Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Now that I've finished all the "required" reading of my booklist from www.curledup.com, I have decided to do a little of my own “for fun” reading before my next round of review books is delivered. I have heard the buzz and found myself mesmerized by the simple cover designs of the much talked about TWILIGHT series by author Stephanie Meyer. I began the first book Sunday night and have been struggling to keep my nose out of it ever since. Needless to say, my house is a mess and my children are in dire need of some attention. I'm not sure what it is about this book that has piqued my interest so intensely, but I must admit, I'm hooked.

I am surprised it has grabbed me as thoroughly as it has as I’m not a big vampire fan. Not to say I hate vampire stories. I don’t. But I do believe they’ve been done to death. And yet, Stepanie Meyer’s young adult series seems to have some invisible force over me that I can’t put my finger on. What makes hers different from everyone else’s and why the big phenomenon? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll have a better grasp of it when I finish the first installment. At this point, all I can say for sure is the book has great “voice”. Written in first person from the main character’s point of view, Ms. Meyer has nearly convinced me vampires are alive and well and living in cloudy locales! Although I’m not one to shrink in the dark or wear a garlic necklace, this book brings with it an amazing feel of authenticity. This is what I think makes it so outstanding. It leaves me, the reader, thinking about the characters long after I’ve put the book down. (Which ultimately causes me to pick it up again.)

Often, when a book is as highly regarded as this, my expectations become considerably elevated and I usually end up disappointed. However, here I am halfway through book one and I've yet to experience any sense of letdown. Both Meyer’s main characters (Bella & Edward) are amazingly appealing individuals. Each has their own attractive personality and the chemistry flowing between them is incredibly fascinating and nail-bitingly enticing at the same time. So much so that I am chomping at the bit to begin book two, NEW MOON, and I’ve yet to finish book one. I will stop at the grocery store, the drug store, any store I can find on short notice and buy book two as soon as I leave my house so I will have it readily available when I finally turn the last page of TWILIGHT.

I’d love to know what opinions the rest of you who’ve read it have gathered. Are you as spellbound as I? If so, why? What do you think makes TWILIGHT different from other vampire stories? What is its pull and why has it gripped the consciousness of nearly every teenage girl I know? What is it that Stephanie Meyers has stumbled into and where can the rest of us get some?

-Niki Schoenfeldt


  1. Okay, I tried to open a discussion here, but got no takers. If this blog were targeted at pre-teen and teenage girls, the comments would be off the page by now. Still, because my blog is for writers, I think this is very much a valid discussion. Although the TWILIGHT series is not quite the phenomenon HARRY POTTER was, comparisons have definitely been made. This fact in itself should garner great discussion among the literary minded.

    Now that I have finished TWILIGHT and am involved in the throes of NEW MOON, I find myself sticking with my first impressions as mentioned here in my original post. If you are looking for an example of great “voice”, TWILIGHT has it. If you are looking for intriguing characters, TWILIGHT has it. If you are looking for “authenticity” (Which often corresponds with voice,) TWILIGHT has it. For myself, as I delve into the young adult arena with my own writing, I am thrilled to find such great examples to read and study.

    Unlike HARRY POTTER, which appealed to all ages and sexes, Stephanie Meyer’s books seem to target girls/women. (Including middle-aged me.) TWILIGHT’s lure is its ROMEO & JULIET-style take on forbidden love. What female, doesn’t dream of finding perfect love? What girl/woman doesn’t long for that one special connection with her soul mate? When that certain spark is uncovered, there is no going back. At this point, it doesn’t matter if the love of your life is a man, a beast or an alien. (Which, by the way, the latter are both topics Meyer has tackled). Of course, for our adult sensibilities and realistic values, we want a flesh and blood man. A good man. But for a teen whose emotions are running overtime, they are only aware of the overpowering passion. A teen is more likely to toss aside her sensibilities and do whatever it takes to keep that feeling alive. It doesn’t matter if the one who makes her heart palpitate is human or otherwise. Then, to kick it up a notch, Meyer makes sure that special someone not only finds you desirable, but delectable too. It sounds funny put like that, but when you stop and think about it, what a horrifyingly fantastic twist she’s added to an already emotionally charged plot. Brilliant!

