Stephanie Meyer writes vampire fiction as many teenage girls do -- overblown writing, sexy cold vampires, and a vacuously attractive heroine who serves as the readers' stand-in.
And so it's hardly surprising that her megahit debut "Twilight" is essentially a teenage fantasy about finding the Perfect Hot Immortal Coverboy Who Longs For You Alone. Innocuous sparkling vampires, buckets of pointless teenage angst and a plot tacked on at the last minute leave this one of the more bloodless examples of vampire romance.
Klutzy Bella Swan is oh-so-self-sacrificingly going to live with her small-town cop dad, and is appalled by the student body -- all the local boys decide that (ick!) they like her, and all the girls are shallow idiots compared to her.
Then she's struck by the ash-pale, vaguely incestuous Cullen family -- an especially by the Hawt and Brooding Edward Cullen. Edward doesn't seem to like her much, resulting in much Teen Angst. but when Bella is nearly killed by a runaway car, he somehow manages to zip across the parking lot and knock away the car. Bella eventually figures out that he's a vampire-- a "vegetarian vampire" with the power to read thoughts... except hers.
Despite his fears that he'll hurt her, their smoldering chemistry (and Bella's tantalizing smell) draws them into a relationship... at which point, since the plot has had zero non-teenybopper tension, three two-dimensionally evil vampires enter the scene, intent on hunting Bella. The Cullens whisk her away to keep her safe from this trio -- but their enemies have more than one way to find her.
The book "Twilight" is essentially the eroticized fantasies of a teenage girl, purple of prose and taking itself hilariously seriously. In fact, reading this novel feels suspiciously like eavesdropping on Stephanie Meyer's fantasies of having a hot, sparkle-skinned vampire stalking her on a nightly basis to show his undying love.
Unfortunately there's not much more to the plot than that -- most of it involves Bella and Edward smoldering at each other, and Bella's contemplation of Edward's "scintillating, incandescent" body and Greek-god hotness. Furthermore Meyer smears the entire book in wildly swinging emotions, tepid dialogue, and overly ornate, purple prose -- the descriptions of Edward's chest alone may induce choking and diabetic coma.
After a horrendously silly "meet the vampire family," Meyer belatedly realizes that the book needs more than angst and sparkles and Edward is constantly shying away from Bella's virginal neck (what does that imply about sucking blood from animals?). So she tacks in a contrived subplot about evil vampires who are hunting Bella. Just... because they want to.
And heroine Bella is truly an amazing character -- she manages to be a blank slate for mass fantasy projection, while also managing to be whiny, selfish, snobby and superhumanly shallow (since the only person she cares about is the Hawt Rich Guy). Edward is a suitable mate for her -- he broods, smolders and stalks her to show that he loves her eternally. After all, isn't a bipolar stalker watching you sleep the very image of true love?
As for the other characters... well, we have quirky vampire Alice to add some humor to the story. But otherwise, none of them really matter much except to reflect how awesome Edward and Bella are -- and the villains could not be any thinner if Meyer snipped them from sparkly incandescent skin.
Those who dream of eternal angsty love with an Immortal Hottie may find "Twilight" a delight, but it's no more than a thin, flat guilty pleasure at best.