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Do I really have to read Twilight, really?

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I've heard all the buzz about these books, good and bad. My friend's 14 year old daughter has badgered me to read it, and wanted me to go see the movie with her. So far I've avoided it. But I was in the library yesterday in the YA section, and there it was, staring me in the face. I almost checked it out, but felt reluctant. I guess because of all the negative press, I feel like I know I won't enjoy it even before I start. But I also feel like I should read it, whether I want to or not.

Has anyone else read it because they felt they had to, not because they wanted to? And was it worth it?
#1 - October 29, 2009, 08:43 AM
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I tried to read it a couple of years ago, when the buzz first started, and put it down after thirty pages or so because I just couldn't connect with Bella and didn't want to spend the next umpteen hundred pages with her.  It doesn't hurt to pick it up at the library and give it a try...no foul  if you don't like it after the first chapter or so, and it could always become a point of discussion between you and your friend's daughter and a way to discuss other books.
#2 - October 29, 2009, 08:50 AM
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Well, I haven't read it, and I don't intend to. I feel that I know enough about it already. I have limited reading time and I don't think it makes sense for me to waste it on books that aren't worth it.

Stand in the library and read a chapter of it...
#3 - October 29, 2009, 08:51 AM
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Well, there you go, the same advice from two people, simultaneously.
#4 - October 29, 2009, 08:51 AM
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I read it because I felt I had to -- I like to be aware of the current YA market, and that's obviously a big part of it.  My first impression was that the opening chapters were very compelling -- Meyers definitely sucked me into Bella's story.  I read about 1/3rd of the book (in a bookstore, while drinking hot chocolate) before skimming the rest...at that point, it wasn't that the intrigue faded that much, but for me, Bella's character simply didn't inspire me to continue.  It was worth it, because after that, I began looking at in-depth reviews and ideas (from both sides of the fence), and now I feel like I have some idea of why this book is so popular with younger girls -- and I can at least participate when discussions arise.  I haven't read any of the other books in the series, and unless my daughter someday decides to jump on the Twilight bandwagon, I probably won't.  (I also haven't seen the movies and am not interested.)
#5 - October 29, 2009, 08:52 AM
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I read all four, one right after the other. My final consensus? I would have liked those hours of my life back, but no real harm done. They're just like any other books, it all depends on your taste.
#6 - October 29, 2009, 08:53 AM
« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 09:01 AM by aimeestates »
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I read them all because it was important to my daughters that I do so.  I'm grateful to be a fast reader so I can invest time in some books I might otherwise not have.  I'm just not a vampire/werewolf kind of person.
#7 - October 29, 2009, 08:56 AM
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I guess that's my main concern, there are definitely other books I'd rather read in the limited time I have for reading.

I read it because I felt I had to -- I like to be aware of the current YA market, and that's obviously a big part of it.  

This too.

Thanks everyone! At least I know I won't be flogged in a public square if I choose not to read it.  :whip
#8 - October 29, 2009, 09:01 AM
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JMO, but I think it's important to at least try to understand what teens like about these books. I read the first, enjoyed it more than I expected, and then slogged through the second. Stopped there. But I think it did give me some insight into what readers want/love.

I'm all for the "skim in the bookstore" plan, though. I don't think you can really "get" what does work that way, but you can read about that here and elsewhere.
#9 - October 29, 2009, 09:02 AM
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How dare you call yourself a children's author??? Yes, you HAVE to read it.  Now.  Get thee to the bookshop!   :mob





 :tease  No, of course you don't!  But you never know, you might actually enjoy them.   I loved them; couldn't put them down.  But then again, I read them when they first came out.  I'd probably avoid them like the plague now, just because I'm contrary about reading Big Things (a bit like you, I think!).
#10 - October 29, 2009, 09:04 AM

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I'm all for the "skim in the bookstore" plan, though. I don't think you can really "get" what does work that way, but you can read about that here and elsewhere.

Yes, this worked for me ;)  And I only spent 30 minutes or so actually reading, so it was time well spent, ha!
#11 - October 29, 2009, 09:09 AM
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Back in May, my brother was finishing writing his latest book, "The Twilight Phenomenon: Forbidden Fruit or Thirst Quenching Fantasy."  And of course, to finish writing this book, he had to, first, finish reading the final book in the Twilight series.

I found it funny, because he looked at me and said, "Well, I'm halfway through this book and I have to finish it.  I don't want to finish it.  The writing is terrible..." blah blah.  (He went on with a list of reasons why he, personally, didn't like it.)  But then, he did finish it so that he could complete his manuscript and send it off to his editor.  

Now, while my brother's book examines the story line from a Christian perspective, I took away from the discussion that it wasn't worth my time even bothering to read it simply based on the story.  Which I'm glad about, since I've never understood the fascination with vampires.  
#12 - October 29, 2009, 09:13 AM

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I felt like I wanted to read it to understand the hype and what the attraction was.  I was very curious to see what so many readers were finding compelling.

Loved the first few pages, but as the book progressed I started skimming.  I felt like it could have been a much shorter book.  Didn't bother with any of the others.  My daughter (now 15) also read 1st, wasn't impressed and didn't continue with the series.

That said, I'm glad I read because I think it gave me some insight into this phenomenon.  
#13 - October 29, 2009, 09:16 AM

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I second (third? fourth?) the vote to check it out from the library and give it a try.   :library

I actually stumbled upon the first book the week it was released, was drawn to the cover, read the back blurb, and bought it on impulse without having heard *anything* about it.  I  *loved* it.  I stayed up all night reading, unable to put it down.  I told all my writer friends to read it--even ones who swore they hated vampire books--and they loved it.  My mom loved it.  My sister loved it.  My non-writer best friend (a vet, who'd never read a YA book before) loved it.  My friend who went to Harvard and Columbia law, a partner at a huge law firm, loved it.  Her mother-in-law, in her 60's, loved it.  You get the picture!  Keep in mind, this was before the second book even hit the shelves.

It went downhill after that.  I liked the subsequent books *much* less (didn't like New Moon at all, Eclipse was okay, and Breaking Dawn, for me, was a complete disaster), but I still love the original one.  Once the book got SO huge and the criticisms started, I admit, I can understand some of the criticism--I see what they're pointing out, and I get it....but somehow it doesn't make me enjoy the story/characters any less.  

But I do think it's hard to go into a series *after* it's become as hugely big as Twilight is.  You can't help but bring baggage and expectations into the read (as in, "THIS is the book everyone's going crazy over?!).  

Even if it's not to your taste, though, I do think there's some value in reading it, just to pick apart exactly what it is that's made it so incredibly popular (and not just for teens, but as a cross-over for adults).  I definitely have spent a lot of time doing exactly that.  But do yourself a favor--stop reading before the final book!
#14 - October 29, 2009, 09:19 AM
« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 10:29 AM by Kristi Cook »

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I'd probably avoid them like the plague now, just because I'm contrary about reading Big Things (a bit like you, I think!).

LOL! I'm just like that! When the show Friends first aired, I boycotted it for about the first 5 or 6 seasons. Then I started dating someone who watched the show religiously, and I got hooked.

JMO, but I think it's important to at least try to understand what teens like about these books.

I do agree with you on this point, Joni. I guess that's why I feel torn about it.

Funny story, Ryan! At least I'll be able to put it down if I want to.
#15 - October 29, 2009, 09:20 AM
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You don't *have* to read anything.  In my opinion, it's more important to understand the market in terms of where YOUR writing would fit in than to understand everything- even big trends, like Twilight.  If you're writing YA romance or YA paranormal, then reading Twilight might be important to understanding where your books will fit in the current market.  But if you're writing contemporary realistic novels with an edgy or tragic twist, "understanding the market" might mean looking at the success stories in THAT niche.  For example, Thirteen Reasons Why has spent nearly a YEAR on the hardcover bestseller list, so if you're writing in a similar genre, I'd say that you might gain a better understanding of your market from reading it than reading Twilight.

That said, I think Twilight *is* an interesting book to read.  I read and loved all four, and then my mom independently stumbled across them and loved them, gave them to my sister-in-law, who's a somewhat reluctant reader (and a doctor), and she loved them.  Meanwhile, my brother (who is an electrical engineering PhD) was curious as to what his wife was reading, so he picked up the first book... and devoured all four in under two weeks.  The professor I work with at Yale read them last Christmas and became completely obsessed (and she's never even picked up Harry Potter!).  The fact that these four people all read, let alone LIKED, a single book series astounds me.  The fact that the series in question is YA romance blows my mind.  If I hadn't already read Twilight when the craze hit, I'd be super curious about what it is about it that could appeal to this diverse of a crowd.
#16 - October 29, 2009, 09:38 AM

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If nothing else, you can get some great arguments going by reading Twilight.  It's completely divided my friends.  :duel
#17 - October 29, 2009, 09:40 AM

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I read it because I felt I had to.   Before I read it, I assumed that Stephenie Meyer was an extremely gifted writer and that I could never compare. I liked Twilight, though I had some major criticisms of it, I could see why teen girls would like it. But I hated New Moon and couldn't get through Eclipse. I didn't see anything so incredible about it that would warrant the runaway success she has had. So I think it was helpful to me because it was nice to realize that Stephenie Meyer does not have superpowers; she just wrote a book that many people were aching to read. And any of us can do that.
#18 - October 29, 2009, 09:47 AM

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I gave Twilight eight minutes of my time in a book store -- that was enough. I'm lucky: all three of my girls make gagging noises at the mention of Twilight; none of us could make it through the movie. The only book my kids have begged me to read is Jung Chang's 'Wild Swans'.
#19 - October 29, 2009, 09:52 AM

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I like the point that these authors who find such huge success have done so because they've somehow captured what many readers want in a book. These popular books/series that hit paydirt might not work for some of us who are willing to deconstruct their work. Twilight. Harry Potter. The DaVinci Code. They are books that, for their particular audiences, provide the ultimate in escapism.  

