In Twilight Bella Swan reluctantly moves to the gloomy town of Forks to live with her dad, little realising that her life is about to change forever. As well as the usual issues with starting a new school and having to make new friends, she has to cope with her attraction to someone who initially appears to hate her - Edward Cullen. He is one of five Cullens who also attend the school - keeping themselves to themselves and scarily beautiful. As time goes on, Edward and Bella are drawn together more and more, but she is also realising her suspicions that Edward is not completely what he seems. As their love is declared, Bella discovers that Edward and the rest of the Cullens are vampires, but those attempting to deny their true nature. The problem is, not all vampires are so genteel, as Bella is about to find out...
Okay, it is extremely hard to review this book in the face of the extreme hype that has grown around the series. I read this early on - before the movie, before it was recommended by all and sundry and definitely before it had grown into a must-read book.
Consequently, for me, it is little more than a decent story - although one that has been told many times before in a much more fluid manner. For instance, L J Smith is a YA author who has been turning out tales about paranormal romance between teens for a long time, and I believe that she is extremely talented in comparison to Meyer.
Meyer's writing is clumsy, but somehow compelling. The dialogue is laughable at times, but I sincerely could not put this book down. For me, the strength of the book is in the two central characters and the memories it evokes of first love. Because we are in a first person perspective, we see everything that Bella does and suffer along with her as she struggles to come to terms with Edward's true nature and her feelings for him. Bella is a character that does a little too much analysing at times, and I certainly did not appreciate her desire to instantly become a vampire, throwing away her family and friends, but it is lovely to experience that thrill that comes when her love is returned by Edward. Anyone who has been in breathless love and aches to see a person can identify with Bella - her disappointment whenever Edward was out of school, her desire to constantly be with him, her devastation whenever he mentions the idea of leaving her.
Of course, Edward's behaviour is reprehensible and cannot be condoned - whether vampire or not. This is a guy who stalks Bella, who goes into her house and watches her sleep at night, who tries to control her every behaviour. Yet somehow you end up excusing all of this in the name of love (in fact, if you read 'Midnight Sun' on Meyer's website - the same story told from Edward's perspective - you do realise that his behaviour is dictated by overwhelming passion for Bella, but this of course is not revealed from Bella's first person perspective here).
So, altogether, a story that I thoroughly enjoyed despite its many faults - I will be reading the sequels, but I do not think that Meyer is doing anything particularly new or clever and therefore Twilight does not deserve the hype.