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Twilight

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer, Stephenie Meyer [This is a review of the whole series.]

I quite liked the beginning (yeah, about 30 pages) and thought it was, really, all right, and the criticisms were mostly from those who didn't read it. So determined to read the whole lot and make up my own mind.

Halfway into the first book I was frankly bored, by the end of it disgusted, halfway into the second already breathing fire. How could anyone ever mention this in the same breath as Harry Potter? I'm not even wasting my time to compare.
But I persevered and read it all and have every right to criticize now.

So, the first point is that most characters don't actually have any personality, described in any depth. The vampires seem to have stopped in their psychological age as well as physical - maybe that makes sense, but so infantile!

Secondly, Bella is bloody useless and stupid, and the author spends half her time twisting everyone else into praising her and telling one another how beautiful, considerate and clever she is. To prove cleverness and resolve the plot tangles, it's often necessary to give Bella some mysterious revelations, without her actually thinking, applying logic or allowing someone else to arrive to obvious conclusions.

Thirdly - closely connected - the first-person narrative is, in fact, much more demanding than the third-person; the author has to create all the right impressions while not making the hero omniscient. This failed miserably. On the contrary, it seems that the author thought it would be easier to write in first person, like fanfic-writing amateurs. And I hate it most when the heroine is saying things like "I have ivory skin and beautiful brown hair". Have you ever heard a normal person describing their own looks with poetic epithets?

Fourthly, - tired of counting, but have to continue, - there are some other qualities more associated with fan-fiction; no wonder a lot of 15-year-old girls like this! For example, the author is always minutely describing what Bella wears and which colour skirt goes with which colour sweater etc., what exactly she is cooking from what ingredients and is really schoolgirly fascinated with expensive cars and houses, again describing them too elaborately to give any real impression. There's also this curious episode at the start - where Bella moves to another town and suddenly everyone thinks she is the most beautiful girl on earth, while no one noticed her back in Florida. Too much like wishful thinking of a mildly nice-looking teenager. And utterly unrealistic.

Fifthly - and this is what I hate most - what kind of relationship does Twilight show? Does anyone really want their teenage daughter to dream of that? All right, I know not everything was really smooth in my own life, and some relationships were, not to put it too mildly, disastrous. But the kind of love seen here - I'm sorry, it's just sick! Falling in love entirely because the other person is beautiful may be not the best decision, but it was known to happen. Still, after a time you are supposed to get to know each other and value something else rather than looks, however stunning. Does that ever happen to Bella and Edward? At some point they start telling one another how good and kind and full of personality they are - which is neither true nor founded on anything in their mutual getting-to-know-each-other. And there's no respect between them at all. That's what gets me. How can you do something for the good of person you love and against their consent, free will, and without offering any explanation? That's not called love, it's just proprietorship. The way Edward showers her with expensive gifts without any real protest is also sick, although I'm open to suggestion that it's my personal way of looking on things. Nevertheless, I think it's not nice to spend more money than she could ever afford for herself and rub the inequality in all the time. And as for heart-shaped diamond, it has the same fault while being also ungenerous to Jacob (the only character who does have any personality, and Meyer admitted that he also was the only one to develop despite her efforts, by himself - draw your own conclusions) and not in good taste. Girls, can you imagine yourself wearing a large heart-shaped diamond on a bracelet?

The cultural references are also very poor. Bella is described as book-lover, but the only books she mentions are worldwide or at least American classics; whereas a really well-read person would always have some idiosyncrasy, a couple of favourite books which are not really famous and recognised by every authority as a must-read. Simply because we are all different and suddenly some obscure piece appeals to you by mysterious ways, and you become very fond of the book no one else heard about, try to promote it in circle of your friends and find that most of them are not interested - but for yourself, it carries a world of meaning, you have a special affinity with it. Or sometimes it's that you choose the least popular book of an eminent writer as your favourite. And that's because you are, in fact, interested in books and not just in your own reputation for that. The references to classical music are also very poor. Meyer generally mentions pieces which won the favour of radio people for some reason, and it's always Clair de lune or Pachelbel's Canon or Moonlight sonata... D'you know, Beethoven actually wrote 32 piano sonatas? Surely people who live for literally ages had time to listen to them all and choose some less hackneyed favourite? And Debussy was quite different from Beethoven, they don't always turn up together in favourite playlists, except on the radio. And so on... oh, why on earth not research the subject while you're about it?

Finally, I don't think much of the "happy ending". It's so completely pink-sugary happy, without any concessions, Bella doesn't even have to lose her father, or Jacob, or anyone, anything she ever cared about. It's not real. The whole story is not real, and the existence of vampires, werewolves and other supernatural things is actually more believable than the rest of it.