When I read a book that's hugely successful, but not my "cup of tea," I usually try to figure out what that draw is for myself and pinpoint how the author achieved it.

Of course, I'll admit. There are times when I just can't turn anymore pages.
#20 - October 29, 2009, 09:54 AM
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I have no plans to read it.  With all the kids books already on my shelves that I haven't had time for yet, I'm not going to add this one to the list.  Though I imagine that with a little creativity and some zoning changes I could take a copy of it, hollow it out, and rent it out as a studio apartment.

I broke down and bought the movie, which I thought was pretty cheesy, with laughably bad makeup.

Or maybe I just don't get the whole vampire thing.
#21 - October 29, 2009, 10:12 AM

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I read the first book out of a sense of professional obligation -- wanted to know why it was so popular, etc.  I burned through it (and so did my husband).  Definitely a page turner, but in the end, it felt like eating a large plate of french fries.  You can't stop eating them while they are in front of you, but when you are finished you feel a little sick and find the whole meal entirely forgettable. I was glad I read it though, because I think it is fascinating to figure out why teens love the book so much, why I felt so drawn into the story while I was reading it, and yet why, in the end, it was so unsatisfying.  There is an enormous amout to be learned as a writer from reading the absolute best books, but I think it can also be very educational to read this sort of book and think hard about its strengths and weaknesses -- especially if you have another insightful reader to talk to. 
#22 - October 29, 2009, 10:29 AM
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I broke down and bought the movie, which I thought was pretty cheesy, with laughably bad makeup.

The make-up and special effects were *totally* laughable! Every time Dr. Cullen came onto the screen, the theater erupted in titters.  But...I don't know, the campiness somehow worked for me.  It was almost better than if they'd tried to take it really seriously--which is what I'm afraid will happen with the second movie.  My husband, who never read the books, actually liked the movie.  Again, he thought it was campy and silly, and that's what made it okay to him.
#23 - October 29, 2009, 10:33 AM

You don't have to read anything you don't want to.

And, I don't know if you could get an honest read of it now.  Like Kristi pointed out, there's so much baggage.

I read it years ago before it became cool to bash Twilight and, honestly, I loved it.  But I read it fresh, with no expectations, no baggage, no other voices in my head.  I hadn't even heard of the book.  I just saw it and liked the cover.

If it's not your cup of tea, I wouldn't force yourself to read it.  So many books, so little time, you know?
#24 - October 29, 2009, 11:25 AM
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 :hiding I loved Twilight  :hiding
But I must say, when I walk into Target or into bookstores I am sick of seeing all of the books smack in the front.  Time for some blueboarders' books to take up that space!    :books3 :neck  :books3
#25 - October 30, 2009, 07:24 PM
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#26 - October 30, 2009, 07:47 PM
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I've only read 2.5 of the Harry Potter books and probably won't read the other 4.5.  Don't feel like you have to read anything unless your school grades depend on it. :)
#27 - October 30, 2009, 07:50 PM
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I just told my 7-year old today:  Life is too short to read books you don't like (unless, as Deena mentions, they're assigned at school).
#28 - October 30, 2009, 08:05 PM
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I was glad I read it though, because I think it is fascinating to figure out why teens love the book so much, why I felt so drawn into the story while I was reading it, and yet why, in the end, it was so unsatisfying. 

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#29 - October 30, 2009, 08:26 PM

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I was glad I read it though, because I think it is fascinating to figure out why teens love the book so much, why I felt so drawn into the story while I was reading it, and yet why, in the end, it was so unsatisfying

Some friends of mine who are in college or professional/graduate school love the Twilight trilogy (and some absolute abhor them). I never was much of a fan for vampires, but after I borrowed and read the set, I could definitely see and understand the lure -- 'who wouldn't want someone who loves you and wants to protect you so much he's willing to risk his own life' is how one friend put it. Even though I'm not much for the current vampire craze, I definitely got sucked in by the series (but I believe part of that was the fact I borrow the set from a friend during a period when I had time to read all three one right after the other - like pringles..once you pop, you just can't stop) (ok, no more cheesy lines from me). :)
#30 - October 30, 2009, 08:48 PM

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