Monday, November 16, 2009

Tale of a Twilight Convert

I've spent the last week with Stephanie Meyer's TWILIGHT saga.

Well, Books 2 through 4 anyway.

I read the first book in 2005 when I was in college. I picked it out at the library, read it, and didn't really think much of it. But I did check out NEW MOON when it pubbed a year later.

As a busy English major, I couldn't get past the first hundred pages. Bella was so devastated over the break-up - to the point of being incredibly annoying. (Keep in mind that at this point, I had never been in love, so I had never experienced heartbreak. That made me less than sympathetic.)

The other thing that deterred me was the Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle. I have a hard time with love triangles. I have a hard time understanding how someone can be in love with two people at the same time. Most of the time, I just end up feeling bad for the third-wheel guy in novels. I can't help but think of it as wish-fulfillment for the author - living vicariously through her protagonist, a character created to be so attractive that at least two guys fall in love with her.

Then, while the TWILIGHT phenomenon was raging, I was working at a children's publishing house. It came up every day. One of my friends there was such a big fan that she reread her favorite bits almost every weekend.

Still, I stubbornly resisted.

Then, when I was visiting the afore-mentioned friend last week, I saw the NEW MOON movie poster outside her apartment, and I picked up her copy. Before beginning the trek home (train to subway to Airtran to plane), I bought a paperback copy from CVS.

Once past the problematic first hundred pages, I was hooked. I couldn't get myself to stop reading. I started staying up until at least 2AM several nights in a row. (This is impressive. I haven't lost sleep over a book since Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES last fall.) After reading almost all of yesterday, I finished BREAKING DAWN last night.

It's not about vampires. It's about family.

It's about finding a significant other and changing your life to match theirs.

I wouldn't have been able to get past the love triangle if I hadn't realized this - if Bella hadn't mentioned that it wasn't Edward and Jacob she wanted to bring together but the two versions of herself that each brought out in her. Jacob represented the life she could have had if she stayed human.

That's something you have to respect. Being in love does do that. When you love someone, you imagine your life with that person, and when that relationship ends, you mourn not only the lost of that person in your life but the life that you imagined sharing with him.

That's what Bella was feeling when Edward broke up with her - she wasn't losing just him, but his entire family and his kind of life. The same thing happened with Jacob - she lost Jacob's pack brothers at the same time she lost him.

This is probably why the books are so popular. I can't think of another series that chronicles the formation of family like this from the perspective of a teenage girl -- not that I'm encouraging girls to get married and start families at eighteen (neither is Stephanie Meyer, for that matter). But the target audience is of the age when you start seriously considering finding someone to start a life with. At that age, you're also so concerned about how your own life will turn out that you're eager to see how Bella does it with all her new family's extra problems.

Anyway, final verdict: addicting and interesting. I'm very glad I read them.

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