I read Twilight the other day. And New Moon.
I had tried Twilight once before, but unable to get past the first two chapters, had tossed it into a drawer where it stayed for a year, until I read a great review that compared Twilight to the classic Pamela/Shamela novels of the 18th century.
Having read both Richardson's Pamela and Fielding's Shamela, I was now awake and engaged, and I fished Twilight out of the drawer and read it. All the way through.
Neither the writing nor the plot improved much on re-acquaintance. I found myself rolling my eyes and gritting my teeth, in part at the book and in part at the incredible media frenzy that surrounds the latest movie. Having once lined up with friends (in the early 80's) and watched in amazement as they shrieked and swooned for a Michael Jackson look-a-like (hello??), and having witnessed the deluge of floral tributes that poured over a long-forgotten Halifax grave that just happened to belong to a mariner named Jack Dawson when the movie Titanic was at its height, it doesn't surprise me that teenage girls are obsessed with this series. That their mothers are too I find a bit odd, but each to their own. But the whole on-line debate about whether vampires or werewolves are sexier struck me as a bit ridiculous (though if pressed I'd have voted for werewolves - at least until I met Jacob, who I am sorry to say, impressed me even less than Edward.)
As for Edward, well, vampires aren't my idea of a romantic lead (icy lips, skin cold as marble...no thanks), but I say that with a codicil because I can see why he would appeal to a certain teenage set with his charisma, his sophistication, his passion for Bella, and yes (in complete agreement with the linked review) with his immense wealth. Indeed with the exception of that cold flesh (and maybe that's just me), Edward is the quintessential romantic hero, found in any number of YA/Adult/Romance genre novels.
But Bella... I couldn't warm to Bella. She was a bit dull but kind of sweet in a shy way at first. Endearing even. Her infatuation with Edward quickly took her in a different direction, and by the time I got to New Moon and she pined herself into a post-Edward depression, not eating, not sleeping, not seeing friends for months, I lost patience. I give even the sappiest teenage girl more credit than that, and I'd personally have liked to see a heroine with a bit more resilience, a bit more spark.
Having mentioned most of the things I didn't like, and without going into the complete laughability of the convoluted plot reviews of books 3 & 4 that have convinved me to stop reading at book 2, I must just say this: that Stephanie Myer draws out the sexual tension between Edward and Bella very well and has captured the raw emotion of first love. That's what makes you read on, that's what holds the reader. I think it's also largely why New Moon fails - sustaining that kind of tension just isn't possible, and Myer, for all her plot twists and turns, loses touch with the one thing she does really well.