Monday, July 19, 2010

A few first impressions on Twilight

...well, I've thought about them a little, but they're still kind of fresh, so not as eloquent as I'd like them to be.

I began reading Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" series mainly because I wanted to make my own informed decision about the series as it has come up in numerous conversations over the past two years. Main motivating factor though: my own mother decided to read the series (Mom, you never cease to surprise me in your current tastes on pop culture...especially since you raised me in such a "sheltered" environment), and her take on the work (including her first-hand experience of the pop culture surrounding it!) had me curious.

So, here are a few things that have stood out to me:

1) Its incredibly verbose, and not that well written. I was perplexed how this thing got printed for a while, until a friend pointed out that the publisher knew they had a money-maker--a new JK Rowling--so gave the author "carte blanche." My friend also experienced frustration with the "over-dramatics and repetition" of the writing, especially when these things should have been picked up by an editor.
2) Its romantically drippy at several points--to the point that I sometimes feel like I'm reading porn and have to skim a few pages. Yes, Bella, I know that you're inflamed over Edward's body. Thanks for the head's up. Spare me the details?
3) Some of the themes really surprised me. Such as...
a. Edward's high priority on marriage. His idea of marriage may have been "old fashioned" to Bella, who had a hard time joining the concept with her love for Edward, but it was neat to see, at the marriage ceremony itself, how much she ended up changing her mind about it. It began as just a motion to please Edward, and Alice who wanted to plan it, but by the end, she seemed to realize that marriage fit her exact desire to commit to being with Edward (in this case for eternity). The light bulb finally went off that commitment and marriage went together.
b. Bella's pregnancy, and her decision to see it through despite the possible consequence of her death was something that surprised me. While Edward and Carlisle might have done it differently, Bella decided that she wanted the baby no matter what it might cost her. I found it to be a very pro-life stance. Especially when Edward was able to have two way communication with the fetus before birth; that seemed to be quite a case for life in the womb. Even before Bella's pregnancy however, the sacredness of life was an evident theme. Carlisle seemed to be especially attuned to how precious life is, and this shows through in the way he practices his profession as a doctor. His desire to save the surrendered newborn vampire in "Eclipse" from destruction spoke to that.
c. With the culture that has grown up around these books and movies, the themes of marriage as a good thing (and getting married young to boot), and Bella's pro-life stance, don't seem to be present. The whole "team Edward" or "team Jacob" thing is more prevalent. I'd be curious to know if there has been any flare-up from feminist writers/critiques concerning this, since it flies in the face of the ideas concerning pro-choice and marriage-as-bondage (especially since Bella did marry right out of high school).
d. There's a lot of attention paid to eternity, and a transformed bodily state. Bella's own transformation into a vampire and experience as a "newborn" echoed so many Biblical themes on our own transformed state as Christians, and the transformations we have yet to experience. Her awareness of her new agility, strength, sharpened senses, and newfound beauty--yet also realizing that she' still Bella--brought to mind the passages in the Bible that speak about transformed bodies after the resurrection. It made me think of Christ's resurrected body (John 20:19 to 29, and Revelation 1:9 to 17, then 19:11 to 21) and how God will transform our bodies (Philippians 3:21).

So, I'm now on page 525 of 754...things like lesson planning, grant and scholarship applications, and prepping for Nepal, and going to bed at a decent hour will have priority again soon...