Rediscovering Twilight

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The first time I read Twilight (the vampire hit by Stephenie Meyer) I was seventeen and in my senior year of high school. It had been out long enough that the hardback version of New Moon was released and Twilight was already available in paperback, so I figure I was about a year behind publication wise. But it was New Moon that caught my eye as I perused my local Barnes and Noble (aka Heaven) looking for new reads after my birthday. I immediately stopped and stared at the absolutely gorgeous cover: a feathery white and red flower against a inky black background. Simple, yet effective. And sooo pretty. I just had to take a peek. Just to see if it might be worth my time.

The summery was evocative and exciting (for some reason when it said she cut her finger at a party, I automatically thought she cut it cooking at a party and was like: why on earth are you using sharp utensils at a vampire party?!) and I knew this book was destined to be mine…until I saw that it was a sequel. Sigh, defeated by my own neurosis. I admittedly have a thing my lovelies about reading books in order NO MATTER WHAT. I just can’t handle picking up the third or fourth or even the second book first, I’m just not built that way. And I never read the last page first either. Sacrilege. But anyway…New Moon went back on the shelf and I reluctantly picked up Twilight and gave it a look over. The cover wasn’t as pretty. It was gothic-looking and just odd. So was this really the book for me? I looked back at the other cover, so tragic and romantic. That cover was for me, so if I had to read this book to get to that one then so be it. I promptly bought the book and went along on my merry way none the wiser that I had just purchased one of those life-altering books we all dream about as avid readers.

Skip forward a few days until I actually start reading the book and within a few pages I’m hooked! Screw the pretty flower-covered book, this was my kind of story! Impossible romance, thrilling danger, paranormal themes of a non-scary nature, and a sparkly love interest! Where the hell had this book been all my life?! You know how much I love sparklies my lovelies, it’s a weakness, I can’t help it! Edward was perfection itself and Bella was so adorably relatable, I couldn’t help but love them both. And Charlie. And the Cullen family. I read every spare minute I could find, even going so far as to read during class, which is about as close to teenage rebellion as I ever got. It was like riding a feels roller-coaster. I was on an emotional high for three days, loving every second of it and prepping my mom for reading it next — she very quickly fell in love with the book as well and Edward in particular.

Twilight was a beacon of happiness and possibility for me at a time when I was stressed out with college applications, writing endless scholarship essays, and knowing that every day that passed was one day closer to me leaving my family for college. It gave me something to look forward to and was something my mom and I bonded over book-wise. Twilight was my second Harry Potter experience. It was something I latched onto and wouldn’t let go of for anything. I picked up countless vampire novels afterward, so thrilled to have some new reading area opened up to me, and when I finally did go away to FSU, Twilight started many a conversation in class and instantly bonded complete strangers with their love of Edward and this poignant love story. Life as a Twi-hard was fantastic.

Until the first movie premiered.

As soon as I discovered a movie was in the works — which was early on because the author’s website was a daily stopping point for me — I was uncontrollably excited. I eagerly waited for every new piece of casting information and interview tidbit and very quickly became addicted to IMDb — the king of all movie information websites. Needless to say, when tickets went onsale, I ordered mine online (which was still a new kind of thing at the time) and a group of friends and I arrived at the theater opening night breathless with anticipation. I settled into my seat, the lights dimmed, and I waited for Edward to appear. And sadly, he did appear — to the applause from the entire theater no less — but he so clearly wasn’t Edward. Or at least, not the Edward I knew.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The smooth, velvet-voiced and mercurial-tempered Edward Cullen was now a rude, I-hate-my-life, depressed teenage boy. And Bella was just as bad. Where were her constant smiles and cute awkwardness? Where was his ability to dazzle every woman in a ten-foot radius, and his love of arguing playfully just to get a rise and blush out of Bella? Everything was so sharp, every sentence they spoke to one-another cutting instead of sparring and sweet. And their intimate getting-to-know-you moments (blood testing in Bio anyone) were completely destroyed, rewritten into laughable, hard-to-watch needless drama (I know what you are. Say it…out loud. Vampire.). No…just no. It didn’t work and I left the theater vaguely disappointed but unsure why that was or how it could possibly be. I was supposed to love everything Twilight, so why didn’t I love this? Something was definitely wrong in my Twilight universe.

