I meant to do this a while back, but every time I would get on here to say something, I’d say something else. After all, why wouldn’t I have a few comments on the biggest publishing phenomenon since Harry Potter?
Let me begin by saying that, to date, I’ve only read the first book of the series. I have New Moon at home waiting for me to finish what I’m currently reading, but I’ve read enough to justify a few opinions.
Overall, I think the first book was decent. It’s certainly no feast for the mind, but it’s serviceable. I particularly appreciate why teenage girls have lost their collective minds over it–plain girl chosen and seduced by ultra-sexy, ultra-bad boy. Still, I have two major beefs with the book.
First of all, Bella is boring. A ready-made victim, she goes against every heroine out there right now in urban fantasy–she’s weak, she’s clumsy, and she’s incompetent. The only edge she has is that Edward can’t read her thoughts. Otherwise, she’s a complete opposite of the strong female leads I prefer to read about in such books.
Second, and more of a detail point, is that Stephanie Meyer has a serious problem with the word “said”, particularly in dialogue attribution. Every bit of dialogue, it seems, has some jumped-up verb attached to it. “Blah blah,” he laughed. “Blah blah,” she sighed. “Blah blah,” he smiled. “Blah blah,” she screamed. If the writer is doing his/her job, then these verbs are not necessary and only serve to distract the reader. Some people argue that said becomes boring, but I disagree. I believe, when done properly, it becomes invisible, allowing the reader to pay more attention to what is being said that how the author thinks it should be said. As Elmore Leonard says, “The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in.” I agree with this, although I chalk this particular problem to our educational system. I’ve know several English teachers who encourage their students to pump the attribution verb full of hot air just to show off that writer’s vocabulary. I say, if you want to show off your vocabulary, do the Word Power section of the Reader’s Digest. Leave it out of your writing unless it’s absolutely necessary to the story.
Aside from those things, it’s hard to argue against a book that’s done that well in the market. That’s what it’s all about really, although I think a lot of people forget that. Some people believe a book should be judged solely on it’s literary merit rather than how well it sells. This is bullshit. If a book sells, it’s a good book. If a book doesn’t, it’s not necessarily a bad book, but the only number you really need to look at is how many copies it sold, not how high the percentage of polysyllabic words is. Anyone who argues that a best-selling book is bad because it has not literary merit, nothing to last through the generations, probably has an oft-rejected manuscript sitting at home they don’t want to discuss. It’s about money, people, and it’s ALWAYS about money.
A funny sidenote about the book, however, is that two of the names given to the vampires in the book are names that I chose for my vampires in Dead and Dying, names I picked out over a year before I read this book. Maybe it’s true that great minds think alike.
Now, all of that aside, I’m continuing with edits on Project Superhero, which I have tentatively titled Gifts of the Hirakee. I’m not sold on this title, though, and am anxious to see what my proofreaders come up with.