Friday, August 29, 2008

I just finished Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. In case you've been out of the solar system for the last three years, that's the first book in a very popular series of teen vampire/romance books. Good book, quick read, absorbing romance, great teen stuff.

STILL, I may just be too old to fully appreciate this book. Here's the thing. Bella is ostensibly a very selfless teen, giving up her life in Phoenix to live with her father in the rain forests of Washington State so her mother can be happy with her new husband. Right? And then there's that whole going to meet evil James so her mother won't be hurt thing. BUT she starts insisting that her boyfriend do something reprehensible to her. Because then they can be equal in their relationship - oooh , romantic.

He obviously doesn't want to do it. And he's the one who fully understands the consequences of the action. She insists. He has saved her life several times in this book and shown amazing restraint the whole time. He's willing to put his urges aside to be with her. She refuses to listen to him. He knows what she will suffer. But she's set on it. That's not selfless. That's immature and selfish. Listen, young lady. Pay attention to your elders and stop pouting.

What does he see in her anyway? Since the book is written from Bella's perspective, it really is hard to see what he sees in her.

Oh and Edward? Handsome, super-hero strength and speed, able to read minds in a blink, always there to save her - okay, that's romantic, I guess. But he's too good. It's Annoying

Like I said, I'm not sure I "get" it. Well, I might wait for the cliff notes to come out or for someone to do one of those novels in 10 second things for the other three books. Still, if you like that kind of thing, tortured vampires doing good in the northwest, this is a good read.
Today, I realized something. Books are the original "Second Life". When I am reading a good book, I am taken out of my own skin into the experiences of the character. I see vividly the landscape of that new land and I feel the emotions. A good author can bring me to tears, make me laugh out loud, have me squirming in my seat. A good story can do that without computer graphics and Linden dollars.

When I was younger, an appealing character and a good story never ended with the close of the book. My imagination took over and created new characters and scenarios over which I had total control. I even played games based on favorite books with my friends and siblings - real games with real dirt and real hazards and real fun. But these games were of our own making and they had little to do with our everyday real lives.

Think of Tom Sawyer playing Robin Hood in his long underwear in the woods around Hannibal, Missouri. Children have been playing with the people they meet in books as long as books that appeal to children have been around. I'm sure us older people create fantasies around our favorite characters though not as often as when we were young. It is hard to say goodbye to someone who has inhabited your brain for several hours.

Online worlds offer a chance to create your own story, be someone else for awhile. They have the element of chance that comes from interacting with characters over whom you have little control. There is the excitement of visual and aural stimulation and endless choices.

All that said, I prefer books. A quiet corner in the sunlight, a well-written paperback in my hand and I can enter a "second life" where everything is a surprise and all I have to do is let the story unfurl in my mind's eye.