Twilight: The highlights. But mostly the lowlights.

If I don’t get this off my chest soon, it’s going to haunt me forever and then I may need therapy and that will just make it all worse.

Disclaimer: I’m an avid reader. And I read anything. And when I say anything, I mean, I spent an entire Shabbat a month ago deeply engrossed in my brother’s copy of The Power Broker, a 1,000+ page text book about the rise and fall of New York City’s greatest and most controversial urban planner, Robert Moses. It was all I had in the house that I hadn’t yet read (fascinating, by the way).

So, yes, I read all four books of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. It was peer pressure at first, which is how these things usually come to be. I’m a fantasy fan, though, and a major Harry Potter nut. And I felt the same skepticism about Harry Potter before I actually read it in 2000. So, teen-girl-screaming associations aside, it felt logical to give it a chance.

Here’s my problem with the story: There is so much potential there. So much. I suppose that’s the highlight – the potential. I so badly wanted to lean over to Stephenie and say, wait, why’d you stop here? Why not explain this? Why not go further here? Why keep it so simple there? So much potential to be a way more engaging, heart-wrenching, painfully delicious story.

But, it fell flat. Unfortunately for me, having sat through it all. What kept me going was hoping there’s be more somewhere. Even with fifty pages left to the series, knowing it was the last book she’d do, I hoped. I really hoped. Somehow, the pages would extend themselves. Somehow, this wouldn’t remain a cheap read.

But it did. The lowlights – well, they were everywhere.

The writing was sub-par. Yes, you can write a seemingly young-adult novel and not have it be sub-par. Harry Potter isn’t the best writing in the world – it’s the creative elements of the story that keep it engaging – but it still lived up to a certain level of expectation.

The characters were flat. 2D. Too perfect or too imperfect. Too simple or too fake-complex. No one had any real problems. Everything was a neat package, even if it was packed with vampire venom.

And, like I said, the story could have gone a lot deeper, carried us further, given us real joy and harsh pain. I don’t know why she left it so surface-level. I don’t know her as a writer other than here. But it sounded like a publisher said, here, do this, so she did it. Maybe that’s even what happened. What a shame.

It would be cool to have Robert Jordan (rest his soul) or Orson Scott Card or even JK Rowling take a shot at the same story and characters. Give it that oomph I expect out of fantasy.

I guess I assumed way too much going into it.

Well, in any case, I’d like to thank the people who lent me books one, two and four, and the airport Steimatsky clerk who didn’t seem to judge me when I bought book three in a fit of desperation (I don’t have to explain myself).





5 responses to “Twilight: The highlights. But mostly the lowlights.”

  1. Evi Avatar

    Thank you for confirming my resistance to reading it. Glad I decided to re-read the Harry Potter series and not waste my very precious time reading Twilight.

  2. elie Avatar

    I still maintain it’s a cheap and easy read for when you’re traveling or indoors all day on the weekend. Great for planes (there and back). It’s not un-entertaining; but as a fantasy fan, I wanted so much more.

  3. Rowena Avatar

    Hi there! I also love fantasy novels and have read all of the Harry Potter books (Remember being in England in 2003 waiting for Order of the Phoenix to come out?!). I read all of the Twilight Books this year. I must confess that I found the books entertaining and wanted more details in some parts. I think Stephenie didn’t delve into some of the character because she intended to write other books in other character’s perpectives. For example, she started writing “Midnight Sun” but never published it. It’s “Twilight” in Edward’s perspective. You can read a PDF of it on her website, or not. Whatever suits your fancy.

  4. elie Avatar

    Hey Rowena! We sure did live HP in England. Didn’t know she was going to write other books from other perspectives. Interesting take, and maybe helpful.

  5. […] to say, it blows Twilight out of the fantasy universe. I can’t believe I even felt the need to add that here. You had me at Twilight […]

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