Initially I wanted to post a review for each book in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, but as I finished Breaking Dawn over the weekend, I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. Although the books don’t overlap with each other, its not hard to give away spoilers. My overall impression of the books are that they are not the replacement Harry Potter series as some other reviews would have you think. I’m still trying to figure out the appeal of the characters despite the weak storylines. Not a typical review, I’ll just write up a paragraph on each title.
The novel begins with Bella Swan’s move from Phoenix to Forks, Washington, one of the rainiest cities in the US. Bella first meets Edward as her biology lab partner when he takes an unusually offense to her being placed next to him. Over the next few weeks, their relationship develops and its not long before Bella puts the pieces of Edward’s unusual characteristics together. His speed, his good looks, and his strength all point to Edward being a vampire. As their romance develops, a nomad coven soon enters Forks, putting Bella’s human life in serious danger.
Twilight is really the strongest book in the series. The reader feels Bella’s attraction to Edward, and every girl I’ve talked to who has read this book has fallen in love with Edward as well. Bella is clumsy and is very typical high school teenage girl, but maybe a little bit more mature. Twilight is a story that is definitely age appropriate for high school. The characters are strong, they can easily fit in high school archetypes of “jock” “cheerleader” “nerd” etc. I read this book from 10pm until 4:30am, so I have to say that reading that late at night with a cankerous raccoon scurrying around in my backyard helped add to the mood and tone of the book. I’m not sure I would feel as strongly for the book if I read it in broad daylight.
FINAL GRADE: A
The reviews for New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn are below the link.
In New Moon, not much happens. The first half of the book deals with Bella trying to cope with Edward’s abrupt departure. She ends up turning to her good friend Jacob for support, but soon realizes the secret he and the others from the reservation have been trying to keep quiet. Towards the last 200 pages of the book, we see conflict involving Bella and the members of the vampire coven that went after her life in Twilight.
New Moon is the most boring book of the series, mostly because there is such little action going on. This book is mostly 500 + pages devoted to character introduction and development of the Quiletes in La Push. Its a decent follow-up to Twilight, but its really there as a bridge to keep the reader connected to the characters until the release of the third book.
FINAL GRADE: B
By the time I got to Eclipse, I felt incredibly overwhelmed by the constant proclamations of eternal love and self-sacrifice by Bella and Edward. Maybe its a good thing to space out these books instead of reading them one right after another. Edward becomes more and more overprotective and more like a father-figure as Bella’s once strong and intelligent characters seems to lose her identity with each book. The more Bella becomes wrapped with Edward, the less she stays Bella. At this point, Bella’s life revolves solely around Edward and the Cullen’s family. Bella’s human friends seems to be irrelevant except for scant instances during the few scenes at the high school. In Eclipse, the same vampire that tried to go after Bella in New Moon resurfaces in Eclipse, in addition to the jealous boyfriend of the best friend with a crush love triangle Bella has in her life. In hindsight, the story of the book sounds much more intriguing that how it was actually written. Each book is about 544 pages, and thus there is a lot of filler, a lot of repetition and a lot of the overly romantic “I love you” scenes between Bella and Edward. Bella’s emotional stability, or the lack thereof, is often called into question at her reluctance to be away from Edward at any given moment. Thanks to the premonition powers of Edward’s sister Alice, the Cullens are able to prepare for an upcoming battle with a slew of new-born vampires that are rampaging through Seattle. There is a lot of build-up for a small fight scene.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Breaking Dawn is the novel that I had the most problems with when reading. The writing was sloppy, the characters were increasingly annoying and clingy to each other. Bella becomes more and more childlike with each book, and Breaking Dawn did not help re-establish her as a strong character even after her ultimate transformation into a vampire as well as the birth of half-vampire, half-human daughter Reneesme. Early in the book, Alice’s premonitions let the Cullen family know that the Italian Volturi (a vampire police force of sorts) is coming after the Cullens because of Reneeseme. There is 200+ pages of build-up, and susepene for 10 pages of talking. That was one of the most dissapointing endings I have ever read.
Breaking Dawn sums up my frustrations with the series in total. Meyers has the potential, the characters and the ability to take these books to a new level, but instead, she plays it safe. Each book has a happy ending and is neatly wrapped up with no loose strings. The Harry Potter books though aimed to a much younger audience, did not stray from the death of main characters, from discussing death, hatred and racism. There is little depth in the characters in the Twilight series. Although a fun read, I would not call these books insightful literature. Bella and Edward are too wrapped up in each other to realize the life outside of themselves. Bella abandons everything that she was just to be with Edward, an ultimate sacfrice. What I really found annoying was that Bella was still questioning Edward’s love for her still into the fourth book. That level of insecurity and low self-esteem does not send out the best messages for high school girls, especially those dating boys that the parents do not approve of.
I honestly think this series would be better off as a TV show, or a mini-series. The visuals would be fantastic to watch, and it would bring to life a new generation of vampire shows for the former fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
FINAL GRADE: C-
Find this books at your local library