I read Stephanie Meyer's vampire YA novel Twilight this weekend. A fair number of other grad students in my department have become obsessed (I believe they are all Team Edward, for the record), and I caved, in an attempt to both keep up with YA book trends AND so i wouldn't feel entirely excluded from the only topic of conversation anyone cares about.
I was a little disappointed that I didn't get into it more. Twilight is no better and no worse than any other mid-grade YA romance novel. I actually found myself thinking a LOT about Nancy Garden's lesbian YA romance, Annie on My Mind. It's another book where I wanted very much to like it - because of its historical/critical significance as the 'first' mostly mainstream queer YA novel - but it was just so schlockily teen romancey.
ditto with Twilight.
I had a very hard time reading the book with a straight face. I laughed, often, at things that were unintentionally funny to me. For awhile, I suspected the book of having its tongue in cheek at times, but by the end, I'd decided, sadly, that it's meant to be straight and on the level. alas.
One thing I will admit: the book worked for me on some weird affective level. I regressed, quickly, to teen girl, pre-any-boyfriends. I didn't swoon for Edward - he's way too irritating and melodramatic without being at all self-aware, and he has no interests or personality besides sucking blood and obsessing over Bella - but I DID find myself wishing rather desperately at times for an intense can't-live-without-you sort of dramatic romance. The kind of romance you fully expect when you are a teenager. The kind of intensity that comes with your First Love (and never again, because novelty does add to the experience).
so in some ways, I give Meyer credit for being able to induce me to return to a mental/emotional age of 14. I resent her for it, because I have no desire to revisit age 14 (it wasn't that awesome, trust me), but I do give credit for tapping into that emotional vein.
A friend has given me a rundown of the plot for books 2 & 3, and I expect to be filled in on book 4. Today she floated the theory that Bella will turn out to be impervious to vampire venom - she won't be able to be "converted" to vampire. I like this, because it has a streak of the tragic, although that affective part of my brain just wants her and Edward to live happily ever after with a flock of tiny baby vampires, or whatever.
I'm also struck again with the way vampirism is such an obvious "blind" for sexuality. Twilight is pretty much the cleanest kinky book I've ever read. Vampirism is also a fantastic metaphor for adolescence (in between states, full of strange desires and needs you can't control, a kind of invincibility, etc).
but who can take seriously a vampire series in which the vampire SPARKLE like diamonds in the sunlight? Sparkly vampires? no. i just can't do it.