Monday, August 25, 2008

the Twilight phenomenon

Monday, August 25, 2008

Well, I must admit...the Twilight saga hardly qualifies as literature. Teenage vampire romances and the works of Elizabeth Gaskell hardly belong in the same sentence. I am not so pretentious a reader, however, to discriminate to such an extent that I would deny myself the pleasure of what I call "fluff" reading or "mindless entertainment." Goodness, Stephanie Meyer would probably cringe if she heard her writing referred to as fluff. I love reading, and while I planned to focus on the books and novels that I've found to be extremely influential or powerful (namely, classic literature, Pulitzer Prize winners, recommendations from my mother, etc.) I must deviate just this once to express my absolute adoration for Twilight.

I picked up the first book only due to my sister's insistence-she sheepishly admitted her addiction to the story over the phone, even hinting that she had to attempt to restrain herself from immediately diving into the second and third books. I vaguely remembered seeing bits and pieces about it on, one of the websites that I shamelessly read through every day. Yes, I'm a pop culture addict, and I know how utterly useless my vast wealth of pop culture knowledge is-there is absolutely nothing productive or helpful about it!

Needless to say, I agreed to read the book-I was going to be home for Bloys Campmeeting-a delightful week of every year which deserves its own post-and I love having the aforementioned fluff reading for a vacation. I thought Twilight would suit my needs perfectly. Little did I know that I was soon to be swept up into, yes, a teenage vampire romance!

I'm not sure what it is about the books that makes them so utterly captivating, what specific aspect of the romance that is so heart-wrenching, enviable, and compelling. Certainly the wry, self-deprecating tones of the heroine, Bella are appealing. She's unusual in that she is plain, perfectly ordinary, and in fact quite clumsy to boot. Grace is not one of her redeeming qualities. And Edward...smooth, devastatingly handsome, a hero every girl imagines could be real. Perhaps it is those very qualities in him, and that he should choose to fall for someone like Bella gives the ordinary girl hope. These are all very obvious reasons to enjoy the story, certainly. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the undeniably sensual nature that seems to hover over the private scenes with Edward and Bella. It's a commonly known fact that we all tend to want what we cannot have, and in Edward and Bella's case, what they cannot have, seemingly, is a normal future. A future where they can actually be together, and where, in the words of Robert Pattison (the captivating, charming, PERFECTLY cast actor who will be playing Edward on 11/21/08), Edward won't want to "kill her, like, all of the time."

To get back to the slightly embarrassing subject of sensuousness, I must admit, one can't peruse the pages of the romance without feeling a bit "hot and bothered", for lack of a better description. The author is Mormon, and she does not allow for anything explicit, gratuitous, or impure. Despite their desires, so carefully kept in check-though not without difficulty-, Edward and Bella retain their virtue. Rarely in our world of instant gratification do we come across, in literature or film, a couple like them. And yet, it's impossible not to become completely absorbed in their romance, which is so not of this world...

So yes, I recommend, HIGHLY, the entire Twilight series. I dare anyone (well, anyone female, at least) not to enjoy it, or at least one book or two. I myself have purchased the entire series so that I can return to the romance whenever I feel like it. It's an irresistible story, and certainly difficult to forget.

*Since writing this post, in a most stream-of-consciousness way, I have had the chance to dwell on the books a bit more, and I have to add more to my comments. A great part of the appeal of the series is most certainly found in the inherent goodness of the characters. As I mentioned before, it's not often in our current society that we encounter anything not marked by the more depraved aspects of humanity-television, film, books, and magazines are filled to the brim with filth, darkness, and depression most of the time. Rarely are positive role models celebrated or even put forth. Instead, most heroes and heroines of pop culture have attained their status by simply not being "too awful" or compromising only a little. The Twilight series presents a cast of characters that are almost exclusively kind, generous, and real, who value virtue and goodness. The books are a breath of fresh air.

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