Stars: 2 out of 5
Fun: 3 out of 5
For those of you who are interested in vampire fiction and teen fiction, this book is definitely for you. If, however, you have been fed a steady diet of Anne Rice or Bram Stoker, you may want to read with trepidation.As a first book, Twilight isn't bad - I have read much, much worse. The plot is not entirely original - it borrows a great deal from Romeo and Juliet - (and we all know how angsty teens in love can be!) - however, it gives credit where credit is due and never tries to pretend to be something it isn't. Which is refreshing.
The writing is average but colorful - you won't find anything remotely frightening or even disturbing, unlike a Rice novel - and there isn't a lot of mystery. The characters are perhaps the book's greatest strength and their relationships provide the book's greatest attraction for a reader. Bella, the hero, is an average girl who isn't even interested in the occult and isn't strong in the imagination department, but what she lacks in weirdness she makes up for in common sense. Most of the time. On going to a new school she meets a strange boy who turns out to be, (you guessed it), a vampire. A very tortured, melancholic, handsome, suave, emo vegetarian vampire named Edward. Are you with me so far?
Edward belongs to a family of vampires who all forgo the usual diet of human blood and eat animals instead, though it is admittedly terribly difficult for them. At first, Bella and Edward do not like each other, but then eventually, of course, fall in love and try to figure out how to make it work. That is pretty much the point of the whole book.
You wouldn't think it would be that interesting, but Meyer has a good ear for teen voices that don't make you want gag - and she is also adept at creating fun situations for her characters where things don't always go as planned. I have to admit, however, that my favorite parts of the book remain the first five or so chapters when Bella stands up to a blood-thirsty, snobby vampire boy with only sarcasm as a weapon. She loses some of her strength when she falls in love, and personally I've never found the 'symbolism' behind the human-vampire relationship to be at all appealing. But I don't really think this is intended. There is the same obsessiveness we see in Romeo and Juliet, which in their case becomes its own funeral pyre, but for Edward and Bella we glimpse that somehow they will make it out alive and together. Romeo and Juliet live happily ever after? Sure, why not?
To sum up, Twilight as a whole was the best book of the series, and perhaps should have been the only book in the series...hint, hint...but then, where would the Book Publishers be? With a few innovations on the vampire legend, it stands out as the most cohesive of the books with only a few of those random glitches in plot or tid-bits that continue to stick out, that seem so abundant in the later books. Also, it is relatively free of the deus-ex-machina tendency of the later books, and also the genre-jumping 'fan' inspired plots that keep a story that is already concluded in the first book going strong in the second, third and oh-so-unnecessary fourth. But, if you've read Rice, you won't be out of your league for the coming weirdness should you pursue the next three books. In conclusion, I think Meyer is not a bad writer - she is certainly imaginative - but she'll never catch J.K. Rowling as far as unity of plot goes, or development of minor characters. Still, she is very enjoyable if you're looking for something fun and easy to read. (And if you think vampires are just a little sexy.)