Title: Twilight Series – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Supernatural/Fantasy (it may have vampires and werewolves, but it’s definitely not Horror)
Grade: 2-3 out of 5 stars
When I set out to read this series, I wanted to tune out all the overwhelmingly negative reviews and the overwhelmingly positive reviews, both of which seemed to come from feminists and conservatives alike. While I would recommend Reading with Vampires for some regular Tumblr snark on Twilight, and while everyone should read Cleolinda’s recap of the books, starting here, I tried my hardest to just shut out everyone else’s opinions so that I could make up my own mind about them. After all, I like a lot of things other people don’t like, and I prefer to be unapologetic if I like “tasteless” things. Life’s too short to limit what you enjoy just because someone else thinks you shouldn’t enjoy it.
And just to start on a high note: The cover art to this series is lush. It’s yielded a crop of minimalistic black-white-red imitations that lessen its impact a bit, but I’m still in love with the cover art, particularly that of Twilight, because I’m a sucker (ba-dum-ch) for Eve imagery.
Besides, it had vampires and werewolves. And I’m an exceedingly accommodating reader. My disbelief is light as a feather and easily suspended. You have no idea. So things that bother other people often don’t bother me. I’m good at accepting rationalizations, even weak ones, as long as they work. Generally, if you get an eyeroll from me, that’s not good. If even I can’t accept a rationalization, it’s probably not a good one.
So, vampires that go out during the daytime? I’m fine with that. I stand by Bram Stoker’s Dracula on that: the Dracula myth never says he can’t go out during the day, just that he’s a night creature. And if I remember my vampire myths correctly, that’s pretty much the case – they would stumble back to their coffins at daybreak, but the sun didn’t kill them. I’m pretty certain the sunlight-turns-vampires-to-dust thing comes from Nosferatu.
Vampires that don’t drink from humans, even though lots of others do? Totally common in modern vampire literature.
Vampires with special powers? If there are people with special powers, why not vampires? And why not turn humans with special powers into vampires to make the best use of the gifts? I’m with Aro on this one.
Vampires that sparkle in the sunlight? Um, what? Really? Really? I can accept vampires being stunningly beautiful. (Again, very common in modern vampire literature, and it draws from the sexual vampire mythology of the incubi/succubi. I can dig it.) But literally dazzling? You lost me there, Meyer. Just a step too far.
Then there are a few other issues I have with the vampires in the series, in my humble, vampire-loving opinion. The first is that they are too freaking perfect. No apex predator is that perfect. For population control purposes, there has to be a flaw. Evolution doesn’t create perfection like that – or rather, when it does, it’s hardly to that complexity nor are they very attractive to humans (think sharks, cockroaches, bacteria and viruses). This would suggest that vampires were a created species outside of our terrestrial life forms, although Meyer doesn’t touch on what could have created her vampires. Other novels theorize that they’re the product of an alien race. The BTVS universe theorized that the demons were here first, that vampires were a hybrid species of demon and human when the demons were driven away. But usually in the best of vampire literature, vampires aren’t virtually impossible to kill. Hard to kill, but not almost impossible.
The second major issue I had with the vampires in the series is how sensitive they were to the smell of blood (save for Carlisle). Particularly Jasper. These perpetually teenage vamps went to a high school every day, or to college, where at any given time, someone is going to be bleeding. Bug bites, scrapes, paper cuts. Hell, there’s always going to be at least one girl having her period. If Jasper and the other vamps are so uncontrolled in the face of blood, it should not be conceivable for them to present a normal facade amongst humans. It’s just unrealistic, within the rules that Meyer set for her vampires.
However, I found the descriptions of the prodigious strength and speed of the vampires engaging. I imagine that on film it can easily get cheesy, but in the movie in my mind, it works a whole lot better. I think they’re a little too strong, a little too fast, but the concept was still intriguing to me.
