With Breaking Dawn pt. 1 hitting the theatres last week, there has been another resurgence of Twilight. On Facebook, the local Hastings, little girls screaming about Edward, scary Twilight Moms coming out the the woodwork, and throughout the book blog community. Aside from my close friends and family, I haven't said much about the Twilight series.
Back in 2008, I took a class in Young Adult fiction in relation to education. Out of the several books we had to read for class, we had to pick an additional 15 across YA genres. Since Twilight hit the bestsellers list (and a friend of mine highly suggested it), I decided to find out what all the hype was about. And, honestly, I still don't get it. It took me about two hours to finish the book, and I swore I would never read any other book written by Meyer. However, later that year, I would be drawn back into her messed up world of teenage romance and angst.
I worked at our local theatre for about a year. They were getting ready for the Twilight fever with the release of the new movie. Since I didn't finish the series, I decided it would be a good opportunity to finally pick it back up. In addition, my parents started reading the series after my brother had suggested it (I still cannot get over this! My brother is a very picky reader!). After delving back into the series, I still cannot find any redeeming qualities, and I cannot understand why parents would allow their children to read such drivel.
With that intro, I will ascend my soap box and give my opinion about why the Twilight series fails.
Bella Swan: The Passive Co-Dependent
The character of Bella Swam is a poor role model for teenage girls. Not only is she extremely dense and has no common sense, she cannot function without Edward or a strong man taking charge (e.g., when Jacob comes into the picture after Edward leaves). She is dependent wholly on him and finds his outrageous behavior acceptable. While I understand that teenagers live passionately and are highly melodramatic, Bella's seemingly attempted suicide when Edward leaves really makes me wonder about her mental health.
Further, Bella was exceptionally 2D and over dramatic – crying at the drop of a hat (25, 51, 391, and on). She is also a martyr (25). She feels like nothing more than a stereotype. Her whining was over the top. Not sure whether she realized it, but Bella is the perfect Mary Sue.
Teenage Voyeurism Taken Too Far
In YA novels, teenagers find a way to live vicariously through the characters. They are essentially voyeurs. Therefore, the parental figures are not as present and the characters have more freedom to experiment, fall, and eventually learn life lessons. However, the fact that Bella is able to travel back to Arizona without anyone knowing and later to Italy is too far fetched. Also, what life lessons does she learn? How to be a cock tease? Full dependency on someone? Never learning to grow up?
The Case Against Edward Cullen: The Archetype of a Classic Abuser
Edward is the perfect model of a classic abuser.
- He is extremely jealous of other men, especially Jacob. He forbids Bella from even seeing him in a friend capacity.
- He is controlling and restricts her movements (e.g., intentionally taking the engine out of her car.)
- Several times he mentions that he could easily kill her.
- He shows up unannounced (e.g., breaking into her room at night to watch her sleep).
- He tried to kill himself
- Uncontrolled temper
- He has physically detained her (Twilight, 103, 104)
- He isolates her from family and friends under the excuse that only he/his family can protect her
While the idea of a person you love watching you sleep is kind of sweet, Edward broke into her room and watched her several times before they really met or where an item. How is that not stalker behavior? Why is Meyer showing this as perfectly appropriate behavior for men to exhibit? Do we want girls to seek out abusive relationships? Do we think so little of our daughters?
Biology 101: Stephanie Meyer's Creative Alternative to Biology
Biology, anyone? Reading Breaking Dawn, I have to wonder whether Stephanie Meyer ever took an elementary bio class or had basic sex-ed. The way she explains Bella's pregnancy makes no sense. Granted, a vampire being able to impregnate anyone is fully in the realm of fiction; however, her reasoning is just plain stupid! It would have been better not to try and explain it and have Carlisle completely clueless. First of all, when girls hit puberty, they have the maximum amount of eggs they will ever have. Ladies, our bodies do not generate more. Men, on the other hand, constantly regenerate their sperm cells. How, with that in mind, does her explanation work? Bingo! It doesn't.
What is This Plot You Speak Of?
Plot . . . Ah, plot, that wonderful chain of events that make up a story. It is something that Meyer really didn't think too much about. The plot of the whole series can be summed up in one simple sentence: Girl falls in love with boy and ends up with him despite a few setbacks. There you go, ladies and gentlemen, that is the plot of a four book series. Anything else is just filler fluff.
Jacob and the Infamous Deus Ex Machina
Jacob imprinting on Renesmee pushes the boundary of what is appropriate. Not only was it a cheap way to fix the love triangle with Bella, it made Jacob into a pedophile. It was obvious that Meyer was an immature writer and wrote herself into a box. As a reader, I would have rather seen Jacob just slip into the background with unrequited love. Of all the characters, he was my favorite. Meyer did him a disservice. Plus, Horace makes it perfectly plain to poets not to rely on the Deus Ex Machina to solve plot issues.
"You Must Not Do It Until You Go Through It"
Meyer's stated purpose for writing the books is a noble and admirable one. With teen pregnancies and underage sex seemingly on the rise, it is good to give girls a role model that abstains. However, Bella is obsessed with sex! Further, she is showing the couple acting in ways that Bella's father would disapprove of. How is her alternative better than fornication? It also shows girls that if you're itching for a good fuck, just catch I guy right out of high school and get married. I'm sorry, but getting married because you're horny is not a good reason to take vows. I guess that Bella's life lesson in all of this is that continual disobedience will get you what you want in the end.
Because Only Real Men Sparkle
Every author has to make things their own and put their own spin on creatures. However, Meyer's interpretation of vampires is ridiculous! I understand the attraction to vampires. When I was a teenager and saw Interview With the Vampire, I secretly imagined myself with Lestat. Dangerous, out-of-bounds men are sexy! However, it is hard to find emo vamps that sparkle (oh, don't for get vegetarian) as anything but pansies! In addition, I still don't understand why they go to high school. With how excluded they are, it seems pointless. Another thing is their reaction to blood and Carlisle's profession. There is only so much self control someone can exhibit constantly around something they desire. I find his resolve unbelievable.
I'd Like to Buy an Adjective
Flashy writing and 50+ point Scrabble words does not make you a good writer. And it does not make you look intelligent. Come on, "diminutive municipality" is overkill! When it takes you multiple metaphors, similes, and adjectives to describe something, you run into word vomit and bogged down writing. Honestly, I felt that at least half of the length of each novel was needless word filler. She should have paid more attention to the story and less time reading a thesaurus.
"Look at Me, I'm Mannequin Skywalker!"
There is no real character development. I felt that some of the side characters are more fleshed out than Bella and Edward. There also needs to be a balance of flaws and virtues. Bella's clutziness is so over the top, she is shown as stupid, impulsive, and flighty. She doesn't have many virtues until she becomes a vampire. On the other hand, Edward has no flaws. There is only so long, as a reader, I can suspend my disbelief.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my 2¢.