Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Review: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (Book & Movie)


I'd never given much thought to how I would die - though I'd had reason enough in the last few months -but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
[pg 1]


Twilight
by Stephanie Meyer
Little, Brown. 2005
Fantasy (YA); 498 pgs


From Publisher:
Deeply sensuous and extraordinarily suspenseful, TWILIGHT captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite. Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife-between desire and danger.

For months now, my Harry-Potter-fanatic coworker has demanded I read Twilight. With the movie released this past month, she was threatening to never speak to me again. I couldn't help but to ask her if that would be such a bad thing. She was not amused. Well, maybe a little. She actually did try to ignore me the day she made that statement, but she eventually gave in. She's a talker and I'm too good of a listener.

I've had a copy of Twilight for awhile now--least you think it was all her influence and none of my own that made me curious to read this particular book. I was no doubt going to read it. I do like vampire fiction, after all. It was the when that was up in the air.

I began reading a stray copy of Twilight that was laying around the office one day a couple of weeks ago because the book I was reading proved not to be a book I should be reading while in such a public place as work. It was dredging up too many dark memories from my past, and I decided something lighter and less emotional was in order. Since I had planned to read Twilight next anyway, it seemed the most obvious choice. I did not expect it to suck me in so completely. I think all the negative reviews I had been reading lately had me skeptical that I would like the novel.

Because I cannot read while I am actually working, I read during my half hour lunch break and even took an afternoon break, something I never do, to continue. Since I had a copy of the book at home, I memorized the page number I left off on (page 80) before leaving the office and resumed reading my own book at home that evening. A few hours later, I had read all 498 pages.

Stephanie Meyer's Twilight swept me out of my world and straight into the one of her creation without any hesitation. I had not expected to be quite so blown away with the book, but there I was, totally immersed in Bella and Edward's story. I can understand why so many people loved this novel, this series. The author captured the essence of a teenager quite well with Bella and actually with Edward too even if technically he is not the age he pretends to be. They are both rather moody and curious. Their emotions are more intense and their feelings for each other border on obsession. I was drawn to both Bella and Edward. I thought Jacob was adorable; he reminded me more of a little brother than anything else.

That said, I also understand some of the minor complaints about the novel. Stephanie Meyer is an amazing story teller, but I wondered a couple of times if all the details and repetitive descriptions were necessary. That did not slow me down though or take away from my overall enjoyment of the novel, however.

A part of me was motivated to read the book when I did so that I would be ready for the movie when it came out. I actually had not intended to see it opening weekend, but my coworker, who tried to convince me to come with her to the midnight release, at least got my promise to try and see it before we met up again at work the following Monday. She hates having to keep her thoughts to herself, you see (and for the record, she's perfectly okay with me posting about her here on my blog. She even said I could use her name, which I won't).

I had a lot of misgivings about seeing the movie. The trailers did nothing for me and the reviews I had been reading were not very promising. My expectations going in, therefore, were low. I ended up enjoying the movie--in spite of or perhaps as a result of that fact. I loved the Oregon scenery--so green and all those beautiful trees! To live somewhere where it rains so frequently! Heaven, I say! The movie screenwriters took some liberties with switching up the story a little, adding elements to the plot which I thought were very effective in introducing characters early on and moving the story along. I thought the movie was well cast. The intensity between Bella and Edward carried over from the book to the movie, although bordered on the melodramatic at times (and yes, I know melodrama comes with being a teenager).

I would have loved to see more of the minor characters, but then, there really is only so much you can put into a movie. The special effects were a bit giggle worthy. There were some funny moments (intentional or not) and plenty of romantic ones. All said and done, unless you are a die hard Twilight fan, I think seeing the movie on DVD will be satisfactory enough. But even with my nitpicky complaints, I thought the movie accomplished what it set out to do, and I walked out of the theater satisfied. Both times.

As a side note: my husband liked the movie quite a bit. Maybe even more than I did in some respects. It's hard to say. Seeing the movie with a couple of girlfriends the second time (well, it was actually their third viewing and my second) was a real blast. My only regret was that I admitted to getting teary-eyed at one spot during my first viewing of the movie, and so, when watching it with my friends, they made a point of checking to see if I was okay when that same scene came up, tissues at the ready. Okay, so maybe you had to be there.

37 comments:

  1. I'm glad to hear you finally read Twilight! I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I love being swept away. I found myself reading and not realizing how much time had flown by..I had read 200 pages before I looked up on the first day I started reading.