Bella and Edward
I’ll be honest about the characters here: I found Bella and Edward tiresome. There were times during their relationship when I wanted to know what happened next, but then one or both of them would do something that made me want to throw the book across the room.
Bella is not quite as annoying to me as she is to some people who’ve read Twilight. I think, though, that as a human being she’s very uninteresting, and as a vampire she was too powerful. I mean, I already mentioned that vampires are too perfect, but then Bella doesn’t even have to experience the vampires’ main weakness – their thirst – to the same degree.
Being a klutz as a human doesn’t make her interesting. Honestly, her reaction to blood as a human was more endearing than her klutziness, if a bit contrived to contrast with vampires. From what I could tell, Bella was just a completely ordinary girl, even more ordinary than the average girl, since she can’t even manage to be interesting in a supernatural setting.
At best, I find Bella to be a cipher, the opportunity for the average female reader to insert herself into the story with little resistance from the protagonist, since she can’t really be set apart in any other way than being the soul mate of Edward. I suppose there’s merit in that for the reader, but I think it can backfire. The reader inserts herself in when it’s preferablse and then pulls away and tears Bella down when she makes a decision the reader thinks she wouldn’t, which is just catty.
Early Edward was … indecisive, to an extremely annoying degree. Talk about hot and cold – is there a reason you have to be so completely rude when you’re trying to distance yourself from Bella? And then so solicitous when you can’t manage to stay away? Can we say “mixed signals”?
There is a lot of antagonism against Twilight because it glorifies dangerous behavior by glorifying Edward in his level of obsession (watching her sleep, following her, craving her blood, threatening to kill himself if she dies, etc.), but this is actually something that doesn’t bother me so much.
Bear with me. Fantasy and romance has a long love affair with obsession. Obsession often works a lot better in fantasy than it does in reality, and when people are reading something like this, they want the fantasy, not the reality. And I’ve noticed people, when they comment on the precedent that books set for young, impressionable minds, always worry that other people won’t be able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. But I’d rather work from the assumption that my reader is not delusional. Odds are, if a reader cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality, they have deeper issues than picking up a book. It’s true that are views on romance are shaped early in our lives, but we’re usually introduced to reality by the time we’ve read the Twilight series.
Obsession in real life is downright creepy and often criminal. The usual romantic obsession in fiction, however, is hot (except in crime novels, but I’m figuring people know I’m not talking about that genre). If I were to venture a guess as to why that is, I’d say it’s because obsession in fiction is safe. There are lots of things in fiction that are safe that we can’t have in real life. Any kind of adventure, for one thing. But romantic obsession in fiction usually comes from a character who we know has good intentions, so we know the obsession is pure rather than twisted. I can accept that Edward gets a whiff of Bella and knows that she is the one that he belongs with, just as I can accept imprinting. A bit of a convenient trope? Sure. But it’s so common. Heck, average people believe in soul mates. It’s not so out there to have them exist in the Twilightverse.
But basically, until somewhere in the middle of Eclipse, I found their relationship to be troubling. Not because of the physical power imbalance and not because of the age disparity. Arrested development in vampires seems to be used a lot, wherein you’re stuck at the age you were turned (Interview with a Vampire, The Silver Kiss), so I can follow that while Edward is accomplished and has gained maturity through experience and time, he is still very much a young man. No, it just drove me crazy whenever Edward would dismiss things she said, and they were often perfectly reasonable things that he only considered after he’d gone through everything else himself. Maybe it was the physical power and age disparity that made him less likely to listen to her, because he proceeded to do so more in Eclipse, after they agreed to get married. He would dismiss suggestions by her until he had no other choice but to listen; he would physically make her do things when she wouldn’t do them herself; he forbade her to be with Jacob; he put her in danger by making himself a part of her life, and even though he knew that, he still stayed.
