Monday, September 15, 2008


A few weeks ago, I begged my daughter to watch one of my favorite Korean dramas ~ "Thank You". I was shameless ~ and used an almost unfair bargaining chip by tapping into her current obsession – the Twilight series of books by Stephanie Meyer. I told her that if she watched “Thank You” with me, I’d read the books.

She watched the series and she really got invested in the characters – we had a good time watching together. But then, it was my turn.

The premise, for anyone who doesn’t have a teenage daughter in the house, is 17 year old, loner in her own mind, Bella Swan moves to Washington state to live with her Dad. After a tortured beginning, Bella falls crazy in love with Greek god-like Edward Cullen. Edward is one of seven Cullens; Ma and Pa (Esme and Carlisle) Cullen, Edward, Alice, Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett. The Cullen’s don’t hunt humans for food, so they are considered “good” vampires – the vegetarians of the vampire world I suppose. Pa Cullen, the first of their clan, has overcome his human-blood lust (he didn’t want to be a ‘monster’) and uses his super powers for good as a doctor. Of course, he has had a few hundred years to do this. The rest of the clan still struggles to remain…let’s just say 'vegan'.

When Bella first meets Edward he seems positively repulsed by her; angry and hateful. We find out later that his initial reaction was because he was having a hard time overcoming her yummy-smelling blood and his urge to…remain vegan. It’s not just that, we find too that he is powerfully attracted to Bella indeed - throughout a good half of the book, Edward struggles with this feeling, knowing that it simply is not in Bella’s best interest to hang out with him and his vegan family.

Blabbitty blah blah blah, they acknowledge their love, he saves her from James, a…uhm…non-vegan who is determined to separate Bella from her heart juice and they all live happily ever after. Well, at least until prom. There’s four more books to wade through.

It was a shame that I had just finished “Exile” by Richard North Patterson. “Exile” was an extraordinarily well written book, smart and thoroughly entertaining. It was brilliant. I finished that book marveling at his genius.

And then I read “Twilight”.

God help me it was everything that “Exile” was not; horribly inane and poorly written. I suppose one could compare it to watching an episode of “Law and Order” and then on it’s heels, “Reba”. Or watching a marvelous k-drama series like “Thank You” and then viewing a corresponding “Hello Miss!” Awful. “Twilight” is the badly written book I think I have in me. Sure, one could argue that it was directed to an audience of teenage girls. Let me tell you, compared to “Twilight” the Harry Potter series is a frickin’ triumph of literature.

That said, Stephanie Meyer is totally doing what I cannot; she’s making gobs of money, the movie will be released in November and she has generated a teenage feeding frenzy of character adoration for the tormented Edward. God Bless her. I wish her nothing but health, wealth and success. Huzzah Meyer! More power to you!

The book’s message on complete and total true sacrificial love isn’t a bad one; though certainly easier to swallow when you’re 17. Unfortunately, the unintended message underlined for girls in this book is “He loves me, he’ll change.” They never change – girls need to get that message drilled in early and often in life.

There are good messages in the book. The Cullens are creatures if you will, who struggle to conquer their baser animal being. They didn’t make themselves what they were, they can’t help that they are vampires, but they can work to overcome their reactions to their instincts and be better “people”, “vampires”, or “vegans”. It’s a good message for teenagers; a good message for all of us. Be better than what you are, rise above what life has dealt and make the world a better place. Though I’d far rather young women read “Pride and Prejudice” and fall in love with the beautiful Fitzwilliam Darcy than the tortured blood sucking Edward.

I’ll let you know how the rest of the books are. I’ve promised to read them and since there is little to challenge the mind, I expect to have them finished by the end of this weekend.

But my daughter is absolutely delighted I’m reading her beloved series of books. She has wanted to have critical conversation about the characters and the plot and it’s a wonderful place to discuss obsessive behavior in young teenage girls and the consequences. As far as I’m concerned, this best thing about this book.

Oh, that, and she watched "Thank You".


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