Home Book Review Book Review – Twilight, From the Masculine Side of the Fence
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Book Review – Twilight, From the Masculine Side of the Fence

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In the world there are now only two kinds of people, those who love Twilight and those who hate it. There seems to be no middle ground with this New York Times Best Seller that can only be described as a phenomenon.

I picked up Twilight after a female friend (of course) recommended it. Now, I am not usually a romance novel kind of guy at all. I usually stick to the swords and sorcery fantasy genre and read books like the Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time series. I hadn’t heard of Twilight so I started reading it without any preconceived notions or judgements, something I think that as a guy, is very important when reading this book. Obviously you won’t enjoy it if you’ve convinced yourself that it’s a “silly romance book for girls”.

The protagonist of the story, Isabella Swan, or Bella as she prefers, is a seventeen year old girl that is about to give up her life in sunny Phoenix Arizona to move to her own personal hell in the form of Forks Washington. Forks is a small inconsequential town that is almost always under cloud cover and has the highest rainfall figures in the United States. It’s the kind of place that no on ever leaves and where everyone knows your business before you do. Bella grudgingly exiles herself to live with her father in Forks to give her mother space to be with her new boyfriend.

All Bella wants is to see out her self imposed sentence in Forks as quietly and painlessly as possible, but of course, this is not to be. Her father, who happens to be the town’s police chief, has eagerly alerted the entire town to her arrival. So much for quiet and painless, much to her dismay. Amid the agonizing first day in the new school, she comes into contact with the Cullen siblings. The inhumanely beautiful siblings don’t fit in with the rest of the students at Forks High School and she is instantly fascinated by them, especially Edward Cullen.

Initially Edward seems to despise Bella, although over time this seems to change as he grows more and more intrigued by her. This continues until both their worlds come to a grinding halt as Bella is about to be crushed by a van in front of Edward’s eyes. He then has to choose to either save her life and expose that his beauty isn’t the only thing inhuman about him, or face her dying. Edward cannot stop himself and intervenes, thereby put his entire family’s existence at Bella’s mercy. Bella stumbles on to the truth about Edward and his vampire family and while this puts immense pressure on the Cullen family, it brings Edward and Bella closer together. Despite all odds Edward becomes Bella’s most unlikely protector as her luck goes from bad to worse.

Firstly and most importantly one has to accept what Twilight isn’t. Twilight is not Romeo and Juliet. Twilight is not the most profound literary work of our time and it will not change your life. These are important things to remember, as I have seen varying reviews where people either whine and moan about what the book isn’t or blatantly (and I quote) refer to it as the “stupidest book ever”. The latter speaks volumes about the people making those remarks.

Twilight is however a charming and gripping novel that proves that Stephenie Meyer is without a doubt, a very talented writer. Her writing style is simple and easy to read, yet it’s mature enough that adults don’t feel like they are reading a children’s book. She brings her characters to life flawlessly, so much so in fact that legions of fanatical fans worldwide have divided into Team Edward and Team Jacob. (As well as the lesser known Team Jasper and so forth). Hell, you can even get Team Edward g-strings, so don’t be too surprised if you hear your girlfriend using the words “Edward” and “underwear” in the same sentence. Just as long as she doesn’t call you Edward in bed. We’ve got to draw the line somewhere right?

When reading Twilight one really connects with the characters and their emotions, regardless how much of a macho man you claim to be. I can clearly recall Bella’s anxiety regarding Forks and her constant excitement when dealing with Edward (That does not make me gay, get off your high horse tough guy!). On the other side of the coin I could feel Edward’s intense animalistic desire for Bella’s blood and on the other his utter devotion to protecting her and keeping her safe.

I think that whether they admit it or not, deep down most guys would like to be a knight in shining armour to a girl. You know, protect her from the big bad world and take care of her. Bella’s self sacrificing nature, introverted personality and inability to walk more than a few meters without tripping over her own feet definitely have an endearing appeal and call out to that side of your nature. At least, it did to me and I believe Edward also yearns to be that knight in shining armour, except that often he is partly to blame for the dangerous forces in Bella’s life.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Twilight is actually remarkably funny. There are a plethora of inside jokes between the characters that really makes you feel part of what’s happening. Apart from the Edward’s constant jest at Bella’s expense, Emmet Cullen is likely the most amusing character in the book. If you are a guy that started reading Twilight under duress then Emmet will likely be the character you relate to the most.

Twilight is a bit like cocaine, you will be hopelessly addicted and won’t want to tell anyone about it unless they share your addiction. On the plus side Twilight is a hell of a lot cheaper than cocaine and will set you back the price of about 3 beers.

Over all I thoroughly enjoyed Twilight and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it on the day I bought it. That said, I would highly recommend that you do not read it, under any circumstances. Now I know you’re thinking, “But Graeme, you just spent the last thousand words telling us how great Twilight is! Why shouldn’t we read it!?”.

Well, you may read Twilight and decide that you like it so much that you decide to go out and buy yourself a pink Team Edward G-string to wear to work on casual fridays. You may even realise that by enjoying Twilight you weren’t quite the manly man you thought you were and end up crying yourself to to sleep at night which would lead to further questions about your manliness. Hell, you might even spiral into depression because of it. Now I wouldn’t want any of that on my conscience would I?

Jokes aside, it is a good read. One you shouldn’t dismiss just because of what your friends might say. Keep an eye on my page as I intend to do reviews for the rest of the series, as well as insight into Midnight Sun over the next week.

By Graeme Du Toit

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