Some people point to the bruises and the broken headboard as signs of idealizing abusive relationships, but all you need to do is read anything involving sex to know that bruises and broken headboards can be quite appealing to some. And since Bella says she likes it, how are we any different from Edward’s dismissal if we don’t believe her? But even so, there are still those domineering aspects of Edward toward Bella that are troubling precisely because it seemed Meyer wanted to paint them as Romeo and Juliet (referenced in Twilight), when they are far more Catherine and Heathcliff in their self-selfishness (referenced in Eclipse, I think).
The problem isn’t so much that Bella is very much a teenage girl. (And by the way, whether or not the New Moon breakdown was advisable, I’d say it’s at least believable. I’ve seen girls this heartbroken, and if under Twilight rules Bella and Edward are soul mates, it makes sense to me. So I don’t have any real problems with that aspect of her character.) And it isn’t so much that Edward can be domineering and dismissive. The truth is, we as readers cannot necessarily depend on our protagonist to be reliable when it comes to describing herself or Edward. For one shallow instance, she thinks she’s plain Jane when the reactions of boys and vampires around her suggest that she is very physically desirable. Similarly, when Bella calls herself mature, thoughtful, old for her age, etc., we can’t necessarily believe her without external proof. When she’s in love with Edward, her view of him is colored in soul love, so we have to look at Edward from our external perspective, beyond the declarations that he is too good for her, unselfish, kind, generous, etc.
Well, Edward is materially generous, which is not too much of a stretch for the investing vampire. But although Carlisle and Alice keep on describing Edward as an exceptionally good person, which is supposed to be our external confirmation, he just reveals himself to be … kind of a selfish jerk, doing everything for Bella but never really trusting her enough to let her go, trusting her enough to stay, trusting her enough to let her go to La Push. Maybe it’s because he can’t read her mind, and that makes him dreadfully insecure, but that’s a weak reason and not an excuse. If you’re soul-bound to someone to love them completely, shouldn’t you respect them more. And Bella is told by Charlie and Renee and other adults how well she reacts to things, how mature she is, which should be external confirmation … but she’s not. She’s very teenage girl about things, which isn’t bad, just can be a bit melodramatic at times. In other words, she doesn’t seem old for her age; she just seems her age, which should still be respected, Edward, since you’re the one who bonded to her. Just because she can cook for her parents doesn’t make her mature. I think she does overagonize about how selfish she’s being wanting Edward as a lover and Jacob as a friend at the same time, because I don’t see her nearly as selfish as that. She never really respects their decisions when they say they want to fight, and that it’s not just for her, which is the exact thing I don’t like Edward to do to her. But Edward should know better with age, even with arrested development.
So, the problem isn’t that their characters are the way that they are; it’s that the way they are is declared to be good, kind, and mature from more “reliable” external sources. That’s troublesome.
Bella and Jacob
I’m a bit fuzzy on the whole werewolf anger = excusing domestic violence angle, kind of the same as Edward’s thirst. The werewolf (as well as other kinds of shapeshifters, which is what they’re actually confirmed to be) is often associated with the id, the beast in us all. The Hulk is a werewolf story. Jekyll and Hyde is a werewolf story. The way I see it, you can’t argue with the beast. If it takes time to control, then it takes time to control. I don’t associate the id exclusively with testosterone, and I don’t see Emily’s ravaged face or Jacob’s anger issues as a parallel to real life abuse. I see it as a beast taking sway over the moderating influences of a man. I see it as the nature of the beast, just as Edward’s thirst is the nature of the beast. A beast cannot curb its appetites; a vampire cannot help that it needs blood. Eventually, over time, the man begins to control the beast, but it’s common in shapeshifter/werewolf literature for that control to be hard won, if it is ever won at all.
