Note: The reason I read this book now was because my daughter received a copy for her 11th birthday, and I’d heard differing things on whether it would be appropriate for her to read. She’s a big reader (she takes after me in that way), but hadn’t been particularly interested in Twilight. When she opened the present, she handed it over to me, to see if I thought it would be OK for her. My conclusions as to appropriateness for her are at the end.
rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is another book I had a hard time rating. In the end, I gave it a high 3. It wasn’t a particularly good book, but I enjoyed it in spite of that. It may be my fastest 500 page read ever.
Joe Prince wrote a fantastic (and hilarious) one star review, and I don’t disagree with anything he had to say, but I liked the book anyway.
This is clearly a book for teen girls, and the inner teen girl in the rest of us.
The ugly duckling storyline has a wide appeal to this demographic. Bella is just an ordinary girl at her old school. She’s never had a boyfriend, hasn’t even been asked out. But suddenly, she’s got multiple boys drooling over her, including the mysterious, beautiful guy that usually doesn’t talk to anyone outside his family!
The adventure aspect of the last third of the book has a very teen sensibility as well. Our Heroine comes up with a plan to outsmart the Bad Guys. Of course, she needs help to pull it off, so the team of Good Guys comes to help with implementation. Of course, said plan involves the separation of Our Heroine and our Hero, the Love of Her Life. And I should probably mark this as a spoiler, but really, is anyone surprised to hear that Our Hero comes to the rescue just in the nick of time!
The writing walks the line of being sensual without getting explicitly sexual, with characters that are clearly (very clearly) attracted to each other. I think the author did a good job of allowing the book to be accessible to girls of differing levels of interest in sexuality.
I found it VERY important NOT to stop and think while reading this book– I had to sit back and enjoy the ride and not think about the convenient coincidences, the age difference between Edward and Bella, and more. And I had to look past the whole “Overwhelming, can’t live without you, love at first sight” thing that the entire book is based on.
The other thing I need to mention is the repetitiveness of the book. The same things were said over and over. See the review I linked to at the beginning for examples. Luckily, the book moved so fast it wasn’t an issue for me.
Would I recommend this book? Very strongly no, if you are reluctant to read it, you should probably avoid it! Would I discourage anyone who is already interested from reading it? No, there’s a good chance you’ll have a very fun read.
Now, the question I need to answer: will I let my 11 year old read it? Yes. I suggested that she wait until summer, which was OK with her. She doesn’t seem to be in any hurry, although one of her best friends read and enjoyed it. I will wait for her to bring up the book this summer– probably when she is desperate for something new to read.
I told her that the book mostly mostly about the two characters falling in love. She shrugged and said that seems to be happening a lot in books she reads these days. I said that I didn’t think she’d read any where that was the main point of the book rather than a side plot. She thought about it and agreed.
I think that the sensual/sexual aspects will go over her head– she’s a relatively naive 5th grader. There isn’t anything explicit. I don’t think the violence will be too much for her.
I’ll need to think through the potential conversations we should have. Love at first sight; being overwhelmed be a boyfriend/girlfriend and potential for bad decisions, secrets and lies of omission, and more. This could be a good opportunity, if I make proper use of it.
My time of attempting to censor what she reads probably is short– maybe two more years. This is the first time it has come up, because she really hasn’t been interested in anything I worried about her reading. In the end, I want her to be able to make her own decisions about what is appropriate for her, in books and in life.