Your SparkNotes editors are fascinated by Twilight: the Stephen King brouhaha, the copycat vampires, the movie version, the sequel, and most of all, Sparklers' violent hatred of, and love for, the series. So imagine our shock when when we learned that one of our favorite writers, Dan Bergstein, had never read the books before! We insisted that he get up to speed on the phenomenon. And, of course, we asked him to blog about his reading experience. Take it away, Dan-o! —SparkNotes editors
Before we get started, there are a few things you should know:
- In the interest of full disclosure: I am a guy.
- It's not my goal to tear apart the books or make fun of the fan base. In fact, I understand the series' appeal. Twilight is Star Wars for the female set, in terms of pop culture impact. And that's great. Besides, if you love Twilight, or anything else, for that matter, you shouldn't let anyone change your mind or make you feel bad about it.
- There will be spoilers. To blog about reading the books, I'll need to talk about major plot points. So if you're one of the few who hasn't read them yet, buy the books and read along with me. And if you're a longtime fan, comment and tell me what I'm getting right and wrong.
- Here's what I know about the series before even cracking the spine:
- Bella is the main character.
- Edward is a vampire.
- Bella and Edward fall in love.
- Edward has crazy hair.
Twilight Blog Part 1 (The first 50 pages)
Bella's about to die at the hands of the hunter! But she probably won't be killed, if for no other reason than there are four other books to get through. The hunter saunters towards her…and the preface is done. This wins the award for shortest preface ever.
No vampires here, just a lot of explanation about Bella and her family. Lonely Bella moved to her dad's house in rainy Washington State because her mom is busy traveling around the country. Broken home? Check. Angst-ridden daughter who calls her dad by his first name? Check. Lots of rain and clouds? Check. So far, this seems like the plot of every Sundance award winning film ever made. All that's missing is a shocking, raw sex scene and a few cancer-related deaths.
As a homecoming present, Bella's dad buys her a very used truck. And off Bella goes to her first day at a new school. Again, no vampires are mentioned, unless the truck is a vampire. (That would be cool!)
At school, she has a rough first day of being "the new kid." People stare, and Bella feels uncomfortable. We quickly meet Eric, whom Bella describes as the chess club type. Bella could have simply told the reader, "I will never kiss Eric." Better yet, she should tell Eric this, because she's just leading the poor guy on.
Bella goes through some more classes and eventually ends up at lunch, where she first sees the Cullen/Hale family. These must be the vampires, because they are really attractive and strange. Bella goes on and on about how hot these teens look.
Why is attractiveness part of the vampire mythos? It seems unfair to say the least. There should be some overweight vampires or vampires with knobby knees and bad bangs. If only the gorgeous get bitten, it would be smarter to gain a lot of weight than to hang garlic in your room. Easier too. Perhaps later in the book, someone will explain why only attractive people get bitten by vampires.
The vamps are Edward, Alice, and Emmet Cullen, and Jasper and Rosalie Hale. When is the last time you read about a vampire named John Smith or Jennifer Johnson? They always have old, historic names. If the vampires are hundreds of years old, that makes sense. But surely new vampires have been created since the turn of the century. Where are the vampires named Jeff Miller or Stacy Rodriguez? Or Beyonce? Still, it could be worse. They could be named Dracula or Angel.
Bella mentions the old names of the vampire clan. But Bella's own name is freaking "Isabella Swan"! Sorry, but people in glass houses shouldn't pose questions about outdated names.
Once Bella's done drooling all over them, she finally asks one of her new friends about the Cullen/Hales. Turns out they're adopted by a doctor and his wife, and they all keep to themselves. Some of the adoptive kids are dating one another. Perverts.
We all know that Edward is going to be the center of Bella's attention so it's no surprise that Bella is forced to sit next to him during biology class. But the two don't hit it off, as Edward acts scary and distant towards Bella. Perhaps he is afraid of her. But more likely, he doesn't like bragging, and Bella brags quite a bit to the reader. Throughout the first two chapters, she constantly reminds the reader that she's already done the required reading for her new school, and covered the material in her new biology class too. Way to go, Bella. You win. It's no wonder Edward is acting cold. No one likes a braggart, even if she only shows off to herself.
After gym class, Bella heads to the office and sees Edward trying to change biology classes. She thinks it's impossible that someone can dislike her so much. I don't like her. She brags too much.
The next day at school is better for Bella, as she is starting to get more comfortable. That's pretty much all that happens here. She also cooks for her dad, emails her mom, and brags some more about getting ahead of her homework and rereading Wuthering Heights just for the fun of it. Who does that?
At school, she keeps an eye out for Edward, who's absent for a few days. (Bladder infection? Kidney disease? Vamp diarrhea? It's not explained, but one can only guess what a strictly liquid diet does to the digestive tract.).
He finally shows up, but now he's the nicest guy on the planet. Bella and Edward have an awkward but pleasant conversation, and Bella notices his eyes have changed colors. They share a moment of electricity when their skin touches. This is either a sign of love, or static electricity. Since static shocks are never mentioned in romance novels, I'll go with the former. (Incidentally, hiccups are never mentioned in romance novels either, unless they are of some symbolic significance. So keep your eyes open for such things.)
Since Bella knows everything about biology, she quickly does the assigned lab with Edward.
Predictions for the next 50 pages:
Edward will send Bella a note that reads: "Do you like me? Circle one: Yes/No." Bella will respond by circling the dash mark. She will continue to boast about how far ahead she is with the readings and biology homework, and tell the reader that she can juggle and lift really heavy things over her head, too.
Want more Dan on Twilight? Here you go.