Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Twilight - Review from Mercator

Read the review here:

It's worth reading, although I personally don't agree 100% with everything that is said and have a few comments of my own.

Bella is plain, clumsy and prone to accidents, but having recently moved to rainy Forks she enjoys popularity as the new girl. She has no real friends -- none that she spends unforced time with. She has a shallow relationship with her father, Charlie, whom she “hates lying to” even though she does so frequently since, “for his own good”, he remains ignorant about vampires. While Edward is always telling Bella how selfless she is, she never does anything to support the theory. All she wants is for him to make her a vampire so that she can be breathless in his presence 24/7 for all eternity.
In the unlikely event that any of my children came across mythical creatures and had to keep their existance a secret, even from me, "for my own good", or in this case, for their own good as well, this is not an idea that really bothers me. We find out later that keeping the secret from the humans is the only rule that vampires must abide by. Edward has broken this rule, and let Bella live even though she knows about him. The judgement by the ruling vampire family is either she be changed into a vampire or she dies. (And if Edward does not kill her or change her himself, the leading vampire will take care of the job for him. With the special abilities of their guard, there is no getting away from them, as we find out in later books.) By keeping the information from Charlie, she is protecting not only her vampire friends, but him from the same fate in the end.

As a teenager, I did not necessarily tell my parents everything that was going around me. As an adult, I still do not tell my parents everything that goes on in my life. Bella is 17. In some cultures, that is already an adult. I highly doubt that Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter went about flaunting their adventures in Narnia either, for the simple reason that they'd have been put in a mental insitution. But then again, time stands still on earth while they are gone, so what do they have to explain, except for maybe a few missing or unintact clothes? Even then, that seems to be magically resolved as they are returned at the end through the wardrobe and emerge as young children again in the same clothes in which they had originally gone through years/minutes before.

That Bella has no real friends that she spends unforced time with is not something that really bothers me either. Except for Angela, most of the teenagers seem concerned with very superficial things, and Bella is not. She doesn't have much in common with any of them, and quite frankly, neither would I. At her age, I probably spent more time talking with my teachers than with my peers as well, for much the same reasons.

I do not remember Edward telling Bella how selfless she is so much as that she does not realize her own worth. He enjoys being with her because of who she is, because they share a lot of common interests, not just because of the whole "breathless" thing. She on the on the other hand regards herself as plain and uninteresting while he is beautiful and amazing.

No need to be beautiful, just hide behind a pretty name and you can still manage to attract the most perfect guy in existence -- it’s a teenage girl’s dream.
Ummm, I think it was a little more than just having a pretty name that attracted the "most perfect" guy in existence. Also, I'm not so sure he's the most perfect guy. Give Jacob a course on Theology of the Body, and I probably personally would have preferred his type to an Edward type. But this is not my story, it's Bella's.

Jacob Black is a 16-year-old werewolf, mortal enemy of vampires. His declaration of love for Bella turns the romance into a love triangle.
Which kind of contradicts the whole "I can't live without you" idea. (More below on that idea.)The book tells us this kind of love is so strong you can't really live without the other person, and yet it also says that there could be other people out there, just as good for you.

In the midst of all this sensuality the sudden appearance of restraint seems incongruous -- if not dishonest. “Virtue” turns out to be simply a line that can’t be crossed. Keep a sheet between you and it is all OK. But who could go that far and maintain real virtue? Sounds like a recipe for a lot of baby Junos with jaded teenage mums.
This I wholeheartedly agree with. I cannot see anyone having the kind of restraint that Edward has in these 4 books. In real life, something would have happened long before they finally got married. You simply cannot have that kind of attraction for someone and let yourself go that far in private places or in your bedroom.

I do like the fact that Eward is worried about virtue, and wants to protect both his and Bella's, but then virtue is neither explained, nor is his desire to protect it elaborated on. We only know that he struggles with wondering whether he has a soul or not, and wanting to go to Heaven if it exists for him. We learn nothing about why virtue is worth saving in the immediate, right here, on earth. It also would have been nice if it weren't so one-sided, if, in the end, Edward explained his reasons, and Bella understood and wanted the same thing. A little Theology of the Body wouldn't have hurt here. And a little reality too, as in they decide to try to stay away from places where temptation would be stronger.

Meyer seems to think a “thou shalt not” ethic is a soul’s ticket to heaven: “Most religions believe there are some rules to follow,” says Edward piously. Rules. What a contrast to the message of Pope John Paul II’s “theology of the body”, which understands sex, relationships and affectivity as wonderful dimensions of human life, to be guarded and affirmed, not simply out of a fear of hell but to enable human beings to reach their full potential in a free and total gift of self.

There are serious consequences for marriage. It is presented as a commitment based on this intense feeling of desire, when a person is so essential to your happiness that you can’t live without them. I’m not sure that many marriages would last long with that premise.
No, I think they would not. As an adult, I read this story as a way to escape. I don't actually believe in love like that. This is one of those things that would be worth discussing with the teenagers. Love is something you choose, something you do, not something that happens to you. It's actually a lot of work, and it isn't always all pleasant.

Bella actually takes her punishment maturely when she is grounded for running off, and unable to explain why she left in the first place (to try to save Edward). Also, even in the midst of depression, she manages to cook, clean house, do the laundry, and keep up her grades. How many teenagers do all that when they aren't depressed? She does all this without being asked to. I don't even keep up with all the cooking, housecleaning and laundry and I am 36. ( I think? I can't remember any more.) Also, Jacob finds a way to let Charlie know in the end without telling him what exactly, that supernatural things are involved. Charlie's involvement in the supernatural world is on a "need to know" basis only, and permits him to see his daughter and granddaughter, without actually having to know what they are.

There is a lot more to these books than just sensuality, even though there is enough of that. Which is why they are ever so much better than your ordinary Harlequinn Romance.

For plot, theology, real love and reality, there are better books out there. I read this one for the way it made me feel. Sometimes, it's just nice to escape reality.