on yearning, vampires, and teens doing it

by marjorieingall on February 4, 2010

My pal Gayle and I agree on most things. (I don’t think smoothies are as great as she does. Other than that.) But she outdid herself with this blog post comparing Shiver (aka the YA novel that’s been called “Twilight with werewolves”) and Twilight (aka the YA novel that is full of sparkly sparkly SHUT UP ABOUT THE SPARKLY). The two books have very different not-so-coded messages about teenage sex and sexuality. Go read Gayle’s post.

I recently read Shiver. I thought it was SO well done — lyrical without being LYYYYYRRRICAL, and I loved the conceit of starting each chapter with the temperature — in degrees Fahrenheit — for reasons that soon become clear. Also, kickass cover. And then I read Twilight, because I figured my book-devouring 8-year-old will want to read it eventually so I should be clueful, and because the Twilight team optioned Gayle’s book so I should probably see the movie so I can form an opinion about Catherine Hardwicke’s mad skillz or lack thereof, which I still haven’t but it’s on the TiVo and I’ll get around to it I swear, and hey, if I’m gonna evaluate the movie properly I should probably know the book, so, yadda yadda: I read Twilight.

Dude, that book is BAD.

I’m not a YA novelist so I don’t have to be diplomatic. The heroine’s defining qualities seem to be (SPOILER ALERT) knocking things over, falling down, and insisting she’s nothing special. Oh, also obsessing and pining — she’s good at those too. I was struck by how NOT-EROTIC the book was. Girl touches boy’s ice-cold cheek. Later she kisses his ice-cold lips. The characters in Shiver — and the passionate connection between them, which is about more than how awesome the heroine’s blood smells (??) — seemed far more emotionally authentic to me. And I think Gayle’s points about sex in these books are just dead-on.

Also, Twilight has enough adverbs to make an adverb rug out of.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

rosmar February 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I love the last line in this review.

I kind of want to read Twilight now, just to count the adverbs.

Eleanor February 6, 2010 at 4:50 am

It seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. Here we are – adult women – disapproving of the books our daughters are loving! Only now it’s because there’s NO sex in the books.

Dani in NC February 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I haven’t climbed onto the Twilight hate train for two reasons:

1. It encouraged my reluctant reader to pick up other book series.
2. For some reason, the Twilight books are worth big AR points (the average middle-school novel is 5 pts, while Twilight books are about 15 pts each) so they are an easy way for my kids to meet their goals. I have such venom in my mouth for the importance placed on Accelerated Reader in my school district that I will hand my kids almost any book that will help them cheat that system.

marjorieingall February 15, 2010 at 2:04 pm

That’s interesting about the point system — I had no idea. And I totally agree — the Twilight series has done a major mitzvah for reluctant readers. My hope is that most of those kids DO come back to teachers and librarians and book-loving friends and ask, “What else can I read that’s like Twilight?” (Do most of ’em ask that? Dunno. I’m not in the trenches.) One thing’s for sure: I don’t want to be that parent ranting against comic books and pulp novels for not being “real literature.” Reading’s good. We should all do it. Yay, reading.

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