Twilight is released in the cinemas today. A few months ago I read the book on which it's based and wasn't that impressed. I'd bought the novel at the last minute before getting a flight and took the somewhat rash step of buying the sequel at the same time for the way back. If you are planning to go to see it, or even read the book then I wouldn't go much further for there shall be spoilers.
I didn't know at the time that it was a book targeted at young-teens, although that in itself might not have put me off; I'm re-reading The Snow Spider trilogy just now Anyway, it's clearly designed to fit into the same sort of gap that Point Horror fitted into when I was at school. It begins reasonably well and sets up a story and a contained world for things to happen in, although it's more or less at this point that I realise that the author enjoys repetition. It rains a lot in the town of Forks, Bella (our protaganist) doesn't like rain much and used to live in a sunny place. There, I've saved you at least three paragraphs of reading with that one senetnce.
Three hundred pages later I'm still not really caring about any of the main characters and I'm having trouble telling most of Bella's classmates apart. Why do all the boys seem to fancy her when she is apparently quite plain looking and amazingly clumsy? In the same way that we know the town of Forks prone to precipitation, we know that Bella isn't amazing-looking and is clumsy because we are told over and over and over again. Then, about one hundred pages from the merciful release of the end of the book (and I was counting), a plot kicks in and it suddenly becomes mildly interesting. Some of the devices set up in the first three quarters of the book suddenly seem to matter a little (although not as many of them as were set up which leaves the way open for sequels). I even commented to friends whilst I was reading it that the change of pace this far through feels as if a different author took over to get the thing finished on time.
Maybe it's that I've read too many books involving vampires or seen too many films, but I haven't really. Anyone who has seen Underworld might, like me, have figured that Jacob disliking vampires clearly labelled him as a werewolf. That doesn't even come into things until the second book. It takes ages for Bella to figure out that Jacob is a werewolf and we spend a lot of time with that story in the second book, but it doesn't really have any bearing on the plot so far. Mind you, Edward (the vampire) is beautiful and we know this because we are told so every time he appears. Traditionally at this point we should get a love triangle between the human apex, the werewolf and the vampire but in Bella's case she just ditches the werewolf immediately when the vampire comes back.
I'm ranting now but I'm rather enjoying this so I'll continue. There is no sexual tension in this book whatsoever. Now, in a way, that is fine because it's aimed (I guess) at girls in their early teens, but the romantic leads never even kiss. It's just a whole lot of "being together" and sitting around talking about music which may be exactly what parents want their teenaged daughters to be doing in a relationship, but it just lacks a certain something and particularly in a vampire novel. The whole vampire thing is supposed to be dripping with sexual allegory - try to have a vampire story with no kind of sexual overtone and you might as well lose the fangs as well. Why not make Edward a troubled teen superhero rather than a vampire and have this be an episode of something like Smallville?
In fact that is the problem for me: Twilight isn't about horror and vampires, it's the OC or One Tree Hill with joke fangs and a season finale / action-at-the-end-of-the-book. If after all this you still want to read it then do leave a comment because otherwise my copies will be going to the next Church sale. Also I won't be going to see the film.
The complete antithesis to Twilight has been the television series "True Blood," which recently finished it's run on HBO and is available in the UK only by illegal channels so far (but I'll be buying the DVD when it comes out). True Blood is based on a series of adult vampire novels and also features a human female in love with a vampire. There are two pluses to True Blood when compared to Twilight: one is that the story is half-decent and as been improved by being re-written slightly to keep the plot of one novel going over a 12 episode run; secondly the production is fantastic as you might expect with Alan "Six Feet Under" Ball directing. My background is audio, and the music and sound effects really give this series a sense of place - the music is very bluesy and swampy and it works really well. It's also frequently beautiful to look at and very well acted. True Blood manages to have moments of comedy, drama and proper dripping-bodily-fluids horror. Speaking of the bodily fluids it is also resolutely 18-certificate so you may want to keep that in mind if you check it out, and here's a trailer: