Monday, November 16, 2009

Faith and Fangs - Touched by a Vampire

There will always be rivalry between brothers and sisters. It does not stop, even when they are in their late teens. The latest debate between my sister's 20 year-old son and 18 year-old daughter has to do with which book series is more popular: Harry Potter (my nephew Tom's choice) or the Twilight saga (my niece Anna's latest passion. I am not particularly a fan of either one. Not because of the witchcraft oging on at Hogwarts in the Potter series, or the forbidden love between a young girl and a vampire in Twilight. I am not a fan because the stories don't hold my interest. They were not necessarily written with Tom and Anna's gray-haired aunt Mary as their target audience. 

Or were they? I noticed that many of the women at my office have been reading the Twilight series. Maybe there is more to this mortal/vampire love story than what meets the eye. So when I was given the opportunity to review Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the hidden messages in the Twilight Saga by Beth Felker Jones, I saw an opportunity to be able to do more than roll my eyes when I see one of the novels on the table in the employee lunch room.

I'll admit that my first impression before opening Touched by a Vampire was that I had my hands on a "what's right and what's wrong about Twilight," similar to some books that came out in response to The DaVinci Code. But that was not the case. I knew absolutely nothing about Twilight's two main characters Bella and Edward, and here I was, about to read a book exploring the "hidden messages of the Twilight Saga." To the benefit of out-of-touch mortals such as myself, Beth Felker Jones did a very good job of condensing the four volumes of the saga into a six page overview in the introduction of her book. (She also gives a very plain warning before the overview that if you have not read the books and do not want her to ruin any surprises to read no further. If that describes you, heed that warning! Secrets will be revealed throughout this book!)

Most people love to sink their teeth into a good story; Jones goes beyond the story. She takes a candid look at some of Twilight's themes such as romance, gender roles, abstinence and sex, the perfect family, children, the search for purpose in life, and other topics. She compares the way that Edward and Bella love each other to the ways that God expresses His love for us, without condemning the reader or the Twilight characters.

The insights brought out in Touched by a Vampire are not intended to be kept within the confines of the front and back covers of the book. Each chapter has discussion questions to help the reader to process how these themes can be applied to her life (or his life - I know some men who have read the Twilight books). Additionally, at the end of the book there is a discussion guide for those who have read the saga to help them view particular events of the series in the light of their Christian walk.

Did I gain anything of value from this book? Yes, I did. I saw myself and some mistakes that I have made in my own relationships through Jones' exploration of some of the themes, and was reminded of how those mistakes were not necessarily consistent with the way God yearns for us to respond to His love, or how we should love one another.

Would I recommend this book? That depends on who's asking. If you don't want any plot secrets of the Twilight series revealed, then do not read this book until after you have finished reading Breaking Dawn. If you have read the entire saga, or don't care to read it but want to be able to open up discussions with those who have, then this book would be beneficial for you. Either way, when you do read this book, it is likely that you may even learn something about your own relationships in the process.

(This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.)
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