Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
Here in the Rabbit Room, we try hard not to speak disparagingly about authors and artists. Rather, we laud the work that we admire and remain silent about that which we do not. However, sometimes exceptions must be made. In this case, the exception is that Andrew Osenga is hilarious. While I was talking with him recently about the newest cultural phenomenon which is Twilight, Andrew got passionate and I got tickled. I haven’t read the book yet, nor have I seen the movie, but what I’ve read about it leaves me a little concerned–not because it’s about vampires, or because it’s about teen romance, but because of its subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) themes. Also, because I have a hunch that it bears little or no artistic or literary merit. Someone emailed us recently and asked about a Rabbit Room perspective on this movie, and Travis Prinzi has a more in-depth one coming. In the meantime, enjoy Osenga’s editorial.
So Andrew Peterson has been telling me for well over a year that I was welcome to post here at the Rabbit Room. He came to me a few days ago and said “Hey, remember that terrible book you sort of read? Want to review it on the site?” It seems like the perfect opportunity for my inaugural post. Russ Ramsey and Jason Gray write about theology and Paul Simon, I will write about teenage vampires.
To begin: I sort of read the book “Twilight”. By that I mean, I read all but the last ten pages. I knew there was a sequel, which meant that at least most of the characters did not die in an atomic bomb during those last ten pages and therefore there was no ending that would have satisfied me.
“Twilight” is the worst book I’ve ever read. And I read half of the first “Left Behind” book. I picked it up because I was told it was in the vein of Harry Potter. I love the idea of secret societies, whole new worlds right within our own to discover and enjoy. That stuff thrills me. “Twilight” is not like that. None of the characters have any personality whatsoever, so even their illogical actions and stupid decisions aren’t interesting.
One of the big scenes in the book is when the superhuman vampires play baseball. I went to Wrigley Field for the first time this year, and saw the Cubs beat the Pirates. It was cold and boring and I left after three innings. If someone had said, “would you rather watch this game with vampires playing?” I would of course have excitedly answered yes. Somehow, this book has shown me my instinct would be incorrect. Vampire baseball is also boring, and I imagine the beer is just as bland and expensive.
Basically here is the plot of this book, which you all have probably heard by now. A boring girl moves to the Pacific Northwest and meets a vampire who is mean to her, but only because he wants to eat her because he’s in love with her and he’s gorgeous. So he falls in love with her, because he’s beautiful and that is what the author wishes would have happened to her in high school. There is an Encyclopedia Brown twist at the end (i.e. a third-grader should see it coming) and that is the big finish. Again, and unfortunately, every character is probably still alive at the end of this book.
The heart of the tale, though, lies in this simple conversation that is had, and this is no exaggeration, probably 200 or 300 times throughout the book:
Her: “I love you, you’re so beautiful and perfect.”
Him: “Yes, I am.”
Her: “But I’m so clumsy!”
Him: “Yes, you are, and I love you.”
Her: “I love you, you’re so beautiful and perfect. And cold.”
Him: stares off in the distance, looking like a model.
If you cut that conversation out of the book it would probably be twenty pages long. And probably no better. There’s also the sad commentary on how teenage girls LOVE this book, and how this girl decides to completely give up her friends, family, personality and everything else to be in a relationship with a rich, good-looking guy who treats her terribly. I hope my daughters read this when they get older and learn that valuable lesson.
And yes, I will probably watch the movie “Twilight” at some point. It looks as if the movie is somehow worse than the book, and that type of terrible is probably pretty hilarious. Like Gymkata with fangs.