Monday, October 19, 2009

Mostly an excuse to write about Jacob Black.

So. It turns out I am on Team Jacob.

(Apologies for starting a post with the word 'so.' I blame Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf.)

(Further apologies for almost all of what follows.)

A friend of mine lent me Twilight a little while ago. I'd really like to write a review of it, but my feelings on all of the books in the series were so mixed that I really couldn't be coherent enough to call the result a review. Maybe this is a reaction, then. Like an allergic reaction, but not a serious one.

In the positive column, I've rarely gotten into a book so quickly - by the time Bella was at the airport on her way to Forks, I wanted to know what came next. I spent the whole book wanting to know what came next, even when what came last had really annoyed me.

I also like Stephenie Meyer's writing style. Stephen King has said she can't write worth a damn, and I hate to disagree with Stephen King, but I have to. Stephenie Meyer has her faults as a writer, but I find her nuts-and-bolts use of language rarely makes me stop and think "Oh, heavens, no." Finally, in the positive column, I quite like Charlie Swan, Alice Cullen and I heart Jacob Black.

However, I can't stand the two protagonists. Like Bella, this didn't prove a problem for me when I was reading Wuthering Heights, but it has done with Twilight. I'm not convinced that a man who has travelled the world, gone to college numerous times and lived for 107 years would have his head turned by this girl. We also aren't presented with many compelling characteristics to sell Bella to us. She can cook. She's clumsy. She likes housework. She has no discernible interests or hobbies. But seriously, dude, you should smell the bitch. That is about all she has going for her.

Even I don't think that clumsiness and liking housework are character traits, and I have quite a soft spot for teenage female protagonists who compulsively clean their houses (mostly because I like Isabel from Sarra Manning's Let's Get Lost so much). All the same, that and clumsiness are not sufficient to make me want to get to know a character better. When she grew closer to Jacob in New Moon, I found myself liking her a lot more. She had opinions, and she liked someone based on who he was rather than on a biological compulsion.

And Edward? Meh. A world of meh. I only liked him when he was in the tent with Jacob in Eclipse. Oddly, this was one of the only times in the whole series that I disliked Jacob - it seems that, unlike Bella Swan, I only have room in my heart for one undead American teen at a time. Gosh. I suppose life is always a journey of self-discovery.

Finally, we come to Breaking Dawn. Jacob got his potentially happy ending, so I was a satisfied little Jacob-fan, but that final confrontation? All those endless names? Gah. 'Bella, this is the vampire contingent from Achingly Cool European Country A. They are Ethnic Name One, Ethnic Name Two, and Ethnic Name Three. Later, we are expecting a smaller contingent from Achingly Cool European Country B, when you will have the opportunity to see once again how much time Ms. Meyer spent on BehindTheName.com.'

This post is rambling all over, because my opinion on the Twilight Saga rambles all over. Some great writing, some very compelling storylines, some excellent scene setting, but the basic love story just didn't grab me.

And on the matter of the underlying Mormon morality that has taken the internet by storm? I'm not touching that with a bargepole until I've re-read the books (which may be never) and learned, y'know, at least one concrete fact about Mormons. And the reason all this is occuring to me now, when I read the series months ago? It's because the friend who lent me Twilight and started the whole thing was over in my flat at the weekend, and only accepted her copies of New Moon and Eclipse back under protest. 'Do I have to take them? Really?'

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