Saturday, November 22, 2008

In which I question my committment to sparkle motion

It's Twilight time! Thousands of fans have already seen the highly anticipated film this weekend, including my niece, a high school freshman; and my turn comes in a few hours.

First, two confessions, in the interest of full disclosure. When I read
Twilight, it was before giving that copy to my niece (who had already read it). I have also not read the rest of the series.

I think that Stephenie Meyer is a good writer. I especially appreciate her ability to paint a scene. However, there was something about the gender dynamics in her book that made me twitch. I felt that Edward treated Bella like a possession, and ordered her around. I have a friend who has read and enjoyed the whole series, but says that that trend continues, not only with Edward but with Jacob and Bella's father. There is also something juvenile about Edward and Bella's is strictly physical, even if the sense of budding sexuality is well-written. All of us who are past that age have probably been there, and I know that I run the risk of belittling young love. However, it is distressing to see Bella consider making potentially eternal decisions, turning her back on her family and everything she knows, at such a tender age.

I was fascinated by vampires when I was my niece's age, and much of that interest still remains. I remember reading the Vampire Diaries Series by L.J. Smith when I was in high school.
The Silver Kiss, by Anette Curtis Klause, is still one of my favorite books. However, there is a plethora of what I call “vamporn” available today, and while Meyer is probably among it's best writers, I don't tend to read any of it.

I truly enjoyed
The Host, also by Meyer. It is billed as her first book for adults, but I personally don't find it any more r-rated than Twilight. It is about Wanderer, a member of an alien race who inhabit the bodies of other species and take over their minds. Her species, the Souls, seem to have subdued the earth. However, when Wanderer is assigned to a human host, Melanie, she finds that Melanie's mind refuses to fade away.

There are some troubling gender dynamics here, too, as Melanie leads Wanderer in search of her little brother and her true love. (I gagged when wanderer concluded that Melanie's body didn't belong to her or to Melanie, but to Jared.) At the same time, I liked the way that Meyers writes here about the strength of human emotion, and the idea that emotional memory resides in the body. There is also a touching and believable story arc about the nature of family bonds, blood and chosen. I felt that she accurately portrayed the moral complexity of her world: everyone is faced with imperfect choices, and even the Souls, in the end, are sympathetic figures. To top it all off, Meyer's pulls a happy but cliché-free conclusion out of her a--I mean thin air.

In other words, I would recommend
The Host to almost anyone. I also really hope to see it made into a movie one day...I even did some preliminary casting in my head.

So have a good weekend, whether you head to the multiplex at twilight or just host a good book in your home. If you are more Twihater than Twilighter, or if you can stand a little fun at your fandom's espense, check out the following links.

The Most Poular Book in the Whole World!

Occupation: Girl
(Cleolinda is one of the greatest pop culture voices on the web, and also the one to whom I owe the "Sparkle Motion" thing.)

Twilight trailer spoof
("I see you brought a snack...")

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