Monday, June 2, 2008

Unlike vampires, this book doesn't suck...

There are novels, and then, there are event novels. You know event novels. Harry Potter was the granddaddy of them all. The first event novel, if you will. Some telltale signs of the event novel are kids waiting in line at midnight dressed as their favorite witch or wizard at their local Borders or Barnes and Noble, blockbuster movie adaptations, and twenty, thirty, and forty somethings crashing the party in shameless fashion. With the advent of the event novel, has come the unavoidable vigil from event novel aficionados who ask the same question in a longing chorus.

What's next.

Because for every Harry Potter, there has been numberless Spiderwick Chronicles, Eragons, Golden Compasses, and Lemony Snickets which have been unable to capture the popular imagination of enough of us shameless eternal youngsters to be dubbed the next event novel. If I'm going to be berated for reading something targeted at an adolescent, it had best not disappoint. Enter Twilight. I am not ready to dub this the next big thing, but if Harry Potter is the summer blockbuster of novels, then Twilight is the ridiculously successful viral internet campaign. In the course of a weekend, I barely beat out a Hollister wearing LDS twenty something for the last copy of the third Twilight novel at Wal-Mart at 7am. Now this was not even a new book, mind you. It was a newly released "special edition" which contains the first chapter of the fourth Twilight book. Tricky, eh? I watched as my wife's copy of the book made the rounds with four of my wife's friends in 24 hours. By the way, the movie will be released in December. The trailer preceded Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

If you pick up Twilight and take all of 10 seconds to read it's book jacket, you will find that this is a love story. With a vampire. Now wait, before you go running for your garlic and crosses as images of that freaky goth girl from fourth hour come flooding back to torment you, let me assuage your fears. While I am sure that some emo-tastic youths will use Twilight as the standard to which they will pin their hormone driven hopes and dreams, this novel does away with many of the gothic trappings of vampires that are likely to drive away the defenders of normalcy. Gone are their aversion to crosses, to daylight (at least in the traditional sense), and the traditional methods to do away with them. The concept of the vampire with a conscience is not new, but it is written here in a realistic enough way that it seems new and fresh.

Twilight is written from the viewpoint of it's heroine Isabella, or Bella, Swan. She is written in a way that is at once familiar and accessable. She's that smart girl you knew back in high school who was cute enough, but whose intangibles such as her sarcastic wit and keen intellect elevated her to something more. I envision her as the poster child for the emo-nation, brooding and hopeful, funny in a dead pan Steven Wright sort of way. For any of you Generation Xers out there, she's a hotter and more outgoing version of MTV's Daria.

Bella is new to Forks, Washington, the perfect setting for vampire love. You see, Forks is in the most overcast region in the U.S. As Bella gets her bearings in her new town, she makes friends, and is intrigued with a fashion model hot group of ousiders who are all members of the Cullen family. She notices that they keep to themselves, they have pale complexions, and their names are all a little out of place in the present day. Quite interesting. Hint, and a fairly major spoiler...

They're vampires.

And if you don't know that the first moment they are introduced, you my friend, are an idiot. And if you don't know that Bella is going to fall for the super hot Edward, then I have some land in Florida to sell you. Yes, Twilight navigates it's efficient narrative with all the subtlety and nuance of a jackhammer at 3am. You will find no revolutionary plot twists, and any man card holders may have to temporarily relinquish them or have a corner cut off to make it through some parts, but in the end, Twilight turns out to be a rewarding read.

My recommendation for guys who are mildly curious, especially married guys, would be to give it a shot and chalk it up to research. I've been watching my wife tear through these books at a disturbing clip, and it is quite interesting to see what has her twitterpated. A word of warning, however. I did grow tired of after the two hundredth time or so reading about how Edward (vampire love muffin) was an Adonis, a God, how chiseled his perfectly formed chest is. I get it. He's hot. Let's get back to crushing vans in half.

Twilight earns three cloves of garlic from me out of four. It isn't exactly fast food, but as the commercials say, it's good food fast. There's plenty of romance for the ladies, some good action for the fellas, and enough innovations with vampiric lore to keep everything new.

1 comment:

Dave and Treona said...

I too LOVE this book. I am almost finished with the 2nd book and can't wait to start the 3rd!! I have many friends who have also devoured these novels. I have to say, Stephanie Myer did an incredible job in establishing such a wide base of readers - from young teens all the up to 50 year old adults. Yeah, way to go for a mormon author!