I kind of missed the Harry Potter boat. I read the first book on a flight to Greece a few years ago and ended up feeling cheated. It didn’t seem clever or cute; I had been expecting more. I’ve been told many times that the books get subsequently better and I believe this, but ugh, all those books and pages – I know it’s an easy read, but I just never felt like committing myself to the series just to be up to date with the cultural zeitgeist. And then I read the His Dark Materials trilogy two Christmases ago and loved it so much. It gave me what I had been looking for in HP – magic, good writing, complex themes, sweeping adventures. I cried when certain characters died and cheered when things worked out. The ending was surreal and dreamy and perfect. I didn’t feel that way, or even get an inkling of that feeling with Harry Potter, so eh, maybe I’ll read the series one day, right after I finish “War and Peace” and “Remembrance of Things Past”.
This is how I felt about the whole Twilight series too – I was just going to let it pass. I had picked up enough pop culture references to get the gist of what it was about and to decide that I didn’t feel like reading it (Human-vampire romance! Robert Pattinson is really hot! etc). But then I saw the book at a friend’s house and couldn’t resist. At the time I was trying to read “Infinite Jest” as part of the Infinite Summer challenge and needed a break – I wanted something page-turny and easy. I tore through “Twilight” kind of breathlessly and in spite of myself. I devoured “New Moon” immediately afterwards. I sheepishly wrote to my friend and asked her to bring the last two books when I saw her next. I consumed the entire series within 2 weeks, cumulatively more pages than “Infinite Jest” but requiring 99% less brainpower to digest. (And I still haven’t cracked the first 15% of Infinite Jest. I suck.)
Stephenie Meyer is a bad writer, but she writes the way a teenager first writes, all melodrama and brooding, so I wasn’t so distracted by it – I was familiar with that type of writing. She’s good with plot, although isn’t so good at filling in the details (which might explain why there is so much Twilight fanfic; it’s practically begging for it). As a whole, “Twilight” was the best – it had romance, an awkward, angsty, lovestruck underdog teenaged girl, hot vampires with skin that sparkled in the sun like diamonds, frantic cross country travel and unequivocally evil vampires. It worked. “New Moon” was supposed to further Bella’s relationship with her main squeeze werewolf, but I failed to see why she fell for him so hard so fast. And then things started to get kind of unhinged. “Eclipse” was basically thin plot and lots of backstory (which paves the way nicely for plenty of prequels, other possible movies, etc). And then the final book, “Breaking Dawn” was just so off-the-wall it was almost embarassing. Because of its pure wackiness it was my favourite – vampire pregnancies, vampire sex, weird vampires from all over the world, werewolves falling in love with babies, humans learning forbidden secrets. It was VC Andrewish in its perversity, but without any incest. So much fun!
So, yeah, it was a fun read and I ultimately enjoyed reading it. And now I will move on to Proust or something.