I’m LDS, or Mormon as the world insists upon calling us, so I was of course attracted to Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire series. We fellow Latter-day Saints (as we call ourselves) have to look out for one another.
But then I actually read Twilight, and like most everyone else who has read the series, became totally engrossed in the world Meyer had created. I’d never read any books about vampires. They frighten me. And I’m a professional coward if there ever was one; horror movies and horror stories just aren’t my cup of tea, which I don’t drink either. But Twilight was different. Twilight was an anti-vampire story. Well, no, that’s not true exactly. Some of the vampires in the story fit the conventional stereotype quite nicely: savagely violent creatures out to get one thing, or better said: out to suck one thing.
And then there’s Edward, every teenage girl’s dream, a beautifully handsome, incredibly powerful, kindly self-sacrificing hunk of burning love. It’s unfortunate that Edward is a vampire, yes, but somehow every fifteen-year-old girl who’s ever laid the eyes of her imagination on Edward is willing to look past that tiny little character flaw.
As for me, I’m in love with Jasper, the taller, stronger, equally friendly vampire.
I jest of course. I haven’t swooned for any vampires. But I do enjoy the story. In Book Three, our heorine Bella is torn — isn’t she always — between conflicting forces in her life, namely Edward — who’s insisting she go to a fine ivy league college after gradutation and marry him — and Jacob, her werewolf, Native American friend, who loves her just as much as Edward does.
Add to the that the rising threat of a coven of vampires tearing it up in Seattle. Bella learns that these new vampires are somehow connected to her, and all the friendly vampires and werewolves in Bella’s life must step in to assist her.
Let’s make no mistake. This is a romance novel. Granted, a thrilling, moving, page-turning romance novel, but a romance novel all the same. And I’m not going to pretend to be above such things. I loved it. I devoured it, in fact, as the vampires might say.
A dear friend of mine hates these books and rightly points out that Bella is in a rather oppressive relationship that every parent would consider a nightmare. And she’s right. That said, I can’t deny that I love these books. They’re thrilling. Stephenie Meyer is an amazing storyteller. It all reads so easily. No clunky dialogue here. And the action sequences are just as long and vivid as they need to be. But Meyer’s greatest strength is her gift for creating characters we live for, characters who feel just as close to us as the real people in our lives. I think it’s the reason why Meyer has the following she does. Millions of adolescent girls in America are in love with a boy who doesn’t exist. Girls? What am I saying? I work with adult women who are just as obsessed with Edward. HE is the reason why these books have been so successful. Bella, the narrator and hero of our story, is probably the least interesting of the bunch.
Some of the book I did found annoying, however. How Bella treats Jacob before the final confrontation, for example. Or the idea that true love is a somewhat ambiguous emotion that one person can feel for two people at once. As true as that idea may be, I felt more like I was simply being pulled along to the next novel than experiecing one of love’s little conundrums. But who can fault Meyer for that? That’s how books are sold after all. Pull them along, pull them along, then make them buy the sequel.
Well done, Mrs. Meyer. Mission accomplished.