With the impending release of New Moon, the second installment in the wildly popular Twilight Saga series, Twilight and its sparkling vampires are on the minds of millions of fans worldwide who are literally salivating for more of their favorite romance between Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, a forlorn vampire and a teenage human girl. And whether you like it or not there is no escaping the phenomena created by author Stephenie Meyer, a stay at home mom hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, who was catapulted to fame after penning the best-selling young adult series.
So it's of little surprise with all of the media saturation from car commercials to fast food chain promotions to bookstore displays of epic proportions geared towards Twilight fans, not to mention all of the television, magazine and internet coverage, that some voices of dissent have been on the rise. I, myself, participated in one such uprising earlier this year thanks to author Peter David, who organized for Potato Moon the online round robin (a work of fiction wherein various authors write chapters of a story). Potato Moon is a Twilight satire inspired by the Russet Noon debacle in which a fan announced she was going to write and professionally publish a Twilight sequel claiming that copyright laws didn't apply. To date Peter David's Potato Moon has had upwards of 80 authors participate and has a faithful readership. So when I first heard about The Harvard Lampoon's parody Nightlight I found myself intrigued by the prospect of another humorous stab at the franchise.
Nightlight follows the misadventures of high school student Belle Goose who falls for Edwart Mullen, a classmate she believes to be a vampire. Nightlight opens with Belle Goose leaving Phoenix and moving to Oregon for the sake of her mother's relationship with street-hockey player Bill in what she describes as a "self-exiled, exile." Belle states "It's no big deal. I want to go. I want to leave all of my friends and the sunlight for a small, rainy town. Making you happy makes me happy." This is one of the first of many jabs at some of the blatant flaws in the original Twilight series. I often found myself see-sawing between hysterical laughter at the humor injected throughout the story of Nightlight and shuddering at the blatant nods to the themes of obsession, stalking and manipulation that run rampant in the original series.
Once Belle is situated in Oregon with her father she begins classes at the local high school and it becomes clear early on that Belle Goose thinks very highly of herself. At various points she imagines her future as an Academy Award winner or a Nobel Laureate in physics. She twists the actions of her fellow students into a desire for her. A boy asking her to move her bag because it is in the way must be falling in love with her. Another who accidentally hits her with his car must have done it to try and get her attention. And once her sights are set on Edwart the poor boy has no chance.
Immediately upon seeing him and learning of his solo status she decides that she will be his first girlfriend and projects upon him her fantasy of the perfect man which in this case is a controlling, domineering, bloodthirsty vampire. At one point in their budding relationship she says to Edwart, "You don't have to hide your natural inclination to boss me around. I want you to feel comfortable with me, Edwart. To the point of domination."
As with the original Twilight book I found the middle portion of Nightlight to be somewhat slow going, however that is probably more of a reflection on the source material than it is of this parody. We accompany Belle while she theorizes about Edwart's vampiric traits, continues to assume that all men are falling in love with her, including the mailman, and generally exists as a dead-on caricature of Bella Swan.
And like Twilight, the real meat of the plot doesn't show up until the last third of the book and I have to admit it threw me for a loop and I enjoyed every second of it. It was well worth the admittedly short wait (the book clocks in at 154 pages). I don't want to give too much away but I will say that Belle is forced to come face to face with her fantasy and finds that the reality of it is nowhere near as much fun.
As I mentioned earlier the book addresses many of the questionable issues that are par for the course in the original series and lays them bare as the fallacies they are, opting instead to show that "…relationships take work, and communication." Words to live by from a book that is a must own for any fans of Twilight, vampires, or just plain intelligent satire.Powered by Sidelines