dilluns, 24 d’agost de 2009

Stuck on page 223

There is a big difference between not being able to finish compulsory school readings and books that you're reading just for fun. In the case of the former, my problem was that I can't stand having a deadline to finish a book, so if I didn't find the book interesting enough, if it was too dense for that amount of time, or I simply didn't have enough time to finish it (which normally happened because of my own lack of organization), the mere fact of knowing that the book had to be read by a certain date was a complete turn off. Still, during some summers I've been re-reading these books which I found interesting but never finished before the exam at school. (Quoting my Catalan Literature teacher, "it's unforgivable" that I wrote exams in these conditions, which I admit and am quite ashamed of.)

However, I have my private little black list of books that I've been unable to finish, not because they are really dense pieces of literature (i.e. Cervantes's Don Quijote or Cicero's De Oratore), but because they are insubstantial. This list has just recently acquired its definitive number one: Twilight.

I've been ranting and complaining about Stephenie Meyer's first work (a very generous term, in my humble opinion) ever since I saw the movie adaptation, but I didn't feel with the absolute right to critisize the saga until I had read at least the first book. I gave Meyer my money to be come the not-proud owner of a copy of the 7th UK edition of Twilight.

Despite my efforts since I bought the book on August 7th, I've got completely stuck at chapter 12 out of 24 (plus an epilogue and a preview of the second book, New Moon). Taking into consideration that, out of the 223 pages I've read, 220 are just padding, it's amazing that I've managed to go that far instead of directly throwing the book away or reporting Stephenie Meyer to the authorities for crimes against intelligence.

I also own the complete saga of the boy who lived. The first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was a compulsory reading at university when we talked about children's literature, but I owned the first four books since secondary school. I managed to finish all of them, except for book 2 (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), because it was plain boring. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was no better, and put it back on the shelf before reaching the end of the first half. I was strongly tempted to do the same thing with the last book last summer, but didn't because I wanted to know if Voldemort finally killed Harry or if it was the other way around.

And the other big fantasy classic: I never got any further than page 120 of The Fellowship of the Ring, and probably never will even though I've been told a thousand times that it gets better right after there. Sorry, Frodo.

The worst part of it all is:
  • I've helped to grow both Rowling's and Meyer's bank account;
  • there is a considerable amount of wasted space in my bookshelves;
  • I've also fallen for these sagas and I'm writing about them on my blog, meaning that they are having some sort of influence over me;
  • not only teenagers, but also a significant number of grown-ups, have made of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas one of the greatest literary phenomena, but this has lowered literary standards and criteria to a point that, to me, is worrying.
And some of you might say, "but thanks to these books, young people actually read". Sure, I'm not complaining about that: I'm complaining of the poor quality standards settled by these series.

In conclusion, Twilight is not a good book. It's poorly written, its plot is completely insubstantial, its characters have no charisma: Edward is not a blue prince, he's a stalker. To describe Bella as "dumb" is too soft. To turn scary mythological figures such as vampires and werewolves into High School Musical is suddenly destroying centuries of popular beliefs. To say that Stephenie Meyer is a good author should be punished with hard labour in Siberia or something like that (just kidding... or not).

If I ever get to finish Twilight it will be due to nights of insomnia, because I've found it's a great book to fall asleep.

At least enjoy the parody:

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