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Once Bitten

Mood: Snarky
Drinking: Tea

It was really only a matter of time before curiosity won out over better judgment and I picked up the Twilight books.

I’m a sucker (heh) for all things vampire. Dracula, Lestat, Angel, even the incredibly boring Bill from those Sookie Stackhouse novels. I’ve loved them all, to varying degrees.

I remember seeing Twilight on the shelves in a bookstore a few years ago, with its fairytale-suggestive cover. I picked it up, read the back jacket copy, and dismissed it as too teenage for my tastes.

But then it became more than a book, it crossed over into phenomenon territory, Harry Potter territory, and my curiosity was piqued.

Speaking of Potter, I put him off for 4 whole books, but was finally coerced into reading by a 10-year-old. With Harry, I was pleasantly surprised. J.K. Rowling created a beautiful, fully-realized world, with actual plots and character development.

Stephenie Meyer, however, created a big pile of crap.

I had trouble settling into reading the first book because Meyer’s writing is so terrible. Really, laughably awful. In fact, I’ve read better fan fiction! And yet, the concept of vampires going to high school was intriguing enough at the beginning that I slogged on through it, pausing here and there to roll my eyes in disbelief at the prose.

A friend recently suggested that of course I finished all 4 books in the series because I, like “everyone else”, fell in love with Edward, the vampire hero, in the first book. Except that I didn’t. How could I? Meyer gives you nothing to fall in love with. He’s a caricature of a 13-year-old’s bedtime fantasy.

And then she goes and mucks about with vampire lore, ridding herself of all garlic, crosses, and coffins to create a whole new vampire legend. And I would be fine with that, if her new vampires weren’t so silly. For example: The reason Meyer’s vampires live in Forks, Washington, under the cloudiest skies in the country is not because, like your usual Whedon or Rice vampire, they will burst into flames in the sunlight. No. Meyer’s vampires, when touched by sun, sparkle.

I will pause so you can guffaw.

Yes, her vampires are so beautiful and glittery, they must hide from the sunlight because their skin is so iridescent, it would dazzle all humans and thereby reveal the vampire secret identity.

I guess I prefer my vampires a little less sparkly. And a little less stalkerish.

I remember being a teenager and dreaming of having a boyfriend who thought I was utterly fascinating, who was entranced by everything about me, who loved to just sit for hours and watch me breathe, who wanted to be with me every moment of every day, no matter what kind of mood I might be in.

It was a pretty little fantasy that quickly hit the wall of reality when I actually got a boyfriend and had to face the fact that I really wasn’t all that fascinating all the time, and that having someone around underfoot every single second of the day would only wipe the bloom off the rose that much faster.

I grew up, I grew out of it, and I came to understand that love was more complicated than I had imagined, but it was better, too.

Meyer apparently never outgrew her fantasy, and she bequeaths her vampire Edward with all the attributes of a perfect teenage dream. He is pretty. He has great hair. He’s mysterious. He’s slightly dangerous. He plays the piano. He’s a vegetarian (he only sucks the blood of animals, not humans). He never sleeps, so he has plenty of time to devote to staring at the object of his inexplicable, immortal ardor: a human girl with brown eyes, brown hair, and average everygirl tendencies, Bella.

Bella is quite possibly the most boring heroine I’ve ever come across. She narrates all four books, and constantly harps on Edward’s perfection and her own comparative inadequacies. It’s the old “why does he love me?” quandary, times ten.

The thing is, Meyer never really answers that question to the reader’s satisfaction. She never gives a good enough reason for why Edward does love Bella, and why then readers should love her, too.

Bella remains a hapless, accident-prone damsel in distress, self-absorbed, co-dependent, utterly obsessive in her fixation on Edward, and yet somehow profoundly boring.

I kept returning to that underlying issue as I read each book. I wasn’t in love with Edward, and I didn’t give a shit about Bella. I’m still not sure how I made it through all 4 books.

There’s also the love triangle with a werewolf (of course).
Pages and pages and pages wasted on that angst-ridden drama, only to resolve it neatly and all-too conveniently in the final book.

Wasted pages an apt description for this entire series of books. Meyer’s writing does improve somewhat — it would have to, as she churned out these 4 books in just 3 years.

But she is not a good writer, by any stretch. You’d hope that she’d make up for it by at least being a good storyteller, but she doesn’t pull that off, either.

For me, one of the most ridiculous storylines in the entire series is this: Bella, who is a virgin (of course), wants to make love to Edward. But he won’t have sex with her because he’s afraid he will hurt her with his vampire super-strength (super penis!). Ok. I can possibly accept that.

But then Meyer, who is a Mormon, takes it to a whole new level of crazy: Edward, who is really about 80 years old, and therefore was a human in a much more genteel time, really doesn’t want to have sex with Bella UNTIL THEY ARE MARRIED.

For real. A vampire with a puritan (or Mormon) moral code. Pardon me while I die laughing.

Overall, Meyer’s overarching plot points, if you can call them that, are much ado about nothing. She’ll blather on and on and on about pointless details, with excruciatingly long conversations between Bella and her two men, Edward and Jacob, and then *bam* throw some sort of dramatic conflict with other, non-vegetarian vampires in toward the very end in order to resolve some half-assed plot points.

In the last book, there’s this big buildup for chapters and chapters to a final battle, and then when you actually get there, the battle just disappears. The vampires talk it out instead.

Gah! Most. Boring. Vampires. Ever.

I just kept thinking, as I plowed my way through this mess, “How in the HELL did she ever get published?” Followed quickly by, “And who the HELL are her editors? They should be fired!” Followed immediately by, “And why the HELL am I reading this garbage?”

Bottom line: Meyer’s books are the most self-indulgent, poorly-written, ridiculously-contrived, juvenile fantasies I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading. Edward groupies can bite me, because no amount of fanatical raving is going to make these books any good.

They say curiousity killed the cat, and all that, but in this case, curiosity killed off more than a few of my brain cells.

Oh, I can’t wait for the movie!

-Lo, twice shy.

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