Okay, first off, here's proof that I'm actually reading the book. Also, while you're at it, it's proof that MySpace angles don't always work well for guys, particularly when the guy in question has post-donation hair.
(Yes, that is Xanga open in the background.)
Okay, thoughts so far: (circa page 7)
I have to say, the prose isn't as hideously Bulwer-Lytton as I was afraid it would be. I actually liked the description of Washington as "too green--an alien planet." However, I couldn't care less about the "sleeveless, white eyelet lace" shirt that she's wearing that is "her favorite," especially when I have no physical description of the girl herself to go on yet (other than that her hair is longer than her mother's). You'd think that hair color, height, some other definining characteristics would be more important to describe in detail than her clothing, for the purposes of affixing the character in my mind. As it is now, were it not for Kristen Stewart, my mental image of Bella would be a long-haired blur wearing a white lacey shirt. (And with a name like Bella Swan, you need clear defining characteristics to avoid the wrong mental associations
And the award for First Thing To Make Me Cringe goes to: the combination of the apple on the cover and the Genesis 2:17 quotation on the frontispiece. Okay, okay, I get it--Edward is the forbidden fruit. Dangerous, forbidden love. And a thousand Harlequin Romance cliches rise from their coffins once more to stalk the darkness.
The dialogue and character development are... well, let's just say that they remind me too much of stories I wrote when I was fifteen. We spent the whole of the first chapter thus far setting up Bella to be angsty: she insists on calling her dad "Charlie" instead of Dad except to his face, she's not happy about leaving Phoenix, she was going to buy a car but her dad went ahead and bought her a used Chevy truck from the '50s... we're all set up for her to basically be miserable here, especially about this car. Heck, we're set up for a proper teenager vs. parent brawl-out. I'm expecting tears, I'm expecting shouting, I'm expecting who-are-you-to-pick-out-a-clunker-for-me.There, parked on the street in front of the house that never changed, was my new--well, new to me--truck... To my intense surprise, I loved it. I didn't know if it would run, but I could see myself in it... "Wow, Dad, I love it! Thanks!" Now my horrific day tomorrow would be just that much less dreadful... "I'm glad you like it," Charlie said gruffly, embarassed again.
Bella's not the only one feeling "intense surprise" that she loves the car--so am I, the reader. Her sudden turn-around is quite jarring considering the mood she was described as being in. I'd expect, if the author wanted the character to end up liking the car, that she'd grudgingly like it but only after trying to hate it just on principle--that would seem more natural.
By the next page, we're back to mild depression, the irritation at having to share a bathroom with her estranged father, anticipation of going on "a real crying jag" by bedtime. In short, we return to the mood of the rest of the chapter, thus making her suddenly sunny enthusiasm over the car seem all the more out-of-place.
...Okay, don't worry, I won't go into this much of a detailed critique of the whole book. Just of notable parts.
In short, by this point in the book I'm thinking Meyer would have benefited from a good creative writers' workshop. There are several sort of juvenile seams in her storytelling that would be easily repairable, but that stand out in a published work. In addition, the sheer...vagueness...when it comes to who Bella is, well, it worries me because I want Bella to be a character in her own right, not merely an author surrogate (which is what I've been told she is
Imma gonna keep reading, finish the first chapter, and let you know what I see.Chapter One:
Okay, other than what I already mentioned, two other things jumped out at me before the end of the chapter.
--First, about the Cullen family in general. I assume the Cullens attend High school to blend in, right? Because they're young-looking but will never age, so cannot hold down adult occupations, and thus must keep attending high school over and over. Yet they "...look like they could be in college, or even teachers here rather than students" What gives?
If they look old enough that they don't look like students, why be students? Why not at least attend college, if you look like you're in college? Endlessly attending college for a century would be far better (in my mind) than endlessly attending high school.
--Second: the miserableness of Bella's day. She doesn't want to be here in Forks, with her dad, attending a school with only three hundred students. Yet the second she goes to school she's an instant success. Shy kids flock to her, go out of their way to befriend her. She talks to them without even remembering their names. The only fly in the ointment of her day is that Edward Cullen made faces when sitting next to her in class--presumably he wants to eat her, though why she's getting this reaction and not every other kid in the class is beyond me. By the end of the day, she's still having a miserable day... but now it's solely because of Edward. Her nervousness about going to a new school was, in the most unlikely manner, groundless... (I went to a high school of only three hundred, and let me tell you, they could still be quite cruel to new kids--and even when they weren't, it took perhaps two to three weeks before they settled in and found a clique. People had to warm up to them. Nobody had a gaggle of admirers following them around on their first day.) ...Nevertheless, she stays at a stable rate of miserableness throughout. Because a boy she didn't know made a face at her. I don't know, it seems rather disconnected to me.
Alright, moving along...Chapter Two
Oddly enough, the opening to Chapter Two spells out exactly what bothered me about Chapter One. Her next day goes better because she's surrounded by random friends competing for her attention, but at the same time it was "miserable" because
--she gave a wrong answer in Math
--she had to play volleyball
--Edward is not in school today
Beautiful or not, she hasn't even spoken with this guy yet. His absence is enough to be the third reason her day was miserable?
Interesting that they're reading Wuthering Heights in school, a story of obsessive love with a Byronic hero.
Interesting that Bella already has (normal, human) boys fighting over her--or at least throwing snowballs at each other over her. It kinda mirrors the next book. For all that this girl describes herself in self-deprecating terms, you wonder what's so special about her that every being that encounters her seems to want her.
Interesting that Steph Meyer seems to have such a thing for hair gel. Is this a common female attraction?Chapter Three
Ho-kay, and now she's eager
to get to school because she wants to see Edward Cullen. Granted, by this point she's spoken with him--once--but holy crap, someone you've even only seen two days in your life, and he's your life's high point?
Okay, okay, I know this is how a teenager in love thinks. I was a teenager in love, on multiple occasions. But still--Bella seems to have no hobbies, interests, or activities other than staring at Edward Cullen, cooking-and-cleaning-for-her-dad, and reading (which we are told
she likes to do, but never actually see her doing). I guess I shouldn't marvel that Edward is her world--there IS nothing else interesting in her world. She doesn't go to movies, watch TV, go to the mall, or seem to do much for fun.
It seems a little scary in its obsessive nature.
On to the car accident: so far the defining characteristics of Meyer's vamps is that they are graceful, super-strong, super-fast, and pale. That seems more akin to the character Bizarro from Superman than to vampiric folklore. Sure, vampires are supposed to be strong, and fast, but they aren't defining characteristics. The defining characteristics are that they're dead, they don't breathe, they prey on humans... Even a vampire shouldn't be able to stop an out-of-control van. There's a lot of momentum involved there, and vampires are, if anything, more slender and slight than humans. Edward simply wouldn't have the mass, whatever his strength, to shoulder aside that van. Survive getting hit by it, yes--when Silas threw himself in front of a car in The Graveyard Book, he lived to talk about it. He was also rather hurt, more than a little shaky, afterwards.
My point being, the ability to stop-a-moving-vehicle isn't a way to discover if someone's a vampire--it's more of a way to discover if someone's from Krypton.
I'll continue to post thoughts as I go: only 21 more chapters to go. *snorts*