Please take a look at this post for the rules.
OK, so the first book on my list of bestselling books I’ve never read is Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, a cultural phenomenon if ever there was one.
Originally published in October 2005, this young adult novel of a teenage girl who falls in love with a vampire has so far sold over 17 million copies worldwide, spawned three sequels and been adapted into five Hollywood movies (the first of which grossed $392 million worldwide, with an additional $157 million from DVD sales). It’s been translated into 37 languages, was named Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Book of 2005 and reached the New York Times bestseller list within one month of its release. Hollywood Reporter recently voted its author one of the most influential writers in the world.
Oh yes, and everyone hates it.
I’ve just finished downloading it off Amazon for the truly head-scratching price of $6.02 and I’m ready to go! Let’s do this!
What do I know about this book going in?
There’s a vampire called Edward and he’s perfect. (No really, he’s perfect. Apparently Meyer makes a point of mentioning this several times.) He also sparkles when he’s exposed to sunlight, which is a point of contention among a lot of hard-core vampire fans who still hold with the old ideas of garlic and crosses and bursting into flame. From what I’ve read, Meyer was reportedly not a huge fan of vampires, so she deliberately stayed away from other source material on the subject so she wouldn’t be contaminated by other people’s idea of what a vampire should be. This is, according to who you talk to, either a stroke of genius or the worst thing ever.
There is also a blank slate of a character in the book called Bella who serves as the eyes for the story and, as such, the reader’s avatar in the book’s world. Bella is something of a wallflower but was deliberately written this way so that anyone who reads the book can easily associate with her. She is never directly described for precisely this reason.
Although the idea for the book was inspired by a dream Meyer had, the actual nuts and bolts of the plot comes from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, which might go some way to explaining the success of what has otherwise been widely denigrated as a bland romance between a clumsy schoolgirl and a walking disco ball.
What are the critics saying?
What are they not saying? I seriously doubt I’ve ever seen a book torn apart and debated as much as this one (not even the bible), and that’s really saying something.
On the flip side, you have people like Stephen King saying that Stephanie Meyer can’t write worth a damn and book critics and feminist circles all over the world slamming the book for its portrayal of women.
On Amazon it has an average of 4.5 stars, from 5,977 reviews (the highest number I think I’ve ever seen for a single book). Of these, 3,799 were 5-star reviews and 756 were 1-star.
Latisha Silmon says this about the book: “ In the movie, you can only see things. but in the book, you get a chance to actually read [Bella's] mind and know what she is feeling and thinking all the time.” A sentiment echoed by about 400 other people who have apparently never read a book before.
Another reviewer, Moon, says, “I read the book in one day and after i finished i went to get the second. i read the book the first week about 4 times. ” Over 1,000 people agreed with her.
On the other hand, Rachel Rooker had this to say: “I generally try to find something redeeming about books, but I honestly have nothing good to say about this drivel. Meyer writes as if the reader is an absolute idiot who has to be told every single tiny little thing; we are never given the chance to interpret what’s going on in the characters’ heads. There is no mystery, no intrigue, no suspense. The characters themselves are cut-and-dried, stereotypical, and maddeningly unoriginal.” 1,700 people found this comment helpful. Ouch.
What am I expecting from this?
I honestly have no idea. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole vampire schtick, and I’ve always avoided romance at all costs — young adult romance all the more so. But then again, I tend to like things that other people hate so who the hell knows.
That said, I’m expecting this to be an easy read. Nothing too challenging for the old noggin, with a fairly straightforward A to B plot and a happy feel-good ending. It’ll probably be written in the first person and will contain a lot of Americanisms, since it’s set in America. I’m also (because of the romance thing) expecting lots of scenes of people gazing into each other’s eyes for pages as a time with very little in the way of blood sucking and general vampire shenanigans.
So anyway, that’s the introduction over with. I’m off now to read this monster and see if I was right. See you again in a week!