Full Disclosure: I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, either.
So maybe it wasn't just the jealousy that kept me away from the Twilight saga. I try to read the type of books I want to write, and I just don't see myself in the fantasy/YA realm at all. Frankly, I'm not sure I have the imagination to sustain a full-length novel of that kind.
And yet, for the past few weeks, I've carried Twilight to my Census testing locations (yes, I'm a part-time government worker again) and tried to explain to anyone who caught me reading it:
It's for my book discussion group.
I don't know why I felt like I needed to make excuses. It's just that the 500 page book and its recognizable cover seemed to call me out-- either as immature or one of those 30-something women lusting over the teenage boys in the movies.
So, that's what finally got me to crack open the story of Forks and its strange inhabitants-- the undying wish to be the good student who reads what she's told to and participates in class. Even though its not a class. And nobody cares if I really read the book or not. But still.
I'm pretty talkative in these discussions. It reminds me a little of Mrs. Bocquin's or Mrs. Levitt's classes back in high school. I loved the chance to reach deeper into a story, to analyze and interpret what a certain phrase meant to me, or for the world. At the library, I love to interact with all of the other people who read the books through their own lenses. Sometimes, it's hard to get me to shut up when I've been especially moved-- both in good and bad ways-- by a book.
I was thinking about what kind of little speech I would give about this book that has been sold millions of copies, in many different languages, and inspired devoted fans throughout the world.
My first thought:
Group: What did you think about the book?
Me: Eh (insert shoulder shrug here). Next.
OK, OK, that's really not fair. And YES, I really AM over the jealousy. But, unlike most other people who read this book, I am not so concerned about when I'm going to read the next one. I'm somewhat interested in what will happen next (although, it's kind of like finding out the ending of Sixth Sense a year after it came out-- I KNOW what happens, I would be a little curious to know the details), but not enough to head to the library to check out New Moon.
The story-- not so bad. The characters-- annoying. However, this may just be because I'm too old. Yes, that can happen at 30-something. All I kept thinking was-- THIS is not your soulmate, Bella. He's bad for you. Not just because he says it's so hard for him to hold back (it's not just the 200 year old teenage vampires using this line), it's because he's a STALKER for heaven's sakes. Would you put up with that kind of behavior from a human-- if your teenage boyfriend wanted to install cameras in your bedroom so he could watch you sleep?! Why is this intrusion of privacy/controlling behavior thought of as romantic?
Yeah, I know-- old married lady, get over it. Fair enough. My novel in progress has a 19 year old female main character-- and she makes some bad choices too. I think why Bella's drive to stay with Edward even when he was, quite frankly, a jerk to her bugged me because they TALKED about it so much.
Again, this is pretty realistic. I can remember the hours of conversation with my high school boyfriend about why we were so wrong or so good for each other, depending on if we were broken up that week or not. Living it is one thing. Reading it is another. It got repetitive.
And the yo-yo of Edward's emotions drove me nuts. Bella had to walk on eggshells all of the time, not able to be herself with him, in case THIS kiss or THIS word may set him off. Let's prepare young Bella for an emotionally abusive relationship, shall we?
OK, that may be a bit extreme. After all, Edward did what he could to save her life, including holding back when it counted most. He's not a total bad sparkly vampire, he just rubbed me the wrong way. Bella seemed too smart to get involved with someone bad for her. But we all did that, didn't we?
I guess I got pretty involved with the lives of Bella and Edward. I guess that means that the writing was good enough to pull me in, and to keep the pages turning. And as a writer nobody to a world-renowned Author, I'd like to officially say to Ms. Meyer: Congrats, good story.
Just because I didn't agree with the actions of the characters doesn't mean I didn't enjoy discovering the story-- actually, my disagreement shows that I was at least engaged.
I can only hope for so much the next time I have a crazy dream I want to write about.