Brief Takes: Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1), by Stephenie Meyer

In this exceedingly popular novel, Stephanie Meyer has re-invented the idiom of the vampire to suit that of her protagonist, a bored, almost loveless teenage girl. Bella finds herself becoming increasingly obsessed with one of her classmates, who turns out to be a godlike, dominant, romantic vampire, whose obsession with her matches her own. This coming of age story in our STD times is more concerned with love than lust, but openly acknowledges the potentially fatal outcome of losing control of one’s appetites.

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Brief Takes: New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2), by Stephenie Meyer

This is probably my favorite book of the series, although the beginning is horribly depressing. The author really captures Bella’s despair and apathy in a way that resonated all too familiarly with me, then charms the reader by having her Native American friend, Jacob Black, fall in love with her.  It’s deja vu all over again (as Yogi Berra said), however, when she finds Jacob beginning to pull away from her too.  His reason for doing so, however, is the last thing Bella expects.

Brief Takes: Eclipse (The Twilight Saga, Book 3), by Stephenie Meyer

More action than in the first two novels of this series. This book also showcases Jacob’s character, as he comes to empathize with others who are completely different from himself.

Brief Takes: Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4), by Stephenie Meyer

Some people think the end novel of this series jumps the shark in asking the reader to suspend disbelief, but I believe if we’ve gone for sparkly vampires that can go out in the day and werewolves the size of ponies who can control their transformations, I think we’re gonna buy Bella’s strange pregnancy and her eerie daughter.

Brief Take: Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

There’s a little more high school and a little less history and philosophy in this book than I’d prefer, but it is an engaging story. Bella, an ordinary, regular teenage girl from Arizona, moves to rainy Forks, Washington, and there meets Edward, a dominant, brooding, extremely attractive vampire. Bella comes to love him with her whole heart and soul, and Edward  confesses that he finds her so delectable that he may not be able to control himself around her. Any allegories to sex are completely intentional, so you can see why so many women love this series of books.

The vampires in Edward’s “family” of choice are almost *too* good and pure, and the family love-fest scenes started to make me sleepy. Luckily some villains show up and the end is more exciting.

“Twilight” could have been a formulaic romance, and it’s not, for which I am thankful. It’s worth reading, if for no other reason than to get to the next book, “New Moon.”

Book Review: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this book is about what happens to Bella, the regular teenage girl protagonist of “Twilight,” when Edward, the vampire she loves desperately, leaves her. She is devastated. She is depressed. She is inconsolable. I myself had a couple of very intense relationships a little like this when I was in my twenties, and I could definitely relate to Bella’s predicament and how author Stephenie Mayer expresses it. In fact, it was so realistic that I was considering not reading any more when Bella finds a new source of comfort: her friendship with Jacob, the Native American boy she has known from childhood. Obviously, he’s not the “perfect” Edward, but Bella begins to suspect that allowing herself some small measure of happiness away from Edward would not be “selling out.”

Jacob, who is 2 years younger than Bella, has his own period of painful growth to endure. Both his physical and emotional progress is laid out for the reader (eventually), as he comes to terms with the kind of adult he is becoming and tries to make peace with it.

This book contains some of the history, mythology and philosophy that the first novel lacked, and it finishes with an even better and more suspenseful flourish. Some Romeo and Juliet comparison is included, which may be appropriate, if cliched, for the age of the characters. Fortunately, Bella is modern enough, and sophisticated enough, to handle the comparisons her mind insists on making without getting too sentimental about it.