Author: Stephenie Meyers
Story URL: Amazon Link
Page count: 544 pages
Summary: Bella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear.
I read this in one day, though I stayed up all night to finish it. I was in the mood for something really light that wouldn’t require thinking, and this fit the bill. I don’t really mean that in an insulting way, either. I like fluff. I ended up liking this book far more than I expected, too.
However, as a fan of the TV show Roswell, can I just say OMG!Similar! It’s as if this started out as an AU Roswell fanfiction, but she changed the aliens to vampires and renamed everyone. You’ve got stand-ins for Liz (Bella), Max (Edward), Isabel (SO Rosalie), Emmett (Kyle), Alice (Maria), and probably even Michael (Jacob). Although Emmett might also be a stand-in for Michael at times. No Alex, though. Meyer was obviously not an Isabel/Alex fan.
I greatly relate to the clumsy, accident-prone nature of Bella. So with that being such a defining aspect of her character in this first book, it was easy to empathize with her from the start. There was definitely an Everyman aspect to her characterization, too. The question would be does that mean she was Mary Sue-ish? I originally wrote this review while reading the second novel, and at the time I felt that Bella’s character is a bit more Mary Sue-ish in the second novel than the first. I still think that’s probably the case.
My biggest complaint about this story is how quickly it felt like they got together, throwing themselves into this unfathomably intense love, with no explanation. If there’s some supernatural reason for why Bella is immediately deeply in love – completely bypassing the normal progression of a romance – I wish the author would’ve at least hinted at it or acknowledged the fact that this was unusual. The fact that she never even makes note of how unusual it is for a 17-year-old girl to achieve soul-mate love so very, very quickly at such a young age strikes me as a bit unhealthy, given the author’s target demographic.
As for the book itself, the way that Bella quickly begins obsessing over how she wants to die in order to be with Edward forever is a bit creepy, but it seems to be more a reflection of how young she is than a truly suicidal tendency. She’s not yet mature enough to understand what it is she would be sacrificing and what problems she’d be gaining through such a move. So while I find it rather morbid, I do understand Bella’s POV. However, unlike Roswell’s Liz Parker, Bella seems to be missing the point about Romeo and Juliet (whose romance she frequently references): The play is called the TRAGEDY of Romeo & Juliet. They aren’t exactly an ideal couple to emulate. Dying together is not romantic.
The story itself was light and entertaining with just the right bit of tension and suspense. I liked that it wasn’t overly ambitious, as I specifically wanted something easy and uncomplicated when I picked this up. There is a clearly defined villain and dilemma. The action portion of the story is pretty simple, too. Having Bella unconscious for the gory parts was a move I appreciated, since I’m easily grossed out. It also made sense to me from a writing standpoint as, again, I think it would’ve unnecessarily complicated the scene.
I guess the bottom line for me is that I don’t see the reason for all the fuss on these books, both positive or negative. They’re not spectacularly brilliant literature, but they aren’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, either. When I finished reading this, I was looking forward to the rest of the novels, but I didn’t find much to obsess about here the way I have over Jane Austen or Harry Potter.