The Twilight Phenomenon

I’ve always wondered about what made the “Twilight” series of books so popular.

A couple of years ago, before “Twilight” became the “Twilight” of unforeseen (and undeserved, in my opinion) epic proportions, a fellow fiction-lover lent me her copy of the book.

I finished reading it in a weekend, and couldn’t wait to finish it. Not because it was such an enthralling, engaging read… but because by page 3, I was bored out of my wits. I just didn’t have the heart to not finish the book, I have this thing about not reading books that are lent to me.

Naturally, after returning “Twilight”, I declined the offer to borrow and read the other books in the series. I forgot about it and lost myself instead in other books that were more deserving of my time.

Much to surprise a few months later, I started seeing copies of the book on desks of officemates… officemates who don’t even take up reading as a hobby.

twilight-book-coverThis was the first time I heard avid praises about the book. People would say that the premise and plot were ingenious — a human falling in love with a vampire — so unique, so they said. And the story so well-told — again, so they said.

Far too many times I’ve passionately explained why I don’t agree with both rave reviews.

The story is not unique. Hundreds of books have been written about humans falling in love with vampires; vampires falling in love with humans; and even vampires who fall in with werewolves.

You don’t even have to look far. I take personal offense for the genius that is Joss Whedon, the Director who created pop culture sensations like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the vampire with a soul.

The story and the premise are nothing new.

This is itself, if quite forgivable though. I’m a believer that no ideas are completely new. Somewhere, somehow — after generations of ideas that flourish into literature, art and film — there’s no such thing anymore as a completely novel and unique idea. Every story already has hints of elements and flavors from here and there.

Now on the second point, the story was not well-written at all. In the tradition of a great story with a great build-up, a breathtaking climax, and an ending worthy of applause — this book had none of any of this. It was flat and monotonous from beginning to end. How lethargic the tone of the book was at the start was still how lethargic the book ended.

Even her writing style left much to be desired. Short, clipped sentences that evoked no emotion, no excitement, no build-up. All she did was narrate the day in the life of a girl named Bella. And if my days went by the way the narrative of Bella’s story went, I would have lived a very flat, uninteresting life.

But I can shrug off a bad book. I never regret reading any story, good or bad.

I only started reacting violently when I began hearing of interviews with the author, who, when confronted about how critics echoed my own sentiments about her ho-hum writing style, said that “I’m not a writer. I’m a storyteller.

And again, the only thing I can say about that statement is – well, she also kinda sucks as a storyteller.

But I do salute her for getting many people to start reading again. Whether it’s a good book or not, I guess doesn’t matter as much when you consider that the literacy rate in the Philippines probably went up for a while because of Stephenie Meyer and “Twilight”.