Tag Archives: Ilyana Kadushin

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (unabridged audiobook read by Ilyana Kadushin and Matt Walters): This final book of the Twilight series opens with Bella and Edward’s wedding and subsequent honeymoon, and covers the first six months or so of their life together. There’s a bit of drama here and there, but by and large it’s not nearly as suspenseful as the earlier books – and those were pretty tame. As I’d expected, imprinting was used as a convenient solution to the love triangle. The idea is that when a werewolf meets his soulmate, he “imprints” on them and suddenly has eyes for no one else. Bella can’t be with Edward without breaking Jacob’s heart? Simple: Jacob imprints on somebody else and ceases being interested in Bella all together. Problem solved. Pretty cheap, if you ask me, but hardly unexpected. It’s not like I ever thought Jacob ever had a chance with Bella, even when Edward was out of the picture in New Moon.

And you know, I was okay with the invulnerability to sunlight and the extra-sensory powers and even the sparkling, but vampire pregnancy is something I can’t quite wrap my head around. I mean, they’re supposed to be physically dead – or at least permanently unchanging – right? Your body – male and female alike – has to be doing something inside there if you’re going to be able to make babies. That said, I still have to give props to Meyer for the hilarious dichotomy between the teen romance and the graphic horror. I just could not stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. I also enjoyed Jacob as a temporary narrator; even when he’s being angstful he’s amusing. Oh, and for the record: Renesmee is a terrible name, and Nessie is a really unintuitive nickname.

The ending is happy, of course, and thorough to the point of absurdity. Everyone finds love, peace, and joy, untainted by regret or danger or even, in most cases, mortality. It’s also a fanfiction gold mine: loads of new characters (and creatures) introduced with only the barest of backstories. A talented fanfic writer could really go to town here. As for me, I felt a profound and somewhat embarrassing sense of freedom as I finished this book. The Twilight universe has devoured my brain for the past few months, but now it’s done, and I am free at last. It’s a very sudden, very weird sensation. I don’t even feel a desire to reread any of the books. I’ll see the movies, though I’m not in any particular hurry anymore. I enjoyed the story, laughed more than was probably appropriate (oh come on, these books are silly), and now I’m on to the next one. Rock on.

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (unabridged audiobook read by Ilyana Kadushin): Edward wants to get married, but Bella, who is perfectly willing to spend eternity as a vampire with him, is balking at the idea. To complicate things, Jacob’s stepped up to the plate, offering himself as a saner alternative to the living dead. (Which says something, considering he’s a werewolf.) Not that either choice is all that appealing for most of the book: both men act like pretentious assholes and treat Bella like a child incapable of making her own decisions. And for two people who are supposed to be perfect for each other, Edward and Bella sure do spend a lot of time arguing. Yet, they can’t handle spending even a few hours apart. I don’t find obsessive co-dependence to be all that romantic, but then I’m an old married lady – what do I know about love? ;)

“‘Yes,’ I agreed.” “‘Sorry,’ he apologized.” The writing has marginally improved in this volume but is still distractingly amateurish. The literary allusions were less heavy-handed and repetitive (New Moon’s constant Romeo and Juliet references grew quite tiresome), and I’m now actually somewhat curious to read Wuthering Heights and see what all the fuss is about. Like the previous two books in the series, the action doesn’t really get going until about the last quarter of the book. It felt scatterbrained, tossing around Victoria and the Volturi almost at random to add some actual drama to the romantic shenanigans. That said, I did get a kick out of quite a bit of the craziness. Jacob’s brash arrogance was more funny than annoying, and horny Bella amused the heck out of me. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story wraps up in the next book: if Bella finally takes the plunge into vampiredom, if her father has a coronary when Edward asks for his daughter’s hand, if Jacob imprints on somebody, etc. I’ve read that all the loose ends are tied up far too conveniently, but I’ve come to expect that from this series. In short: better than Twilight, not quite as strong as New Moon, but a decent enough continuation of the story to keep me looking forward to the next book.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (unabridged audiobook read by Ilyana Kadushin): Shortly after Bella’s 18th birthday, her vampire boyfriend Edward abruptly dumps her and leaves with his vampire family for parts unknown. She is, in a word, devastated. However, she finds the pain eased somewhat when she does something stupid or reckless, because she hears Edward’s voice in her head, telling her to stay safe. She becomes addicted to these delusions, and pulls more and more idiotic stunts to get her fix. Meanwhile, childhood friend and would-be paramour Jacob Black is more than willing to step in, and the two become close.

