Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Twilight Vampires & Werewolves

Or maybe I should say vampires and shape shifters?  But this is New Moon week so let’s roll with it. 😉  Then again, if you’ve read the books and are a Twilight obsessee, you probably don’t need this post.

Stephenie Meyer has basically taken the Vampire canon and thrown it out the window.  Okay, her vamps drink blood, but other than that?  They’re a whole different species of vampire.  Meyer’s vampires are sort of a mash-up between dracula and Superman – their flesh is as hard as stone, whiter than white, and oh yeah, sparkles in the sun.  You can conveniently tell if her vamp is likely to snack on you or not by whether its eyes are red (human-blood drinkers) or gold like the Cullens (animal-blood drinkers, or “vegetarians”).

Meyer’s vampires are also ridiculously fast, outrageously strong, and—oh yeah, they sparkle in the sunlight.  Because of this, they tend to either be constantly on the move in small (very small) groups or, like the Cullens, and their friends up in Alaska, they stick to the greyest, rainiest parts of the world, drifting from one area to another as they outgrow their ages—because yes, Meyer’s vampires are also eternally young, and forget about blending in, because they’re unnaturally beautiful, too—okay, that’s familiar from other vampires.  Meyer’s vamps are also ruled by the Volturi—the oldest vampires around, who keep the other vamps in line, and stop them from revealing the race to humans.  This is, of course, exactly who cause a lot of the action at the end of New Moon. 😉

Stephenie Meyer’s werewolves are actually descendants from the Quileute Spirit e tales, at least.Walkers, and really there’s a whole explanation as to how the Spirit Walkers turned into wolves originally, in chapter eleven of Eclipse, but basically, the werewolves are protectors of the Quileute people.  They are made up of the descendants of the leaders of the tribe in generations before, and werewolves only exist – or come into being, as they are needed, or in other words, the Quileute boys only turn into wolves if there are vampires in the area.  These wolves are just about the only thing (that we know of at least) that are any competition to Meyer’s vampires—besides other vampires, that is.  Their teeth – in wolf form, of course – can tear vamps to pieces, and oh yeah, while they look like wolves, they’re also as big as horses.

(And they’re pretty.  Okay, so I’m biased.  I’ll take tan boys over pale any day!)

There’s probably info I missed here, but don’t worry, there’s much more info if you go look at the Vampire Mythology and Werewolf Mythology pages over at the Twilight Lexicon.

Can’t wait to see these boys in action!

Ahem.  And the vamps, too.  Really.  hahaha


Book Geek Wednesday: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

I picked up New Moon with the usual trepidation reserved for sequels. In my mind, there was no way it could match how Twilight made me feel. Imagine my surprise when it not only matched, but surpassed it. If Twilight is all about the magic and mystery of falling in love for the first time, New Moon is about the soul crushing effects of losing it.

All of us can look back on life and clearly remember the first boy or girl we loved and lost. Something about that moment is forever embedded in our psyche, has forever influenced how we view members of the opposite sex and relationships. But as Kristen Stewart has very aptly stated, there is no reference to breaking up with a vampire, especially one that you think is your soulmate, and so Bella’s grief is shattering. I hadn’t realized how intensely emotional I was on her behalf until I got to chapter 4 and came across what is perhaps my favorite quote of the entire series:

Time passes. Even when it seems impossible. Even when each tick of the second hand aches like the pulse of blood behind a bruise. It passes unevenly, in strange lurches and dragging lulls, but pass it does. Even for me.

Now I’ve heard many people say New Moon is their least favorite book of the series. They feel Bella is whiny and over-dramatic. But all I have to say in regard to that is this: those words are the most honest, the most brutal and the most raw I have ever read in connection with teenage heartbreak. It is so unlike any other emotion. Being young and in love, it always feels like it will last forever so when it actually ends, it feel as though life might as well end with it. And with those words, I fell irrevocably in love with New Moon.

The great thing about this book is the many surprises. (Keep in mind, I read New Moon before the Twilight series became… TWILIGHT, as we know it now- so I was not spoiled.)For starters, I did not expect to find so little of Edward Cullen. And I did not expect NOT to miss him. I was what I consider a die hard Edward and Bella fan in book one. I fell in love just as she did. I was taken by the Roswell-esque similarities and Edward and Bella had become my new Max and Liz, two people I could get completely fangirly over. I’d enjoyed Jacob, but I would never have believed I could grow to love him the way I did.

