Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Posted on 17th December 2010 in Reviews

Twilight-book-coverAs Twilight opens, the world of Bella Swan is a small, confused and emotionally-charged one, as she uproots and moves to be with her father in the tiny hamlet of Forks in the Northwestern U.S.

As if dealing with such upheaval at the delicate age of 17 wasn’t enough, emotional growing pains are magnified by her awkward interactions with the cool and suave mystery boy at school. Cue Edward Cullen, and his equally unique yet uber-stylish family.

Whilst Edward’s behaviour toward Bella is quite chilly from the start, it’s just a matter of time before the two are drawn together in a brooding and only slightly atypical teen-angst-fashion. Concurrently the mysteries regarding Edward and his clan slowly pile up.

Before long it becomes apparent that the distance he sought to create between himself and Bella really could’ve been quite useful and, well, life-saving even.  But then as we’re quite aware from centuries of literature, and circa 1960’s ballads regaling us to the aphrodisiac qualities of a full moon, nothing stands in the way of true love.

As Edward’s real nature catches up with him and Bella strangeness begins to become the norm, and surreal struggles ensue. Slowly the onion skin facade of the town of Forks in relation to the Cullens begins to unpeel.   What is it with the family whose members are absent from school on those clear days, and is what Bella’s friend Jacob says about the Cold Ones of his tribe’s legends and about the Cullen clan really true?  Certain associations can be dangerous, and Bella risks more than she might’ve imagined as she attempts to integrate with the dreamy but dangerous Edward.

Here’s why I like Twilight. It’s classic gothic romance infused with genuine paranormal vamp flair.  This is at times quite old school stuff, really no different from the likes that flourished in the genre centuries ago (granted the type that Jane Austen parodied in Northanger Abbey) and repackaged for a modern day audience that happens to have included vast swathes of teenage girls across the world.  But this is no bad thing.  Meyer has likely introduced many to the genre for the first time, but there’re people who want to criticise that too no doubt. Myself, I want people to like reading horror-leaning fiction, paranormal prose and its ilk, more in the hopes the genre will widen, new fans emerge, and potentially new writers too.

There is a certain furore that surrounds the fame of Twilight both from within and outside of circles of fans of the genre, and seems to invite a certain wry cynicism to be cast onto the title by those who often haven’t even read it.  On a few occasions that the book has come up in conversation, normally in regards to its epic popularity or to what I considered a fairly decent film adaptation, I’ve been surprised at how negatively the book was viewed by people who hadn’t even read it.  Ignorance has never impressed me, even more so when accompanied by an unjustified blanket of obfuscatory condemnation.

I welcome the chance to read something new to me in my preferred genre, and with Twilight I found an exciting, well written delve into the oft-trodden world of vampire fiction, with a character-based focus that was concise and passionate enough to encourage genuine interest throughout the novel.  Granted it will have a certain appeal to a certain audience (doesn’t everything) but that shouldn’t stop anyone from picking it up, having a read and being suitably entertained.

7/10

Buy this book: UK/US

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