Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Nightlight" by The Harvard Lampoon

"About three things I was absolutely certain. First, Edwart was most likely my soul mate, maybe. Second, there was a vampire part of him - which I assumed was wildly out of his control - that wanted me dead. And third, I unconditionally, irrevocably, impenetrably, heterogenously, gynecologically, and disreputably wished he had kissed me."

And thus Belle Goose falls in love with the mysterious and sparkly Edwart Mullen in the Harvard Lampoon's hilarious send-up.  Pale and klutzy, Belle arrives in Switchblade, Oregon, looking for adventure, or at least an undead classmate. She soon discovers Edwart, a super-hot computer nerd with zero interest in girls. After witnessing a number of strange events - Edwart leaves his Tater Tots untouched at lunch! Edwart saves her from a flying snowball! - Belle has a dramatic revelation: Edwart is a vampire. But how can she convince Edwart to bite her and transform her into his eternal bride, especially when he seems to find girls so repulsive? Complete with romance, danger, insufficient parental guardianship, creepy stalkerlike behavior, and a vampire prom, Nightlight is the uproarious tale of a vampire-obsessed girl, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I was a huge fan of the Twilight saga - about two years or so ago. I read the first three books with utter delight, and I recommended them to several library patrons (and not just teenagers, I might add). Unfortunately, I feel like the almighty SM jumped the shark with the fourth installment, a book so heinous to me that I stopped reading it just a tad after 100 pages; my feelings about Bella and Edward have been tainted every since. And after rereading "Twilight" last summer (brushing up on it before a library program I did), I realized that SM wasn't nearly so wonderful a writer as I had originally thought. Call it a bad case of reader's rose-colored glasses.

Anyway, having once loved the series, and now being a bit of a hater, I thought I'd give this satire a shot. After all, it isn't easy to do good satire - just ask Weird Al Yankovic. A little goes a long way, and the people at Harvard Lampoon wisely keep this offering very, very short, not even reaching 200 pages. The book isn't really laugh-out-loud funny, but for those who can recognize the flaws of SM, it will make you smirk. The writing is deliberately over-the-top, and Belle is so self-absorbed as to completely ignore those around her, not only their actions but even when they speak to her. Unlike the heroine of "Twilight", this girl is convinced that she's the greatest thing on Earth since sliced bread and beautiful to boot, so it's no wonder to her that all the boys have massive crushes on her. All except Edwart, of course!

It's a wonderful lampoon of the uber-popular teen paranormal romance series, and my hat is off to the writers at Harvard Lampoon. What's even more amazing is that they've managed to drop little kernels of truth in their story, things that those reading the original should be thinking about. My favorite is one of the "regular" kids responding to Belle's completely unreal response to someone asking her "what's new?" The mere mortal derides her about her response, then goes on to say, "Besides, isn't it a little soon to cut yourself off from the rest of your peers, depending on a boyfriend to satisfy your social needs as opposed to making friends?" A sentiment that I truly wish more teen girls would hear and take to heart.

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