Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Twilight vs Midnight Sun

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, has most probably been reviewed so many times that the combined reviews are now longer than the book itself.

But, for those few people who have managed to avoid the phenomenon that is Twilight, a brief overview... Bella Swan moves to Forks, Washington, to live with her Dad, expecting to find a sleepy damp town with little to offer her. Instead, she arrives to find a sleepy damp town occupied by the Cullen family, who are so ridiculously good looking that they must be supernatural in some way. Twilight follows her relationship with the mysterious Edward Cullen, a mind reading vampire, and the danger the relationship holds for everyone. 

And Midnight Sun is the same story from Edward's perspective. The massive problem is that Stephenie Meyer hasn't actually published a finished copy, because it was leaked onto the internet. A copy is available to download from her website, and its well worth the read, even though its only the first half.

When I read Twilight I loved it, but I was 'mildly' annoyed by Bella, and her semi-self imposed loneliness, and just the way she thought. Can you even get annoyed by the way a character thinks? Not necessarily what she thinks, but how she thinks it? But then I read Midnight Sun, and I had an actual "Oh, NOW it makes sense" moment of clarity, where you suddenly get why Edward loves Bella, and how outside of her own head she is a lot less annoying. And then you get to see all these other bits of the story that Bella doesn't see, which makes it a more well rounded book, like Alice's visions, which you see when Edward reads her mind. 
But both books are better than the film, even if its just because the Bella in my head can shut her mouth. (no offence to Kristen Stewart, but her gormless open mouthedness ruins a generally good performance)

Twilight is a 6 out of 10, but Midnight Sun promises to be at least a 8, maybe even a 9, should Meyer ever get around to finishing it.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Getting stuck in 1818

I'm going to start this post by being completely honest; I love reading but I don't read enormous quantities of books. Stress and work and pretending to write my dissertation all get in the way of reading to my heart's desire, and so I tend to have seasonal reading, or weekend reading, or post-essay reading. (Post essay reading is usually a slow process as my brain is turned to mush for the 3 to 5 days following completion of essay, as I forget how to think about anything other than [insert essay subject here])

But anyway, every week or two, I sit down with a book (old or new, to read or reread; it doesn't really matter), having set an hour or two of my evening aside to chill and read something other than journal articles. And, more often than not, something quietly miraculous happens, and suddenly its 3am, and I have finished the entire book, and read the snippet chapter from the next instalment that is placed there to tempt me into spending my student loan. (This sales device works oh-so-often, and has made it difficult to read a series of books and afford weekly shopping simultaneously.)
My lovely boyfriend is unable to understand how I lose this time, and become so immersed in a book that I forget to stop and go to sleep. Similarly, I am at a loss at how he can stop at the end of a chapter when its just getting to a really good bit. 'Tis madness, people, Madness!

Just the other night, I was mid Georgian romance novel, when a pat on my arm made me jump. The boyfriend is sat next to me, and I have no idea when the hell he got there. He's complaining that I'm ignorant or deaf as he had just asked me a question four times without me batting an eyelid, and did I want a cup of tea? The standard answer is now "No, thanks.", as I usually then forget to drink the cup of tea until it is room temperature. But anyway, I ask him how long he's been sat there, and when he tells me half an hour, I meekly apologise and accept the tea offer. Five minutes later and I have a cup of tea warming my hands, as I try to explain how I am able to not only ignore someone talking, but The Boyfriend's presence altogether.

"Sorry, I was in 1818 in Venice. Titus is considering telling Alethea that he loves her, even though she's married, and its getting really really good! I was stuck in 1818." I'm vaguely aware that I'm getting more high pitched with my description of just how good the book was at the particular moment, before he smiles, and I know he isn't too bothered. "Don't you know how hard is it to time-travel?!?" 
Then he laughs and shakes his head at me, "Drink your bloody tea."

This is the difference for me between a good book, and an amazing one. I need to be transported, sucked into the book so entirely that I forget whatever was bothering me before I opened those pages. I want to temporarily become the telepathic barmaid meeting a vampire for the first time, or a medieval doctor solving a mass murder case, or Mr. Darcy's daughter who is falling in love with a man other than her husband. 
And then at the end, I want to feel the urgent need to tell someone else just how good the experience of reading that book was. I think this has been my very round-about way of saying that I want to find more amazing books, and (more relevant to the blogging part) post reviews on those amazing books, so that someone other than The Boyfriend hears just how fantastic they are.

Hmmm, so many choices! Where to start?