A nasty cold sent me home from work early one day this week. While not in a cold-medicine-induced stupor, I was able to spend some quality time with Isabella.
Back over the holidays, my ninth-grade niece and I came to an agreement. If I would read Twilight, the first in the Stephenie Meyer Twilight Saga, she--my niece--would read Brom Stoker’s classic, Dracula. That was the deal.
Until recently, I was only aware of Ms. Meyer’s series as a result of them being the top-selling titles for the book industry in 2008. I work in books, and the Twilight series is, beyond doubt, a phenomenon approaching Potteresque proportions. So, my agreeing to read the first in the series was as much about my own professional interests as much as anything.
I confess that I had some pretty serious preconceptions about the Twilight books based upon the hype. That said, however, the truth about hype is that it seldom really tells you much about what is being, well, hyped.
My biggest preconceptions about the books, though, were based primarily upon the enormous appeal the series obviously has to adolescent girls and young women. Plus, the snippets that I’d caught from aficionados discussing the books made me think that they were nothing more than High School melodrama with a supernatural twist.
My niece, among many others whom I have witnessed, need only mention the name “Cullen” to send herself off into a state of blissful sighing and far away looks. When I was her age, Farrah Fawcett did the same thing to me.
Too, some of my reasons for perhaps thinking badly of the Twilight books before having even read one (something I harshly criticize others doing) might have had something to do with vampires lately being all the rage in the purely adult Romance genre.
I do not consider myself a critic, and I am certainly no spoiler (who rate with telemarketers and morons who talk during movies). That said, I do not think that I am giving anything away by revealing to the dozen or so people left on Earth who have not yet read the Meyer’s saga, that the hero in Twilight is a vampire named Edward Cullen. Though he presents himself as a seventeen-year-old youth, he is, like most vampires, much, much older. So, he is an old man in the eternally buff and strikingly handsome body of a seventeen year-old who is irresistible to females? This sounds more like a middle-aged man’s fantasy more than that of a young woman, but that’s just me thinking out loud.
Finally, I must confess some prejudice toward Twilight as a began to read it due to my tendency to view the book through the eyes of someone who will one day be the father of a seventeen year-old daughter himself. I expect that the day will come when I view all teenage males as dangerous supernatural beings that I must ward off by any means possible.
I’m not saying that I actually “got into” Twilight. I do confess that there were one or two times when I did catch myself thinking calmly to myself, “NO, BELLA! Nooooooooo!”
And that Lauren! What is her problem?
I’m open to just about anything that gets people excited about books and reading. And if Twilight did turn out to be silly stuff, who am I to begrudge anyone for reading just for pleasure? After all, I certainly have my own favorites for simple pleasure reading. I am particularly fond of the late (though still producing) Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series of international espionage novels.
I think that the primary difference between what I choose to read for fun, and what my young niece—a bright kid, I might add—chooses for light reading, is simply a matter of personal taste based upon what is most relevant and familiar to us, respectively.
It is perfectly natural that young readers would be drawn to a world of romance, adventure, fantasy, (and did I say, romance?). I think that this is especially so for young and impressionable women. Still, it is, after all, just make-believe. And that is the big difference, I think, in what I choose to read for fun and what my niece and her peers choose.
Fun reading about teenage vampires is all just fine. Certainly there are some elements about life as a teenager and life in high school with which many readers of the Twilight series may identify. It’s still just pure fantasy.
Unlike my own more grown-up fun reading, in which the attraction—to me—is based more upon reality. I don’t identify with Ludlum’s Jason Bourne character because he is a supernatural, indestructible gentlemanly hunk. That’s just fairy tale stuff. No. I identify with the fictional Bourne because, much like me, he has a dark past, is surrounded by an air of mystery and danger, and is a master in the martial arts. Plus stuff that I can’t go into.
It’s a small distinction, I know. I chalk it up to age and experience.
I can’t wait to hear my niece’s take on Dracula, the original vampire love story.
I’m off to the barbershop tomorrow. And I know just what the nice Vietnamese lady who cuts my hair is going to ask.
“Hey! Where you been so long? What look you want this time? James Bond or Jason Bon?”
Can you give me an Edward Cullen?
Kudos to Ms. Meyer for making her heroine a book lover.
Dracula by Brom Stoker
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice