O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Confessions: I Read (and Enjoyed) Twilight

posted by Jason Boyett

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read more. Specifically, to read 12 books. Which sounds like a lame goal, but considering that I spend a lot of my free time writing my own books and working on other writing assignments, is about as do-able as I can manage.

The good news is that, so far, I’m on pace. It’s March. I just finished my fourth book of 2009. And they were long books.

The bad news — at least for some of you, I suspect — is that you might be less than satisfied with the books I read. (Some of you, though, will be thrilled.) Here they are:

1. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
2. New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer
3. Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer
4. Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer

That’s right: I read all four books in the Twilight Saga and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Before I tell you what in the world I was doing engrossing myself in the bestselling series of vampire romance books for teen girls, I first want to acknowledge that I’m probably not in the target demographic. I also want to make it clear that I didn’t wake up on January 1 and decide to read them. I was approached by a publisher sometime in the middle of the month and asked if I was interested in writing a pop-culturish book about vampires, in order to coattail on the whole Twilight phenomenon.

I was skeptical from the beginning — other than a love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my interest in vampires has been pretty much non-existent. And at the time, I hadn’t read any Anne Rice and was pretty unfamiliar with Twilight. So I decided I’d better start reading in order to make an informed decision on the project.

Ultimately I turned the project down, as vampires didn’t seem to fit within my publishing goals or the “Jason Boyett” brand (to use a marketing term). But once I started reading Twilight, I wanted to finish the series. I made time to finish the series. To steal from Bryan Allain’s “Cannarf” rating system, the books rose above my expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the story.

Two things to note:

1. Stephenie Meyer may have been writing YA novels for girls, but she can tell a good story and create a compelling world. I was hooked by the plot and storytelling despite the pulpy writing. I wasn’t drawn in as much by the romantic dreaminess of Edward Cullen as I was by the story arc, which was creative, suspenseful, and fulfilling.

2. No, Stephenie Meyer is not the world’s best writer if you’re judging on technical prowess or the beauty of her prose. It’s pretty boilerplate stuff, as Stephen King has pointed out (in what some might suggest was a pot-kettle-black moment). But she’s successful in that she turned a great idea into a well-plotted series of books written for a specific audience, and she did so with excellence. This led to the incredible word-of-mouth that drove book sales into the millions. And those things, when combined with some good luck, are required for a book to become a runaway bestseller.

Do I recommend them? Sure. I think most open-minded readers will enjoy them, as long as you’re not looking for something high-brow, or literary, or not about mythological creatures with stunning good looks, charisma, and self-control. Probably women more than men. But that’s to be expected, right?

Anyway, that’s my confession. Have you read the Twilight books? If so, what did you think?



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Denise

posted March 20, 2009 at 11:46 am


Oh man, Jason. I read (and enjoyed) them as well. By the end of the series, I was a bit tired of all the drama and the so-so writing, but overall I thought the story was pretty good. I was fairly ashamed of myself for reading vampire books in the first place, but hey, I need to keep up with pop culture … right?Umm, did you see the movie? It kind of made me want to die.



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Jason Boyett

posted March 20, 2009 at 11:55 am


@Denise: Totally agree. My wife and I saw it and were both very disappointed in the film. The only thing I liked about it was the casting of Alice. Everything else, from the glitter to Edward’s constipated “longing” to the casting of Rosalie to the incomprehensible plot (if you haven’t read the book) left MUCH to be desired. Then again, I’m not a 15 year-old girl. Maybe that’s it.



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clarissa h

posted March 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm


I read and enjoyed the Twilight series. They were fun reads. I have not seen the movie yet but will be buying it this Saturday. I know many people were a bit disappointed in the movie but we have to keep in mind that movies (besides the 1983 version of Jane Eyre with Timothy Dalton) never fully resemble books in any fashion….



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Serenity

posted March 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm


Yes! I’m so glad to read a person of your sort of brand comment on the Twilight series. I was so skeptical too. And until almost the very end, I was still ridiculously judgmental of the vampires topic as a whole. Still, I agree that people who criticize her writing fail to acknowledge her power to connect readers to her characters and to the action. By the end, I was completely sold. I enjoyed many aspects of it and would recommend them as well. They were also part of my new year’s goal to read more. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but despite the respected advice here, I’m going to find out for myself if it’s 2 hours I will really want back.



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matthewhjohn

posted March 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm


I’ll admit, there is something about a compelling story line. … But I’m kind of embarrassed for you right now. ;)



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Bryan Allain

posted March 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm


good to have another opinion on this. still not sure why Stevey King felt the need to bash Meyer…i’d say jealousy, but he’s done pretty well…but yeah, seems like more than 50% of high schoolers have read this.as a dad and an artist yourself, would you have any qualms at all about your daughter asking to read this in a few years?



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Jason Boyett

posted March 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm


@Bryan:No, I wouldn’t mind it at all if Ellie read it a few years from now. For a romance series — and, you know, considering the vampires — it’s extremely chaste. No sex until marriage, etc. (Also no sex because it might kill you.) There’s some violence in it, but nothing you wouldn’t see in Tolkien or Star Wars, so I’d have no problem with her reading it as a young teen. 8-9 is way too young, though.



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Lance Culbert

posted March 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm


I would think so much less of you…if I wasn’t currently reading Twilight. It’s certainly not the worst thing I ever read but it’s OK. It earns a resounding “Meh” on my book ranking scale.:-)I do like the book cover art…especially for New Moon, though.



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Jen

posted March 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm


I read Twilight last month, when I was home sick in bed for a few days and fed up with the “literary” novel I was attempting to read. The whole time I was silently grumbling about the writing style and Edward and stuff, and yet… I couldn’t put it down.I don’t know what I think. Edward got on my nerves because he was so over-the-top perfect, and the writing was pretty “meh”… but there was something compelling about the story that I can’t quite put my finger on. Once I got past the annoying stuff, there was a pretty good story in there. I do plan to read the rest of them eventually.And I love the “Cannarf” ratings. I’d give it a -1 cannarf. :)



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Ken

posted March 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm


Jason, It’s just about 10:00 PM and you just helped me score points with my 15-year-old daughter. I gave my blackberry to her so she could read this as I drove her and her friend to the bookstore for their Twighlight video release party. Both girls were impressed that I would subscribe to a blog with a writer as cool and insightful as you.Iguess I now have to read the series myself.Thanks for being willing to write about this.



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Julie

posted April 20, 2009 at 8:52 am


I liked your review and I liked the book.



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Cecelia Dowdy

posted February 18, 2010 at 5:51 am


I just finished the fourth book in The Twilight Series last week. I enjoyed the first book the most. The second book was good for about 2/3 of the way through, then I skimmed the rest. The third, Eclipse did NOTHING for me at all. I read the first 80 pages word-for-word before skimming the rest of the book. I did enjoy the fourth book. The last part, when she has the vampire/mortal baby was very weird, but the story kept me interested and I wanted to finish it.



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Ruth in the Desert

posted March 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm


I tried. Because I grew up near Forks, in a slightly larger town, and we laughed at Forks a lot. I got through one page of the first book. The angst was too much to struggle through.



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Gina

posted April 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm


If your daughter reads it, please make sure that she knows that a guy who orders her around, spies on her in her sleep, and takes the engine out of her truck is not a god or a hero, but a sick, delusional stalker. One would hope that teenage girls with Christian parents would instinctively know this. But unfortunately, they don't always.



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