I don’t get mad when my cat bites my hand. I don’t get mad at coyotes for attacking pets – I get mad that they’re attacked, but not at the coyotes. An animal cannot help its nature. If Sam had been a man when he attacked Emily, I’d be pissed. If Carlisle tasted blood just because he could, I’d be pissed. But not so much that Jacob loses his emotional control at first or that Jasper tried to eat Bella at her birthday. There’s too much literary history behind men who turn into beasts where the men (or women, but mostly men in these kinds of stories) lose control. Do I see what the metaphor is? That men are beasts and that women should tolerate them or attempt to civilize them? Yes, I know that’s the intention, but I refuse to interpret it the way those moralists want me to. (I’ll talk more about Angel later, but let me bring up a parenthetical BTVS reference now on the nature of the beast and why I tend not to associate it with the man. The difference between Angel and Angelus is my prime example. Angel, ensouled, blames himself for the actions of Angelus, the vampire demon. But Angel was never the one actually doing those things. It was Angelus. There’s some suggestion that everyone has their own personal demon tailor-made to take their place if they’re transformed, but it would still be unjust to attribute Angelus’s actions to Angel, which is why Holtz’s vengeance was so misguided. Similarly, assigning blame to Jacob or Sam for something their beasts did before they could be controlled is, in my opinion, just as misguided.)
Okay, back to Jacob himself. He’s another very teenage character, and since he’s younger than Bella, I don’t hold him to quite the same standard as Edward, just like I don’t hold Bella to the same standard as Edward. But frankly, I like the kid a whole lot better before his shapeshift, when his love for Bella seemed much more innocent and a lot less arrogant. He’s always best when he’s her best friend, and he became kind of a jerk (really a jerk) when he tried the love triangle thing. I never accepted for a second that Jacob and Bella could ever be – I agree with Bella in this respect. Bella and Jacob could have been, if Edward hadn’t been in Forks at the time, and if Jacob had never changed. There was potential there. But it died when Bella soul-bonded and even more after Jacob changed. It was a pretty dinky love triangle, when it was clear that Bella and Edward were made for each other (and not necessarily in an all-good, idealized kind of way).
Jacob hit his low point with me during those two kisses in Eclipse. In the first one, she hits him to stop him because her milder protests weren’t enough, and she breaks her hand doing it. And Jacob laughs about it and continues on his smug way thinking that Bella was just kidding herself (and Charlie laughs about it with Jacob! Shame on you, Charlie!). To his credit, he realized a few days later that he shouldn’t have done that, but he doesn’t exactly let up. Especially since he manipulates her into the more emotionally invested kiss, and it wasn’t even just simple, strong romantic love but a manipulative ploy. I just… basically, through the entirety of Eclipse I couldn’t stand the guy. He was redeemed in Breaking Dawn, in part because we were able to see into his head and we were able to see his growth, coming into himself as a young man and stepping up to take responsibility.
I don’t see anything creepy about his imprinting. I really don’t. I think we as a society are sometimes so stuck on romantic love that we don’t see much beyond the fact that he’ll eventually love her that way. However, if I can accept soul-bounding between vampires in the Twilightverse, I can accept imprinting as a legitimate werewolf thing, as innocent as it seems to be when it’s done on younger members. It isn’t forcing them into an arranged marriage. It simply unites souls earlier, makes you know who you were already going to be with anyway, who would make you happiest. So yeah, Jacob imprinting on Renesmee didn’t bother me too much (have I mentioned lately that cross-generational pairings don’t bother me much, especially in supernatural fiction wherein time can become a bit irrelevant?).
Naming the kid Renesmee bothered me more. I mean, seriously?
While reading the Twilight series, I found myself looking forward less to the Bella/Edward or the Bella/Jacob moments and more looking forward to a few members of the rest of the Cullen family. In particular, I fell in love with Alice and Jasper, and to a lesser extent Carlisle and Emmett. I kind of detest Rosalie (for being jealous, vain, and selfish with absolutely no redeeming qualities … even her protection of Bella during her pregnancy was built upon her own desire for a child and not a legitimate concern for Bella), and Esme is … not very developed as a character. She’s just kind of there to be Carlisle’s mate, but we don’t really get much of a glimpse of who she is.
