Image: brian fitzpatrick via flickr

So, I just finished the entire Twilight book series in 5 days after swearing I would never read them. I blame frustration with the movies for the last week of my life. I only grudgingly saw the first two films recently & wasn’t impressed. I had no intention of seeing Eclipse, but alas, a good friend wanted to see it, so I went. While it was slightly better than the first 2 films, I still found it ridiculous & cheesy. I was the one in the theater laughing at all the wrong moments & secretly heckling under my breath. When we got out of the movie, I just wanted to know how the series ended because I wanted to know the point of the whole thing. My friend, who has read & is a fan of the books, obliged & finished the story for me. But still, I didn’t think I was getting everything. So, because I’m impatient & don’t want to wait for the final parts of the movie series to fill in the story, I decided to go to the books.

Now, why was I so steadfastly against reading this series before? Admittedly, I’m not its target audience–I’m about 2 decades older than the target audience & I have a cynical/anti-melodrama streak that runs deep. But more than that, I’d read the critiques of Meyer’s writing, her technique, & I was turned off. I admit I read bad books–some by choice & some by accident; but the skewering of Meyer’s writing skills put her on my blacklist. Besides, I am a surprise fan of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I’m not usually a sci-fi/fantasy fan, & really hadn’t read YA fiction since it was age appropriate for me. I’d read Stephen King’s comparison of the two writers, & sharing his praise of what Rowling accomplissed as a storyteller & a writer, I didn’t want to waste time with Twilight. But my impatience & a horrid cold that kept me home from work for 3 days won out. And so I proceded to read all 4 books in the series over the course of 5 days.

…and my impression now that I’m done?

I’m incredibly perplexed.

I hate to admit it, but I will, I was thoroughly entertained by the books. I sped through them not only because I wanted to get them done quickly to move back to other books in my to-read pile, but because they genuinely kept my interest. It was a good light, summer beach read…if I hadn’t been curled up on my sofa with a box of Kleenex & a thermometer for much of my reading. More often than not the personality traits of the 2 main characters–Bella & Edward–grated on my nerves. I maintain that she is the worst female role model in literature for teenage girls, & Edward is basically a stalker. But still, I didn’t get tripped up & wanted to see where it all went, even though I’d already seen the film versions of the first 3 books.

My problems with the books, & what perplexes me most, is Meyer’s craft. Over the last few years as I’ve worked on my own novel & taken class after class on fiction & novel writing, I’ve had the basics of writing craft & the rules drilled in to me. Now, I’m the first 1 to admit that rules are made to be broken. But I do believe that to be broken, they must be broken well to merit the crime. And I don’t think that’s the case here. I can see all the mistakes I’ve been told over & over not to make–yet, none of it took away from my enjoyment of the books. From cliches galore, superficial characterization, & the repetitiveness, I still kept reading. My biggest beef is with Breaking Dawn, the final book in the series. In my opinion, this book reads as if it was written to fill the fans’ needs, not the story’s needs. Meyer ties everything up into one perfect, pretty little package, & it’s irritating. She cops out. She doesn’t take any chances. Seriously, kill a couple darlings! But no.

And still, I have to say, I liked the series. I feel the need to disect it now with writing friends who have read it to figure out how I can like it, enjoy it even, yet see everything that is wrong with it. I want to know how Meyer pulled it off. Not that my work is in any way related to this genre. But from a technical POV, I’m fascinated by the failure & success tied up in these books.