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  2. I'm glad you liked the movie. I can't wait for it to come out over here so I can see it!

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  3. Well, I guess I feel justified now! I was starting to feel a little exposed by reviewing this book and liking it! Yes it is sophomoric, but sometimes you need that. Yes it is melodramatic and obsessive (why I didn't let my 10 year old read it...don't need any more of that in my house!). It is a book that brings out the pubescent teenager in all of us. I have read the second and third of the series, but not yet the fourth. I am starting to grow weary of the whole thing at this point, but am committed to seeing it through!

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  4. I enjoyed the movie and have the books and will read them when time permits. Glad to hear your perspective!

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  5. I'm glad you liked the book - I loved it. Unfortunately can't say the same for the rest of the series. I still need to read Breaking Dawn but I'm not in a rush.

    I do want to see the movie but no one wants to go with me! haha... I guess I'll have to wait for the DVD.

    So, are you going to read the next one in the series?

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  6. I guess I'd better get around to reading this one :-). Not really into the movie, though - and neither is my 14-year-old. She feels that it would ruin the books (which she's read, all except Breaking Dawn) for her.

    Thanks for the reviews, Wendy!

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  7. Glad to hear you liked the book! I've been eager to read it, myself, but have been a bit discouraged by the less than stellar reviews lately. If only my reading plate wasn't already too full, I'd probably dash out and get the series (just like the rest of the free world), but it would probably sit here gathering dust like the rest of my collection.

    I went to see the movie by myself (balanced precariously on the line between being a total loser and "enjoying my own company") while I was having work done on my car, and despite my cynical inner mocking voice, enjoyed it. And would enjoy it again if given the opportunity. ;-)

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  8. I put off reading the book for quite a while, also. But, when I finally got around to it, I could not put it down. I thought Twilight was more a romance than a vampire novel. As to the movie . . . I'm waiting for the DVD. I don't have anyone to go with (the guys just rolled their eyes when I mentioned it) so it'll have to wait.

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  9. I'm so glad you like this one, Wendy. This was the book that got me started reading fiction again last year. And Edward was also the one that got me hooked on vampires... I'm waiting to watch the movie. :)

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  10. I'm glad you enjoyed this, Wendy. This is my favourite amongst the series. I haven't watched the movie but I've heard a few mixed reviews on it. I'm hoping to catch it if there's a chance! ;)

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  11. Serena - It's about time too, isn't it? LOL It was the same way when I read--time just flew by.

    Nikki - I hope you like it when you do see it! Hopefully the wait won't be much longer. :-)

    Sandy - Yes, sometimes a book like Twilight is just what a girl needs. :-) I've heard the next three books in the series aren't quite as good as the first. I imagine I'll be reading them all even if I end up agreeing with that opinion. :-)

    Michelle - There are so many opinions out there on both the books and the movie, aren't there? It'll be interesting to see what you think of the books when you get to them. I am glad you enjoyed the movie!

    Iliana - It was a fun book. I can see why you loved it. :-) We'll see how the rest of the series goes. Maybe my low expectations will come in handy. I'm not in a big hurry to read the next one. I'm kind of in a foreign mystery mood at the moment. Figure I should run with that while I can.

    I wish I lived closer to you. I'd take you to the movie. I was actually going to go by myself the first time, but my husband decided to tag along. Fortunately, it turned out in his favor in the end.

    Florinda - I can understand where your 14-year-old is coming from. I'm the kind of person who can't help but want to see movies based on the books I read. I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess. :-)

    Megan - I know what you mean. I think that's partly why it took me so long to actually read it. You'll get to it when you get to it, if it's meant to be. :-) No rush.

    Haha! I was prepared to go by myself too, but hubby agreed to go after all. I don't mind going to the movies by myself--although my husband and friends think that's weird. I actually had that same voice in my head as I watched it too. :-)

    Nancy - I know! If it hadn't been for work, I imagine I would have read it in one sitting. It really is more of a romance than a vampire story, I agree.

    Alice - I can see why it did! It is definitely a mesmerizing story! :-)

    Melody - It was good, wasn't it? I'm looking forward to finishing off the series. I hope you get to see the movie when it comes your way!

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  12. I loved Twilight too. As you said, it has the ability to suck you in. I did not like New moon so much, but Eclipse was good. I ended up reading the huge book at the airport when the flight was delayed by 4 hours. And I was the only person who was not irritated by the delay :)

    I am waiting for the movie to come to India now.

