Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”

I consider it my personal duty to read a hyped up book. I must do it. I must have my own opinion, no matter how decided the public are, no matter how slated it is by elitists. I usually side with elitists when it comes to books. Generally speaking, I much prefer to sit down with classics than to pick out anything from today’s literary world. Maybe it was drilled into me by reading classic after classic for my degree.  Who knows?

Despite this, I have a weakness for hyped up books. Why? Blame it on Harry Potter. When I was sixteen (ooooh, seven years ago) I was mocking Harry Potter along with everyone else. Until I read it, that is. And here is my weakness. The reason why I picked up Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Like anything that is hyped up, people want to swoop in and belittle it, because it is popular. Harry Potter is popular, and to this very day I still come across the odd person that wants to insult it, criticise it and put it down. The pattern that emerges when this happens, however, is that the person in question has not picked up the damn books. I think to myself that they simply would not be saying these things if they actually made the effort to read them; they would, more than likely, become engrossed, like almost everybody else has in the world.

When I came across negative reviews for The Twilight Saga, deciding if I wanted to take the plunge of not, I sided with them somewhat, because they complained about things that I knew that I would find infuriating – shallow characters, little plot, etc. I looked at the comments for the reviews. They did not bode well for Twilight. They were fan girls who could not construct a sentence, insisting that Edward and Bella’s love was as deep as the ocean. I scoffed. Laughing at myself for even considering this book and I was ready to cross the page out, but then one comment, however, caught my eye, and changed everything.

You quite obviously have only overheard a group of fan girls squealing about Edward on the bus, rather than actually haven taken the time to pick up the book and read it yourself. Instead of being here you would be picking up the next book and devouring it for all that it is worth.

It reminded me of my many futile arguments with Harry Potter haters who just would not bother to read the material to argue properly, and as I read over the negative review again in light of this person’s statement, I could see how skeletal the review was, and did seem to repeat every single cliché against the novel that had already been made.

I decided to read it.

Now let me give Twilight haters this. Almost every single thing the negative reviews said about this novel is true. It really is. What are the negative things said about it, you ask? These are the most common observations I read when I read countless negative reviews and things I had also picked up myself whilst reading:

• It’s unoriginal.
• The prose is overly filled with adjectives, mostly describing how beautiful Edward is, and constantly reminding us of that fact on every single page.
• The narration is overly detailed. e.g. the narration tells us that she gets up, brushes her teeth, what tooth paste she uses, what corners she drives round, which parking place she takes, what she has for dinner, how she cooks the dinner, and the list goes on.
• The vampire myth, or its world, does not have very much depth.
• We are reminded, far too often, how dangerous Edward is.
• We know at the very first page that Bella hates rain and cold, and that she is clumsy, and yet the author insults are intelligence, also reminding us of this on every page as if we might forget.
• Bella has no personality.
• Edward has no personality.
• Actually, nobody has a personality.
• The love that Edward and Bella share is completely superficial.
• The tone of the novel is inconsistent (pages 1-300 are completely different to the pages 301-430)

There is an element of truth in all of these points, though I would like to contest some of them, if only a bit mildly. The first and most common criticism is its unoriginality. At its bare bones, it is a teenage romance novel. It is what it is. Yes, it is unoriginal, but it was not trying to be anything new and amazing, and why is it things have to be original these days, anyway? I commend anyone that can come up with anything completely original, but also I’m not sure why unoriginality equates bad quality and vice versa. It boggles my mind.

The second point I want to contest to is Bella having “no personality”. I cannot help but think that it is up to the reader to see something in her, or to relate to her somehow, because I did not see the non-personality. I saw a frustrated, lonely, but, emotionally, a typical teenager. I do not know what her haters problem is, I can only guess, I only know that I disagree. As to the rest of the characters, the narration did keep mentioning different names and I could not determine the difference between them all – they were pretty lifeless. Character development is not this novel’s strong point.

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

The third and final I part I want to disagree with to a degree is that Edward and Bella’s relationship is completely superficial. I am not disagreeing on the grounds that they fell in “love” with one another because of appearances, but I am disagreeing to the point that their romance is typical of teenagers. Meyer is not writing about two adults in their forties falling in love, she is writing about two hormone raged adolescents. What do you expect? Even so, their conversations do begin to progress into deeper meaning behind their attraction for one another; think to when Edward explained why he would never hurt Bella. He explains that her personality, and her nature is unusual, and that is what attracted him to her, why he cannot read her mind, and why he could not bare to lose her – because her mind works differently to everybody else’s.

Now, before you think I am flanking to this novel’s defense, I will say this simply: This novel is an enjoyable read, but it is very, very flawed for the reasons listed above. The author is far too repetitive and tangential. She seems unable to develop her characters, or give good reasons for their actions; the last 100 pages of the novel feel like they are tacked on from a completely different novel. The “threat” that Bella comes under is too coincidental, out of nowhere and stupid to believe. The author seems to think that her readership are stupid and need reminding of certain things on every page (Bella’s clumsiness, Edward’s beauty, Bella hates rain, Edward is dangerous), there’s no depth to any characters but the protagonist, perhaps Edward too, if we push it. The exclusivity of this novel is also a problem. With Harry Potter I recommended to anyone from my grandparents, to my best friends. Twilight? Would not feel right recommending it to a male. Men reading Twilight and enjoying it seems implausible to me. It really hits its market dead on centre. Everything about this novel is girly, and I think that is a major flaw.

But this book is enjoyable. There must be a reason. Quite frankly, to be overly bothered about its flaws is missing the point a bit. It is just a teenage novel. You would not go and read a Point Horror book and then write negative reviews for it saying how badly it is written, or how obvious the twist was at the end, because most people accept the Point Horror books for what they are, and hey, no one is talking about a Point Horror book, or making a film out of it! People’s problem with Twilight is that it is popular, but it is no different to the Point Horror books. It a novel aimed at teenage girls. Think of a milder and ever so slightly better written Mills & Boon novel, only with vampires, and that is Twilight.

Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen (centre)

Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen (centre)

I noticed the many drawbacks the novel had, but I still enjoyed it, because I am one of those people that like to fall into a nice romance. The writing is easy and accessible, you turn the pages, you’re drawn in whilst you’re reading it, you want the protagonists to just flipping kiss, you finish it, and you want the next book. Is that not what enjoying a book is all about? It is just a nice light read to tune your brain off too. Who cares if it will not win the next Booker prize? I would fully recommend this to anyone who enjoys a cute little romance and quick, gliding read. I would warn any hardcore vampire fans to stay away though; it is more of a plot device than the focus of the novel.

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3 Responses to “Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight””

  1. i sorta agree with the haters, despite twilight being my guilty pleasure.
    bella had no well-defined personality, she was just a bunch of random thoughts. edward’s character doesn’t ring true, nor does their relationship-bella’s (constant) attitude around him reminds me of too much of my own when i saw joe jonas shirtless on tv.
    but yeah it’s the perfect guilty pleasure.

  2. Didn’t know where to put this comment, so this was a good as plae as any.

    I just disovered your blog via the Philippa Gregory messageboard (which I visit ocassionally), and have just spent a great deal of my evening reading your blog instead of working…

    I agree with a scary amount of your opinions, so I will definitely read some of the books on your “best” lists.

  3. Aww, Maren, thanks. 🙂 It’s quite nice to read that I took up somebody’s evening! Though I am sorry to cause to the procrastination. 😦

    Myself: I came to hate the series in the end. I did enjoy this first book, but the others went too far off the rail, and Bella just got too pathetic, whilst Edward just got too controlling. The series actually disturbed me more than anything else.

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