But Jasper struggles as a vampire, which makes him interesting as a character, and I always love an empath. And Alice is Alice. How can you not love Alice? She’s tiny, fast, dangerous, and she totally adopts Bella as her sister with very little question.
And unlike Edward, who doesn’t seem to match the declarations that he’s a ridiculously good and kind man, Carlisle really does seem to be a really good guy, which has the potential to be boring, but he’s active enough in the conflicts that it isn’t. You get the feeling that this is a vampire who genuinely feels compassion for humans and just wants to help, and that’s his gift.
Emmett is very much the older brother of the group, and I just can’t dislike him for all the ragging he does on Bella and Edward, particularly after their marriage.
Billy can kiss my ass, but Quil and Embry, while not very developed, are still pretty good as Jacob’s friends. You get a feel for them through Jacob’s sincere affection. In general, we don’t see much of the pack except for Jacob, Sam, Seth, and Leah. I like Seth – like Alice, how do you not like Seth? I like that he’s a young teenager but still has the power of his convictions and is the first not to be driven by the inherent prejudice against vampires.
Sam … I don’t get much from Sam, honestly. He seems to be doing his best, so it’s hard to hate him, and since he established the first uneasy truce with the vamps, again it’s hard to hate him. I don’t like him very much, but at the same time, I just don’t know him. He made a mistake in Breaking Dawn, which caused the pack to fracture, but it was an understandable error, and after Jacob imprinted on Renesmee, there was no question in his mind as to whether or not Renesmee should be destroyed. Once Jacob imprints, Renesmee is to be protected, no question. So, based on his actions, I respect him as a leader, even if I don’t always agree with him. I even respect his decision to bend his pack’s will for the good of the pack, La Push, and Forks, even if I don’t agree with it.
Leah. Leah Leah Leah. I think she was treated very disrespectfully by Meyer. Can I handle an angry, bitter female? Sure. In fact, she kind of reminds me a lot of Rachel from Animorphs. But I really, really, really don’t know how I feel about her becoming a werewolf because she’s barren. And that does seem to be an unconscious view of the author intruding on the narrative, and one that is particularly distasteful to me, and in my opinion even more damaging than the whole, deliberate wait-until-marriage thing. Until Leah, the only Quileutes who became werewolves were men, and then Leah comes along, and she already knows there’s an issue with her ability to bear kids. Basically, what it comes down to is that barren women might as well be men – it assigns woman-ness to one’s ability to procreate. And that’s just a disturbing association in my book. Even in the werewolf world, that’s pretty disturbing.
I have so many thoughts on this but almost don’t know where to start.
There were things that I liked, such as the werewolf/vampire truce, the gathering of the vampires to witness for Renesmee, the fact that Edward and Bella enjoy post-marital sex a lot (most stories seem to stop with the bliss of marriage or cover the dissolving of a relationship after marriage, so it’s nice to see that sex can be awesome after marriage … which seems to be a big thing in Christian circles these days, as though to reassure all those abstinent folks that it’ll still be awesome when you’re a married adult).
One of the things I’m torn on is the Jacob interlude. On the one hand, it gives us a far more interesting perspective of matters than Bella’s, which would have just been a lot of rehashing things we’ve already seen. It made me wonder how much better the series might have been if the whole thing had been from Alice’s point of view rather than Bella’s. On the other hand, it’s very different from the rest of the books. There was a Jacob epilogue to Eclipse, and like the Jacob interlude in Breaking Dawn, it was a voice that seemed to come to Meyer so much more easily, and the writing got better, too. I almost feel that if Meyer had let herself play in more than one sandbox from the beginning, it may have been less tiresome. I can certainly say that the Jacob interlude allowed me to see Jacob in a new light that made me like him a lot more, which makes me wonder if I would like Edward a lot more if we got to see some Twilight or Eclipse or Breaking Dawn from his perspective. I guess I could always read the rough draft chapters of Midnight Sun, but I’d rather wait for the final product if I’m going to read it at all.
