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Twilight
Stephenie Meyer
Megan Tingley Books, 498 pages

Twilight
Stephenie Meyer
Stephenie Meyer was born on Christmas Eve, 1973, in Hartford, Connecticut, but from the age of four grew up in Arizona. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Literature. She lives with her husband and three young sons in Glendale, AZ. Twilight was her first book, and along with two further projected titles, the manuscript was sold to Little, Brown Children's Books for a reported $750,000 in a three-book deal, the most the publisher had ever paid a first-time novelist. The first sequel, tentatively entitled New Moon is in the editing phase.

Stephenie Meyer Website
INTERVIEW:
1, 2
ONLINE TEXTS BY AUTHOR:
"The Story Behind Twilight"
BOOK REVIEWS: Twilight: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
Cover art of different editions

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

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Girl moves to a small, boring, almost constantly overcast town, where she attends high school and falls hard for a gorgeous young boy, who has the added bonus of being an outsider, seemingly very rich, and is initially trying to drive her away. I think that story has probably been done a thousand times in the annals of young adult literature and television; except, it turns out he has a pretty good reason for avoiding her, he's a vampire, albeit one of a family who choose to draw their sustenance from wild animals rather than humans, and while he's smitten by her, he's not entirely sure he can control himself around her. The interplay of their teenage desires, the contrast of his super-competence and her clutziness, his restraint and her desire to give herself to him make for an interesting and romantic relationship, which isn't without plenty of action. I would tend to hesitate to categorize Twilight as horror (not quite dark enough, yunno), but more dark romance. Certainly, for a young adult book, and especially for a first novel, Twilight is well paced, coherent, doesn't leave any glaring plot gaps, while maintaining a certain mystery, and is even quite a page turner in places; and while it hits most of the right spots, I can't say that -- admittedly as an adult male reader -- it "satisfied" me.

Part of this I think is that I may have somewhat dated, read Gothic, non-rationalistic preconceptions of what literary vampires should be: fundamentally evil in both a moral and theological sense (couched in terms of werewolves, more like Montague Summers' view than Sabine Baring-Gould's), cat-like in their pleasure in torturing their prey (though an element of this appears briefly), lurking in dark gloomy places, not the suave and civilised "nouveau-vampire" of Anne Rice and others. Again, I'm not saying that Stephenie Meyer doesn't do a good job of setting and justifying the parameters for her vampires, so it's not that she hasn't spelled out who and what her vampires are, they just aren't scary, violent perhaps but not scary. But, when I think of the best modern tales of young adults facing lycanthropy, vampirism or creatures of pagan lore I've come across, I think of Pat Murphy's werewolf novella "An American Childhood" (since expanded into the novel Nadya: The Wolf Chronicles, which I have not read), and Megan Lindholm's Cloven Hooves (coincidentally also set in Washington State), there is a certain element of risk realized and sin (a very potent element of yore) that doesn't strike me in Twilight. Also, while it is perhaps intended to serve as a contrast to the vampire culture, high school life in Forks, WA, while presenting some real issues, is about as underlyingly tame as Degrassi Junior High.

All this said, I don't believe that the reader who enjoys Twilight, and I'll admit begrudgingly to being one, is going to be enjoying it for its overt horror elements or its portrayal of vampires -- after all the vampires could well be street gang members turned from but drawn to violence, rather than literal blood, if the story was shifted to an inner city -- but rather for its elements of seemingly doomed and high-risk romance. In this regard, I hazard to guess that Twilight will likely appeal to a greater extent to young women than men, but would be entertaining to either.

Copyright © 2006 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.


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