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  13. I have three nieces, but only one of them is a reader - she is 6. The other two are 22 and 15 and don't read much at all. But, both of them have read this series. Georgia, the 15yo read them over a few months. Holly, the 22yo, read all four books last week.
    I think it must be some sort of testament to the author's skill if she can get non-readers reading, and reading obsessively.
    I might have to give these books a try myself :)

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  14. "I walked out of the theater satisfied. Both times." That says something right there. Maybe I should stop being so darn resistant, but I'm not done being stubborn yet! :) Glad you enjoyed

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  15. Eliza - I've been warned by several people that New Moon gets off to a slow start--and then another friend who loved all the books told me not to believe anything the naysayers say. Haha!

    I can see these books being great as airport delay reading--if the others are as consuming as the first in the series, it wouldn't be any problem to block out any distractions.

    Julie - It is wonderful when a book or series is able to draw in non-readers. That says a lot about the power a book can hold, doesn't it? Harry Potter was that way for so many. Hopefully this new found discovery of the joys of reading has staying power and will transfer over to other books.

    Trish - LOL I've felt that way before! :-) It's not something you have to rush out and see by any means. Watch it on DVD or cable when it comes out. Don't forget, I wasn't expecting much, and so the bar wasn't that high for me to be satisfied. ;-)

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  16. I read Twilight when it first came out and really liked it. I didn't care for the next one so much and haven't finished the series, but maybe I should. My daughter recently discovered them and went through all of them like eating candy.

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  17. Almost everyone whose read this book has raved about it to me - the only caveat being Bella's dependence on Edward. If I wasn't boycotting romance and vampire novels....I might succumb to it. I might anyway.

    Your interview idea sounds good for the new year, btw!

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  18. I really didn't like Twilight. I found it terribly sexist. It really bothered me that Bella had no passions outside of Edward, no goals for herself even before she met him. I didn't understand why she'd move to a town she hated, this was just glossed over and never really explained. And it bothered me that "the new girl" got asked out by all the boys and befriended by all the girls. In that, it was truly a fantasy.

    I guess I'd like to see female protagonists with more oomph, more of their own personality rather than just mooning over a boy.

    And I felt the fact that she was portrayed as "clumsy" by Edward was a contrived flaw by the author. It was not mentioned before she met him, really, but he talks about how clumsy she is so incessantly that it really bugged me. Why not just create a character with more depth rather than make her clumsy?

    I guess you can tell I'm not a fan. I'd rather read Harry Potter, where the girls stand on their own.

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  19. Loved your review of the book and the movie. I'm reading Twilight for the 2nd time! I'm a middle school librarian and I read this book last year so I had to get all the girls hooked on it and now the boys are demanding to put a hold on it!!!

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  20. Wendy! You CANNOT tell us a scene made you teary-eyed and then not tell us which scene!!! :)

    C'mon ... what part was it???

    Shana
    Literarily

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  21. Jenclair - I've been hearing that a lot about the second book. My friend thinks it is because Edward isn't it New Moon all that much. For her perhaps. :-) We'll see.

    Carrie K - I've read so many negative reviews of the book lately, that I was beginning to doubt whether I should bother reading it. I am glad I took a chance on it, but I definitely don't think it's for everyone.

    I've read better vampire fiction novels, but this was a fun, light book. In your case, I just don't recommend going in with high expectations if you do plan to read it.

    Karen - That's an interesting take on the book. I can't say I ever thought it was sexist--no more than most romance novels anyway. My impression of Bella was that she knew her mind quite well and at times was more the aggressor than Edward was. I do agree with you about her not having other outside interests (other than music)--there was definitely an obsession for Edward there. And he for her. I took that as just being what the author was aiming for though.

    As for her moving to Forks, from what I could tell, she moved there so that her mother could travel with her husband and wouldn't be stuck at home with her. She knew her mother wanted to go on the road, and Bella did not want to be the one thing holding her mother back. The author didn't go into it much, but that's what I took from what we were told. Not having read the other books in the series, I don't know how much more may be explained in the later books.

    It did seem really odd that Bella was suddenly the object of her new friends' desire when she arrived in Forks. I chalked it up to her being the new girl in town--and a pretty one at that. Just as one of the girls indicated: the new shiny toy. Of course, not all the girls did like her. Lauren, if I remember right, didn't like her much.

