Tag Archives: Twilight

I wish American Horror Story: Coven and Top Chef would quit making me miss New Orleans so much.

69. Twilight – William Gay

I picked this up at a thrift store on Magazine Street that no longer exists as far as I can tell and used to have a silver rocking horse hanging above it. I’ve never really been sure what it was called. Mr. Cheese and I had a lot of fun there, they had a new stuffed Gizmo in a bird cage and this lovely calendar from a Chinese restaurant with especially lovely rabbits on it…it’s also the place I bought Mr. Cheese his second sugar urn, i.e. a sugar bowl that, for the un-tea-cultured poors like me, looks more like an urn than it does a sugar bowl. He found his first one in Iowa.

Anyway, I bought this book because the description made it sound like it was going to be a southern gothic version of Phantasm. There’s a funeral director doing questionable things with the bodies and a young man who must stop him. Well, it’s not like Phantasm. For one thing, there’s no Reggie character. And it not being like Phantasm has sort of clouded my judgment. You see the sentences, they are pretty. I am rarely in the mood for pretty sentences, if ever, so I can appreciate this for what it is – a well written story about a young man who has gone into the local wilderness trying to get to a sheriff before he gets killed by the local psychopath (who was hired by the funeral director). There’s some poetically written nature, some Odyssey-like characters, and some mysteriousness that reminded me a bit of The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale but not as nasty- but it just wasn’t working for me as a reader. Especially when the actions that started the story were resolved in two sentences, at the very end, and the sentences came from a character who was supposedly important throughout the book but didn’t end up doing anything but resolving the starting action. It’s a journey story and usually I really like those, but I just wasn’t able to get into this one once I realized it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be.

"BOY!"

“No Tall Man? No ice cream truck? Why even bother writing a creepy funeral director character if he’s not pursued by a team of misfits and the resolution to his story basically occurs off-page?” Pickles has my back, because I put words in her mouth, but still, she would have my back.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

Area Teenagers to Continue Endless, Irritating Romance

3.  Beautiful Redemption – Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia

The end of the series. Lately, I’ve noticed that some series are moving to quadrilogies…this one, Maberrry’s Rot and Ruin series… and I’m still working on my trilogy. Always behind. But at least trilogies are classic. There are a few trilogies that hold up. Anyway, I just sometimes feel like the kind of stories I write are either too far ahead or too far behind to be published legitimately. I’m probably not the only one who feels that way and it really just enforces the whole dead-in-the-gutter before respect thing that happens to writers sometimes. Well, that was uplifting, I guess I’ll get on with the rest of it. To be fair, my mood has not been the greatest lately. Ozymandias’s bladder stone issues are back-exactly one year after he came to live with me which is shitty and totally unfair. They (stones) always come back though, even if they’re surgically removed. And I’m grading papers again, it’s always super fun to read a paper that’s completely devoid of subject-verb agreement in which the writer claims they want to be a teacher. Why didn’t they pay attention in middle school English if teaching was their chosen career field? Why? My brain screams at these inconsistencies like Leonardo DiCaprio in that field in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. Oh look, I’ve made it back around to the topic I should be discussing. Yay for me. It’s looking up. Whatever it is.

I definitely respect the concreteness of the ending. The last page was essentially a “no, seriously, it’s over” declaration. Thanks for not leaving loose ends! I mean that sincerely. I’m not really going to discuss anything that happens because if you haven’t bothered with the other books, there is no reason for you to read this one, it won’t be useful for you, it will just be confusing. The recurring aspects of these books worked out nicely in the last entry and as someone who has done many crosswords with their grandmother, I appreciated crossword puzzles having an important function in this book.