The pregnancy plot – aside from Rosalie, who just aggravated me – mostly worked fine for me. I felt Carlisle was a bit dim for not thinking she might need to drink blood earlier, but by and large, the pregnancy was sufficiently horrifying, and I’ll put it on my list of media that reminds me I never want to be pregnant (X-Files, Angel, Alien, Fringe).
However, once she was born Renesmee bothered me. Really bothered me. And not just because of that name. She was porcelain dollsome enough, but I felt like she embodied the worst of my annoyance with Meyer’s vampire rules in that she’s simply too perfect. I never got a sense of her as a rounded character, just a doll that speaks in pictures. Granted, she was only a few months old, hardly enough to develop a full personality, except that she was supposed to be advanced. Still, there wasn’t even a danger of her losing control, like the average vampire. After the pregnancy, the only danger was to her rather than from her. How strange that she was far more interesting before she was born precisely because of the macabre nature of the pregnancy.
But more than anything, the climax was such an anticlimax. I mean, I already gathered that Meyer was uncomfortable writing battles, based on the climax of Eclipse with Victoria, in which the bulk of the battle happened elsewhere. I felt like the book was set up for this great encounter, and even if it was a battle of powers rather than a physical battle, I expected that something would happen, something would change. Instead, it was a … lame battle. One casualty, and not one we were invested in. The only thing that changed was that the Volturi would not destroy Renesmee. The old guard didn’t change, and Aro is still collecting, which means they could conceivably come back, and this time they’d be less ill-prepared for a large group. I feel like the Romanian vampires. Everything just goes back to how it was, except that perhaps Carlisle knows he has the means to amass an army.
Twilight vs. Buffy
Overall, I feel that there were things that Twilight tried that Buffy the Vampire Slayer addressed better. Let’s begin with the original brooding, lurking, “vegetarian” vampire with the face of an angel and spiky hair, Angelus himself. Buffy‘s audience does not have to rely on people telling Angel he’s good to know that he’s good (in fact, the audience often believes that he is good when people in the show do not share that opinion). His actions time and again prove to us that he is a champion, even when he thinks he’s a terrible person because of what his demon did before he was ensouled. He, like Edward, is significantly older than his true love, but unlike Edward, he respects Buffy. He doesn’t tell her that she doesn’t think what she’s thinking or that she doesn’t feel what she’s feeling. I’m sure part of it is that Buffy’s a little stronger than him, unlike every other human, so the power dynamic between them is much more even than Bella/Edward was during the majority of the Twilight series.
But part of it is Buffy herself. Somehow, Buffy manages to be an average teenager in a lot of ways. She goes through the same trials and tribulations and learns the same hard lessons. She makes mistakes. And the girl cannot drive. However, when she and Angel disagreed, they often went about it like adults. If Angel ordered her to do something, Buffy usually pushed back unless she saw that Angel would explain himself later, when there was time. And often, when Buffy ordered Angel to do something, Angel knew better than to go against a Slayer in Slayer mode.
Edward undermines Bella through most of the Twilight series, rarely respecting that she was a separate person who might actually have a good idea or two. And when he realized that she did have a good idea, he was always surprised. It makes one wonder what it was Edward fell in love with. With Buffy and Angel, it was impossible to avoid how in love those two were. Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz portrayed their cross-generational relationship well. Angel never looked down on her because she was a teenager. Instead, he worked with her teenage moments. The times he brought it up, it was very early in their relationship when Buffy was also dealing with the fact the young man she had a huge crush on was also a two-hundred-year-old vampire, the very thing she was supposed to kill. Like Edward, he makes sure that she has normal teenage moments, like birthdays. But he doesn’t force her into teenage moments she’s not interested in having, like Edward does with Bella.
