…Just to see what all the fuss is about.
To my shame, I am now on the second book, New Moon. And, yes I plan to slog through all of them. But only because I want to get to the part where they finally have sex.
The sad fact is, Stephanie Meyer is a terrible writer. Her prose is bland and excruciatingly repetitive. How many times in one book do we need to be reminded that Edward is ‘beautiful’ and ‘perfect’? He is a vampire. Vampires are beautiful and perfect. We get it.
But, because Meyer isn’t aiming very high, she squarely hits her target. Despite her shortcomings, Meyer understands how a girl’s heart works. She understands the intensity of first love, the confusing, maddening emotions, the insecurity and hesitation, the excitement, the thought consuming obsessing, the mood swings, the fear, the dizzy happiness, and the blase, sarcastic front required to hide all those. The book is unapolgetic wish-fullfillment, designed to appeal to the universal (excruciatingly repetitive) female fantasy of being the chosen one. Who doesn’t want to be singled out by the most extraordinary, beautiful and perfect male in the vicinity, who also happens to be a perfect gentleman and superhuman being? Besides all that, Meyer has also found a way to take the act of courtship and make it fresh. In the great (non-excruciatingly repetitive) romantic novels of Austin and the Brontes, courtship was all-important. Lovers had the full weight of society to keep them apart. Every gesture, every touch, every moment together was momentous. Nowadays, at least in the eyes of pop culture, young lovers have nothing to stop them freely experimenting, embarking on ‘starter marriages’, and wantonly hooking up. Meyer’s strength is the realization that most girls’ experience is closer, at least emotionally, to the old standards than the new oversexed media image. So Meyer has concocted a love story in which hand-holding is meaningful, the first kiss is an epic milestone, and desire is appropriately fraught with fear and hesitation. And it’s unapologetically, deliciously romantic. What’s that old saying? There are no bad books, only badly written ones.
Yeah and I watched the movie also. I was a little disappointed, I expected something better from Catherine Hardwicke, who’d directed the scary and electrifying Thirteen. But it wasn’t as bad as I could have feared, but even fluffier and less substantial than the books. In the book most of the dramatic tension is in Bella’s head. We listen to her excruciatingly repetitive thoughts as she obsesses and broods. The internal monologue is compelling enough to disguise the fact that not very much actually happens until the very end. The movie dutifully hits the highlights with choice bits of dialogue, and all the most important scenes. However without the benefit of an excruciatingly repetitive narrative voice, these events don’t add up to very much. It’s a video reenactement of the book, nothing more. If Kristen Stewart was less limited in the acting ability department some of the emotional impact of the book would have survived, but her thespian arsenal consists mostly of blinking a lot. It’s not entirely her fault, since whoever wrote the adaptation was so concerned with finding all the scenes in which things actually happen, that they forgot to give Bella time to do what she does so much in the book , which is sit and think. Perhaps a more emotionally transparent actress, given some good close-up time could have made the movie a little less shallow. It’s lucky that Edward, being an enigmatic vampire, is supposed to be a bit of a blank slate, so Robert Pattinson with his sanpaku eyes can glower romanically and call it a day.
So, to my shame, I did enjoy the book, and didn’t hate the movie. The whole franchise is brain-candy for little girls, but hightly effective at that. Oh did I mention the excruciatingly repetitive prose? It’s exruciatingly repetitive!
I know some of you people (and you know who you are) are eagerly awaiting my verdict on the most important question of all. The answer is yes. Pattinson is hot. Maybe someday he’ll make a good movie.