Two Library Books

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Grade: C-

This book, its sequels, and the movies are so famous, and the story so simple, that I’m not going to worry about spoilers. If you’re concerned about them, then you might not want to read the rest of this post, but honestly, I don’t think I could ruin much for you.

Here’s the story: a girl named Bella Swan moves to a town where there’s little sunshine, falls in love with a vampire named Edward, and then is almost killed by a rival vampire. That’s it. There’s no real complexity, no character development, not even any real suspense.

I get it, though. I understand why this book appeals to teenage girls. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s tripe. No amount of understanding teenage girls can make up for the fact that the writing is bad and the story stinks.

Why do teenage girls like it so much? Because every girl wants to be the be-all-end-all for a guy, and Edward is totally fascinated, obsessed even, with Bella. He wants to know every single detail about her. He sneaks into her bedroom at night to watch her sleeping. He gets jealous over her. He’s dangerous. And he can never have sex with her because he might lose control and eat her, so her virginity is safe.

If you ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series), then this story must sound familiar. But oh, the difference! The Buffy/Angel relationship is complex. Their characters develop. They have moments. Angel, the tortured soul, is both attractive and frightening.

Edward, on the other hand, is so frickin perfect as to be irritating. He is beyond good-looking, dresses impeccably, drives a nice car, has a caring family, seems to know everything and even reads minds, plays the piano and composes, runs at lightning speed, is almost impossible to kill, and he sparkles in the sunlight. Yeah, Meyer’s vampires sparkle. That’s why they don’t go out on bright days. Ugh.

Actually, I became interested in reading this book because one of my old high-school friends is involved with a movie currently being made called Vampires Don’t Sparkle. I figured the title was a reference to Twilight. I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to create sparkling vampires, but I had to know. Sometimes knowledge hurts.

The prose hurts, too. I almost put the book down after the first page. It was that bad. Curiosity somehow kept me going, and I found many horrible sentences, paragraphs, even pages, but let me share with you my favorite quote. In this quote, Edward is speaking. He is angry with Bella because she doesn’t seem to care that her life is in jeopardy.

“So you’re worried about the trouble it might cause me—if you don’t come home?” His voice was still angry, and bitingly sarcastic.

Yeah, the author used the word “bitingly” in a book about vampires. And it’s not supposed to be funny. But it is, isn’t it?

I could go on for pages and pages, picking this novel apart, and loving every minute of it, but I don’t have time, so I’m going to wrap this up now.

I think Twilight is barely readable. Though I understand why some teenage girls like it, I wouldn’t recommend it for any girl of any age. You see, when you grow up, you realize that obsessive boys are dangerous. They’re the ones that become wife beaters. Girls should learn to steer away from those guys, not deliberately seek them out. Bella’s stupidity ought to have gotten her killed. The author spared Bella’s life, but Real Life isn’t always so kind. In other words, I don’t think it’s healthy reading.

I am slightly curious about how the series ends, but there’s no way I’m going to read any more of this junk. If I decide that I must know what happens, I’ll just read a plot synopsis, or maybe watch the movies.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Grade: A-

Jonas lives in a world in which all of society’s problems seem to have been solved. There is no hunger and no violence. But then Jonas is selected for a special job, and as he begins to fill his new role, he learns more about his community. He discovers that things aren’t as perfect as they appear.

The difference between The Giver and Twilight is like the difference between day and night. But though The Giver is by far the better book, it also disappointed me, just in a different way. Twilight is awful but easy to understand. The Giver is very well written, but its ending is unclear. The final scene is so weird that I’m still not sure what happened. I don’t like books that end that way. I think a vague ending is usually a cheap out for the author. They can’t think of a good resolution, so they deliberately leave the ending open to interpretation. Or perhaps they think such an ending will add “depth” to the story, because the reader will have to ponder it. Either way, I don’t like it.

But excepting the final scene, The Giver is both interesting and thought-provoking. That’s why I still gave it a good grade. I read this book because it was on the list of Top 100 Children’s Books, and I agree that it belongs on the list. I recommend it for adults who liked The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, Brave New World, Soylent Green, and other similar stories. I also recommend it specifically for teenagers, as they are clearly the target audience and it is appropriate reading for that age group.

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