Twighlight by Stephenie Meyer
Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (September 6, 2006)
The first book in the Twighlight Series by Stephanie Meyer is really two different books. As a book about teen vampires, it is essentially a comelling romance. The first 2/3 of the book deals with a forbidden love between an endearing mortal teen girl and the alluring teen male vampire she finds at her new school. Since vampires and humans dont mix well, this chasm between thier worlds serves to keep them apart, despite the fatal attraction they feel for each other. As thier feelings emerge and unfold, thier dangerous dalliance is heightened by the simple fact that Bella, the 17 year old girl, smells so delicious to Edward, her vampire suitor, that he can barely resist eating her. Therefore, because he loves her they cannot be too close. But he brings other virtues that make him the perfect (if unattainable) suitor. For one thing he is (excuse the pun) drop dead gorgeous. Also he has this habit of saving her life repeatedly. The early book is nonetheless a classic romance with very slow movement towards a requited love in which each is more than willing to sacrifice their own needs, for the other.
The last third of the book is a suspense/action/fantasy book in which two warring clans of vampires fight over Bella. Edward and his family are on her side, and a wily nemesis proves a worthy adversary. This part of the book feels so different from the first 2/3 that this evaluator got the sense it might have been better if it had been expanded and included as the second book in the series. It comes out of nowhere and detracts as much as it adds, although the plot is well enough written and a page turner while it is happening. It does not seem organically related to the romance, however.
Meyer has had great success with this series, and this, the first book of the Twilight series has a number of features that help explain her success. Foremost is how likable and believable Bella is, as a teenage heroine. The self-conscious intelligent clutz, who does not know how beautiful she is, is just enough of an outsider to be a compelling target of identification for the many women and girls who cherish the book. The interplay with other teens is often set in the lunchroom, and the rivalries, prom dates, and cars all ring about as true as any teen story ever penned by an adult; who hasn’t experienced these universal problems of finding a date, or a tablemate at the lunchroom? These scenes will make every reader that attended a public high school feel at home. But it is the juxtaposition of this homey, familiar angst with the dark dangerous vampire drama that makes both apsects of this novel special.
Meyer has written a memorable romance and uses the vampire angle to make the forbiden love theme especially compelling, and as a result she is able to keep her hero and heroine apart in a believable way, and consequently she sets up a series in a manner that will allow the relationship chasm to be crossed on a slow and believable way across several later books. As a first book in a series, the story works very well, but that means this single book loses something, since she can not have much closure in this one stand alone book. It’s designed to keep you reading.
Rated 3 1/2 stars