So, I finally read Twilight…

Hello, we’re back! I’m in the middle of sorting through a million vacation photos and recovering from a week of missed work, so I thought that for your reading pleasure I’d give you a review of my in-flight reading. Normally I’d just post this on the book blog, but I thought that this might be of general enough interest to go here first. Here you go:

You’d have to be dead to not have heard about the latest book craze (now a major motion picture) that is causing the hearts of tween girls (and their mothers) to go pitter-pat. As I like to think of myself as a more sophisticated reader than your average Jonas Brothers fan, I put off reading Twilight until now just to prove my indifference.

But, having read three meaty books in a row and faced with the prospect of two ten-hour plane rides, the timing seemed right for me to meet everyone’s favorite vampire for myself. Did I like it? Yes. Just like everyone else I know, I read the first two books in about a day each. Since then, have images of the godlike Edward Cullen danced in my head? Of course. Am I now filling my Facebook cork board with flair proclaiming my love for sexy vampires? Well, not yet…but I do still have two books to go.

Lest you take this as an unequivocal endorsement, hear this loud and clear: this book is girl porn! Read it, even enjoy it, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s anything more than that. This plot hits every girl’s vulnerable spots–a brilliantly handsome and desirable man desperately treasures a girl who considers herself plain and unworthy. He’s charmingly misunderstood by his high school peers, he’s athletic, musical, devoted to his family, rich, and, did I mention?–completely consumed by adoration for his lady love. What’s not to love? For pages and PAGES Edward and Bella find themselves locked in passionate gazes, expressing their smoking desire in tracing each others faces with their fingertips and nuzzling each other’s necks. But, amid all of this, “nothing” happens, keeping this romance from falling into just another teens-fornicating novel, and making Edward That Much More Desirable as a paragon of virtue and restraint. Top it all off with a little dollop of exotic danger (Edward is a vampire, after all, and could kill Bella in a second of indiscretion), and most of all, the idea that this love will last FOREVER (vampires don’t die), and, well, you can see why more than one girl closes the book with flushed cheeks, a loudly beating heart, and an urgent desire for an Edward Cullen of her own.

It is precisely this mix of sensuality and wholesome virtue that makes this book so potent (if I were to find my own teenage daughter reading it, I’d be tempted to send her to a convent faster than she could say “silver Volvo”). It provokes all of the emotion and breathlessness of romance and sexual desire (and then some!) without any of the squeamishness that a more graphic romance would provide. I wouldn’t know how to direct the passions of a girl who had just read Twilight. Telling her that she will find this experience in marriage seems a little like an oversell–while falling in love with an ordinary mortal can certainly be wonderful, marriage is a little more ordinary than eternal, smoldering, eye-gazing with Adonis. At the same time, advising her to satisfy her passion by falling in love with Jesus seems a little creepy.

Bottom line? You’ll like it if you read it. (If you’re a girl, that is. I don’t see how guys like it at all.) But read it for what it is, and when you’re finished, pick up Pride and Prejudice for a REAL love story! 🙂

(P.S.- The second book is definitely more boring than the first. If the whole point of reading is to live vicariously through Bella’s love affair with Edward, it seems stupid that they’re apart for the first 200 pages. The whole Jacob thing seems like a too-long distraction. But I’m told that Book 3 picks up the pace now that–SPOILER ALERT–Bella and Edward are back together.)

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2 responses to “So, I finally read Twilight…

  1. agreed. on all counts.

  2. Just so that you don’t think I’m being offensive just for the heck of it, here is why I called Twilight “girl porn.” Pornography and Twilight both…

    * hook readers/consumers by appealing to their deepest physical desires
    * titillate those desires without requiring actual human interaction
    * hold up unrealistic ideals as objects of desire
    * distract consumers from legitimate (ethical, virtuous) fulfillment of those desires OR
    * stir up those desires prematurely
    * leave the consumer desiring more, yet becomes actually less fulfilling as more is consumed
    * creates obsession/addiction

    Now…I am NOT saying that if you enjoyed Twilight (as I did!), you’re no better than a pervert with a dirty magazine. I hope that emotionally mature adults can read the book and enjoy it while avoiding these pitfalls. But even we mature readers generally admit it’s a guilty pleasure… and it’s those younger girls consuming these books with less discernment that are concerning.

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