I am interrupting a frantic reading marathon to stop in and blog about the culprit. It's the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (individual books are Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn). And don't worry, you won't read any spoilers here.
You've probably heard of the series (it's being called "the next Harry Potter", with which I disagree--I'll get to that in a minute), and it seems that everyone is reading them. They're about--and let's just get this out of the way--vampires.
I know. I was skeptical too. I do not like scary books or movies, and I was hesitant to give these a try. To my surprise, the whole thing works. They're nice vampires. Sort of. In a yes-we're-blood-suckers-but-we'd-prefer-to-be-productive-members-of-society kind of way.
They're young adult fiction, though they've found a widespread audience among adults (especially, I'm guessing, adults of the female persuasion). Though they are chock-full of teenage angst, the incredibly romantic love story at the plot's center appeals to a wide variety of ages. I thought a book with this much hype was worth checking out, just to see what all the fuss is over. (That is my Serious Academic Reason. Also? I am a sucker for a love story that has teenage girls all over the world swooning.)
Here's my take (and keep in mind, I'm still only in the middle of the second book. If you Twilight veterans see that I'm way off base, don't laugh at me.)
The story is engrossing and compelling. I read the first book in only a couple of days; partly because I was so interested, and partly because it is a very fast read. It isn't bad writing, though it isn't especially excellent writing, either. It's a little like reading a screenplay--almost entirely dialogue, little poetic language, and the whole thing just flies by. This is why I can't say that they rise to the level of a Harry Potter series, which had the riveting plot and superb writing.
But the plot is undeniably page-turning and imaginative. And it is really, really romantic, full to the brim of that most intense and powerful emotion: first love. The kind of love that makes you all tingly and breathless. (Which is not, by the way, the same thing as seasoned love, which is breathless and tingly AND gets up with the baby at 3 am and remembers to take out the trash on Thursdays, but that is a different post altogether.)
In fact, as I kept getting caught up in the first volume, I knew the whole thing vaguely reminded me of something, though it took me until the end to put my finger on it: goofy, clumsy, capable, delightful heroine falls in love with a brooding, complicated, good, unattainable hero.
Aha! It's Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy! Pride and Prejudice! Except, you know, with really sharp teeth. I guess you could say it's a romantic narrative with a impressive track record of resonating with readers. (Although, Mr. Darcy? He totally takes out the trash on Thursdays. I'm sure of it.)
The movie version comes out in November, and I want to finish the series before then. That shouldn't be hard, at the rate I've been eating these up (an unfortunate choice of words for vampire novels, perhaps). What do you think? Have you read them? Like them?