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August 04, 2008 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-08-04

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10-

Monday, August 4, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

BOOK REEi

Notjust child's play

By BEN VANWAGONER
Associate Arts Editor
You may not have noticed, but
on the night of August 1st, under
the cover of darkness and precisely
at the witching hour, a new force
entered the world. They called it
"Breaking Dawn," and it was banal,
sensational and unmistakably valu-
able, both as literature and as a
social bellwether.
Theatrics aside, Stephanie
Meyer's Twilight Saga may have
slipped under your radar. It hasn't
resonated much with the college
crowd, its marketing efforts aimed
sharply at teenagers and the young-
adult readership. Still, the focus
of its readership makes it no less a
phenomenon: its first printing was
2.3 million copies, one of the largest
in history. Such numbers are hum-
bled by "Harry Potter", but even
Rowling's third novel was printed
as 500,000 copies its first time
through (it wasn't until the fourth,

with 5 million, that it really picked
up steam.)
The books, for the uniniti-
ated, tell the story of Edward and
.'Bella, young lovers placed in a
terrible bind: Edward is undead.
He's a vampire, to be precise. Thus
ensues a long and terrible struggle
between love and (blood)lust, in
which Edward constantly struggles
to restrain himself from killing his
lover and protect her from the dan-
ger stirred up by their forbidden
relationship.
At this point, it's all too easy to
condemn Meyer's novels (there are
four of them in the series) as sensa-
tional print blockbusters in the vein
of "Wanted" or "Indiana Jones".
of course, they essentially are. But
that doesn't mean they're not valu-
able. In fact, it's confusing that
there's such a reluctance to accept
the books as worthwhile. Take the
plot.
For all its fantastical elements,
See KIDLIT, Page 13

Patrons browse the bookshelves of Borders Friday night.
A bloody mess
By Kate Truesdell | Daily Arts Writer

New vampire sequel
proves to be sloppy
but satisfying
It's an age-old story: Girl meets
boy. Girl falls for boy. Girl discov-
ers that boy is mysterious mythi-
cal creature with deep instincts to
suck her blood.
OK, maybe not age-old. But for
fans of Stephenie Meyer's "Twi-
light Saga," it's :a tale definitely
timeless. Long after reading had
become pass, it was hard to imag-
ine that any book series could soar
to such notoriety and harvest an
equivocal cult following, created
by a truly die-hard fan base.
Enter Stephenie Meyer. Who?
Exactly. But lacking name recog-
nition didn't stop her books from
exploding onto bestseller lists
across the globe. Her third book,
"Eclipse," knocked the seventh
J.K. Rowling installment from
several spots less than one month
after its release in 2007.
And Meyer's fan base - "Twi-
lighters," as they're called - rival
Rowling's followers, creating
forums, blogs and merchandise
all dedicated to the series and
worshiping Meyer herself with
a mania previously reserved for
dreamy boy-bands.
So it would be an understate-
ment to say that the fourth and

finalinstallment,"BreakingDawn"
- released just after midnight last
Saturday - had a lot to live up to.
And considering the heated debate
between deeply-divided camps
(more about that in a minute), it
was destined to be divisive.
But no one - save the series'
resident psychic vampire, Alice
- could have predicted Meyer's
final volume.
Not that that is necessarily a
good thing.
Unquestionably, the fourth
book is a departure from the first
three. For one thing, the plot's
tempo changes significantly, in
such a way that it never really finds
its rhythm. Meyer is notorious for
drawn-out dialogue and redun-
dantly-contemplated emotional
dilemmas. And while the latest
installment stays true to form in
the drama department -hell, these
kids make the Degrassi gang look
blas4 - subplots are developed and
resolved at an unprecedented rate.
The two contentious points in
the series have long been Bella's
choice between mortality and
immortality, and between diamet-
rically opposed loves: a forbidden
and dangerous but seemingly clan-
destine romance with ethereally
beautiful vampire Edward Cullen
and a more stable and undoubtedly
safer but less hypnotic relationship
with best-friend-turned-were-
wolf Jacob Black. The conflict is

resolved (relatively speaking) in
the first 75 pages and the decision
on the former squeaks in neatly
before the book hits the halfway
point.
And the sex. Good Lord. Perhaps
a less epic but - to fans - equally
important plotline was when the
mortal drama queen was finally
gonna - ya know - "do it." After
some 1,700-odd pages of multi-
directional, tantalizingly-detailed
and indefinitely drawn-out sexual
tension, it hardly seemed to matter
with whom. So imagine the crush-
ing disappointment when this, too,
is resolved, unforgivably uncer-
emoniously, in the first 100 pages.
For shame, Meyer, for shame.
Another thing that sets the
fourth book apart is its incredible
heft. Weighing in at 754 pages, it's
the longest of the series. But with
all of this fast-paced development,
what, you may ask, could possibly
fill the remaining pages? Read on,
dear reader, read on.
The answer to that question
hinges on the most inexcusable
sin Meyer commits: major plot
inconsistency. -Meyer's love and
emotional involvement with her
characters is evident in her atten-
tion to detail and elaborate back-
stories. Which makes her tendency
to throw suspiciously convenient
and out-of-left-field tidbits in to
explain things (case and
See BLOOD, Page 12

SSng,' amiss

By BRANDON CONRADIS
ManagingArts Editor
With November only a few
months away, liberal Hollywood
is feeling the heat. Shortly before
"SwingVote"began,we were graced
with the snarky
trailer for Oliver
Stone's "W.," the
upcoming biopic S
of everyone's g
least-loved com- At Quality 16
mander in chief. and Showcase
If that preview
left a bitter taste Disney
in some people's
mouths, "Swing
Vote" washed it away with nearly
two hours of sickly sweet banality.
Kevin Costner, who surprised
many with the somewhat deranged
- if not especially good - "Mr.
Brooks" in 2007, returns to his
roots as a loveable "everyman"
sort of guy. He's a drunken loser
who, through a preposterous turn
of events, ends up being the man
set to cast the winning vote in the
presidential election. Needless to
say, both the candidates and the
country at large take an interest in

his decision, while his precocious
daughter, Molly (Madeline Carroll,
"When A Stranger Calls") - the
Lisa Simpson to his Homer - con-
tinuously harangues him for being
such an uninformed dope.
Essentially, "Swing Vote" is a
very long, very expensive "Vote or
Die" advertisement endorsed by a
roster of recognizable celebrities.
In my opinion, a 30-second TV
spot would have sufficed. But then
again, when -has Hollywood ever
been subtle?
The cinematography shimmers,
the drama tugs at your heartstrings
and the members of the cast - bol-
stered by silly cameos by the likes of
Willie Nelson - perform like com-
munity theater actors in a public
rendition of "Our Town." Halfway
through the film, I half expected
everybody to break out into a song
and dance number.
In a movie laced with saccha-
rin, there is one moderately effec-
tive scene. Molly runs away from
home and seeks out her long-absent
mother, who turns out to be acom-
plete mess of a woman living in a
tinyrundownapartment.Thescene
See SWING, Page 11

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