Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote in specficbooks,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh
specficbooks

Twilight and family

I did like Twilight. Wasn’t blown away by it, wasn’t hating it like several friends and acquaintances of mine; in fact, I find the book a touch low-key for something that’s inspired such a fervent following, and inspired it so quickly. (Only first published three years ago, and now it’s spawned three sequels, the still-incomplete “Edward’s POV” book that leaked, and a film that made $30 million on just its first day.) But I did like it, and that in its own way is significant.*

The book has more of a sense of humor to it than I expected. It has knowing moments when Bella Swan – or, at least, Meyer watching and telling Bella’s story – at some level realizes she’s getting overly spun up about teenage drama. Edward definitely has a sense of humor. (In fact, I’ve heard a lot of readers claim the book’s humorless, and I’ve wondered did they actually read it?) Now what’s coming to my mind is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, combining supernatural horror with high school drama and treating both with a sense of humor, a sense of humor that’s more my type of humor. I’ve had more exposure to the Buffy humor, after all.

Twilight has the unevenness that a lot of first novels have: it shifts a little too quickly at times in emotion, tone, and the sound of its dialogue (dialogue takes a lot of writing practice), and the plot sometimes clunks rather than flows. Stephenie Meyer is learning much more about writing as we read her stuff, and as I like to be a positive person I hope she gets better. (She could use “said” more often, instead of “sighed,” “moaned,” “pleaded” and other heavy-lifting words.)

Okay, let’s see if I can analyze:

Family is important to the novel. The divorced Swan family does what it can to keep civil (I sense that most of the divorce drama is long past for them; they all seem to get along without much friction), and of course the Cullen family is a blended family. The three traveling vamps call themselves a “coven”; if I remember correctly, they don’t call the Cullens a coven (say that five times fast!), so they also notice that this is a different sort of set-up. In fact, I think the vampire adoptions, the attempts to blend and interact with human society as Dr. Cullen does, and of course the sparkling came from Meyer wanting to make her vampires Not Your Older Siblings’ Vampires. It makes me wonder: how different is the Cullen’s set-up, compared to the rest of the vampire society? Is that dealt with in the sequels?

Families are like little civilizations, so you hope they’re functional ones. The Cullens found one way to be functional, the Swans another. How are they all well-behaved? The Cullens channel their energy into medicine, music, their own sports, hunting-of-animals-only, and pursuits not seen in this book. (In fact, I hope the later books show more of what the family does when they’re not fighting bad vamps: the Cullens don’t seem to do enough. What other hobbies do they have?) The Swans juggle home life, work and minor-league sports. The families also all stick up for each other: the Cullens protect their extended family late in the book, and Bella’s parents do their best by Bella in their more down-to-earth concerns. They all see that Bella’s worth protecting.

I don’t know yet if I want to read the next books, but this makes me more curious what Meyer did with her recent adult science fiction novel The Host.

Now tell me, y’all, if I’m talking out my ass.


* I’m glad I enjoyed this book, ’cause I don’t automatically like vampire novels. The only one I’ve ever really loved was Dracula, which I’ve read twice. When I read Interview With the Vampire, I felt like I was looking at the pages through a layer of molasses. Yeah, I really didn’t connect with it. ’Salem’s Lot was, I think, more successful in its Peyton Place small-town drama than in its vampire horror, plus it’s the first Stephen King novel where King shows his sense of humor, which I didn’t find in Carrie. And the bit I best remember from Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls was when a character wonders what happens to all of the saliva we swallow during the day. (Future restaurant-novel writer docbrite was already pondering digestive concerns…)
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