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).