Editor’s Note: This piece originally ran in May of 2008 but seems shockingly still relevant today, especially with Eclipse coming out on Wednesday.
With the criticism that “Twilight” is a massive social phenomenon meant only for tweenage girls, I, an adult, unmarried male in my mid-twenties with no children, have bravely decided to take on the challenge of reading what might well be a massive cash cow at the box office come December.
I’ve taken the advice given to us from our very own Twilight Talk Backers, except for one key piece. I didn’t buy all the books at once. Why not? Because I’m poor, and Kaiser-in-Chief Neil Miller said he wouldn’t reimburse me for the purchase even though he said he was going to deduct it from his taxes. He also wouldn’t pay me for the personal chef and bather I hired to take care of my human needs while reading the tome uninterrupted.
Despite this set back, I dove right in as soon as I got home, and I have to admit, I liked it. I more than liked it. I like liked it.
Stephenie Meyer has created some strong, rounded characters to inhabit her world. She’s also woven in a new sort of vampire myth that changes a lot of the classic rules in ways that make a lot of sense. She abandons the coffins and cobwebs for stunning beauty and agility. Besides, the main aspect of the myth is the blood-sucking, and there’s plenty of that to go around.
Bella moves to what might be the smallest town in Washington all the way from sun-drenched Arizona. She’s miserable, dealing with things a bit beyond her maturity level, but she makes some friends and assumes a normal, boring high school career is ahead of her. All this, until the mysterious Edward saves her from being crushed in a parking lot car accident. The two are desperately in love from the start, but struggle with forbidden, star-crossed romance since Edward’s nature (did I mention he’s a vampire?) will forever mean danger for Bella.
I’m man enough to say that I can connect with the tribulations of a teenage girl – being in a new place, worrying about fitting in, fearing that the person you’re dating will rip your throat out. These are all common problems that everyone has to deal with on a daily basis. But, having a Y-chromosome did lend me to connect more with Edward. It makes sense. We both share Adonis-like good looks, mind-numbing speed and awesome parallel parking skills, so it was easy to root for his character. And who doesn’t want to be a vampire? You could take down a bear. That’s as manly as it gets.
The story itself flies by. It’s easy to look up and realize you’ve tackled 150 pages without realizing it. Meyer is a good storyteller, and, although she leaves in some pedestrian details, she’s got a great way of writing suspense and action that’s not afraid to put Bella in harm’s way and is comfortable leaving blood on the floor.
I only had a few problems. I can understand now that a woman will never grow tired of hearing that you’ll love her for eternity, but the part of me that wants to see The Macho Man Randy Savage wrestle a monster truck got a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of romance. Not that it’s cliche or cheesy in any way – Meyer gracefully avoided groan-worthy dialog – but the book focuses on Edward and Bella, so the pages are soaking, dripping wet with young love. Plus, it would have been nice to see some other characters around. Even when Meyer puts the two in a situation to interact with a group, she creates an excuse for them to be alone to talk more about what being a vampire means and how much they care for each other and that they really shouldn’t be doing this but they are because they can’t help themselves.
We’ve all been there, though, right? Like Danny and Sandy from Grease if John Travolta could have cracked open Olivia Newton-John’s neck and drained her life force at the drop of a drag-racing scarf. I know I’ve been there, and if that isn’t a stellar concept for Grease 3, I’m not sure there is one.
Digressions aside, “Twilight” makes up for the sweetness with action scenes. Mostly it’s Edward swooping in to save Bella, talk of hunting wild animals and a climactic vampire-attack that’s really solid. Over all, even as I ate atomic-spicy buffalo chicken wings and slammed cans against my forehead to keep my manliness intact – Twilight was a winner for me.
I’m not obsessed – although I do find it fitting that a book about vampires has the ability to transform human beings into rabid, mouth-foaming fans. But it really is a great book that will make a great movie.
Of course, “Twilight” is going to have an interesting transition to the screen. The book is filled with a lot of internal thoughts and feelings that won’t make it into a screenplay. You can’t show it on screen if someone isn’t saying or doing it. There’s probably enough meat to create an hour and a half flick without leaving anything out. Although it doesn’t create a brand new fantasy world like some other book-sensations-turned-movies (it’s essentially “Rainy Washington – now with vampires!”), that works to its advantage budget-wise, and Twilight should have no problem pulling in cross-over audiences. It’s a love story, a vampire story, and a film that can draw in mothers and teenage daughters with ease. Not to mention the ecstatic fans who will be fighting their own natural urges to claw at the screen when Edward shows up on screen.
I’ll admit that I bought a copy of ‘Guns & Ammo Magazine’ and the DVD of Bloodsport when I picked up “Twilight”, and that I was glad to read it indoors away from the judgmental eyes of the public, but once I dug into it, I really enjoyed it. I think it’s going to translate well to the big screen. If done correctly, Twilight could easily bring a mass of critical and commercial success and might even knock Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince away from its inevitable top spot come December.
And it’s going to do all of that while converting guys into fans as well.
As a bonus, I’m including these tips for guys reading “Twilight”:
1. Drink a protein shake and do curls while reading.
2. Read the book in your 1967 Ford Mustang.
3. Have American Gladiators on in the background for when the pizza guy gets there.
4. Every time Edward tells Bella how great she smells, break a board with your fist.
5. Not taking shower breaks will work to your manly advantage.
6. Don’t write an article publicly claiming how much you enjoyed the book.
7. If the emotions well up, call Chuck Norris and insult his mother.
8. Attempt to eat a 36 oz. steak before finishing chapter four.
9. Read it while participating in a rodeo.
10. Test your manliness by growing a beard by chapter thirteen.