Romeo and Juliet and Vampires

I’ve always found the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” to be a bit confusing. It’s talking about not judging something based on how it looks. And while that’s a good rule to follow when it comes to people, it doesn’t work as well with books, ironically. The cover of a book is supposed to grab your attention and keep you interested long enough for you to pick it up and read it. The book only has a few seconds, if that, to accomplish this task. It does this not just with a captivating image, although that may work. There are other factors at work – the title, the author’s name, a quote by a famous person or awards that the book has won.

For example, I remember browsing through the teen section at the Groesbeck Public Library almost eight years ago. I came across a new book. I picked it up and studied the cover. Black. There was a bird holding an arrow in its beak, surrounded by a circle. This was all in gold. In block letters, I saw a familiar name: Suzanne Collins. I’d read her series about a boy and giant rats, Underland Chronicles, a year before, so this interested me. But the title is what drew me in: The Hunger Games. I especially liked the last word: games. I enjoy stories about competitions. So I checked the book out and finished it that night.

The cover is pretty important. I judge books by them all the time. Now, I have read books with boring covers that turned out to be great. But for the most part, the cover is the gateway into a fictional world.

My copy of Twilight has Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on it. I wish it was the one with the two hands holding a red apple. Now when I read the book, I’m not going to picture Bella and Edward. I’m going to see Stewart and Pattinson, and I don’t like that. I’d rather use my imagination than have someone else visualize them for me.

“I Can Read You Like the Back of a Book” – Andy Dwyer

On the back of the book, there’s a quote from Entertainment Weekly on the back, calling Meyer “the world’s most popular vampire novelist since Anne Rice.” This is a statement of fact, not opinion, and therefore does not need to be quoted. And I don’t think Entertainment Weekly is the ultimate authority on the novelization of vampires. 

I thought the blurb was amusing: “Author Stephenie Meyer introduces Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, a pair of star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship ripens against the backdrop of small-town suspicion and a mysterious coven of vampires. This is a love story with bite.”

This sounds a lot like a story I had to read in high school. That one with the two star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship ripens against the backdrop of small-town suspicion and two disapproving groups of aristocrats.

Judging from the description the back cover gave me, this book should be called Romeo and Juliet and Vampires. It’d might as well ask, “Do you like Shakespeare? Do you like vampires? If you answered ‘yes’ to both of those questions, well, have we got a book for you!”

Is that how it’s going to turn out? We’ll see. Edward and Bella can’t be as stupid as Romeo and Juliet. Can they? I hope not.

Now let’s open up the book and see what’s inside.

Praise for Twilight

An Amazon “Best Book of the Decade…So Far”

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

A New York Times “Editor’s Choice”

An ALA “Top Ten Books for Young Adults”

I’m reading words like suspense, madly flipping the pages, skyrockets, secret love, terrifying, dying, gripping. I hope this book is all of these things and more. If it isn’t, if it turns out to be a bunch of hyperbole, then I might have to leave early. 

Here’s what I don’t understand. People give this book so much hate, but from what I can see, the critics loved it. “Best book of the decade so far?” That’s some pretty high praise, and this isn’t praise directed toward someone who’s been in the business for a long time and therefore are being praised based on reputation rather than the actual work, e.g., Steven Spielberg. Did people start hating on Twilight because it became so popular? Or is a case of “The first one was good but the series got progressively worse with each book that followed”? 

Dedication

Stephenie Meyer dedicates this book to her sister Emily, “without whose enthusiasm this story might still be unfinished.”

If this book turns out to be as bad as people make it out to be, I’m blaming Emily. Not Meyer for writing a bad story. She said herself that Emily is the main reason this book exists in the wide kingdom of published books. The world would be a very different place if people didn’t have friends and family believing in them. 

Table of Contents

The chapter names are short and they don’t give away too much about the plot. This is the best thing about the book so far. I hate it when chapter names also serve as spoilers.

Epigraph

Meyer has Genesis 2:17 written out on the page before the story begins. The verse about the good and evil knowledge tree. I don’t know why she chose to include it. Epigraphs are supposed to hint at the theme of the work they precede. Is it foreshadowing? Is it a metaphor? Is Edward the forbidden fruit, and if Bella doesn’t stay away from him, she will surely die? So many questions!

My Conclusion

The critics have hyped up this book, so I’m raising my expectations. So far, it’s better than The Scarlet Letter, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and DeAndre Jordan’s free throw percentage. There’s nowhere to go but up. 

Right?

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