Herein lies the power in Stephenie Meyer’s writing. She took what I consider a small supporting character and turned him into a leading man. By the time Jake and Bella went to the movies with Mike, I was convinced that he was the only person on earth capable of making her whole again. Each moment he was on the page it was like he filled the entire scene with warmth and love and happiness. I don’t remember the last time I cried and smiled so often in one reading.

But the book was epic on more than just the emotional level. It held some of the  most iconic scenes of the series. The cliff jump remains to this day one of the most visually moving scenes I’ve read- in any bit of fiction. And the entire bit in Italy… it brought the story to a whole other level. It went from simple girl meets vampire to this centuries old mythology with rules and royalty and serious consequences. It raised the stakes and made the Cullens’ existence that much more fascinating. Not to mention, Alice’s larger role in this book was so much fun to read! She is definitely my favorite Cullen.

So when it comes to New Moon, I have to give it an A+. It remains my favorite book of the series.

 


Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

It was almost exactly two years ago that I first read Twilight.  I know this because it was in the middle of NaNoWriMo—and it was distracting me to pieces.

Yes, of course I’d heard of it earlier than that.  I had a friend on LiveJournal who was beyond obsessed, and occasionally posted some fab fan art of the lovely Emily Browning as Bella, and if it weren’t for that, I may honestly never have read the book.  (Proof that I am a sucker for a pretty face, if nothing else!)  And then admittedly, the cover is gorgeous.  Actually, several of the international Twilight covers are gorgeous, as you’ll see a few sampled in this post.

I was trepidatious at best.  There was so much hype about these books (or so I thought, I should have waited a few months. Sigh) that I was almost positive that they couldn’t live up to it.  But admittedly, by the time I got to Port Angeles (that’s chapter 8, if your memory is fuzzy) I was so hooked I was breathing it in.  This was about the point where I fell for Edward.  I think it’s his extremely violent attitude towards the men who follow Bella down the street leering at her—which really is the worst possible reason to fall for a character, but sometimes it happens, yes/yes?

Before this, I have to admit I’d been squinting at the book a little bit, and trying to make it look less like Roswell in my head (I’m not the only person who’s made this comparison).  But Edward was such a… passionate gentleman, I guess you could say, which is really why anyone has ever fallen for him.  He’s exactly the conundrum women look for and can’t find, an extremely passionate person who’s also extremely polite.  As Anne Shirley puts it, someone who could be wicked… but wasn’t.  I was just as eager to learn about Edward as Bella was.  I even—embarrassingly, now—rolled my eyes whenever that kid Jacob came around, because oh my gosh, I want Edward, thanks.  (This was not to last.  Well, for the most part the Edward-love stuck around, but it was often far outstripped by my love for Jacob Black… but that’s another book. Or three.)

I thought nearly every sentence in the book was witty or clever or quotable.  I loved Bella’s quirky, misanthropic voice.  And I loved how clearly you see every single detail in the books.

I admit, this obsessive love lasted straight through the second and third book, but as many have discovered (or I guess don’t need to discover now that it’s so huge), it was very difficult for me to put my infatuation into words.  Hard to admit, blatantly, that I had even read anything as ridiculous as a book about a vampire that sparkles in the sun.  I didn’t want to talk about it out loud.  (Though I did, without hesitation, force Isabelle to read them with me—she actually finished the series—through Eclipse—long before I did).  I realized later that there is very little defendable about the books (there really is something ghastly about a girl who basically wants to die for her first boyfriend) but it’s something I push away when I’m actually reading the book – because then I just exist in that tiny little world of Forks, and I admit… I sort of like it there.

I’d go into how NOT Emily Browning Kristen Stewart is in the movie, or how when I get through the end of the books, my brain literally hurts when I think about Bella and her decisions, not to mention the fact that Stephanie Meyer sort of sets up “Love” and “Freedom of Choice” as direct opposites in the series… I’d even go into my frustrations as a Harry Potter fan when the two series are compared… but this is about Twilight, the novel.    A novel I’m sort of tempted to go and restart, right now.  Because whatever else I have to say about Stephenie Meyers’ books the fact is, they bring me back.  Time and time again.

So Twilight, the first novel in the series, that simple girl meets vampire book, gets an A from me.


