Stephenie Meyer,
(Little, Brown, 2005)

Did I ever think I would ever read vampire fiction? No. A definitive no. An even better question: Did I think I would ever read vampire fiction and, in the end, love that I gave it a shot? Another definitive no. Yet Twilight, the first in a series of novels by Stephenie Meyer, convinced me that I have, at least up to this point, cheated myself from a quality subset of fiction, similar to my first experience with fantasy in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Twilight is a captivating, fun read, and I will assuredly continue my adventures with fellow human Bella Swan and her boyfriend with a bite, Edward Cullen (and perhaps, other novels outside Meyer's Twilight franchise).

Twilight is told through first-person narrator Bella Swan, a junior in high school who treks to Forks, Washington (from Phoenix) at the novel's beginning to live with her father, Charlie. There, Bella feels like a fish out of water, having to attend a new school while at the same time confront many new people, including a pale, breathtakingly beautiful young man who can't seem to keep his angry, pitch-black eyes off an equally dazzling Bella. What begins as a mysterious relationship quietly turns into much more, as the two fall in (puppy) love with one another before committing to something more serious. Good thing too, considering knowing a vampire (and his family) will come in handy for Bella far later in the novel, when her life is put on the line due to an invasion by another devilish clan.

Of course, I'm no expert in vampire fiction, which makes the fact that I enjoyed Twilight all the more interesting. Meyer's novel, in fact, serves as a great introduction to the world of vampires, since from the start, Bella is just as knowledgeable about vampires as I was. She knew nothing. She only "had to learn" after a mysterious boy (and vampire), Edward, caught her eye. From there, Bella consults the Internet, and eventually Edward himself, in order to find out more about his ways. Edwards' whole "outing" was quite funny, really, as Bella was forced to guess what was different about him. And then once the whole vampire thing was exposed, she finally started to learn the truths (vampires prefer rainy and dark days) and myths (vampires do not turn into bats) about his hidden life. Again, I couldn't have asked for a better introduction.

Though the story and Meyer's style is quite good, I must take a moment to criticize the author's weak characterization. There are simply too many characters, from Bella's countless friends to the members of Edward's family. With so many people introduced in one novel, it left little room for Meyer to differentiate among the crowd. For me, Bella's guy friends and girl friends were all the same person. Now, Meyer did a better job with Edward's family, and who knows, maybe these characters are more drawn out in future parts of the series.

But this minor flaw is really all I didn't like about Twilight, Meyer's debut novel. I certainly will be reading part two, New Moon.

review by
Eric Hughes

6 September 2008

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