Has anyone actually read the
young adult romance Twilight? I haven’t. Could
barely choke down chapter one. So to be fair, I’ll limit my remarks to
those first golden words.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a best
seller. But—and this may shock you—that doesn’t mean it’s well written.
And yes, I realize that “everyone” of the female gender between the
ages of twelve and sixteen have read it and the sequels. Those same
young women flocked to see the movie version, which has made more than
$150 million so far.
I don’t have anything against
vampires in fiction. Dracula is one of my favorite
books. But with Twilight we’ve got a full-fanged
phenomenon. Actually, I was hopeful. Maybe this would be a book I could
really sink my teeth into. But, no. It’s just SOD. The Same Old Drivel.
Take the whining teen, Bella. What a shock. She’s a child of divorce.
Hard to imagine a plot that doesn’t involve family dysfunction, even if
it is written by a thirty-something Mormon homemaker.
Here’s my take on chapter one of
Twilight. It’s poorly
written, poorly researched, and full of the same-old, same-old
characters, and on-the-nose dialogue. Let’s start with the weather,
because the author Stephenie Meyer does. One wonders if she’s ever been
to Phoenix. Truth is she lives in Arizona. So how could she have gotten
her details so wrong?
Hey, Stephenie, Phoenix is in
the desert. Where it’s hot. Bella is heading to her father’s, Charlie,
home in Washington to start school. That means it’s either
September. The only time it’s 75 degrees (as Meyer states) during that
season in the Valley of the Sun is around midnight, if you’re lucky.
In paragraph one, we’re buzzing
toward the airport on a bland, cloudless day. But in the second graph,
we’re slammed into the past as Meyer babbles on about the weather in
Washington. Rainy, dark. The kind of place a vampire might find comfy.
Within the first three
paragraphs, Meyer uses the word “was” nine times. She starts five
sentences with “It.” In one spot, she slips from past to present tense.
But I could see the sacrifice in
her eyes behind the
promise. Huh? Her eyes were behind the
promise? We know what she means, but the writing is unclear. Any
respectable editor at any respectable writer’s conference would have
slammed such sloppiness.
After arriving in town, Bella
finds out that she’s getting a free, used truck from pop, the police
chief. “Well, now, you’re welcome,” he mumbled, embarrassed
by my thanks. Oh, I get it. Bella’s dad was embarrassed by
the thanks. That’s why he mumbled. Meyer can’t resist the seemingly
overwhelming urge to explain.
Wanna-be, would-be, and
struggling writers have to realize that best-selling status isn’t
limited to the worthy or the wise. It goes to whoever gets the hype,
the marketing push, the T-shirts, and the media interviews. How else
can the success of braindead Young Adult slop like Camp Rock be
But hey, there’s still reason to
rejoice. If Twilight can hit the top of the charts.