Movie Magic Monday: Twilight

When I first heard they were casting this movie I was on the edge of my seat – along with the rest of the Twilight fandom on the internet – eager to see if they would pick people who fit my mental image of the characters. Not just the main characters either, the side characters as well, because I developed an affinity for them that I was unwilling to compromise. Stephenie Meyer had posted on her website people who she’d envisioned while writing, and keeping those in mind, imagine everyone’s shock when we got a host of relatively unknown actors to play our beloved vampires.

I see the logic of it. You don’t want to cast someone whose other roles/history would taint the audience’s view of the character. Bringing in fresh faces helps us to keep an open mind. Here’s where it kind of failed. Robert Pattinson, though beautiful and definitely posessing that otherworldly undead quality, did not have the charm that I expected from Edward Cullen. There were flashes of it, sure. The scene where he first starts to talk to Bella in class and he smiles. *melts* That smile was exactly right. Unfortunately, he hardly used it. Instead, he played the part like a tortured, Emo teen. And yes, we all know that’s who Edward becomes… but really, when we first fall in love with him, is when Bella does- because of his insight, his charm, his sense of humor, and his mystery. He isn’t harsh or rude. When he pushes her away, he does it in a way that read passionateless- like he didn’t believe it himself, rather than looking like he might bite her face off. So although I think RPatz is majorly talented actor, I think he was playing New Moon and Eclipse Edward and he completely missed the mark with Twilight Edward. *prepares to get flamed*

Now the actress cast as Bella, our heroine had some big shoes to fill. Kristen Stewart is amazing. I saw her in Speak and having seen that, had huge hopes for her in Twilight. She had the girl next door look, which was great, since Bella was supposed to feel homey and familiar. Only problem- her awkwardness was Kristen’s, not Bella’s. I kept seeing Kristen in the way she bit her nails or averted her eyes. *sigh* I have higher hopes for her in New Moon, since I think Kristen will really be in her angsty element.

The side characters were a refreshing surprise. I, like most of the Twilight fandom, were thrilled with Ashley as Alice. She just fit the part so perfectly. Emmett was handsome, charming and amusing. Esme looked motherly and beautiful. And Dr. Cullen… *faints* He swept me away. When I first saw the cast photos of him in the scarf and blonde hair it was like he’d stepped right off the page. Charlie, or Chief Swan as many of you know him, seemed to really embody the sadness and loneliness of a man still living in the past and completely inexperienced in raising a child, let alone a teenage daughter.

Overall, the movie had some great points. The screenplay was witty and young. The humans always brought a smile to my face. The cinematography was breathtaking. I loved the lush greens and the blue hues. It really gave you a sense of place. When Bella first discovers Edward’s secret, I loved the montage and her dream. It really seemed like something she’d imagine.

But I missed the gradual growth of their relationship. I missed the conversations that gave us insight into Edward’s mystery. I missed the innocence of their courtship and the subtle build into a sexual crescendo. I feel all of that was lost. And that’s really the magic of Twilight. In the movie, one moment he’s avoiding her and being cool and aloof, the next moment she’s telling him she’d die for him. It just didn’t add up in my mind.

So I hate to say that I’m giving Twilight a C. Because it really felt mediocre to me. It felt like it had all the potential but didn’t quite live up to it. On a more positive note, I have much higher hopes for New Moon. I think a big part of Twilight’s failure was in the directing and in Robert’s portrayal of Edward- but now that he won’t be around much, perhaps we’ll get a better sense of the characters as portrayed in the book. I think Jacob (and Taylor, for that matter) will really bring out the Bella Kristen was meant to be, and I think by the end of it, I’ll actually be rooting for her and Edward in Italy (and suggesting Jacob come to me for some much needed comfort, lol).

*speak amongst yourselves… and please, be gentle with me*


Fun Friday: Premiere Week

So, you may be wondering why as a fantasy teen blog we have not touched on Twilight. There is a very purposeful reason for this, I guarantee you! 😉

We were waiting for the release of New Moon! Can you believe it’s already a week away! I remember when it was filming I thought it would take forever.

We have some really amazing things planned for next week:

  • Movie Magic Monday: Twilight
  • Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Twilight, Book 1
  • Book Geek Wednesday: New Moon, Book 2
  • Thursday Myths and Legends: Vampires and Werewolves
  • Fun Friday: Giveaway!

