Some of you will be shocked that there was anything I liked. *g* But I think there are reasons why this book has been widely received, and there are some reasons for that.
--It's not badly written. The author relies too much on extravagant metaphors and similes (I got very tired of hearing that Edward was a god or an archangel), and she's not a poet, but she's a competent prose writer.
--I buy Bella as a 16-year-old girl. I would have been even more convinced if the author had made a bigger deal out of Bella's love of/taste in books. (Seriously, any girl who rereads Wuthering Heights for pleasure seems to me perfectly capable of the reactions Bella has in this book. Interesting that she also reads Austen, which I would think would temper the fatalism Bella displays. Hmmm, too thinky?)
--ALICE! Alice is my favorite Cullen, I want her to be my friend and I want to hang out with her and maybe go shopping or something. (I like Emmett, too, but for different reasons. He's kind of like a big, strong, sparkly teddy bear.)
--There are some interesting twists in this take on vampirism. I like very much the strict self-discipline of the Cullen family, especially as it is contrasted with others of their kind; and I found myself intrigued by some of their origin stories. I also liked the explanation of their otherworldly beauty: that it's a way to help catch prey. Makes sense to me!
--I actually am quite interested in Jacob Black. More so than Edward, actually. Jake at least has a sense of humor. *g* I kind of wanted to slap Edward for his behavior at prom (I'm aware that some of that may be the vampire/wolf thing, but still, geez).
Where to start?
--I don't buy the romance. I mean, I sort of do in the sense of teenagers, desire, raging hormones, etc, but the sense of fatalism? The One True Pairing aspect? The "you're pretty so I love you/you smell good so I love you/therefore this is forever" thing? As Buffy might say, a world of no. Probably the worst sort of thing to base a relationship on, imho. Stupid teenagers (as I've said before about Romeo and Juliet).
--Edward is too good at too many things. Even when he's being cute and protective I found his mysterious broody thing obnoxious.
--I would have found Bella more believable without the clumsiness thing.
--The sparkles. Really? We had to go there? I wouldn't want to make out with someone who sparkled, I don't think. I do have to give points to the author for not shying away from the fact that Edward would be cold to the touch, but that's another EWEWEW thing for me (as it is in most vampire stories I've read--I always took care not to imagine what it would feel like to touch Spike or Angel, cause they were hot to look at but ewewewew...).
--I realize that romance is, almost by definition, a genre of wish-fulfillment. But that's what gets me most, I think: this isn't a romance using fantastic elements, it's an emotional fantasy, and that doesn't really appeal to me much. I think I am the opposite of this book's intended audience.
--I've seen a lot of people get very meta on these books, how they're anti-feminist, etc. On one hand, I can see why that's disturbing some people; on the other hand, I believe Bella is the first one to mention that they're fated to be together (in different words), and to some degree she's the one trying to take control of the relationship. Yes, Edward is moody and stalker-y and depressed; but it's Bella who isn't afraid of vampires, who keeps going after Edward instead of evaluating the situation, and who, by the end of the book, wants to become a vampire herself. Uh.... I have to say, if anything really tweaked my own feminist outlook, it's the idea that Bella has to become something different to feel that she fits in or is accepted. Very realistic for a girl her age, but a little bit sad. I was actually kind of proud of Edward for being so horrified at the notion.
--Oh! One other writerly thing: the prose was decent, the structure was really, really off. So much space devoted to the romance, and then a cramming in of the action near the end. I think there were better ways to handle that.
So. Not really my cup of tea. I can see some of the appeal, but it's not the things that appeal to me.