I read this entire saga while I was couchbound a few weeks ago. Then I watched the first four movies. Four books, four movies, all in the same week. Okay, I got a little hooked. It’s not my usual fare, but since the final movie is due out next week, I thought I’d post a review, even though I’m probably the last of ten billion people to do so.
Tension. That’s what makes book one tick. Tension.
Remember in Finding Nemo when Dory goes to the support group with Bruce the Shark? You know, “fish are our friends.” Then she bumps herself and that little bit of blood turns Bruce into a raving predator? “I’m havin’ fish tonight!” It’s the same sort of danger in Twilight. Bella is a seventeen-year-old human and Edward is a hundred-year-old vampire. Bella smells as good to Edward as Dory does to Bruce. But somehow the two of them fall in love, and the reader is never quite sure if Bella will live or die, never quite sure how much self-control Edward can manage.
That’s basically the plot of the book. But somehow it kept me reading. I enjoyed it. Romance isn’t my usual thing–that’s why I came to the series so late–but I’m a little surprised (appalled?) that I liked it as much as I did. I came to love the characters, the rainy Washington setting, the fantasy. I remember that high emotion from high school. It was a fun read.
Ms. Meyer does several things right. She creates characters that capture the heart and imagination. By forming a love triangle, she tangles up the emotions and makes you keep reading. And each book builds to an exciting conclusion.
But I can name quite a few reasons I’m giving the series a high age recommendation. One, obsession. Bella, like many modern literary teen heroines finds her whole existence in Edward. She’s smart, cute, well-read, and very capable, but “since coming to Forks, it seems as if my life was about him (Edward).” She has absolutely no self-identity.
Two, Bella makes a dangerous relationship look glamorous. Let’s face it, Bella’s choice in men is pretty unwise. A girl should never have to wonder if her man is going to kill her. That kind of relationship is completely unacceptable in the real world.
Third, it makes heroes out of the traditional villains. Don’t vampires and werewolves represent all that is unholy? Yet in this one we’re cheering them on.
And finally, it really is pretty shallow. So I won’t be recommending The Twilight Saga to young readers. There is some mild language, but not much considering the length of the series. Sexual content is restrained, but it is very sensual. In the last book, after Bella and Edward marry, they do live as husband and wife. There are no graphic scenes, but it’s rather candid. If my daughter was in her late teens and old enough to realize how absolutely unrealistic this series really is—not just the supernatural but the romance and the perfect hero as well—I’d probably let it slide. However, I’d recommend age 17 on this one.
I mentioned the last movie opens next week. I’m so pathetic. I just may have to call up a girlfriend and go.