Things only got worse when the second movie was released. Presented with a down-right depressing and condescending Edward that I just couldn’t stand, I switched teams, becoming a Jacob fan. And let me tell you that caused MOUNTIANS of drama at home when I said as much to my mother. Other friends of mine came home from college with completely new religious beliefs but I came home a Jacob fan and a feminist, what the hell had happened?! My love affair with Twilight was flickering, the movies completely blurred the books for me until I was just too annoyed to reread them because I couldn’t handle getting aggravated by Edward all over again. I couldn’t see my book Edward anymore, only the representation on the T.V. screen. And for more personal reasons, I was discovering I didn’t like controlling men, and Edward definitely had control issues.

By the time the fourth and final book arrived, I was a die-hard Jacob fan and totally enraged at the cop-out that was Renesmee Cullen. I can handle Jacob not getting the girl and all because lets be honest, we all knew he wasn’t going to get the girl, but it was like the author didn’t have the guts to give Jacob an unsatisfactory ending and created this whole new love interest out of frenzied desperation. Think about it, how awkward is it going to be to tell your future love that you had a MASSIVE thing for her mother back in the day, but hey, you know, you’re great too. I’m totally not settling for second best here or anything. Sigh, she was cute in the movie and all, but really just let Jacob go off with Leah and Seth and start a new life slightly disappointed but free to live his own epic love story in the future. But no, you had to shackle him to the kid of his almost-true love and call that acceptable. Nope. Not for me.

Grrr.

So why bring all this up with you now my lovelies? Legitimate question. Well after years of not reading the books and only watching the movies when I had to, I got the random urge to try the books again. Perhaps it was because of all the tenth anniversary hoopla I saw online, but I decided to at least give them another try, just to see if anything was salvageable from my former Twilight ardor. I started reading this past week, forcing myself to put aside all my anger and annoyance which flared to life every now and then when a book scene and the movie scene merged together in my head. Thankfully, this happened only a handful of times.

So what did I find? Was the book everything it was originally? Well yes and no. Yes, in the fact that it was a sweet, teenaged love story and that Edward was once again the boy I vaguely remembered at this point. And although I still had to remind myself to not instantly dislike him, I could see the vampire I fell in fictional-love with again. And Bella was so much happier than she ever is in the movie versions. It was nice, like a cute little memory newly rediscovered. But it also wasn’t the epic drama I thought it was at seventeen. I could now see the somewhat laughable nature of it when they basically fall in insta-love and some of the more creepier aspects of their relationship. But that’s more me growing into an adult than any fault of the book I think. And yes, the writing was not the brilliant prose I remembered, but it wasn’t horrible either. There were definitely way too many descriptions of Edward’s beauty and his likeness to an angel, but you know, in the end, it’s a book for TEENAGERS, it doesn’t have to be perfect, especially for an adult reader. I can appreciate it for what it gave me all those years ago and for the cute story it is to me now. And actually there were some segments of writing that are downright lovely. And I didn’t completely hate Edward! So I count that as a win.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

All that being said, I’m starting New Moon now, so we’ll see how long my new-found Edward acceptance really lasts. I was actually thankful that Jacob wasn’t a major presence in the first book, it gave me time to remember Edward and why I liked him, but we all know New Moon is Jacob’s book, so we’ll see how it goes. 😉 In the end I’m really happy that I gave this book another try, it opened back up a world that I once loved. And even though I can’t fully fall back into that ever-green Forks-centered world, it’s nice to visit again and see some long-lost friends and places. And as tempted as I am to re-watch the movies now to see if I have the same success, I’m going to wait until I finish reading the books, just in case movie-Edward pisses me off again. Though I really love all the movies except the first one, the rest are wonderful for the most part, but I just don’t want to risk movie-Edward ruining all my progress here!

What about you my lovelies, have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite book/character/or series? Did you ever try to revisit them again? What books have changed your life? Be sure to let me know and happy reading my lovelies!