Though the technical issues are still present in this book – Bella’s repetitious stream of consciousness, the overuse of adverbs, the underuse of “said”, etc. – the plot moves much more naturally. Jacob is a very likable guy, and I felt bad for him even though I think Edward and Bella are a better match, what with their angst-ridden, melodramatic tendencies. The constant Romeo and Juliet references got really old. The delusion angle wasn’t wrapped up very well either, but I was able to more or less ignore it. It’s not like I didn’t already know Bella’s crazy and obsessive.

The werewolf treatment is interesting as well. They are as unaffected by the moon as the vampires are by the sun; they more resemble The Incredible Hulk, in that they turn into wolves when they lose their tempers. Vampires and werewolves are sworn enemies, which is nothing new, but the whole vampire-human-werewolf love triangle is kind of fun. The last few chapters are especially good as Bella attempts to convince Edward to turn her into a vampire, despite several unexpected complications.

And here comes the confession: I found myself utterly sucked into this one. I zipped through it in record time, unable to put it down. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m champing at the bit to start Eclipse. Clearly there is something wrong with me.

P.S. – A new moon and a lunar eclipse are not the same thing. Just sayin’.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (unabridged audiobook read by Ilyana Kadushin): I am often surprised by the depth of feeling people express for this book, from unconditional adoration to absolute loathing. So when I had an opportunity to get a free copy, I decided to find out what all the fuss was about.

Bella is the new girl in town; Edward is the mysterious stranger. The romance at the core of this story is certainly nothing new, and neither is the vampire angle. The writing isn’t all that great: the descriptions are bland, the dialogue unnatural, and the narration amateurish. Adverbs abound. Bella shares her every thought and repeats herself constantly. The text is a shining example of why consistently avoiding “said” is terribly distracting. Most of what we learn about the characters is from the narrator’s descriptions rather than their actions, and I still have absolutely no idea what Edward sees in Bella except as an entree. The plot alternates between forced and outright silly. Worst of all, Bella is a total Mary Sue. I was repeatedly reminded of the sorts of romantic fantasies I wrote about as a teenager. There isn’t a whole lot to recommend this book, from a technical standpoint.

But. (You saw that coming, didn’t you?) I can, on the other hand, understand the draw. I remember being that teenager who wrote this sort of unlikely drivel. I remember the obsession over boys and the fervent hope that he would ask me out. I even remember fantasizing about having too many suitors. So yes, while this book is ridiculous and will probably disappear from collective memory within the decade, I can understand its appeal to awkward teenage girls who dream about men who are both dangerous and devoted, strong and tender, attractive and yet still an outcast. And so I did enjoy it on that level.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about sparkling vampires, how they’re not “real” vampires. And yes, the vampires in this book are not vulnerable to sunlight (and in fact only avoid it because of the attention their sparkling draws), and the creation of a vampire is not from drinking the blood of a vampire. I would like to mention that Dracula himself was only sometimes hurt by sunlight, and people in that book became vampires both by drinking vampire blood and by simply being bitten (but not killed) by a vampire. I doubt that Dracula did much twinkling, but considering how often Edward’s skin is described in terms of minerals like marble and granite, sparkling isn’t so far fetched. I wouldn’t recommend this book to, say, Anne Rice fans, but I can’t complain much about the authenticity of something that doesn’t exist in the first place.

This may surprise you, but I’m planning on reading the rest of this series. I know what kind of silliness to expect, and I look forward to dissecting Meyer’s werewolf treatment. All in all, I enjoyed Twilight. It’s not my favorite book ever and I doubt I’ll read it again, but it was a fun bit of brain candy. I was never bored; I even chuckled aloud in some places. Many of the characters are quite likable regardless of their lack of depth, and part of me likes being transported back, half a lifetime ago, to an alternate reality where awkward teenage me gets to be the bell of the ball.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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