Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Once Bitten...: Or, How I Accidentally Got Into Twilight

Oh, no- it’s happened. I’ve become one of THEM. I tried to stay away from it as long as possible, but in the end, it always catches up with you, no matter what you do. I am talking, of course, about the Twilight books. As a child of the 80s/90s who grew up on such favorite book series as the Baby-Sitters Club and the Ramona books, I scoffed at the vampire romance series by Stephenie Meyer, chalking it up to a slightly more feminized Harry Potter phenomenon (yeah, I don’t read the Harry Potter books either…yet.) Besides, I never cared about vampires- I wasn’t even a devoted Buffy fan back in the day. Normally when it comes to the fantasy genre and series like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or the Narnia books, I’m like, “Meh.” (Jay Willy still can’t believe he’s gone and married a gal who falls asleep 20 minutes into every single LOTR movie.) Don’t get me wrong- I like a good story of a hero on a quest- I mean, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Star Wars, and aren’t I like SUCH a geek about Super Mario Bros.? It’s just that when mythical beasts like dragons and hobbits and talking lions that are supposed to represent God or something enter the scene, I usually lose interest fast. Not to mention that, with the exception of re-reading all my childhood favorites under the pretense of blogging about them later (but really just because I want to read “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” yet again) I tend to feel awkward about purchasing/checking out a book meant for teens when I’m very nearly th-th-thirty. So I was doing a pretty good job of staying away from the Twilight books in the YA section and the screaming teeny-bopper fangirls going psycho over Edward…and then my friend Meg said, “You should really read Twilight, it’s a good read.”

Now, I tend to trust Meg about book recommendations- she reads about as much as I do, and I’ve always enjoyed the books she’s recommended in the past- not to mention that she’s the same age as me, and if it’s OK for her to buy Twilight, then it’s OK for me too, was my rationalization. So I checked it out at my local library and brought it with me on the cruise, figuring I’d skim a few chapters on the plane ride, hate it, and switch to another book (I even went so far as to pack a second book for the plane in my carry-on, in case my hatred for Twilight was so intense that I had to switch books right away!) Imagine my surprise when, as the plane touched down in Florida, there were three things of which I was sure: First, that I had read more than half of the book in under 3 hours, second, Stephenie Meyer is a much better writer than I would have given her credit for, and third, I was unconditionally, irrevocably in love with Twilight.* So I was like, “Oh, CRAP!!” because I’d really wanted to hate it. (Oh, and as a side note, after devouring Twilight so fast during the cruise that I had nothing left for the plane ride back home, I ended up reading the first half of the “emergency” book I’d brought with me as a precaution against the suck-itude I was so certain Twilight would contain. Guess what: it totally sucked. Irony? Maybe. )
*Paraphrase of a line from Twilight, but Bella’s talking about Edward…yeah, I wish I could kick myself too…

