* There comes a time when unexpected things creep in and demand our attention. This has been one of those moments for me, and I felt it appropriate to share it with you.
Yes, that’s right. I’m reading the first book in the series of teenage vampire, thriller, romances written by Stephenie Meyer. Am I reading it by choice, you ask? No, previously, I would not have chosen to read a selection such as this, as I’m more about reading books written for adults. I’m am reading it on the insistence of my fifteen year old niece, who last time she visited us brought the movie and the book. She required that I watch the movie intently, not talking at all during the viewing, and then she handed me the book and said that I should have it read by the time I see her again. So, I’m reading it on assignment.
Being a former middle school Language Arts teacher, I have read plenty of young adult novels. However, I stuck to the classics mostly, like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and Will the Circle be Unbroken by Mildred Taylor. Both of those are classics because they deal with universal issues of growing up that any child will face no matter the time and place of their rearing. They are also firmly based in reality. The Outsiders is still one of my all time favorite works of fiction. I probably would have never read these books if I hadn’t been a teacher. I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books or Lemony Snicket. I’m all grown up - for crying out loud.
I don’t know why my niece insisted that I read this novel. I don’t know if she wanted me to fall helplessly in love with it and fill my house full of posters and wear the t-shirts on outings. I hope it’s because she loves her aunt and values her opinion and wants her to be a part of the things that interest her. Despite the hopes she may have had in mind, I have had my own approach to the reading. I’m analyzing it as a mother and writer. I figure I better get used to reading novels written for tweens, teens, and young adults because I need to be able to recommend books to my daughters and I must be aware of what they are reading. From a writer’s standpoint, this woman wrote a hit novel, made the bestsellers lists, and sold the movie rights. Not that I am looking for that kind of fame, but I have to extend to her my respect for that accomplishment.
I have to say that I highly approve of this as a reading selection for any teenager or young adult. I applaud Stephenie Meyer for writing fiction that is juicy, interesting, and mainstream all while keeping it clean. It is a fragile balance and I think she has done it perfectly. I would have no qualms for my own children reading this book or watching the movie. They are excellent choices. In our over sexed pop culture, we need more options like this one.
When I read the first chapter I felt many of the phrasings were trite and I found the first person narration to be too obvious at times – spoon feeding the reader. I have had to keep in mind the intended audience. However, as I have gotten deeper into the work, I have fallen into the voice and I don’t notice those trite or obvious moments as much. The characters are engaging and consistent. I am more reminded of my own adolescence and my hopes for dating, friendship, and self discovery.
I am also brought back to my own teenage years and my readings of Anne Rice novels. I read all of her vampire novels which were not written with teenagers in mind at all. I enjoyed them thoroughly and even wrote a paper for my senior advanced placement English class on why they should be considered literary writings. I was very adamant about that.
At first, I looked at Twilight and the nearly 500 pages of it, and dreaded the reading. I’m a slow reader and I didn’t want to invest the time in it. Now, I’m glad I have. I’m almost halfway through, and I’m at awe at how a mother of three boys could get so much work done. I’m definitely going to check out Meyer’s website to see if I can glean any hope of being that productive with my own writing in the near future.
I recall when the movie first came out on DVD. I was at the movie rental place on the eve of its release. The clerk was chatting with his friends. He must have been in his very late teens or early twenties. The group was buzzing about the release, and talking about who they got to direct the next movie. I was reminded of the buzz surrounding Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt starring in Interview with the Vampire. The fawning delayed the clerk from processing my rentals. He apologized for the delay. I said, “No, problem. We used to be that way over Anne Rice.” I smiled. He looked at me like I was an alien who had just landed my ship in the middle of the movie store. I felt a bit outdated, but okay with that. Now, I’m being brought up to date. I find it humorous – quite humorous indeed.