December 29, 2008

Twilight

The blog entry I wrote for the library teen website is up at the library website.

If you have ever wondered about the Twilight books or asked me what I thought of them, I think I manage to explain myself pretty well.

It's a bit edited, so I post the complete rant here...Spoilers for all 4 books

Twilight: awesome or horrific?

Recently people have been asking me about the Twilight books and Iíve been telling them not to bother. Well, more accurately Iíve been howling Ďnoooooo donít do it! Itís not woooooooorth it!í which is an extreme response Iíll admit, and I have generally had to follow it up with an explanation.

I have a love/hate relationship with Stephenie Meyerís phenomenally best selling vampire series. I was given the first one by a friend who recommended it. I had read a bunch of good reviews and Iím a sucker (excuse the pun) for a vampire story so I read it. I still maintain that the first book is alright. On the whole itís a good solid story with exciting stuff going on and interesting characters introduced. I managed to ignore the complete ridiculousness of the vampires that sparkle like pretty diamonds and the fact that Edward seemed to be creepily stalking Bella because he was intriguing and it was pretty sexy and I like vampires.

It all went downhill pretty fast in the second book. New Moon starts with Bella nearly getting munched by Edwardís vampire family, which they solve by moving away. Fair enough I guess, since they donít want to eat her and she doesnít want to be eaten. Then Bella reveals that actually she isnít the strong female protagonist that we had thought she was in Twilight. She falls apart completely without Edward around. She is so devastated whole chapters of her life (well, the book) are blank. She simply cannot function without Edward in her life. This is upsetting to me, because I tend to think that women should be able to live their lives without a man if they so choose. I mean sure, have the huge dramatic emotional drama in your book by all means. But I want my characters to grow and learn from their pain, move on with their lives and become stronger for it. Bella wallows in emo sadness until she realises that another boy might be able to make it better.

(By the way Jacob is an amazing character and I love him to bits and I canít believe Stephenie Meyer treated him so bad in the last book. Team Jacob all the way, he could make Bella so happy if she would just let him.)

So our lead character defines herself through the men in her life. And the most important man is an obsessive stalker who kind of wants to murder her all the time? This is not the ideal for 21st century girls is it? I get worried when I read reviews online from people saying that these books are the most romantic thing theyíve ever read. Itís interesting that this worry of mine is actually addressed in the books. If youíre familiar with the books youíll recall that Bellaís favourite book is Wuthering Heights. Iíve read Wuthering Heights. I know itís touted as being one of the great romances but if you really think about it itís actually the story of two incredibly self obsessed brats destroying the lives of everyone around them because they love each other but they canít be together because they are too self obsessed. I think Stephenie Meyer is trying to tell us something by having Bella and Edward talk about that book donít you think?

So, if I have so many problems with these books, why do I also love them? Stephenie Meyer is a very good writer. I mean, her prose is very good and she knows how to keep you hooked in. Even when I was swearing at loud at the characters, I couldnít put these books down. I had to know what happened next. You start to care about Bella and Charlie and Alice (I freaking love Alice too by the way, sheís all kinds of awesome). Even though certain ridiculous things happen you get worried for the characters and the action is exciting and you have to read the whole book.

I canít really remember what happens in Eclipse, except that thereís a whole werewolves-hate-vampires-and-then-have-to-team-up-with-them thing, and Bella admits that she actually does love Jacob back and could be happy with him, but she has to be with Edward anyway but she wants Jacob to always be around and why canít she just have both? Even though Edward and Jacob really want to kill each other but canít because it would make Bella too sad. The bad vampires from this series are pretty perspicacious, because itís still Victoria trying to kill Bella at the end of Eclipse by creating all these crazy wild Ďnewborní vampires to be her army against Edwardís family. Itís pretty scary stuff, if they end up making this book into a movie itís going to be a horror movie.

I was quite excited about the idea of Breaking Dawn. I didnít actually read it, I have to admit, but I read Cleolinda Jonesí fantastic summary/recap of it, written in Ďreal timeí as she read the book herself. Thereís some terrifying stuff in that book. Like the fact that Bella finally gets what she wants (sex with Edward) but that he injures her in the process. And the pregnancy with demon child who injures her from within and may turn out to be a horrific monster. And the birth sequence where the baby breaks her spine? OK, thatís not cool Stephenie Meyer. Thatís upsetting. Then Jacob (whom I love) imprints on the baby? And the baby is called Renesme? Itís very wrong is what it is. I canít even explain the levels of disturbed. This is not true romance, this is a horror story about what itís like to be with a blood sucking monster.

Because the final book, Midnight Sun? Itís not been published yet and it might not be, because the first few chapters got leaked online and Stephenie got upset and doesnít want to finish writing it now. But Iíve read some of those leaked chapters. You can get them off her website. Itís really scary stuff. Twilight from Edwardís point of view is like a how-to-stalk Ėsomeone guidebook. But thatís getting ahead of myself, because of course his first instinct in relation to Bella is to kill her. His monstrous vampire nature overwhelms him and he spends a lot of time planning in his head how to murder her and then probably everyone else in their biology class so that he can keep his vampiric nature secret. This is pages worth of murder-planning Iím talking about. Itís very unpleasant. Then he decides that because she is the only person whose thoughts he canít hear he must be in love with her and find out what she is thinking and creepily stalk her. While making her believe that he dislikes her. Itís a messed up relationship controlled by a messed up guy.

So why do I tell people I know not to read Twilight? Because they are stories about awful things happening to characters you grow to care about, written in such a way that you canít put them down. Once you start reading you have to know what happens. Iím not convinced that the pain is worth it. I say, donít read Twilight.

Posted by jenni at December 29, 2008 05:48 PM
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