Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Recently I’ve returned to a few books I’ve read before and I’ve had a completely different view of them now that I’m older. I figured the same thing might happen with this series now that I’m out of my whole ‘glittery vampires are lame’ branding phase where I just poked fun at the whole Twilight series and the cult of fans that followed it. The last time I read this book was in 2007, it had just been released and everyone in my secondary school was going school-girl crazy over it, even girls who teased others because 11-year-olds think
Since I read Stephanie Meyer’s ‘The Host’ a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that I’m going to dare a re-read of it this year, I thought the Twilight series might be a good contender to re-read in a different light.
I’m actually sorry to say I was so wrong.
I tried so hard to enjoy this book because I was desperate for some light relief (I’m doing an essay on how the Holocaust is presented in children’s literature), I even tried getting into the mindset of a 13-year-old girl with a sugary crush on Robert Pattison, but it just wasn’t happening.
The frank truth is, this book is horrendously boring.
Everything about it is just flat and cringe-worthy. Bella could be mildly likeable if she wasn’t so self-obsessed over her own clumsiness and angsty misery. Edward is just plain creepy, no matter how you put it. In every scene he comes across as being woefully socially inept (which you’d think a 300 year old good-looking teenager would have got the hang of by this point) and worryingly aggressive. Of course, this aggression is meant to be romantic protectiveness over his swooning love for Bella but it’s not. It’s goddamn creepy and reading his scenes made me feel like I was covered in a coating of slime.
And it’s all so very obvious. We’re repeatedly told the same information in a hundred different ways – Meyer doesn’t just want to get the point across, she wants to nail a neon placard to our face.
C’mon, we get it.
Everyone loves Bella, Bella is oblivious and doesn’t know why anyone loves her, poor dear.
The first third of the book contains barely anything else. It’s absolutely mind-numbing.
For once, I’m actually congratulating 12 year old me for hating this trash, kudos to you past-Enya, Darren Shan’s vampires kick ass.
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Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Finally we’re starting to see some plot appearing in the Dresden Files series!
Though I preferred the previous book as the story was more interesting and coherent (more on that later!), the characters in Grave Peril help keep the plot interesting and build it up nicely to make the foundations of a more intriguing series.
For me, the best bit of the entire book was the first encounter we have with a ghost in the beginning chapters. After that (which is to say most of the book), the story is really let down because it just doesn’t make an awful lot of sense. It feels like the series has skipped a few books and has just landed us with this to compensate, so much so that I checked several times to make sure I hadn’t picked up the 4th/5th instalment of the series instead. I’m assuming this is done to make the plot a little meatier and add more weight to the characters we encounter but it just doesn’t work well. It feels far too ambitious and it casts a shadow on the best bits of this book: the characters and the development of a much larger, more interesting plot.
A definite boost for the outlook of the series is that Dresden is almost a likeable character now! Yes, he still spends too much page-time brooding in self-pity and moral dilemmas, but now he has back-up from the comedy relief that is Bob and the loyalty of our newly-introduced character Michael, we can see him in a much more forgiving light.
Unfortunately, this is still let down somewhat by the female characters – why do they all suck so much? It’s like the author has decided he doesn’t understand women therefore he’ll write them as one dimensional as possible and hope that everyone nods along in agreement. The only female characters that are vaguely interesting barely get any attention in this book and it’s a noticeable gap that frankly, tired me out. It’s a letdown, especially after the male characters were such a huge positive in this book and female characters were finally starting to gain some substance in Fool Moon.
Give this a read if you plan on continuing with the Dresden Files – I get the impression that it’d be hard to make sense of the series if you didn’t have this book as a stepping stone but that’s all it is, a stepping stone and an intriguing, albeit slow and irritating, one at that.
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