Friday, September 19, 2008

To Twilight or Not to Twilight?

Okay, I've avoided it. A Breaking Dawn review. I've been sharing my thoughts in person, but it's hard to get it across in print (without lots and LOTS of words!)... but here we go!

You'd have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of the Twilight Saga and the fourth and (supposedly) final installment, Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer. You'll have to go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble for a summary, and I'll try to steer clear of spoilers (send me a message if you want more information), but I want to share my thoughts.

First, with the series as a whole, I am not, NOT, NOT a vampire story kind of girl! But I felt when it became popular with teenage girls a few years ago that I should read it. The story takes place in rainy Forks, Washington, where teenage Bella Swan moves to live with her father, the town police chief. She meets Edward and is immediately drawn to him. As you might know, Edward and his family are the stuff of folklores: vampires. But the Cullens (all seven of them) are "vegetarians"... they drink from animals, not humans. There's more supernatural characters and much more to the story, but that's the general plot of the series.

In it's favor, I did like the series overall. A fast read, getting millions of teens (mainly girls) to read. The story's entertaining. The caution: while we can all relate to Bella's clumsiness, trying to fit in and first love experience, she becomes rather obsessive about Edward. So as a parent, the best thing if you choose to let your daughter read this book (like any book they read), talk to them about the choices Bella makes. Best to read the books as well. Talking points: Bella's obsession with Edward, disobeys/lies to her parents, takes a lot of risks.

Now, specifically Breaking Dawn, the latest in the series. Honestly, not my favorite of the series. At a whopping 750 pages, it gets a little drawn out at times, and I found myself trying to remember what happened in the beginning of the book! Meyer takes the story places I didn't expect. Normally, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but this was a bit extreme. Teenage marriage, teenage pregnancy, obsessive/irrational behavior... and when Bella makes a certain long-awaited transformation (trying to keep spoilers to a minimum!), everything falls so neatly into place. A little unrealistic and a little unrelatedable. Even taking my faith out of the context, most professional reviews agreed that Bella became unrelatedable as a character. Fans have said they're choosing to remember it as a trilogy. While I think some have gone too far in attacking the author (because as an author, it's her right to decide the direction her story and characters will go), it's fair to say this book was not what I expected. There are good things about this last volume and I'm glad that I finished it to find out what happened to Edward and Bella, but it was certainly an interesting read!

So To Twilght or Not to Twilight? That's the question for parents. If you're getting your daughters or students asking about reading the series, I think you have to know about the fourth book. If you allow a girl to read the first three, chances are likely she'll get hooked, and then it could be difficult to not let her finish the series. Just my thoughts.

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