Monday, February 4, 2008

Twilight and other Teen books.

Last year, I bought a book called City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, which my son wanted to read, but which I decided to vet, and it was quite Buffyesque and lively, just his cup of tea and he is reading with great enthusiasm as I write. So back at Christmas, I went looking for more of the same (I am trying to get him into female protagonists and a little more rationale to the violence than offered by Darren Shan) and picked up Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, which I hadn't heard of. But then a couple of my students started raving about it, so this weekend, now that we finally have sofa and chaise longue, I took up residence and spent a good deal of Saturday reading.

Twilight is being made into a movie, and apparently was a publishing phenomenon a couple of years ago - missed that one totally. But it is a good read, very absorbing, engaging bad boy hero, an action-packed ending and a good dangling cliff to take us into the next book. Still, I am a little disappointed it's a series. I knew it was when I bought it, as I bought the second in the series with it, but I was hoping that the third book, Eclipse, which is just out here in Europe in hardback, would be the final book in a trilogy. But now I read that the author has been contracted to write more in the series, and I feel a little tired. I like trilogies and quartets, I like story arcs that cross more than one book, but I want to a sense of destination, a place where the loose ends will be tied, whether for good or ill.

The other thing I'm not wild about is our heroine, Bella Swan (great great name) - interestingly, I'd criticise City of Bones for the same heroine issue - Clary Fray and Bella are both plausible but opaque. I guess this is because they are place-holders for the intended readers, namely girls aged between 12 and 16, but also, I think they have the same issue as numerous other heroines in the paranormal/romance/women's fiction zones. They are too nice. Their flaws and tantrums are too explicable and easily tracked back to their baggage and issues. They are really really good girls. I keep thinking of the fact that heroines are role models and isn't it lovely that we get these brave, loving, bright, sassy, feisty lasses - but.

One of my favourite songs from last year was Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm no Good". It's the chorus that gets me: "I cheated myself, Like I knew I would, I told you I was trouble,You know that I'm no good". It's that sense of personal responsibility and wanton badness that does it, every time I hear the song. She's Scarlet O'Hara, Becky Sharp, Milady de Winter, Evil Willow Witch, Buffy in Series 6, Faith, of course, Lyra Belacqua. I love the bad girls. The really no-holds barred bad-girls. Brave, bad, selfish, gritty, cruel, heartless, a-moral, angry.

So although I can highly recommend Twilight, be aware that Bella Swan is a heroine, and she certainly has at least one TSTL (too stupid to live) moment in Twilight, but of course, she lives.

I'm looking forward to New Moon and Eclipse, but bring on the bad girls, please. Or maybe that's what I should be doing myself...

No comments: