Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Review Contest: Twilight (reviewed by Daniel Low)

Twilight is simply and yet beautifully written. To draw an overview, the story generally revolves around Edward and Bella’s romance – a vampire romance that is. What makes Twilight even more distinctive is that the story contradicts the common view that vampires are evil and merciless blood hunters. This brilliant idea is the reason why Twilight is so unique it is almost like it is in its own genre. The story is narrated in the first person view from the perspective of Bella, so the reader only knows what she knows, making Edward and his family a mystery that is slowly unraveled as the story progressed.

The major theme of Twilight is prominently love and romance. The romance between Edward and Bella is both touching and compelling. Moreover, there is a melancholic feel to their impossible love, yet at the same time they both are unwilling to give up hope, self-convinced that their relationship is not doomed. Another theme found in the story is change and risk. This theme is particularly true as the relationship between Bella and Edward can also be regarded as predator and prey. Bella knew very well the danger she would have to face but her infinite affection towards Edward made her forgo her own safety. Edward too realized the risk he was undertaking but just couldn’t help himself as he succumbed to his human instincts. Eventually, the themes all converges as the story reaches a fever pitch of excitement as the romance between Bella and Edward turns into a frantic race to stay alive.

Overall, the mood is serious and at times melodramatic. This is in keeping with both the horror and romance genres that Twilight embodies. In either case, situations and emotions are heightened beyond the usual everyday concerns, often becoming life-and-death struggles with consequences beyond the lives of the main characters. Despite the elements of terror and suspense, there are frequent flashes of humor --sometimes sarcastic, sometimes morbid - which help break up the mood and make the serious sections more dramatically effective.

The story is set primarily in the small town of Forks in northwest Washington State. However, the very beginning and the climax take place in Phoenix, Arizona. The description of Forks is so minute you can almost smell the damp air and hear the rain falling on the roof. The setting plays an important role, specifically the weather. In this case, the gloomy weather effectively foreshadows the dangers lurking ahead.

The characters in Twilight are very much alive throughout the story and each one of them is meticulously described. The main character of the story is Isabella Swan, better known with the name Bella -a well written and realistic character, shy and lacking in confidence. She is the narrator of the story, a human girl who moves from Phoenix to Forks to live with her biological father, Charlie Swan. Bella’s swan’s character development focuses mainly on adolescence and finding her first and perfect love, Edward Cullen. To have a first love with someone as perfect as Edward is the key to the fantasy of Twilight. However, there happen to be traces of irony here as Edward turned out to be a century old vampire. Bella is a strongly emotional character, as seen by the tears she cannot control. However, she also has a strong intellectual side and great determination when she reaches a specific decision in her life.

The intensity grew as the Cullen family was introduced, the most prominent one being Edward Cullen – the vampire Bella fell in love with. Though a bit exaggerating, Edward is described with godlike characteristics and is compared to the likes of Greek gods. As the story escalated, Bella’s suspicion became true as Edward slowly reveals the truth, his superior strength and speed. It was later revealed that Edward also possesses the ability to read minds, but for some reasons unknown, not Bella's. Initially, he is attracted to Bella in a predatory manner, but eventually falls in love with her. By falling in love with a human-a human who greatly appeals to this vampire lust, he denied his vampire instincts and tried to regain touch with his humanity.

On the antagonist side, there is James, a tracker vampire who visits the Cullen family while they were having a game of baseball. He is known to be a vicious stalker and thirsts for Bella’s blood. And so, he took it upon himself to hunt down Bella and to provoke Edward. His comrades Victoria and Laurent were with him. However, Laurent did not have any ill intention and did not involve himself in the conflict.

In twilight, vampirism is the most obvious motif and symbol in the story. It is however, not a theme in itself, but is used to flesh out all the themes to varying extent. The vampire romance expressed here is the notion of love as an insatiable hunger that requires the very essence of a loved one. Of course, passion can also be quite dangerous, and a hunger must know limits or will threaten everyone involved - this is shown by the appearance of James late in the book. Probably Edward knows better the importance of curbing the vampire appetite, as it comes in direct conflict with his romantic desire for Bella.

To wrap things up, Twilight has plenty of love, drama and action. Furthermore, it is kept well balanced and the readers’ interest can be sustained throughout the story. Although this book is mainly a love story, it does have a bit of action. Some of the main characters are actually supernatural characters, and it's very interesting to discover their amazing abilities. Twilight is definitely a book worth reading.

No comments: