Friday, July 17, 2009

Reborn Adolescent

They say you can't go home again, but I've recently discovered that with the right reading material you can revisit, briefly, the days of your idealized adolescence, when everything was possible, even true love between disparate species. (OK, so maybe in the 50s and 60s we never thought about the possibility of love between disparate species, but if Stephanie Meyer had been around, I'm sure we would have.)

Char told me some time ago that I really should be reading the "Twilight" series of books by Stephanie Meyer. She said her whole family (at least the females) had read them. That they borrowed them from her eight year old granddaughter should have been a clue. Haley is precocious, but what is interesting to a precocious prepubescent should be viewed with a certain amount of skepticism by post-menopausal adults.

I never followed through on Char's suggestions until Kimberly ("Indigo") of my only daily "must not miss" web site, That's My Answer, got hooked on the books. Breathlessly she posted status reports to Facebook detailing the page she was on in which book and got enthusiastic response from a lot of her readers. OK--even Kimberly is younger than almost all of my children, but she is at least married with children.

Then we went to a brunch at Ned & Marta's shortly before I left for Paris. Marta's stepsister and her husband Ian were at the brunch, as was Marta's stepmother. Her stepmother said "I'm reading this interesting book" whereupon Ian grabbed his bald head and shouted "Please don't tell me it's 'Twlight'." and launched into a diatribe about everything that's wrong with the series.

Thinking I needed to find out what all the fuss was about and that it might be worth reading on the trip, I downloaded Book 1 to my Kindle. When I got to Paris, I discovered Jeri was reading it, unhappily (and complaining all the while about how stupid it was). I kept reminding her she was supposed to be reading it with the emotional maturity of a 14 year old.

twilight.jpg (40111 bytes)And so it was that in a hotel somwhere in Paris, I crossed over into the dark side and began reading Book 1 of the four-book saga, entering the world of wimpy young Bella, her vampire boyfriend and the werewolf who loves her.

(What is it about the Pacific Northwest that it attracts such creatures--and should I be warning my friend Diane, now that she has moved farther away from the hustle and bustle of Seattle, that she shouldn't go for a stroll in the woods near her house?)

Each book is somewhere over 500 pages long, but when you read it on the size electronic screen that I do, it's easy to flip quickly through the pages, perhaps not reading quite as "completely" as you should.

The plot of Books 1 and 2 is fairly simple: girl meets vampire, girl gets vampire, girl loses vampire, girl gets werewolf, girl gets vampire again. Nobody lives happily ever after. (I assume that's what Books 3 and 4 are for.) I found myself flipping through pages a lot faster in Book 2. There is apparently great debate among devotees of this series about which is the more attractive figure: Edward the vampire or Jacob the werewolf.

Now Edward isn't one of those "bad" vampires. He's a member of the Cullen family, which has learned to resist human blood and who get their sustenance from killing animals. They live in the Pacific Northwest because the sun shines so seldom they are able to live relatively normal lives. Bella meets Edward in school, in fact. But he's cool and aloof and their relationship borders on emotionally abusive.

All Bella wants is to be a vampire and she can't understand why Edward, who, she knows, is her forever love, won't turn her into one. In fact, so far it hasn't been explained what's the big deal. She loves him, he loves her, his life appears to be fairly "normal" (for a vampire), eventually she will grow old and die (she had a bad dream where she is an old, old lady...of 30!) -- what's the big deal if he changes her into a vampire? Well, other than that her Dad, the police chief, might not approve (but then he doesn't know Edward's a vampire.)

Jacob seems to be the "good" one, though when thwarted he is very terrible and his pack is at war with the vampires, though they have come to an uneasy truce where they won't attack the vampires in the Cullen family, as long as they don't bite any humans (which, of course, does kind of put the kibosh on Bella's desire to become a vampire).

There's lots more to it, of course, and in Book 2 it involved a quick trip to Italy where Bella got her taste (no pun intended) of the life of more traditional vampires and I was glad I didn't travel down too many narrow streets in Florence.

The beginning and the end of Book 2 was kind of good, but since I'm in the Edward camp, I didn't really enjoy the whole Jacob thing. I questioned whether it was going to be worth it finishing the series, but Char is cheering me onward. "You need to continue just so you can get the full taste of vampire sex in book 4."

OK. I'll take your word for it. I do want to know how it all turns out, but I may stock up on garlic for awhile.

Book 3 starts with Bella being grounded for having run off to Italy without telling her father (fathers are so unreasonable). An example of how this thing goes:

Ever since my former best friend (and werewolf) Jacob Black had informed on me about the motorcycle I'd been riding on the sly--a betrayal he had devised in order to get me grounded so that I couldn't spend time with my boyfriend (and vampire) Edward Cullen ... This was an escalation from the previous, slightly less stringent grounding that I'd earned for an unexplained three-day disappearance and one episode of cliff diving.

>1000 more pages, eh? Sigh...

For those who are fans of the book -- or who have read the book -- or for those who want a fabulous tongue-in-cheek look at the series, I highly recommend the web site "Yes I read it; it's still stupid." Truly priceless.

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