Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

All summer long in the books and authors category at Yahoo! Answers were questions, quiestion, and more questions relating to the Twilight books. Piles of them. Sickening amounts of them. Questions that repeated themselves: Who do you love? Which character is your favorite? Which character do you want to see a book devoted too? What other books can you reccommend that are like Twilight? (all of these questions are still going on in Yahoo! Answers, I just took a break from the site for a while). And boy are people passionately opinionated about these books! I was genuinely curious as I'd never heard of these books before. But then I realised that they are teen vampire books which really isn't my thing, so I didn't do much about it. I just put them in the not my genre, not my age category and left it at that. Well, along comes the fall term at work and I start noticing these books everywhere. The majority of girls between grade 5-8 are carrying them around. Now these are thick books. The last book sweep I saw like this was the Harry Potter books. And for the same reason I read some of the Harry Potter books (I only read the 1st 3 or 4 of those), I decided that I should read these too. I really do care about the kids I teach. I want to know what they are into, and what is influencing them. Fortunately I work at a school with other caring teachers who already bought these books so I didn't have to and I borrowed. (I know I have yet to borrow and read Breaking Dawn, the last of the series).
So here's my honest opinion thus far. First I get why girls are into these books. Every young girl dreams about falling in love , head over heels in love and certainly Bella does that. There are parts of these books that are hypnotic to read. You can just eat it up. I do think that there are parts of the books that could be better written, with more description. There were a lot of jumps around. I like it when authors paint a picture for you such that you don't have to guess, and I thought Meyer could have done more in that aspect. I also thought she could have done better with the character development, the emotional side of things. I thought Bella was just too calm about the whole, Edward is a vampire thing. There wasn't any inner conflict, disbelief, none of that. It was like she saw it as normal, which just seemed like too big a jump for me. I'm still trying to work out how everybody sees Jacob as a viable love interest for Bella, I really didn't see any interest from her until late in Eclipse, and even then it was brief. Also, Jacob's interest in Bella came across as puppy love, very different than the feelings Bellas and Edward have for each other. I know some people find Edward too overbearing and controlling of Bella. I din't get that at all. I really think Edward wanted the best for her and was looking out for her. He's a strong male character. Would I want my 10 year old daughter (if I had one) reading these books? No. I think they are too old in subject matter for 10 year olds (particularly as the books progress in Bella and Edward's relationship). Eclipse in particular has topics that include decapitation and increased sexual feelings between the 2 main characters. If I were a parent of a 10 year old girl that was reading them (and there are a lot of them out there) I would be reading these books right along side them and discussing it with them.
Midnight Sun, for those who don't know is the unpublished 1st 13 chapters of Twilight as seen from Edward's point of view. It was internet leaked and then posted on Meyer's website to read. At last posting she is planning on finishing it.
As much as I know I've critiqued these books, I'm actually anxious to read Breaking Dawn and finish the story. There is something that is addicting about them.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

I was just looking back over the books I've read in the past few months and knew that I'd missed writing about a few of them. My write up on Keeping Faith triggered my memory on this one. Change of Heart is another example of Picoult looking into faith issues. It also takes you on twists that you aren't expecting at all. It's a tricky subject this one. What would you do if a transplant heart was offered to your daughter by the very man who had killed your husband and other child? What would the court decide about allowing euthenasia on a death row inmate in a way to preserve organs specifically for that purpose? Why are there unexplained miracles happening around that prisoner's prison wing? I really didn't know where she was going with this one. I thought I knew, and then I didn't. I thought I knew again and then I didn't. Exactly why I'm loving her writing so much right now.

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

I actually bought this one. Truthfully, I bought it because it was Jodi Picoult and it was in traditional paperback form which means it was cheap. I'm cheap, I know and fully admit it. I'd be so broke if I bought every book that I wanted to read. Keeping Faith is an earlier Picoult novel that has been re-released in this paperback form (mostly I think because of how popular her books have been of late.) You can tell that it is one of her earlier books. Her style is there, but it's not as established as it is now. The story is good and very interesting. It kept me going anyways. What I like about Picoult's writing is that you think you know where the story is going and then it takes a twist that leaves you questioning...maybe that isn't what you thought it was. The story centres around Faith, a little girl whose parents are going through a divorce. Strange things start to happen around Faith, raised with no religion but suddenly starts being the centre of faith healings. Faith healings themselves are interesting things. I know that there is a lot of crap out there, faking healings. I also know people who have been miraculously healed. I am someone who believes that God heals today. I'm not sure where Picoult stands in terms of belief in God, but she has been flirting with the theme now in more than one of her books that I've read.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Really, what hasn't already been said/discussed about The Red Tent? It has been big in book circles and clubs for the past few years. It's very well written. This is my second time reading it. For those of you out of the literature loop. It is the story of Dinah from the Book of Genesis. Dinah has a very short and sad mention in Genesis. She is the only daughter of Jacob. (Genesis 30:21) Her story is found in Genesis 34.
What I like about Diamant's writing is that it is very discriptive. She fills your whole senses with the atmosphere. Her's is feminist writing. While much has been said/written about Jacob and his son's, Diamant focuses on the women in his life. His wives and daughter. It's fascinating reading. I do have objections to some of the story that just seems a bit unlikely (would Dinah really run into her brother Joseph in Egypt?). I also wonder if Jacob's tribe would be so focused on other gods? I don't think they would be. This would be a wonderful book for a book study (and if I didn't have small children, I'd probably be part of one myself). I can feel myself starting to discuss these ideas on here, but without response, what's the point?

A Total Waste of Makeup by Kim Gruenfelder

Ahh, back to classic chic lit. Snatched from a library shelf this little gem was eaten up and enjoyed. As far as I can tell it is Gruenfelder's one and only foray into novel writing. As with much chic lit, it's already starting to date itself a little, but an enjoyable escape all the same.