I devoured the rest of the novel as voraciously as if I were one of the vampires myself, and plowed headfirst into the second book in the series, New Moon (apparently due out in theaters in November- I am ashamed to admit I had to repress a “SQUEE!” when I saw the trailer, and promptly leaned across Jay Willy to chatter excitedly with Meg and our other friend Sharon about what we’d just seen. *Rolling eyes at self*.) Now, a mere week later, I am done with New Moon and more than halfway through Eclipse, (no small feat, I might add- these are not the 150-page YA books of yore: each one is about 600 pages long!) and I’m going to the library today to pick up the fourth and final book in the saga, Breaking Dawn, that is on hold for me. This is all a means of explaining why I haven’t yet blogged about Anastasia Krupnik, as promised. I have a shelf of delicious YA novels from back in the day just waiting for their moment in the sun, but my mind is currently stuck in Forks, Washington and until I can complete the whole saga, I’m afraid I’m staying there.
I actually had a little synopsis of what I’ve read so far, so I wouldn’t leave you empty-handed, but it was starting to look like one of those “OMG TWILIGHT ROCKS!!!” types of fansites that are usually run by high-school freshman girls. So I’ll just sum it up for you in one rather long, run-on paragraph per book:
TWILIGHT: Girl named Bella moves to Washington and is pissed because the weather’s so cloudy and gross all the time. Meets dreamy boy named Edward at small-town high school; dreamy boy turns out to be a vampire. Bella doesn’t mind that he might accidentally on purpose kill her and loves him anyway. Bella also has another friend, a younger Native American boy named Jacob who lives on a reservation. Jacob’s dad doesn’t like Edward because he knows he’s a vampire. Edward saves Bella from series of unfortunate accidents, as well as an attempt by another, mean vampire to kill her. They go to prom. Bella wants Edward to change her into a vampire too, so they can live together for all eternity and be immortal together. And also so they can finally get it on, because apparently they can’t do much in the way of sexy-time without him accidentally almost trying to drink her blood. Oops! Edward won’t change her because he doesn’t want to be responsible for damning her that way.
NEW MOON: Bella’s 18th b-day rolls around and she’s all butt-hurt because now she’s older than her perpetually 17-year-old vampire boyf. Edward takes her to his awesome vampire family’s house for a b-day party. After acting sufficiently douche-y over a bunch of awesome vampires trying to do something nice for her, Bella gets a paper cut from wrapping paper on a present and Edward’s brother Jasper goes nuts over the blood and tries to kill her. Ruh-roh. Edward gets scared and decides it’s better for everyone if he and his vampire family (let’s call them a “vamily”) goes away from her. Bella is WAY depressed and catatonic because her vampire is gone. She’s all numb and crazy for a few months, and then starts hanging out with Jacob more. She does things like ride motorcycles and go cliff-diving because every time she risks her life, she has delusions where she can hear Edward’s voice and it seems worth it just to hear him for a minute. Jacob “like-likes” her despite the fact that she’s acting like a big ol’ can of crazy, but she just wants to be friends. Then Jacob starts acting strange and avoiding her. Did she finally piss him off with her mood swings? Nope! He’s just a werewolf! So now she’s in LUV with a vampire and her BFF is a werewolf, the vampires’ mortal enemy. Yipes Stripes!! Bella’s like, “Oh, that’s OK that you’re a werewolf,” as soon as she knows that he doesn’t kill people. She is tolerant!! When I was single, I didn’t even want to date guys who were shorter than me, but Bella’s all, “No, it’s fine that you’re not human.” Makes me feel shallow. Then Alice, Edward’s awesome vampire sister upon whom I have a terrible girl crush, shows up and is all, “Edward’s in danger!” See, she can see the future, but she’s kind of like a weatherman because about 60% of the time, her visions don’t really amount to much. Anyway, she saw Bella cliff-diving (and subsequently almost drowning because she’s kind of a klutz) and thought she was committing suicide, and then in a wacky misunderstanding, Edward called the house and Jacob told him that Charlie (Bella’s dad) was “at the funeral,” but he meant the funeral of Charlie’s pal Harry, who’d had a heart attack. Oh, no! Edward thought it was Bella’s funeral and decided to go off himself too since she was dead, a la Romeo and Juliet. How does an immortal kill himself, though? Simple- go piss off the Volturi, a scary, bad-ass royal vampire family who lives in Italy and sort of polices the vamp world by killing any vamp who draws too much attention to themselves. Edward’s big plan is to take his shirt off (OWWW!) and stand in the sunlight in a public plaza so everyone can see his skin sparkle. (Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that- vampires’ skin sparkles like diamonds when they’re out in the sun, so that’s why they have to be careful about that.) So Alice and Bella jet off to sunny Italy, of course, so Edward can see Bella and how alive she is before he does anything stupid. Luckily, she spots him right before he’s about to publicly disrobe, and stops him from taking off his shirt (AWWWWW!) But the damage is sort of already done- some Volturi goon got wind of what he was about to do and is waiting to escort him to their secret underground lair *miming Dr. Evil’s pinky-to-the-mouth move.* Edward, Bella, and Alice get taken to this crazy vampire castle deal where they have to stand before the Volturi and plead their case, sort of. They agree to let them off the hook, under one condition- Bella has to be changed into a vampire, like soon. She’s like, “Yay, finally,” but Edward’s not so sure. Anyway, they fly back to Washington and Bella’s dad is some PISSED, naturally, that she took off like that. He sees Edward carrying her into the house after like 8 months of him being gone, and Charlie’s like, “Get out of this house!” So now he’s sort of forbidding Bella to see him, in a very star-crossed sort of way. Oh, and she’s pretty much grounded for life, but she’s happy because her undead man is home.