    I once heard author Bruce Colville speak on plot and character. I found his advice invaluable and I often turn back to my notes for guidance. But one thing he said stuck with me and I never find the need to look it back up. He said, “Once character and problem are established, make life miserable for that character. Think about the worst thing that could possibly happen and make it happen!” Stephanie Meyer has done just that and if you’ve gone into any book store recently you’ve probably seen her books front and center. There’s something to be said for a new twist on an old subject. What unlikely combination is floating around in your imagination? What twisting plotline can you devise?
    C'mon, intrigue me. And I will try and do the same for you.

  2. I DID comment, Niki - don't know why it didn't show up. So here goes again: i think you nailed it on voice, character, plot and authenticity. If you fontinue reading the books, you will be amazed at how many characters you know and know well. However, after reading the series twice for entertainment and then again, in parts, as a study of "WHY DOES THIS TUFF WORK?" I can say that in terms of technical writing, it's not great writing. Beth and I takled a kot about this last night. There were a ton of needly "ly" words taht didn't bother me the first time I read them, but did the second and upon study. And by the end of the series, I was completely sick of Bella's grimaces, Edwards scorching or melting eyes and musical voice. But I think that the reason the series works boils down to the basics of character and plot, both of whith stephanie meyer handles masterfully.

  3. Hi, I'm not a writer, other than in the Bloggiest sense, however, I just finished Twilight and am now half way through re-reading it... I read voraciously, all manner of genres and classics, and have got to that stage in life that if a book fails to grab my attention, even if it has been endlessly hyped or has received glowing reviews, I hand it over to the Charity Shop unfinished...

    I think where Stephenie succeeds is in conveying a truthful and genuine teenage 'voice' with Bella - the neuroses, the feeling of alienation and challenges of finding one's feet in the teenage world.

    The connection Bella achieves with Edward is a realistic one, in my opinion, seen from Bella's youthful point of view, in terms of your first love, which is all-encompassing and devours everything, even when it is not all that good for you, in my experience...

    It is a romantic read, rather than an adventure, as Harry Potter is. For what it's worth, I really don't think Harry Potter was that well-written, nor the Philip Pulman trilogy, although both stories were very engaging and felt unique...

    I can live with Stephenie's perhaps less mature vocabulary and writing style by reason of adult 'suspension of disbelief', if you like; She managed to bring me back to my more youthful self, if that makes any sense... It worked for me, and I have ordered the other novels now, anxious to follow the character development, and I hope not to be disappointed, although I suspect I will be.

  4. A Woman of No Importance, What a mysterious name! I beg to disagree however, we are all important! Thanks for your post. I'm glad you enjoyed TWILIGHT. I totally agree with you. First love is does take precedence over everything else in your life. Especially at that age. I too, had vivid memories of my high school years flash before my eyes as I read Stephanie Meyer's work. I don't think you will be totally disappointed. I must say, book two does drag a bit, but 3 and 4 pick the pace back up. And yes, there are times the storyline borders on ridiculous. But it's fiction after all. Shouldn't it be fun and ridiculous sometimes?

  5. Ah, thank you for responding so quickly, Niki! My name comes from Oscar Wilde's perhaps lesser known play... I think they're making a film of it later this year?

    I wholly agree with you... I enjoyed my second reading of Twilight, and the other three books arrive tomorrow.

    I don't know how she's done it, but we'd all love a slice of Stephenie's success, non?

    I agree there are parts of the story when we have to suspend our disbelief, (as with Bella being lured to the ballet studio, like we didn't see that coming?!), just as we have to with many thrillers and horror films, in fact..., where the protagonist must act out something we'd never do in real life...

    These aren't the classics, but the author has certainly tapped into some kind of Zeitgeist... and yes, they are fun - But they appear to be a Marmite series - Love them or hate them, no grey areas! Take care!

  6. Just discovered your blog, and I'm jumping into the discussion months too late--well, better late than never! I've read all the criticism; I've recommended them to people who hated them... but still, even though I see the flaws, I find them compelling and almost impossible to put down, even on a second reading. Apparently a lot of other readers agree with me. I wish I could figure out exactly how Stephanie Meyer did it so I could apply it to my own writing!


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