I do want to talk about the upcoming movie though. I have seen it decribed very lazily as “Twilight with witches” and the latest attempt to capitalize on Twilight’s success. Twilight’s first page made me want to throw up with boredom and despair. It was super lazy writing. And then, the movie demonstrated the laziness with which the characters were conceived – shells of humans (and vampires) with very little going for them beyond being audience surrogates for those who want a creepy stalker or two. Now, I like fully formed characters, they’re very important to me as a writer and a reader. I also like earned storylines. In Twilight, Bella and Edward seem to fall in love because they must, as they are both present in the narrative. In this series, as annoying as I found Lena and Ethan to be at times, they read as real. Real teenagers. Real annoying teenagers. Who have real, annoying teenage romance. But that isn’t the entirety of what happens. And as frustrated as I got with the first two books being slightly different mirrors of each other, they more than made up for it in Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption. This series is not Twilight with witches (or casters), I don’t even really think of it as solely being about the main romance between Ethan and Lena. It’s more like a less-ridiculously sticky and purple version of the Mayfair Witches. Which I enjoyed as an annoying teenager. And maybe, just maybe, Macon is a less manipulative version of Julian. Everyone loves Julian.

He's certainly bitten his thumb at Danger quite a few times - they're occasionally friends.

Ozymandias. He is the Mercutio of my herd. Or the Tybalt. He’s pivotal, that’s all I know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review, Writing

I wonder if Suze ever wandered down to the Murder House, they needed some exorcising…and less decorating.

6. The Mediator: Shadowland – Meg Cabot

These books are a very good mid-point between Buffy and chicklit. My impression of Meg Cabot has always been that she writes books that appeal to your traditional girly-girl, and I’m still pretty sure she does. These are the only books of hers that I have read, and I read them because they added something that usually appeals to me – ghosts. And they are very teen, there’s slightly forbidden romance, and Suze Simon is a very teen-girl character, she’s from New York, she moves to California, she judges everyone for wearing pastel colors, she worries about her fashions, and she tends to lost souls. One thing I have to say that I appreciate quite a bit in these books is that Cabot does not lose the family dynamic. Suze is a teenager, she has to live with her now blended family, she has to deal with rules and consequences that normal supernaturally inclined characters don’t have to deal with because they’re orphans or abandoned by their dad or they run away because of their calling, etc. etc. It is important to demonstrate how a character such as Suze can function in a real life context, obviously, she gets in trouble a lot. But, being grounded has its perks in Suze’s case, in the form of a house ghost named Jesse.

Anyway, in Shadowland the series kicks off with a poltergeist and a very normal teenager conflict – Suze stole this ghost’s former boyfriend. What a bitch. So the poltergeist tries to kill both her ex-boyfriend and Suze and Suze gets in trouble because her mentor-mediator Father Dominic would rather she tried the gentle approach when dealing with ghosts, encourage them to move on instead of straight-up exorcise them. But whatever works.

I made Pammy move this one time, and she did move in with Thaddeus, but they received a little house and a little bridge to hide under so no harm was done.

7. Ninth Key

The second entry in the Mediator series mixes Buffy with a little Veronica Mars. Rich people doing scandalous things, trying to trap young Nancy Drew-types inside their blazing inferno estates, Nancy Drew-types kissing the wrong boys and letting ghosts interrupt them, etc. My one real qualm with this series is that it really feels like one book with small asides. I guess Suze is, like, learning things about herself along the way and young people have short attention spans, but this was published in 2001 when Harry Potter and books the size of doorstops were totally possible. Maybe just not for girls, who were still expected to be learning to cook and doing their daily exercises of embroidery – or was that the seventeenth century? In our modern political climate, I sometimes get the centuries confused.

Pammy caught this goat all on her own in between fending off her suitors, of which there will always be many.

8. Darkest Hour

So, as usual I read this series out of order. Some jerky real teenager was reading book three when I needed to read it and so I had to put it on hold at the library and wait. Ergh. Anyway, the story had certainly moved along in this fourth book and Jesse the house ghost took on a much bigger role than cute dead dude. You know, there are times when I wish these books had taken place in San Dimas, California. San Dimas High School football rules! Anyway again, it seems that the house ghost/cute dead dude had an evil fiancee. Highjinks ensue and before you can say “Deacon, you ditched Napoleon?” everybody’s a mediator and/or dead. Well, deadish, as in for a time. Some people stay dead. Mostly the previously dead ones. Ghosts, eh? What’re you going to do?

Pammy narrowly avoids a kiss from Thaddeus, who is not an evil ugly dude. He has also never ditched Napoleon at a water park.

