After witnessing a portion of the release party for Breaking Dawn I had to read the books for myself to understand what the big fuss was all about. I mostly borrowed the books of a co-worker and I finished Breaking Dawn during the Labor Day weekend. (A lot of the time I read faster than I can type up a review.) Now that Twilight has been released as a movie, here are my thoughts on the series. (This qualifies as part of the Lit Flicks Challenge.) Spoilers follow.
In Twilight, the reader is introduced to Bella, a not very graceful high school girl who has moved to damp Washington state from sunny Arizona. When I read it, I already knew the series was about a human girl who falls in love with a vampire which tainted my reading of it. For instance, when Bella sits next to Edward Cullen in biology class and he recoils away from her in apparent disgust I thought, “He must be the vampire!” Throughout the entire book I kept thinking things like that. I never got a sense of the “great romance” between Bella and Edward except for some scenes like the baseball game. I read Stephenie Mayer was writing New Moon while doing the edits for Twilight and that could only make the series more cohesive. A lot of the book felt repetitive but that could be because I’ve already lived through teenage angst once. For some reason I kept reading it, wanting to find out how it ended. Once it was finished I felt like I had to read more to decipher the phenomenon.
New Moon was my favorite of the series though from reviews I’ve read it seems like it was the least favorite of most readers. I really enjoyed the banter between Bella and Jacob Black. An incident happens with the Cullens that makes Edward believe the best thing for Bella is to have the Cullens leave town and have no more vampires in her life. Edward is a character that goes to extremes to protect Bella and it usually backfires. Since Edward hasn’t been able to use his mind reading ability on Bella, she keeps surprising him. Not all humans are as predictable as Edward thinks. Because Edward wasn’t in the book as much the reader gets to know Bella as herself more. And it gives her human friends a little opportunity to shine. After this book they all fall off the face of the earth for the most part. One thing never explained in the book was how she could keep hearing Edward in her head whenever she was about to do something reckless. The mythology behind the werewolves and the pack relationship was fascinating. When Bella and Alice (one of the Edward’s sisters) travel to Italy to stop Edward from a hasty decision, the Voltari coven is introduced to the series. As vampire royalty they decide Bella must become one of them soon or pay the consequences for having knowledge of vampires.
In Eclipse Bella and Edward are together once more. Edward and Bella have many discussions on the future of their relationship. He wants her to have as normal a life as she can while she just wants to be with him forever – even if it means she must be turned into a vampire. Spending so much time with Jacob during New Moonmakes Bella care for him and she must choose between them. The stakes for Bella are higher this time. She has an enemy from the first book trying to destroy the Cullens and the Voltari have an eye on the Cullens as well to make sure Bella gets turned into a vampire. When the werewolves and the Cullens come together to destroy a common enemy it made the book for me.
Bella chose Edward over Jacob. In Breaking Dawn they get married, take their honeymoon, have a baby, turn Bella into a vampire and have one heck of a fight with the Voltari that starts because of a misunderstanding. (Vampire royalty can get as greedy as their human counterparts, though which gives the Voltari reason to push the fight.) And the characters that appear to deserve a happy ending get one.
It’s always when Bella is in danger from the vampires that the books got exciting for me. How is this human going to overcome creatures with superior physical abilities and special powers? With each book the back stories of the Cullen family come to light and allows each one to shine. The world building was well done as was the cohesiveness of the characters.
As for the Twilight movie? That “great romance” between Bella and Edward came alive during the movie. The actors out of costume look like walking ads for Abercrombie and Fitch but in costume can be believable. Can’t Hollywood find an overweight actor to play a vampire, though? The screenplay is a decent adaptation of the novel. It hits the important scenes but does leave out explanations (examples include newborn vampires and how difficult it can be to be “vegetarian”) that would be helpful to viewers who haven’t read the books. I’ll be seeing the rest of the movies to see what gets translated to the silver screen.