I’ll be issuing parts of my review of this…novel…over the course of the next couple weeks, mostly because I have far too much to say about this 118,000 word, 500 page work to sum everything up in one post. Part 2 is due for Wednesday. Enjoy!
In a novel, there are four major things to consider when discussing how good the novel is. First is premise, the background of the story and how it fits into the writing. Second is style, how it was written. Thrid is plot, what happens in the story. Fourth is characterization, how the characters feel. And Stephanie Meyer (how about we call her Steph?) has plenty of failures in all four.
The fourth page of the book contains a passage from Genesis, Gen. 2:17, creating the symbolism with the cover of “the forbidden fruit”. Meyer seems to be trying to equate Edward with the “forbidden fruit”, which seems rather silly.
The idea of the forbidden fruit is something that is seductive, but damning. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil tastes good, but it causes death. Meanwhile, Edward Cullen is seductive, and good for Bella Swan. There is no way Bella would end up in Hell for going with Edward. I don’t understand how this symbolism is supposed to work.
Anyway, that has little relevance on the novel. What does, is that in a single scene, Meyer destroys a thousand years of vampire tradition. Granted, she still keeps the whole “vampires = sex” symbolism, but she’s added so much to it that they’re unrecognizable. Dracula could never sparkle in the sunlight, nor did he have super speed or super strength.
Effectively, Meyer has turned the traditional vampire into a god. Think about the Greek gods: they were super-people, with super-strength and other capabilities, they had powers unique to each individual, and they demanded sacrifice from humans. Sounds like Meyer’s vampires.
It also sounds like Mormon symbolism, with the whole “after you die, you get your own planet” stuff. But I’m not particularly familiar with Mormon symbolism, so I’ll pass on this point (mostly).
Additionally, why do the vampires even need these superpowers? Isn’t their seductive charm enough? (Well, not all the vampires are seductive, but that’s a different issue. Of course, Alice is a vampire, and she’s been described as “elfin”. That doesn’t seem particularly vampiric or alluring).
Well, most vampires don’t actually have alluring features. The bad vampires are the evil-looking ones, the ones with plain features. They have “sinister” burgundy red eyes, rather than the beautiful gold of the Cullens. Why on earth does Meyer distinguish their diet with their eye color? It’s like saying my hair is brown because I eat chocolate. Anyway, it seems counter-intuitive that the vampires that eat humans are the ugly or “sinister” ones, rather than the vampires that have no interest in harming humanity.
Adding to the whole “vampires are gods” thread is the idea of just how invulnerable these creatures are. They can’t be killed great heights, they can’t starve to death, and they don’t need to breathe. It seems as if Meyer has been trying to make the vampires slightly scientific, but giving them superpowers, and telling us they don’t need to eat or sleep or breathe throws it back into fantasy land. Way back. I don’t know how she expects us to believe that they don’t need any form of sustenance to survive.
In fact, this separates normal vampires from the ones in Twilight so much, that a new term must be used to describe the vampires in this book. I think “vampmeyers” would be a good one.
A famous writer once said that you must allow a writer one premise per story, and see how he or she works it. Any more, and you are free to criticize. Meyer’s unquestionable premise is vampmeyers. On top of that, however, she has a couple shaky premises.
The biggest is the vampire super-powers – specifically, the Cullens’ powers. I can accept that there are prophetesses in a world with vampires, and that a person’s amazing empathy might be amplified as a vampmeyer into telepathy, or his charisma might be amplified into the ability to influence and feel emotions.
What I cannot condone is Bella’s mind-shield. I can accept a human prophetess, but a mind-shield borders on poor writing. Not even Edward or Jasper are described as having their powers as humans. So why does Bella? It just seems to be a poor plot device to force Edward and Bella to operate as a normal couple, and single her out for him.
Bella’s personality and solitude from society is another premise I can’t buy. When she lived in Phoenix, she never had a single friend, or at least none worth mentioning or contacting from Forks. Furthermore, when she gets to Forks, she makes friends with a group of girls (on day one), and every boy in school falls in love with her.
My brain cannot conceive how this kind of thing would be possible, unless she had a major personality shift between Phoenix and Forks (which she doesn’t – at least, until she meets Edward, but more on that later).