So check back next week for all things Twilight Saga!


Thursday Myths & Legends 101: The Jade Rabbit

moon-02

Okay, so you’ve heard of the Man in the Moon… have you ever heard of the Rabbit in the Moon? If you know your East Asian culture, you probably have.

There is an old Buddhist legend where a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit are all hoping to do a good deed on the Uposatha, or the Buddhist sabbath, believing a good deed will bring them great rewards.

An old man passes by them, begging for food, and so the monkey gathers fruit from the highest reaches of the trees, while the otter catches fish for the man, and the jackal—less honorably—steals him a lizard and some milk curds.

The rabbit only knows how to gather grass, though, which he knows can’t serve the man for food, and so he offers himself, throwing himself on the man’s fire. The rabbit does not burn, though, and the man reveals himself to be Śakra, the Jade Emperor, or the ruler of Heaven in Buddhist mythology. He is so touched by the rabbit’s selflessness, that he lifts the smoke from his fire to leave an impression on the moon of the rabbit, for generations to come.

Interestingly, there is a very similar legend involving Quetzalcoatl, an ancient Aztec deity, who was starving by a roadside and had a rabbit offer himself up to save him.

There is an opposite tale also in MesoAmerican legends, of a deity called Nanauatzin who offered himself freely as sacrifice to become the sun, while the wealthy god Tecciztecatl hesitated multiple times to light himself as the moon—and because of his resistance the moon was declared to never glow as brightly as the sun, and one of the gods threw a rabbit in the face of the moon as an insult, which remains there to this day.

As you can see in the picture, though, it doesn’t just look like a rabbit, but it looks as if the rabbit is doing… something. In Chinese legend, the Rabbit is a companion of the moon goddess Chang’e, and pounds the elixir of life for her. In Japanese or Korean legends, the rabbit is making mochi or tteok (both basically pounded rice), so while Americans will say the moon is made of cheese, in Japan it is made of mochi, or rice.

Lots of legends there, hm? Next time you’re out under a full moon (which should be the beginning of December) glance up and see if you can see the Jade Rabbit up there!


Book Geek Wednesday: Crossover Fiction

It wasn’t until about Sophomore year in high school that I realized I’d outgrown some of the YA fiction I’d been reading. I had devoured the Sweet Valley High and Sweet Valley University books in middle school and moved on to meatier reading material in the form of Lois Duncan’s mysteries/horrors, my favorites being I Know What You Did Last Summer (way better than the corny movie) and The Twisted Window.

After I read all of these, I allowed myself to explore Classic Fiction. I read tons of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austen, and a few others found on the required reading lists through high school. I soon tired of these as well- mostly because I’d end up rereading them in class or because I couldn’t carry on any kind of discussion about them as my classmates were utterly bored and used Cliff Notes instead.

So I found myself searching through the adult fiction. Mostly the fantasy, science fiction and romance sections of the bookstore. And by the time I’d graduated high school, I’d read about as many adult books as I had young adult.

Then, the term “crossover fiction” started leaking around the publishing world. Not in the cross genre sense, but in the YA/adult sense. Agents were looking for books that would bridge the generational divide. Books marketed as YA but that attracted an adult audience as well. The Harry Potter Series paved the way and by the time we got to Twilight, we had people of all ages reading Young Adult fiction again. And why shouldn’t they? It’s fantastic!

And now, unlike when I was teen, it seems that there is a wider selection of books for the ‘semi-adult’. What do I mean by that? Well, think of who you were at seventeen or eighteen or even up until you were twenty. You weren’t a child anymore. You graduated high school, started college, and had to start thinking about your future. Adulthood loomed right over the horizon and yet you hadn’t quite arrived.

That’s how I felt about my reading experience. I wasn’t a child and I didn’t want books about the drama of high school or the pety things teenagers tend to get themselves into (don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for all of that, I just didn’t want it). And adult books had some amazing fantasy but it tended to be much darker. and occasionally, the fantasy romances were a little heavy on the sex.  So imagine my relief when I found books that were just right. And now, in my twenties, I’m still a complete YA junkie. It’s gotten progressively more insightful, more clever, and more amazing. In my opinion some of the best fiction out there today is on the YA shelves.

What do you all think? Are you fans of crossover fiction or are you more traditional when it comes to your YA?


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