Tag Archives: twilight

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim: I am curious if the Twilight frenzy will continue long enough for there to be a volume 2. But that’s neither here nor there. This is Twilight from the beginning to the first kiss. Since there is art to go along with the dialog, the reader is saved from Bella’s endless, repetitive inner monologue, and thus we never have to endure constant reminders of Edward’s marble icy granite skin. Which is much appreciated, but also makes the story move so quickly that the blossoming love is even less believable than in the books. The couple moves from “hello” to “you are my reason for living” in just a few pages. The art, luckily, is lovely. I thought it was interesting how most of the characters, most notably the leads, look nothing like their movie counterparts, but minor character Jessica Stanley rather strikingly resembles Anna Kendrick. I was amused at how often I felt Bella resembled Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is most famous for her portrayal of a certain vampire slayer. Once I noticed most of the backgrounds were photographs I found it somewhat distracting; however, I did enjoy the sporadic use of color. I doubt anyone who isn’t already a Twilight fan would enjoy this, especially with the accelerated timeline that occasionally left me checking to make sure I hadn’t missed a page. That said, I’ll be curious to see what else Young Kim does in her career. She is clearly talented. I’ll be on the lookout for further installments of this series, if only to see how she portrays the other characters.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: I’ll admit this right off the bat: I went into this movie expecting to enjoy it. However, I figured I’d enjoy it for the same sorts of reasons I loved New Moon – that it would be awesomely bad and unintentionally hilarious. But I actually liked it quite a bit, and mostly on its own merits. It helped that it was fairly self-deprecating (lines like “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” and “I’m hotter than you” were priceless), but the primary reason was that so much of the stupid crap from the book was removed. Major props go to screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who has truly outdone herself this time. When I read the book, I was pretty unimpressed with both Edward (portrayed here by Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner), and more than a little disappointed in Bella (Kristen Stewart) for giving either one of them the time of day. Ah, but in the film, both boys come across as (more or less) attractive options, save a bit of over-protectiveness from Edward and desperation from Jacob. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the cinematography plays up the guys’ best physical aspects – Lautner’s stunning physique and Pattinson’s charming smile. (I have to mention that watching the camera caress Lautner’s washboard abs is an extremely uncomfortable experience, for he is a child, and no child should look that tasty. I’m sorry, “but he’s 18” doesn’t help your case when you’re over 30.)

The plot in a nutshell: 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 matters, werewolf Jacob has stepped up to the plate, offering himself as a saner alternative to the living dead. In the meantime, longtime foe Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) is forming an army of superstrong newborn vampires to destroy Bella and the Cullens as revenge for them killing her mate in Twilight. Though sworn enemies, the vampires and the werewolves have to team up to defeat Victoria’s minions.

With all the exposition covered in the prior two movies, there’s less melodramatic angst this time around and more believability in the relationships. I spent most of Twilight trying to figure out what attracted Edward to Bella in the first place, and much of New Moon wondering about Jacob’s poor taste in women. But in Eclipse, it’s taken for granted that these two guys are in love with the same girl, and the whys don’t matter much. It helps that Stewart and Pattinson spend a lot more time smiling, making it appear as if they actually enjoy each other’s company. Pattinson and Lautner are clearly having a ball playing rivals, even if there were times when I wanted to tell Jacob to just give it a rest already and move on.

The costumes and make-up are better this time around, though Cleolinda is totally right: the Cullens do resemble Gap/Old Navy commercials pretty much every time they want to look tough. The wolf pack didn’t give me any more¬†West Side Story flashbacks, which was both heartening and a little disappointing. Because I love the wolf pack and all their cheesy goodness. The CG wolves are far more believable than in New Moon, even if most of the actors have difficulty delivering their lines convincingly to things that aren’t really there. And let me just say this: Bella’s engagement ring is ugh-lee. It looks like a cheese grater. Seriously.

The acting of the main trio is considerably improved. Stewart is Twitchy McStutters less often and even closes her mouth from time to time. Pattinson sounds less like he can’t remember his lines. Lautner has learned to portray a far greater range of emotions. Speaking of good acting, Billy Burke (as Bella’s father Charlie) remains one of the bright spots of the film, delivering every line so well he stars in all his scenes.

Now, this is far from a perfect film. I can’t imagine anyone with a hatred for (or even extreme disinterest in) the Twilight universe liking it all that much. Vampires still sparkle, werewolves still imprint, and teenagers still talk about true love as if they have any experience to go on. This is unquestionably the best movie of the series so far, but the first two admittedly set that bar fairly low. (Actually, technically it was the books that set that bar, but you know what I mean.) It’s sort of a cross between a Syfy Original and a romantic comedy on ABC Family.

