22 November 2009

Vampires and love stories

I went out Friday night with a couple of my girlfriends and my stepdaughter to see New Moon, the new movie from the Twilight series. I guess you could say I'm a Twi-Mom. After being asked, oh, 64 times about the appeal of Twilight even though it is obviously written for much younger women than myself, I really tried to nail down what it is that I like about it.

I loved Twilight, the first book; liked but didn't love New Moon, the second one; loved Eclipse, the third one, and not so much with Breaking Dawn, the fourth one. I'm going to discuss the events of the books freely so I guess that could count as a spoiler alert.

Twilight is a breathless, swoony, ridiculously over the top love story. The kind that only happens in high school. Which is where this book conveniently takes place. Well, Bella is really in high school and Edward is pretending to be. I do not mean to belittle the author's accomplishments in any way...holy cow, she spawned a whole phenomenon! But honestly her writing style is not real sophisticated. And it's really wordy. It takes her 700 pages to tell a story that is really only about 400 or so. Being a writer myself, I cannot help but notice mechanics and grammar and such things....I have been known to be called "the grammar police" on more than one occasion. And I'm not saying I think I could write it better, but....for an English lit major, it's just not quite what I would expect.

It started getting a little strange in New Moon. Let me put out there as a disclaimer that I am not into the whole fantasy realm in any way, shape or form, so I was surprised to like this as much as I do. Because there is some serious fantasy involved. Vampires, werewolves and shape shifters stretch my tolerance quite a bit. I hung with the whole werewolf thing through New Moon and Eclipse. The fights between the vampires and their assorted enemies made me laugh and roll my eyes a little. And I think that allowing vampires get away with a lot and writing it off to "well, they're vampires, they can do whatever they want" almost amounts to literary cheating. Like you write your character into a situation that is seemingly impossible and then he just...gets out of it. Really? He can disappear at will? Honestly? He magically knows everything there is to know and holds several PhDs? And reads minds? Oh, well, he's a vampire, of course he does. But, it's her story and she can do what she wants with it. That's the writer in me picking someone else's work apart.

Eclipse was good. I liked it better than New Moon...it seemed like it more about the love story again, and New Moon was about Jacob turning into a werewolf. I thought the whole "let's get married so we can truly be together for eternity" was maybe just a little teeny bit hokey but I'll go with it. Who wouldn't want to marry Edward? He's perfect. I am very much looking forward to seeing the movie in the spring when it comes out. I love Robert Pattinson as Edward. I've not seen him in anything else, although I know he has been. In my mind he IS Edward and after Twilight it will take a little getting used to, to see him as other characters. But that's neither here nor there. I think the movies have been very well cast, we can just leave it at that. Taylor Lautner looks awesome as Jacob but given the fact that I am old enough to have a child his age.....that makes me view him a little differently. The girls in the theater Friday night were literally screaming and giggling when he was onscreen and took his shirt off. He will be truly fabulous when he is all the way grown up...got tremendous potential but he's still growing up.

Breaking Dawn stretched me about to my breaking point as far as the fantasy stuff where I had to just suspend all sense of reality. The thing about the other books is, it almost seems like it could really happen. Breaking Dawn, not so much. I just couldn't get to the place in my head where I still felt like it had the possibility of being something that could happen. Up until the part where Bella has become a vampire, it's ok....it's Edward and Bella on their honeymoon and the discovery they make while they are away, of Bella's super warp speed pregnancy, and it's ok. But when she starts drinking blood because it's what the baby wants, being half vampire and all, I kind of lost my grip on it. And Renesmee? Really? That's just ridiculous. And the big showdown with the Volturi that didn't happen was a letdown to a lot of people but frankly I was relieved. Bella pushing her "shield" out of her own mind and wrapping it around other people pushed me over the edge.

But all of that said, at its core, the Twilight series is an epic love story, that starts out against all odds, and yet somehow, love conquers all and they live happily ever after. Literally forever. All of Bella's ends are neatly tied up and she gets all of what she wants. She gets to be with Edward forever, she gets to be a vampire like she's been begging for since the beginning and she gets to keep Jacob without breaking his heart. We all love a happy ending where the heroine gets what she wants.

Who doesn't remember that breathless first love where you felt like you couldn't breathe when he looked at you and smiled? Who wouldn't want to feel like that again, just for a minute? After discussing with my other Twi-Mom friends I've come to a conclusion. Those of us in the midst of the chaos and tedium that marriage for a certain number of years, and having young children bring, joyous and wonderful certainly, but chaos nonetheless, love an escape from the routine of everyday real life. Not that we want to escape permanently, just for a little bit. And dream that someone as perfect and brilliant and swoon-inducing as Edward could love plain old us. Not that our husbands aren't wonderful, but come on, they're not Edward. Only Robert Pattinson is. And I heard he's taken.

Stephenie Meyer's story gives me hope....she was a stay home mom of three boys and the kernel of what grew into Twilight came to her in a dream. She's living my dream. Well, I don't know if I would want the extent of what Stephenie's got going on....movies and fame and all that goes with that....but what I wouldn't give to have a great idea for a story, start writing and just watch it take off.

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