To Twilight, or Not To Twilight?

Several folks have asked me what I thought of the Twilight series. I’ll admit that I was hooked about 20 pages into the first book and couldn’t put them down until the last one ended. It was rather unexpected, since I absolutely hate fantasy fiction. I only bought it because it was on sale at Wal-Mart and I made a total impulse buy. But 2,500 pages and four books later, here’s my thoughts:

—-SPOILER ALERT… I’M GOING TO GIVE AWAY PART OF BOOK 4, SO SKIP IT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW. AND IF YOU DISREGARD THIS MESSAGE AND READ THE SPOILER, DON’T HATE ME FOR IT AND LET IT RUIN OUR FRIENDSHIP, BECAUSE REALLY… I TOLD YOU SO. YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED.—-

1. I love these books. They were wholesome. No cussing, no gratuitous sex, strong family values. The story dealt with vampires and werewolves, but it was not a celebration of evil or the underworld. The author is Mormon, and I could see a strong conservative, family-values influence in her writing. This is not a Christian series, but there are also no anti-Christian messages. If these books were movies, they would be rated PG (until number 4, which I’ll get to in a minute).

2 . This is a safe, wholesome read for anybody old enough to talk about sex. In fact, it’s never even mentioned until book 3 (if I’m keeping that straight), and even then, the third book reads like one of my parents’ high school abstinence lectures. If anything, the overarching message of the series is “If you have sex, you will immediately become pregnant (no exceptions!), and your baby will violently rip its way out of your uterus and take you to the brink of death.” Yep, definitely got MY attention.

Fear kept me from doing a lot of dangerous things as a kid. So why not have a book that reinforces this? Of course, my fear always stemmed from a knowledge that my dad could make my life a living hell if I ever came home drunk or pregnant. I was the girl in high school who truly believed that one TASTE of beer could leave me drunk, because that’s what daddy always told me. That, and he always assured me that if I did anything wrong, he WOULD find out, and my little high school brain couldn’t even fathom the horrific punishments he would concoct for me after that. Lucky for him and for me, that was all the motivation I needed. Thanks dad, I owe you one.

But I digress…

3. It troubles me that this book is being marketed to very young girls. I know a few fourth and fifth graders who have read this series, and I think the subject matter, while handled very discreetly, is too mature for that young age. While the author never goes into details of the “mechanics,” the subject is inescapable. Once the main characters get married, it’s really all they think about. It’s not a big deal, unless you happen to be reading it and you’re 9. I wish she would have found a way to stay consistent with the first three books and just leave it out completely.

4. The fourth book is just plain boring. It’s 750 pages of total “jump the shark” nothingness. However, after having invested in 1,800 pages of the three previous books, I figured I would plug away in hopes that the ending would be worth it.

It wasn’t, really.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the first three books. While written on a junior high reading level, I found the story to be something that people of any age could appreciate.  The love story is a bit one-dimensional—as an eighth grade girl I would have seen the brooding and mysterious Edward as my dream guy. But now as an adult, Edward struck me as rather boring. I’ve heard people criticize Bellah and Edward’s obsessive love relationship as an unhealthy example to girls, but I argue that younger girls who have never experienced love and all its complications won’t be hurt by fantasizing about finding their knight in shining armor who will literally worship the ground she walks on, always think she’s right, never argue with her, and never challenge her. After all, that’s the ending to just about every chick flick movie I’ve ever watched. Good fiction doesn’t have to be reality. That’s what makes it fun.

Besides, I like anything that motivates people to read. Books have always been one of my first loves, and if people can get excited about a wholesome, well-written story, then I’m a fan. If you’re looking for a book that will teach you life lessons and show a true representation of love in the “real” world, then this isn’t for you. But if you want to escape for a few hours into the lives of some interesting folks who are nothing like you, and everything like you, then run to your bookstore and buy it now! Or call me, and I’ll lend you my copy.

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