Anyway, I’ve blathered on long enough. Eclipse is a fun little film, clearly written for the fans, and something I’d watch again and still enjoy – perhaps even without MST3K-ing it to death. The same could not be said for Twilight and New Moon. Oh, David Slade, why couldn’t you have directed all of them?

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

The Twilight Saga: New Moon: As much as I giggled through Twilight, I full-on laughed for the entirety of New Moon. There was clearly a great effort to be as true to the book as possible, down to silly details like Jacob and Bella’s banter about their relative ages. This devotion to the source material does not do the plot any favors, of course. Bella treats Jacob abominably, and being the lovestruck teenager that he is, he just rolls over and takes it. Bella and Edward’s relationship has become more ardent but not any more believable. The audience is continually bashed over the head with Romeo & Juliet references. I suppose if I took the film at face value, with all its earnestly melodramatic angst, I would have thrown up my arms in disgust. However, I came in expecting an awesomely bad movie, and that’s exactly what I got.

Technically speaking, it’s a much better film than its predecessor. The CG wolves were both better and worse than I’d expected, occasionally impressing me with their convincing facial expressions but most of the time obviously not really there. The vampire sparkle effect was vastly improved over Twilight’s CG glitter lotion, which sadly only emphasized the silliness of the whole idea of sparkly vampires. The vampire make-up was better as well (though admittedly that’s not saying much): they appear to have learned a bit about blending at the jawline, but Edward really needs to ease up on the lipstick. The only truly terrible effect was the Edward hallucination, which came across alternately as creepy (full-body apparition Edward) and hilarious (floating head Edward) – but never convincing.

The acting skills of the principals haven’t improved much since Twilight. Kristen Stewart (Bella) continues to be twitchy and stuttery (though from watching interviews it seems this isn’t acting); Robert Pattinson (Edward) totally Shatnerizes most of his lines, most notably the very last one of the movie. Taylor Lautner is charming as Jacob and delivers his lines well, though he could use a couple more facial expressions to add to his repertoire. Luckily, the supporting cast is excellent almost without exception, and though they only have a couple of lines each, they really brighten the relatively few scenes that involve more people than the three main characters. The Volturi – the “vampire royalty” – were especially fun, if underused in favor of a prolonged fight scene in which Edward gets the crap kicked out of him. Aro in particular was awesome; I hope they film Breaking Dawn just so I can see him again. The Wolf Pack, on the other hand, were great fun as individuals, but whenever they appeared as a group I started having West Side Story flashbacks and expected them to start snapping their fingers menacingly.

In short: it’s awful and I love it and I have to see it again. I’m also looking forward to Eclipse next summer, for that’s when the Twilight Weirdness really kicks in, what with the imprinting and the newborn vampires and the disturbing back-stories and all. Should be good times.

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.

New Moon Soundtrack

My sister, upon hearing me (affectionately) describe the sound of Alice in Chains as an acid spill slowly eating through the floor, told me I should write more music reviews. The fact of the matter is that I don’t listen to much music these days. When I’m in the car alone I listen exclusively to audiobooks, and when there’s anyone else in the car we’re usually talking, which means I’m not really listening to the songs.

So since I’m pretty much completely out of touch with modern music, I figured the best way to dive into the music game was with a movie soundtrack. Mashable gave the heads up that the New Moon Soundtrack was available in its entirety for streaming from the Twilight MySpace page. I was curious, so I swallowed my distaste for MySpace and gave it a listen. (And coincidentally, it comes out in stores today. How uncharacteristically timely of me!) Overall, it’s a little heavy on the slow songs, but still a marked improvement over the Twilight Soundtrack, which featured way too many cringe-inducing vocalists. (Robert Pattinson, for example, sounds like Tracy Chapman on barbiturates.) I mean, wow. There were a lot of really bad songs on that soundtrack. Anyway, without any further ado, here are my thoughts on the songs from this soundtrack.

Death Cab for Cutie – Meet Me on the Equinox: Gets stuck in my head a lot. Good but not spectacular.

Band of Skulls – Friends: A fun little ditty. Lame, but in a cute way.

Thom Yorke – Hearing Damage: Very reminiscent of the techno songs I enjoy listening to as background music. I really like it, but it’s not the sort of thing I’d expect from the frontman of Radiohead.

Lykke Li – Possibility: Pretty, but very boring. Something about her voice bugs me. I can’t put my finger on it.

The Killers – A White Demon Love Song: Pretty typical Killers. Not bad, but not something I’d go out of my way to listen to. Reminds me a little bit of The Beta Band.