And when Angel leaves Buffy, he knows he has to break both of their hearts, but 1) he stays away so that she can have something of a normal life and because he knows he’s a danger to her, 2) doesn’t try to kill himself because he can’t be with Buffy, instead fighting against evil in his own town and being productive, and 3) doesn’t make Buffy think he doesn’t love her in order to make a “clean” break. And then he proceeds to give Buffy the prom moment she wanted and helps her save the world again before leaving.
With Buffy/Angel, we knew from its beginning that the love was true, pure, full of joy. Sarah and David had amazing romantic chemistry, probably as much romantic chemistry as Sarah and James Marsters had sexual chemistry. You never had to suspend your disbelief that Angel could fall in love with Buffy and vice versa, or that their love was strong, that if soul bonds existed, they had one. But I think what Buffy addressed that Twilight didn’t was that the Buffy/Angel love, while one of the best romances in the history of television, was also doomed – the heartbreaking Angel episode “I Will Remember You” proved it. It was simultaneously idealized and yet emphasized that it could never be. The Bella/Edward pairing was portrayed as idealized, which is problematic given Edward’s domineering side and Bella’s acceptance of it. And none of those problematic elements were ever addressed – things that made them seem doomed were romanticized from beginning to end.
If you haven’t watched the Buffy vs. Edward parody, you should. It’s priceless, and I think it penetrates the heart (pun intended) of the matter: That Buffy would never have let Edward get away with some of the shit he pulls. She didn’t let Angel get away with it in his early stalking phase, and I wish I could have seen Bella as a more active participant in all aspects of their relationship instead of letting Edward determine everything about her human life, beyond being the one to try and push the sexual boundaries and have Edward resist (Oh, what a switch! The woman wanting sex and the man being chivalrous and protecting her virtue! Isn’t he just wonderful?!).
If I had to describe Stephenie Meyer’s writing in one word, I would say it’s inconsistent. I think she has potential. Her writing is spare, simple, sometimes simplistic and repetitive. I think I said earlier that her writing seemed to get loads better when writing from Jacob’s perspective, so I know she has the tools. Most of the time, she’s adequate enough.
I don’t think Meyer is either the savior or the destroyer of Young Adult fiction. I think she’s a writer who got lucky, as most popular writers do, and really it’s what we all want. It did not seem like she set out to write a romantic instruction manual for teens, and I try to look at the characters as self-contained because of that, rather than examples for the readers to follow – I think that’s the source of a great deal of the controversy surrounding the books, that Meyer wants all girls to be like Bella and all boys to be like Edward and Jacob. When you extrapolate like that, I think you can come to some alarming conclusions. But I don’t think that kind of generalization was Meyer’s intention. In fact, I think making broad generalizations from individual characters can be lazy criticism – I probably delved into some of that above, because like others, my brain tends to automatically extrapolate. It has it’s place (for instance, fairy tales and other morality tales lend themselves to this kind of criticism), but I believe it should be judiciously used.
I think she just wrote something she felt like she’d like to read, and she got it published at the right time, when it struck the right chord with so many Young Adult readers. And I think the fantasy element (not fantasy genre, but the romantic fantasy) is the chord that it struck, a safe place to exercise that fantasy of obsession, of a fierce love that rarely works so well in real life.
So in the end, I feel this review is neither scathing nor glowing. There were times when I couldn’t put the book down. And then there were times that I kept putting the book down and wanting to hit my head against the hardbacks because one or more of the characters or situations aggravated me. I can’t find it in myself to feel very strongly one way or another about the series. I’ll probably read it again in the future because it’s fun and I’m easy. But I won’t reread and reread and reread it like I did the Harry Potter series or anything. When I want a vampire/human romance, I usually just turn to Buffy for my fix.
Honestly, the only thing that gets me worked up is that vampires sparkle. I’m open to flexibility with the vampire mythology. But that’s just wrong.