned housewives find it wonderful, too!
My only complaint is that the vampires are a little too perfect. They are more beautiful than ordinary mortals, have superhuman speed and strength, don't have to sleep or breathe, and live forever. Edward's group has found a way to get around drinking human blood. So what's not to like? I don't see any compelling reason why Bella shouldn't just become a vampire, too. Sure, it would be tough explaining it to her parents at first....
I can't wait to read the next two books! In fact, I liked this book so much, instead of getting on the library's hold list, I ordered the next two books from Amazon. I have a feeling I'm going to be reading these books more than once.