    I agree, Harry Potter is a much better series. I can see why people weren't impressed with Twilight. The writing really wasn't the best in my opinion, but I was swept away by the book nonetheless. That's not something I can dismiss easily.

    Staci - Thank you! It's so great to see kids getting excited over books. :-) I can see myself reading Twilight again someday.

    Shana - Haha! It might be too much of a spoiler. It wasn't because of some touching love scene. It was a scene between Bella and her father. And it wasn't really the movie scene that got me choked up but the anticipation of it because I so hated that scene in the book. I felt so terrible for her father. If that makes sense.

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  22. Great review, I share all of your thoughts on the book. I started reading it I believe in the summer. I'm not real big into vampires, so I didn't think much of reading it. When I did, I loved it thouch which surprised me. I struggled a bit with 2 & 3, but 4 totally made me love the series even more!

    I also read Host. That one had such detailed descriptions, I almost quit reading it several times. By the end though, I really liked the book & couldn't stop thinking about it. That book would have been better as a tv series or something, it has so much in it!

    Going into the movie with no expectations, I really enjoyed it.

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  23. Ginny - Thank you for stopping by! I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. :-)

    A friend of mine really liked The Host and has recommended I give it a try. I'll keep in mind that it may get off to a rough start but to stick with it if I do read it.

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  24. i saw the movie yesterday, it was ok, nothing truly special about it--the book is sooooo much better.

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  25. I was surprised by how caught up I got in it too. And again with New Moon when I read it last month.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the movie although it will probably end up being the DVD.
    I just read The Tales of Beedle the Bard and it was so fun to revisit the world of Harry Potter even if the main characters weren't there.

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  26. I got hooked on the book quickly and finished it off the same day as well.
    Haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm not a big movie person anyway.

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  27. I'm one of the few who still hasn't read the book(s). A co-worker just read all of them in a few days. I'm thinking maybe I should read them myself! I'm glad to hear you enjoy the book and the movie. Do you plan to read the rest of the series?

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  28. Chris - I can see myself watching the movie again and again once it's out on DVD. It might not be award winning and it is definitely silly in parts, but I still found it fun to watch.

    Nat - It was surprising. I am looking forward to reading New Moon. Hopefully this month, but we'll see.

    I need to get a copy of The Tales of Beedle Bard. I didn't see one when I was at the bookstore today. Very disappointing.

    Shonna - It really pulled me in! I honestly hadn't expected that it would after reading so many mixed reviews.

    Laura - I do hope to read the rest of the series. I'm just not quite sure when yet. :-)

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  29. I'm not looking forward to trying to write a post about the books and the movie lol. I really liked the film and so did my husband (he's mostly a non-reader but he wants to read the second book to find out what happens next).

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  30. I know exactly what scene you're talking about!!! I DID like her dad in that movie. I'm not sure I thought his acting skills were all that superb but he was still a great fit for the part.

    Shana
    Literarily

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  31. Jen - LOL It took me a long time to post this one, believe me. I still am not sure I'm quite happy with it, but I decided I probably would never be if I kept stalling.

    Shana - I liked her dad in the movie was as well. I didn't feel I got to see enough of him though to get a good feel for the acting.

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  32. I wasn't planning on reading this book for awhile but a borrowed copy fell into my lap so it is staring at me and calling my name :)

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  33. Samantha - I'll be curious to know what you think when you get to it!

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  34. Sorry it's taken me so long to revisit your blog. You know how easy it is to fall so far behind.

    Anyway, glad to hear you enjoyed Twilight. I thought the series was entertaining, though not great literature by any stretch of the imagination. I liked the movie, too. Serena and I laughed pretty much the whole way through it, though I don't know if that was the intended reaction. LOL

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  35. Anna - Oh, boy do I know! It would be nice if all of us bloggers took a little break so we could catch up. :-)

    That's pretty much my thoughts too on the series. It was entertaining, but definitely not great literature. I found myself laughing through the movie too. I think that's part of what made it a fun movie to see--even if I shouldn't have found it quite so funny. :-)

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  36. i don't understand what is the appeal of Robert Pattinson (Edward); he has an unusually shaped nose

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  37. Coffee - Plenty of girls and women would disagree with you there. :-) Attractiveness is a lot like taste in books and drinks. Not everyone likes the same types of books or the same flavors of drinks.

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