ECLIPSE: OK, I’m only halfway through this one, so here’s what’s up so far: Bella’s dad is still pissed at Edward, but he has relented somewhat and now allows him to come visit Bella, under strict parental supervision, for like 2 hours a day. Bella is still pretty much under house arrest, but she gets to see Edward at school all day, so it’s not too bad. Basically now Bella is even more co-dependent than she was before, not wanting to let Edward out of her sight because she’s afraid he’s going to leave her again. He’s not much better- he is WAY overprotective and won’t let her go see her werewolf buddy for obvious reasons. Also because he’s crazy-jealous of Jacob the werewolf, but won’t admit it. So Edward finally has to go “hunting,” which means he needs to go feast on some animal blood so he doesn’t accidentally snap and eat a human instead, so he leaves Bella in the care of Alice. Well, naturally, Bella sneaks off to go see Jacob (because she can’t dammit ever just be happy with what she’s got. All last book, she’s like, “Oh, Edward! Edward!” and now she’s running away from the very same Edward to go see another dude, who is a werewolf to boot. I’d be pissed too, if I were Edward- that’s really kind of a slap in the face. Bella’s actually really starting to piss me off. ) But believe it or not, he comes back from his “hunting” trip suddenly really cool about the whole thing, and even lets Bella go hang out with the werewolves at a bonfire party/tribal council meeting type thing. And that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Oh, yeah- and I watched the Twilight movie last night. Squee times infinity!!! Yeah, it was naturally not as good as the book (they never are), but it was so awesome to see the object of my new literary obsession playing out in front of me- it was like when I was 10 and learned that there was a made-for-PBS movie based on Anne of Green Gables!
I thought that Kristen Stewart played a spot-on Bella, and I was surprised and pleased that they had thought outside the box and cast minor characters such as Tyler, Angela, and Eric so multiculturally (because in my mind they were all a bunch of white-bread Northwestern kids in the book). At first I thought they cast Edward wrong, because sorry, Robert Pattinson, but I do NOT think you can effectively portray “the most beautiful person in the world.” However, about halfway into the movie, I sort of got it: he’s got kind of a James Dean-y bad boy thing going on, and is, in fact, probably EXACTLY the kind of guy I would have had a huge crush on back in the day. (I mean, jeez, I loved Jason Priestley back then, after all…) And I hear he has a British accent in real life, so yeah, I’m pretty sure 13-year-old me would have had posters of him all over the place, even though he doesn’t do much for 29-year-old me. I mean, I heard he hasn't washed his hair in like 3 years. That's sort of gross... Anyway, yeah, it was cool to see the first book of my new favorite series come to life, and I eagerly anticipate the sequel. (Nov. 20)
Sorry- upon re-reading this post, it DID sort of veer off into fan-girl territory. But at least I hope this explains why some awesome YA books have yet to be read and reviewed for your enjoyment. I’ll be back soon with the thrilling conclusion to this saga, as well as (hopefully) a post about good old Anastasia Krupnik. Ciao!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's about to get a LOT better!!

OK, format change. I started out this blog a mere two weeks (three weeks?) ago, in hopes of identifying, outlining, and writing in great detail about all things awesome. Well, that’s great, until it occurred to me that nobody, not even me, wants to read about what I think of Swedish Fish, Groundhog Day, or Count Chocula. (I mean, maybe I’m wrong and people do really care, but I really doubt it.) Long story short, I think I’m going to take a page from some of my fellow bloggers and re-read favorite YA books that I had as a child and then write reviews about them. (Take a page…from fellow book bloggers…get it? HA! Ok…)
Don’t worry, though- it’s just an addition to all the fine things my blog offers. If you still want to read about things I find awesome, they’ll be in there periodically. But wait- there’s more!! In addition to my reviews of YA books by favorite authors like Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, Beverly Cleary, and of course, the Baby-Sitters Club, I plan to also re-watch and review awesome 80s and 90s movies that I loved so much back in the day. Yes, I realize that there are a crap-ton of blogs out there that join nostalgia and snarkiness so beautifully, but for me there can never be too many. Stay tuned for our first review- I’ll be re-hashing Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry, the first in the series of Anastasia books. Cheers!