Dr. Dan's Elixir
|Potent Magic for Young Minds|
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown, Copyright © 2005
498 Pages, $18.99 Hardcover
Age Group: 15 up
(out of five) -- I loved it!
When I first opened Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, I must admit that I did so
expecting yet another book about humans and Vampires that fall in love. A
Vampire and a human do indeed fall in love in Twilight, but the book is so much
more. I was most interested to sample Meyer's book because someone had told me
the third volume, Eclipse, was outselling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I
have not been able to confirm that such was indeed the case. Yet, just the idea of
another book outselling Potter intrigued me enough to open the first book of the
trilogy. Outselling Harry Potter would a record breaking event.
Four-hundred-and-ninety-eight pages later, I am glad I opened Twilight. I have
been uplifted by the human (and non-human) spirit, enlightened regarding our
capacity to accept the difference in others, enlivened by a well-told tale and
educated regarding the potential of Vampire stories. This book is not a Vampire
romance novel nor is it the source for knowledge about Vampires. However,
because this novel told a sweet story with believable even loveable characters who
are pitted against the cruelest of enemies, it qualifies as a sure winner.
Here, to me, are the questions this book raises. Can good come from what has
traditionally been cast as evil? Is there good in evil and can it come to the surface
and develop? And if good Vampires exist, would they not be very much like you
and me? Finally, how much and what role do stereotypes play in our interactions
with others? Ms. Meyer has some interesting answers to these questions and more
in her masterful work.
Isabella (Bella or Bell) is a displaced 17-year-old. Her parents divorced years ago,
and Bella has been living with her mother. But now her mother has a boyfriend and
they move to Florida. Bella doesn't want to be a part of that new relationship, so
she voluntarily exiles herself to live with her father in Forks, Washington. In the
novel we get a little of the rundown on Forks and it's not good. I have friends who
live in Forks and it does receive the most rainfall in a year and the days you can see
the sun can be counted on one hand. On the other hand, it's thirteen miles from the
majestic pacific coastline. That part gets left out of the novel.
Bella is totally spaz. She cannot even walk to school without falling. And in gym
she is a lethal weapon. Put a racquet in her hand and some innocent student is
going to be injured. Bella practically has a near-death experience once a week
according to Edward (of whom we shall speak later). She is saved from a near-death experience that would have resulted in real death early in the book. Bella
nearly died when another car collided with her parked truck, but Edmond pulled
her out of the way. It took lightening speed and reflexes to perform that trick.
Edward is a Vampire. He's a few hundred years old but locked in the 17-year or so
body he had when he was made a vampire. So he masquerades as a high school
student wherever he and his "family" decide to reside. Edward is a good Vampire
from a close knit "family" of Vampires who do not feed on humans. Bella is struck
by Edward's "beauty" the first time she sees him. But can a human and a Vampire
have a love relationship? Can they have shared interests? Can the Vampire keep his
teeth out of the human's neck long enough for a relationship to develop?
Introduce some rogue Vampires and the story tension increases at a rapid pace. I
recommend this novel with so much enthusiasm I can barely keep from telling you
the details of the story. I was unable to put the book down and read as often as I
could. I lost a lot of sleep to this book and I want you to suffer as I did. Read it!
You won't be sorry!
For those of you who care, Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young
I have nothing against Harry Potter books. Anyone who can get children to read
books of 800 pages and more is my kind of writer. I admit to having read most of
the Harry Potter books and my hat is off to J. K. Rowling. I hope to catch up to the
latest volume soon.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Miramax, Copyright © 2006
375 Pages, $7.99 Trade Paperback
Age Group: 10 up
(out of five) -- I liked it.
Recently the movie The Golden Compass, which is based on the book with the
same title, by Philip Pullman, hit the theaters. The release of this movie raised the
dead. Zombies were everywhere, waving their hands and yelling, "Don't let your
children read this book because it teaches them there is no God." I don't know
about you, but my inbox was flooded with Zombie emails for several days. Having
recently reviewed these books, I knew they were harmless. My nine-year-old read
the trilogy and she hasn't turned "godless" on me.
I write this to warn all Zombie parents that The Lightning Thief does indeed leave
out the Godhead we know as the Father, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.
The gods of this book are quite literally the Olympian Gods. There are no other
gods to deal with. You know who I mean; Zeus, Poseidon, Hades and the rest.
People in this book or universe (after all it is fiction) worship these gods. Will that
teach your children there is no God? Not if you have a talk with them about whom
we worship on this planet and that it might be different on other planets. Or, just
don't say anything at all and let them enjoy this wonderful, harmless fiction that
does not teach there is no God.
If you like adventure, then The Lightning Thief is the book for you. There is
adventure and high risk on nearly every page. Percy, Annebeth and Grover have
their attempts to achieve their major goal thwarted at every turn of the paper.
When we begin the tale, we don't know that Percy Jackson is a demi-God(Olympian Gods still fall in love with humans and often bear children who are half
human and half Olympian). Percy doesn't know it either. He sees himself as a loser
with ADHD who get thrown out of a different private school every year.
Percy Jackson is based upon the Olympian god Perseus, who slays Medusa and
claims Andromeda, having rescued her from a sea-monster. Percy Jackson has a
minor skirmish with a Medusa, kills her and is on his way. One other similarity is
that Perseus was also famous for killing many horrible monsters, as does Percy in
this book. If I knew my Greek mythology better, I'm sure I could draw even more
similarities. Percy's father was Poseidon.
Percy's quest is to find Zeus' thunderbolt and Hades' dark helm. Percy has two
companions: Annabeth whose mother was Athena, and Grover a Satyr. Annabeth
is his companion and Grover the Satyr has the job of protecting Percy. They are
given their task, a few magical items and a word of encouragement.
Percy has more motivation than pleasing the Gods. On the way to Camp Half-Blood, he must fight a Minotaur, a monster with the body of a man and the head of
a bull. Percy wins the battle but not before the monster has the chance to make
Percy's mother disappear is a cloud of golden dust. So, in addition to the tasks set
by the Gods, Percy wants to save his mother. And if he has to do that by bringing
her back from the land of the dead, so be it.
Percy and his friends fight a potpourri of monsters. There is new action with
almost every turn of a page. I think most young adult readers would enjoy all the
action and adventure. I would have preferred fewer but harder obstacles for Percy
to hurdle to reach his ultimate goal of retrieving the thunder bolt and black helmet.
I wouldn't have minded an end run or two. Hero's Percy's age can't always concur
every impediment to his goals. A little more realism for me.
As an adult reader I found The Lightning Thief to be somewhat monotonous.
There is little growth and development in the characters until the end of the novel.
The end of the book is a super surprise ending that makes one glad you read the
Book Rating Key
- I loved it!
- I really liked it!
- I liked it.
- I didn't like it!
- I hated it!