I don’t want to get involved in a long justification of why I read this book. I have already had to defend my choice to skeptical family members who have not themselves read it. The reason for their objections? “Mom, when vampires go out in the sun, they don’t sparkle, they burn and die!” Well that may be so in your vampire mythology but it is not the case in Stephenie Meyer’s. And anyway, these vampires are just placeholders for all that is scary and forbidden in a young girl’s life. Their particular traits don’t much matter; it’s what they represent that is important.
If you have not yet read Caitlin Flanagan’s wonderful defense of this series in the Atlantic, please read it. She does an excellent job of describing the emotional life of young women and the role books like this play in providing fuel for their overheated imaginations.
And Twilight is the perfect fuel. Bella is “Everygirl”: smart but not a genius, pretty but not like a model, self-sufficient, and a reliable friend. And just as any girl can imagine herself as Bella, she can also imagine any unattainable boy as Edward. Meyer precisely captures what it’s like to be obsessed by this kind of boy, the one everyone wants but no one can get. And then, what it’s like when this boy favors you with his attention. The whole first section of the book is almost like a textbook example of how to write this kind of thing and I totally enjoyed it. (Another superb execution of this scenario is Angela Chase's obsession with Jordan Catalano in the short-lived television series "My So-Called Life." )
The problems begin once the vampire story gets going. Edward becomes annoyingly overbearing, Bella turns a little bit ditsy, the girl-in-peril aspect distracts from the pure romance. No matter. It’s still extremely entertaining, especially if you are a young girl, or you remember what it was like to be one.
I don’t think I will read the rest of the series. If I want to revisit the experience I’ll just re-read the first third of Twilight over again, then over again and again. That’s what I would have done when I was 14 and I don't see any reason to change my approach now.
(Book 9, 2009)