9. Haunted

Boyfriend fight! Well, one potential boyfriend and one creepy extortionist boy that’s not really a friend fight. Did you know that ghosts can punch you in the face? I bet there are several people who know that, and one of them lives in Las Vegas and spends a lot of time on his hair. As I mentioned previously, these books feel like one big book and that becomes much more apparent once the “real” storyline starts to pick up speed in book four. I do not recommend reading these without getting your hands on all of them simultaneously…which is more possible now that they’re being republished as multi-book editions – at least the first two books have been re-published that way, with a less colorful cover. It’s one of those “oh look there’s some random girl on the cover of this young adult book” sort of covers. At least her back is turned, showin’ some intrigue.

What? There’s a young adult cover without some photograph of a girl’s face looking serious on it? Published within the last five years? Blasphemy! Surely it is an abomination.

10. Twilight

The last one in the series involves time travel. Because that’s how supernatural ghost-exorcising powers evolve. Duh. But no phone booths. And it works out the way it needs to in order to be a teenager romance without a vampire involved.

Pammy is trying to time travel by hiding under this pillow. It may work at some point.

11. Reunion

So in the fourth book in the series Suze tries out a plot line that was later somewhat co-opted by American Horror Story and lets some previously murdered teenagers attempt to get their revenge on their still deranged killer. This is also the book where the main story arc kicks off. And I read it last.

So this one time, Pammy and Twiglet were on top of the pillow and it still didn’t work as a time travel device. A cuddling space, definitely, but no time travel.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Review

Captain Sparkles

2. Nightlight – the Harvard Lampoon

I have not read the Twilight saga, nor will I. I tried to read the first page and I watched the first movie because it was tinted blue and I like movies with lots of shots of trees in certain tints, see also Pet Sematary II (to me it’s the superior Pet Sematary film because of the tree shots), Silence of the Lambs, and Brotherhood of the Wolf. Beyond the trees, and the fact that I introduced Pammy and Pickles while watching Twilight and they were friends for thirty whole minutes, I have no positive experiences with the Twilight oeuvre. I honestly think Bella Swan is just a personality-less shell that’s easy to project yourself into and Edward’s total creepy pedo nature gets overlooked because a. for some reason people have a blindspot when it comes to the creepy predatory aspects of 100+ year old dudes hitting on high school chicks and b. stalker behavior is seen as “cute” or “desired” in romance movies and books. Or maybe it’s the sparkles. It could be the sparkles.

Moving on, Nightlight was pretty funny. My favorite aspect of Nightlight was that “Edwart” wasn’t even a vampire. That was excellent. The prose reminded me of the prose I avoided reading by never getting past the first page of Twilight and it also reminded me of this exercise that Anthony Doerr made a room full of people including me do one time: 1. Read a page of the DaVinci Code. 2. Analyze said page and find interestingly foolish things like silhouettes with red eyes and other bullshit language that you read past so quickly because your brain isn’t even processing while you’re reading because it’s so damn easy to mentally digest.

This is definitely a case where I preferred to read the parody rather than the original without any apprehension of not getting the jokes. I can appreciate the function (barely, but as a librarian I see that they have their place) of books like the DaVinci Code and Twilight and the works of James Patterson because lots of people don’t want to have to think while they read and can get attached to the shells and cheese of characters; but that does not mean I will read them, even just to see what the hype is about. I like reading brain candy too, I’m not trying to be pretentious, it’s just that I like my brain candy to have well defined characters. I enjoy reading about people more so than I enjoy reading action and plot and I totally despise certain tropes, so I’m pickier about my brain candy. For example, I really liked Bitten by Kelley Armstrong and I bought it as a mass market paperback. The characters were strong enough and the action was amusing to follow. However, I didn’t care much for Armstrong’s YA series with the pendants on the covers because the characters and details were not strong enough and I know she could have done better but she was talking down to the YA audience. I’m still kind of pissed about that. Damn it, missed opportunities!

This seems like the best possible opportunity to display this photo of Murderface peeing and Pickles chattering her teeth in discontent. It brings to mind a certain bouquet of emotions and actions that would make an excellent young adult novel. Maybe that towel is magic and can only be activated by guinea pig pee. Always bring a towel.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Review