So, as planned, I cracked open Twilight while sitting at the aiport gate waiting to begin my trip out to Santa Barbara. Feet propped up on my carry on, seated off to the side away from the in-and-out foot traffic. Here we go, aaaaaannnnnndddd…
We start off with a Bible quote. From Genesis no less. Now, a well-placed quote from the B-I-B-L-E can be a spectacular asset to a piece of literature, but in this case I was skeptical. Beginning with a quote from another beginning can have a lot of symmetry, but it can also be a little heavy handed. I made a note of this and then moved on–only further reading will reveal the value using this quote.
What’s next? Oh, look. A preface. If anyone reading this book is expecting the preface to come in the form of an essay giving an overview and scope for the book, you’re going to be disappointed. What you do is read is the end of the story, written all vauge and suspenseful-like to draw you in. It serves a valuable purpose though, because catching a reader in the first few paragraphs is key and as I moved on to the first paragraphs of the actual first chapter, I realized that if not for the preface, I would definitely not have felt even remotely hooked by the first paragraphs of the initial chapter.
The biggest drag for me as I dove into the first legitimate chapter were the descriptions. Now, I like a lot of description and detail in a scene, but for some reason even I felt overloaded in this first chapter…and the second…and the third. Heck, even the first few paragraphs seemed to be full of too many adjectives “omnipresent” “gloomy” “near-constant” “cloudless” “perfect.” And that’s before you ever get to the in-depth description of Bella & Charlie’s Fork’s residence. I felt like I was reading a first draft–that this was where the author was making sure she knew just how it looked in her mind so that she had it firmly cemented where she could make sure the necessary highlights were conveyed to the audience. Necessary being the key word there, because I have a hard time believing at this point (at this writing I’ve not yet finished the book) that there’s a a real reason I needed a full tour of the home in chapter 1, complete with description of the paint colors. Maybe talking about the yellow cabinets would have been more meaningful if it hadn’t already been spelled out at least 3 different ways that Forks was gloomy and overcast and that this was part of why Bella’s mother (and Bella) hadn’t liked it there. The violation of show-don’t-tell has the consequence of taking a description that could have been meaningful, and making it redudant and tedious.
These, of course, are all stylistic nitpicks on my part, which is kind of low given that I barely edit my posts before they go out, and I’m world famous for using the cliches and phrases that my teachers specifically told me not to use, ever. But, I’m not getting paid to do this and the only editor I have is Kristy–and she only edits if I specifically ask her to edit and she has the time. I feel like I can demand a little higher standard out of a published book.
But, let’s move on to bigger stuff.
Like Bella annoying me from the get go. She’s so MarySue that I feel like I stumbled into Fanfiction.net, and so whiny I’d rather go out and deal with real high school students.
Okay, congrats on your martyr complex, sweety, now shut the hell up about the horrors small-town Pacific Northwest living. Since you don’t actually find out why Bella chose self-exile until nearly chapter 3, I spent the first two chapters mostly wanting to beat her nut-job ass for the constant stream of whoa-is-me over the weather and small town when there was, at that point, no good reason for her to have chosen to suffer. And, straight ball honest, I didn’t gain any sympathy for her lone-suffering even after hearing the explanation. Being a martyr works better if you soldier on with less complaint, rather than constantly reminding us all of how much you’re suffering for someone else.
Then there’s Bella’s stereotypical “oddball” traits, which, honestly, aren’t oddball anymore. She’s worried about being pale. Seriously? I joked a lot about the pathetic pasty color of my legs when I was in high school, but even then it wasn’t so horribly out of fashion that I actually felt bad about it. Pale is the new tan and has been for a while. Actually, by proliferating the pale-as-abnormal thing, it does a disservice to a lot of people. With skin cancer being a real threat, wouldn’t it make more sense to at least acknowledge that the pastier members of society are smart to do what they can to remain that way, in the name of avoiding melanoma, rather than implying that by not getting sun they’re non-conformant?
And sucking at gym. There’s another over-done cliche. I hated gym as much as anyone. I loathe volleyball with the fire of 1000 suns, and I still can’t muster any sympathy for Bella because gym itself is not that bad and even in a tiny, tiny school you are never the only klutz. Not everything in gym is about coordination. A lot of it is just about not being a chicken shit. If I can manage to find a few things in gym I could handle (basketball!), then anyone can, even Bella. Of course, it’s a lot easier to use the “I’m a klutz cop out” than to actually make an attempt at something. Either way, crying not being any good at sports is pointless. Getting a line-drive aimed at your head by a school bully in gym, now there’s a reason to cry.
But it’s all good y’all, because Bella is pale and a klutz, BUT she’s super!smart and has already done all the homework and reading and stuff (but she hates Trig–you always have to hate math in these cases). This is just another thing for her to ponder as she dwells (in her not-infrequent sessions of self-analysis) on how she’s sooooo different than everyone else, which of course, she’s acutely aware of because she’s also so super-observant. And no one else is. Except maybe Edward.
And before you get excited about my starting to tear into Eddie, hold you horses. That’s a topic for a whole ‘nother entry….
I’d like to say I’ve got some good comments to pass along about the first 3 chapters, but my notes really don’t have much in them. I know that some of the sarcasm was vaguely amusing, but unfortunately while some of the individual statements are funny, they were generally given in conjunction with the whining, so over-all they weren’t all that much of a positive. I also know that I was a fan of the short, choppy sentences in the first two paragraphs or so. It was different, but kind of worked. Unfortunately, beyond that, I didn’t find anything worth really noting that I enjoyed up to that point.
But, I wasn’t about to let it beat me, even though by the time I was flying over the Rockies, I was way more distracted by the scenery below than the book and surrendered reading for the reaminder of the flight….I’d pick it up again on the beach…..