I don't get it. I just don't get it. I thought young adult fiction had hit its low point with Eragon, but apparently I was wrong. Bella Swan (literally, "beautiful swan," which should be a red flag to any discerning reader) moves to the rainy town of Forks, and the whining begins on page 1. She goes to live with her father Charlie, and is quickly established to be a mopey, ungrateful, self-pitying little toerag. Bella then attends her new school, which turns out to be an all-out caricature of high school with about zero (rounding up) grounding in real life. Her classmates' reaction can be summed up thusly: "OMG. NEW STUDENT. OMG YOU GUYS, NEW STUDENT. STARE AT HER, FOR SHE IS CLEARLY SUPERIOR TO US." Bella Sue is promptly adored by everyone in the school, except the mysterious Cullens, who spend their time brooding, being pretty, smoldering, being perfect, and sparkling. No, seriously. NO, SERIOUSLY. Bella meets Edward, the Culleniest of the Cullens, (meaning he is more perfect and emo than the rest of them,) they fall in love within thirty pages, (much of this time is spent in Bella's head going back and forth between "Does he like me?" "Does he hate me?" "Do I like him?" "Why does he hate me?" and on and on and on AND ON. That is, when she's not being a horrible snobby twit to the boys at school who show affection in genuinely sweet ways, i.e., not breaking into her house and watching her while she sleeps. While she sleeps. Not knowing that he's there. IN HER HOUSE.) The plot shows up somewhere in the last fifty pages, which involves an EVIIIIIILL vampire named James who wants to eat Bella. James is the only character I like.
I generally try to find something redeeming about books, but I honestly have nothing good to say about this drivel. Meyer writes as if the reader is an absolute idiot who has to be told every sing tiny little thing; we are never given the chance to interpret what's going on in the characters' heads. There is no mystery, no intrigue, no suspense. The characters themselves are cut-and-dried, stereotypical, and maddeningly unoriginal. Bella's (supposedly) the clever, beautiful heroine, Edward's the dark, brooding bad boy, James is... uh, the guy that wants to eat Bella. Meyer clearly wants Bella to be a strong female character, but the horrible sad truth is that she's pathetic. Bella follows Edward's every word religiously, never sticks up for herself, has no spine to speak of, plays Suzie Housewife to her father, and has no existence outside of her "romance" with Edward. On that note, let it be said that Nathaniel Hawthorne got more romance into a few lines about a rosebush than Meyer managed to cram into 400 pages. Edward and Bella's relationship consists almost entirely of staring at each other dewey-eyed and arguing about who's prettier (NO I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.)
You know what? This could have been a great book if Meyer had focussed more on the relationship between the leads, (and treated it for what it is: unhealthy, creepy, pathetic, borderline psychopathic,) and less on how perfect Edward is (interesting note: the word "perfect" or related terms like "flawless" are used to describe Edward more than a hundred times. That's just bad writing, guys.) What burns me up most about this book is that Edward and Bella are obviously meant to portray the perfect couple. Yeah, I really want my hypothetical daughter to walk out on her family for a guy she barely knows, invite said guy to sleep in her bed, have absolutely no life outside of said guy, and turn into a sniveling wreck when this guy looks at her the wrong way. And I also really want my hypothetical son to break into his girlfriend's house and watch her sleep (SERIOUSLY, GUYS?) , abandon whatever life he has so he can stalk this girl, and be so possessive of her that he throws a fit whenever she so much as looks at someone other than him. And people think these two are good role models? WHAT. JUST WHAT.
This book really wouldn't bother me if it were being taken for what it is: a silly, sappy, shallow, juvenile, wish-fulfilling rag. The fact is, everyone is going on about how its literary merit rivals the frakking "Scarlet Letter" and how Bella Swan is the new Elizabeth Bennet (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?). "Twilight" should be rotting on some publisher's desk in a pile of rejection letters; not being lauded as the greatest novel since "Pride and Prejudice." I weep for literature.