Violent Delights and Violent Ends

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Being the self-proclaimed romantic that I am my lovelies, I think it’s pretty much a given that I LOVE Shakespeare’s immortal tragic love story: Romeo and Juliet. LOVE it. Like crazy. Seriously. You can say whatever you want about it being impractical, it was just lust that led to murder and death, yadayadayada, I don’t really care, I just am nutty about this story, in all it’s incarnations (Pyramus and Thisbe, Tristan and Isolde etc.). There’s just something stirring and intoxicating and just unforgettable about the love of these two young people forced to hide their forbidden relationship from their warring families. (Personally I’ve always been a Montague girl myself, but that’s neither here nor there lol.) And over the years I’ve read the play countless times, both in school and out and watched pretty much every Romeo and Juliet movie I could find. My ninth grade English teacher even made us memorize the prologue as we marched up and down the sidewalks outside our classroom. She then proceeded to teach us how to “dance” like they would have back in the day, you know, because teenagers aren’t self-conscious enough without having to pair off, nearly press their palms together, and stare the opposite sex in the eye whilst they try not to die of embarrassment as they waltz in circles. Sigh…

Image From Bing.  Because High School wasn't hard enough...

Image From Bing.
Because High School wasn’t hard enough…

But either way, as I was saying, I’ve watched a good many Romeo and Juliet movies, but only three of them have stayed with me, for one reason or another: the 1968 Romeo and Juliet, the 1996 Romeo + Juliet, and the 2013 Romeo & Juliet. Each one is vastly different than the others, whether in design, speech, or overall effect, (not to mention the differing ways to represent the word “and”) but each of them contains something that just hits home with me and for one reason or another I find myself drawn to these dramatically different representations of the same story.

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Image From Bing.

The ’68 version is the quintessential old-timey Shakespearian masterpiece, with beautiful actors with light-filled eyes, and a kind of realistic charm that just screams Romeo and Juliet. I mean really, can these two be more prefect for each other? I think not. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are just amazing together and I just love watching them fall in love onscreen with that beautiful music playing in the background and the light gleaming in their eyes (seriously, have you noticed how much their eyes are like infused with light in this version? It’s just gorgeous.) And I don’t know why but there’s just something utterly romantic about older films, they just seem more special than their newer counterparts!

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Image From Bing.

That being said, I have been head-over-heels in crazy love with the 1996 version since I first saw it when I was a teenager (which probably meant it had been out for seven or eight years lol). It’s over the top Baz Luhrmann fun and drama with the beauty of Shakespeare’s language set against the gritty glamour of ’90s Miami and I love every minute of it! This movie for me IS Romeo and Juliet. The music, the acting, the craziness, everything! If Shakespeare could perform this play to modern audiences, I’m sure this would be the way he chose to do so. This film just goes all out there, it’s high-stakes drama with no apologies and no shame and THIS is what this play is all about. And I just love the juxtaposition of the dated and beautiful language with the harsh but sexy modern edge of the setting, I just think it bring the work to life in a whole new way. And hands down, this movie contains my favorite Mercutio (my favorite Shakespeare character ever) and for me, that’s saying something! (It also has my favorite lead couple, Leo and Claire are but brilliant together!) The emotion of this movie is just on-point and I still get chills when Romeo walks down the neon lit tomb to reach his believed-to-be-dead Juliet. And Kissing You…yeah like the most romantic love ballad ever!

Image From Bing.

Image From Bing.

And last, but certainly not least, I added a new version to my list of favorites a few months ago. Now you know how much I adore Downton Abbey my lovelies, so when I heard the writer of Downton was rewriting and directing this version, I was immediately sold! That being said, I was promptly disappointed and extremely pissed off when I finally got a chance to see this film. The wording was altered, the beautiful verses and phases I know from heart, uprooted and stitched back together by someone clearly more accustomed to writing for Downton viewers and that was enough for me to begin fuming for the rest of the movie. It took me a few months to calm back down and give this one another try (as I admittedly have this weird thing about watching new movies, catch me on the wrong day and I’ll hate them no matter how great they are) but once I allowed myself to watch the movie again (with the full knowledge that the words were messed up completely) I realized that the movie is unusually beautiful. Nearly every scene in this movie is just breathtakingly lovely and just serves to pull you in to the belief that this crazy story could actually happen. They leads were gorgeous, and while they were not my favorite of the Romeo’s and Juliet’s, they did a great job and I’m pleased to say I like this movie more and more every time I watch it again!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

What about you my lovelies, do you have a story that you follow passionately through all it’s varying forms? Do you have a favorite Romeo and Juliet? Let me know!