Anya Marina – Satellite Heart: A sweet little song about unrequited love. Not a huge fan of her voice, but it’s an okay song.

Muse – I Belong to You: Sounds like it could be a fun tune, but only the first thirty seconds were available for streaming. So I got sneaky and found it on YouTube. And you know what? I like it. It’s catchy.

Bon Iver & St. Vincent – Roslyn: Mellow. Lovely acoustic guitars. Too bad the vocals are so obnoxious, but I think it could grow on me with repeated listens.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BMRC) – Done All Wrong: A good addition to this soundtrack, which is pretty much a breakup album anyway. I like the simplicity of this one.

Hurricane Bells – Monsters: Kinda fun. Makes me bob my head. Not bad, but pretty generic.

Sea Wolf – The Violet Hour: Reminds me a little bit of The Killers. I like this one. It’s interesting, catchy, something I wouldn’t mind hearing repeatedly on the radio. Probably my favorite on the entire album.

Ok Go – Shooting the Moon: I dig the weird electronic sounds and harmonies. A very sweet song; I like the dichotomy between the heavy bass drum and the quiet vocals, as well as the instrumental madness at the end. Man, I heart Ok Go; I can’t give an impartial review.

Grizzly Bear with Victoria Legrand – Slow Life: I like the chorus, but the verses are a little too stark. Makes me sleepy.

Editors – No Sound but the Wind: Very old-timey, like a lounge singer. A beautiful song on its own, but this rendition comes across as a little cheesy. The singer sounds like he’s wearing a toupee and a sparkly suit jacket, and I just can’t shake that mental picture. Which is a shame. It’s quite a lovely ballad.

Alexandre Desplat – New Moon (The Meadow): A little bit of the score, I assume. Gorgeous solo piano piece. A nice close to the album. Very quiet, peaceful, hopeful – as should be the aftermath of any breakup, once the tears and heartache have passed.

So there you have it.¬† I guess it’s more of a “thoughts while listening to the songs” than an actual review. Overall, I kinda dig it. Sure, it’s likely that big names like Thom Yorke attached themselves to this soundtrack because of its guaranteed success, but I’m not complaining. Think of how many people will be hearing great bands they never would have otherwise discovered. Though not strong enough for me personally to purchase it, I can see this soundtrack having something to appeal to even the most die-hard of Twilight-haters. After all, none of the songs are bad. At worst they’re generic or kinda meh. Definitely worth a listen.

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

Twilight: Whenever I read a book that has been made into a movie, regardless of how I felt about it, I immediately add the DVD to my Netflix queue. I like seeing other people’s takes on familiar characters, like seeing the same play with different casts. It’s a thing. However, it is rare that I see a movie so soon after finishing the book: in this case, about 24 hours.

This is not a good movie. It’s a decent adaptation, but definitely not something to watch cold. My only major adaptation complaint was the development of Bella and Edward’s relationship, which is more or less the core of the plot. In the book, it is very clear that they can’t stay away from each other. In the movie, Bella is minding her own business when Edward comes out of nowhere to say things like “I think it’d be better if we weren’t friends” or “You should stay away from me.” When suddenly she’s saying “don’t leave me” every third sentence, it feels kind of random.

My main complaint about the movie itself is the make-up. And as one who doesn’t even wear make-up herself, you know it’s got to be bad if I even notice it. In far too many scenes it is painfully obvious that the make-up artist forgot to apply anything to the ears and necks of the vampires. Even amateurs like me know it’s bad to have a distinct border along the jawline. Edward’s excessive amount of lipstick didn’t help matters either. (And I couldn’t help thinking of the Fug Girls’ comments on the poster, which were spot on.)

The acting wasn’t stellar either: Bella almost always looked pissed or bored, and Edward alternated between awkward and bland. (Having re-watched some of his Cedric Diggory scenes, I see the awkwardness is not new, though the blandness is. He could use lessons from Tatsuya Fujiwara on effective smoldering techniques.) But, to be fair, they didn’t exactly have the best source material to work from.

I did, however, appreciate the earlier introductions of Jacob Black and the evil vampires (sounds like a band name, now that I read it), and the inclusion of bits not in the book such as Bella’s comment to Edward that his mood swings are giving her whiplash, and Mike’s weird dance outside the diner. I spent a lot of time laughing at this film, at both the intentional and unintentional humor.

Since I plan on reading the rest of the books, I’ll most likely see the other movies as well. The trailers for the second one look promising; perhaps the change in directors will help. All in all, I agree with the critics: unless you’re a big fan of the Twilight universe, there is nothing worth watching here. But if you like Twilight, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.

(I don’t know why my Twilight reviews are so long. It kind of disturbs me.)

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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