You really have to have eternity stretching before you, and not much to fill the empty days and sleepless nights with (vampires, it turns out, don’t sleep), if you want to have the kind of disposable time on your hands to read a series of books like Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
It starts out with a kicky kind of narrative drive. The first-person narrator is in Penelope Pitstop peril for her life. Promising, for sure. How does she get out of this one?
That she gets out, I assumed, since my 12-year-old was panting down my neck with the other three weighty tomes at the ready for me to digest once I’d swallowed the first – although I supposed there was always the possibility, given the supernatural nature of the theme, that she didn’t.
But right after that kick-start beginning, things slow to a crawl. Okay, I thought, perhaps Meyers is doing this to give us a sense of how crawlingly boring it is in the town Our Hero Bella has found herself in: Forks, Washington, land of perpetual cloud cover, Smallville to secret superheroes.
Nope. Just plain crawling after that.
Like the diaries of turn-of-the-century housewives, we are thereafter treated not only to every single thought in Bella’s head – something her lucky telepathic vampire boyfriend can’t do – as well as every single detail of Bella’s existence. We learn exactly what Bella wears every day, what she cooks her father for dinner, every time she cleans the house, how her car sounds when it starts, what the weather is like EVERY SINGLE DAY, and what she has for every single meal.
Every frustratingly innocent stroke of the cheek is painstakingly narrated between Bella and Edward, the teenaged lovers.
Well, technically Edward is not a teenager, although the book insists he is. Turned vamp at 17, he is referred to as perpetually 17, but he was born in 1901, making him 107 years old. Call me a stickler, but your age is your age, no matter how well-preserved you are. I mean, my mom looks awesome for being in her 60s, and is often mistaken for being far younger than her years.
Doesn’t make her actually 50. Although don’t tell HER that.
So it’s really sort of a May-December romance. Or, January-December romance. Either way, the age difference is nominal, because they’re both extremely immature, which is fine, because it’s sweet to see two people – er, one people and a supernatural creature – so well-suited for each other.
They’re suited for each other, because as one newspaper review so aptly put it: “They want each other so badly because they want each other so badly.”
That’s about it. There’s no deep, getting-to-know-you period. There’s no real reason these two fall in love – unless you count the fact that Ed really digs the way Bella smells, and wants more than anything, especially in the beginning, to literally eat her up.
They just really, really, crush hard on each other, and decide, “that’s it, we’re done” with the familiar old teenage intensity, which just goes to show how very little one can learn in 100 years if one tries very hard to avoid maturity.
Most amazing of all?
There is, apparently, some deep cultural thirst – if you’ll excuse the pun – for this uncritical, “I love you because I love you, now let’s gaze into each other’s eyes soulfully for the next 7,000 pages” in American life.
Cause everybody’s reading it.
Theaters are packed.
Are you Team Edward? Team Jacob? Team Switzerland?
Have you caught Twilight Fever? Or are you going to go ahead and live a life of your own? However short?