I've borrowed Bree's untouched copy of Twilight for this first part. It seems to me that it's a bad sign that she couldn't finish it. Bree finishes books regularly and this book is still unread.
I wanted to crack open the book and get to reading, but if the few previews I'd read of the novels were accurate and represented Meyer's style, I'd be undertaking a long, arduous, and possibly painful task. So the book sat on my desk at home for 20 minutes, just as unread as it was before. (Note that I also ate a quarter pint of ice cream while staring at the cover.)
All right. Here goes nothing.
The preface of Twilight reminds me of the trashy horror books I used to read when I ran out of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft to read back in junior high. Short, concise, and ambiguous. It's in first-person and I'll assume that it's from the point of view of the main protagonist, Bella Swan. She's staring at "the hunter" (probably a vampire?) "without breathing." Even if the text fills half the page, it seems like a long time to go without oxygen.
There's nothing spectacular here except Meyer's use of the word "sauntered." I consider that word to be a complete joke (because who actually saunters ever?), so we're off to a good start.
CHAPTER 1: FIRST SIGHT
It's in this chapter that I first meet Bella Swan. Bella is filled with self-hate: she hates where she's going, she hates her skin tone, she hates her clumsiness (which we'll get to), and she hates that she's so different. For someone who is so consumed by hatred, she does not a single thing to alleviate any of these things. In fact, she seems to act in direct contradiction of what might cause her to experience joy.
Perhaps this is just who her character is, but I couldn't help but feel that each of her characterizations were forced by Meyer in order for her to fit into the story she wanted to create. I've always felt a good novel had a story that made the characters, not the other way around. I don't feel like Meyer is telling a story; I feel like she's creating characters to say what she wants.
Bella moves to Forks, Washington. In a description that sounds exactly like it was ripped from a Wikipedia entry (Meyer's inspiration for choosing this city), Bella says, "In the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State, a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains on this inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America." If Meyer was going for hyperbole, this could have been phrased differently; however, it feels factual and, at the same time, completely dishonest.
Forks is terrible and Bella, who's moving in with her father, makes no qualms about complaining about absolutely everything. She whines about the car her father, Charlie, buys her. She whines about having to share a bathroom. She whines about starting a new school. She whines about crying. It's like those stupid Xzibit memes: I'm whining inside my whine so I can cry while I cry.
Shut the fuck up, Bella Swan.
And her day at school is irritating. Everyone MAGICALLY LOVES HER. Despite worrying about being an outcast, every person (except Edward Cullen, who we'll get to) accepts her. Right off the bat. It's a work of complete fiction and delusion, yet Bella is an outright asshole to virtually everyone who is nice to her. That's a great way to be accepted, you moron.
And then there's Edward Cullen. In perhaps the most telling form of foreshadowing I've ever seen, Edward, who might be described as the most beautiful creature Bella has ever seen, is a complete and total douchebag to Bella, going so far as to refuse to look her in the eye and request to move classes so he never has to see her again. Now, I know this is going to be explained soon, but this seems to be a summary of the relationship between Edward and Bella in the first chapter of the novel: no matter how horrible Edward is, Bella is going to be unreasonable and fall madly in love with him.
Before I move on to chapter 2, I just want to say that I've avoided the obvious complaint this entire time, but I've decided to briefly address it: Stephanie Meyer is a terrible writer. Her grammar is atrocious and her copy editor should be taken out to the Editing Pasture and removed from his/her position. There is a glaring error of repetition (the "I was wearing..." sentence) in the first paragraph of the entire book.
Furthermore, she does something that I consider to be a cardinal sin in the world of creative writing: she tells you, but she does not show you. Long ago, a teacher of mine (and subsequent professors) taught me why certain writers were so damn good at their craft. They'd show you entirely imagined worlds. They'd show you beautifully evocative character developments. They'd show you everything inside their heads. But they'd never tell you.
Stephanie Meyer almost always tells. This happens. Then this happens. Then this. This person, who looks like this, does this. In this case, plot is more important than imagery. And it's driving me crazy. (Though I will admit there is a brief and surprising break from this. Bella's description of her father's kitchen/apartment is kind of stunning. Maybe she can write a little bit?)
24 more chapters and an epilogue to go. Sigh.