Twilight

Twilight By Stephanie Meyer [LibraryThingAmazon]

When Bella moves to the dreary small town of Forks, she doesn’t expect to meet the love of her life – and she certainly doesn’t expect him to be a vampire. But Edward is exactly that, and his love for Bella may not be stronger than his thirst for her blood. And even if it is, can Edward protect Bella from the bloodthirsty newcomer who’s set his sights on her?

Warning: Minor spoilers behind the cut.

In this interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’ve never been a big fan of vampires. I liked Buffy because it was funny and had rockin’ female characters, but I never bothered with Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton, and I don’t find capes and Transylvanian accents sexy. At best, vampires make me roll my eyes.

But even if I’d loved vampires with an unholy passion, Twilight would still be terrible.

There are a bunch of issues that would be major problems in any other book:

1. It’s boring. Hundreds of pages go by with, essentially, nothing happening except a lot of florid prose about how pretty Edward is. It was so boring that I honestly wouldn’t have finished it if I hadn’t been reviewing it for AV, and I always finish books.

2. Yeah, it’s florid. Ludicrously so. (Edward sparkles in the sun. No, really.) This isn’t helped by Meyer’s somewhat bizarre relationship with punctuation (here’s a hint: you don’t need a semicolon, a dash, and an ellipsis all in the same sentence!).

3. Bella, the ostensible heroine, is a terrible character. She’s utterly devoid of personality in order for the reader to be able to map herself into the starring role. For example, the boys back in her hometown of Phoenix don’t notice her (she’s so ordinary! just like you and me!), but counting Edward, she has five boys vying for her attention in Forks (omg so popular!). The sole exception to her utter lack of personality traits is her completely over-the-top clumsiness, which was apparently added to give her an adorable quirk but actually just makes me think she has severe inner ear problems. (When she breaks her leg, ribs, and skull in a vampire attack, they tell her mother she fell out a window, and this is a plausible excuse because Bella is just that much of a failure at walking without falling down.) She’s also unbelievably passive; she spends the climax of the book barely conscious, unable to move or even see, listening to everyone else save the day.

All of these would be hugely problematic anywhere else, but Twilight has another issue that so overshadows those already mentioned that it renders them almost negligible: It reads like a do-it-yourself guide to abusive relationships.

I’m serious. Edward is moody, violent, prone to anger, jealous, and justifies any poor behavior towards Bella with excuses like “It’s just because I love you” and “It’s what’s best for you.” He works to sever all of her other social connections, leaving her entirely reliant on him – and in fact, she’s disturbingly codependent, with lines like “It would be physically painful to be separated from him.” She lives in terror of triggering one of his bad moods or making him want to leave. She describes his hands on her wrists as “manacles.” He stalks her and watches her while she sleeps and she feels flattered. He’s also insanely controlling; if he wants her to do something, she does it, and if she doesn’t hop to it, he picks her up or drags her where he wants her to be. I’m speaking very literally here – he both drags her around and pins or straps her down multiple times in this book.

Of course, since he’s a vampire, this is all compounded. He’s so much faster and stronger than she is that she is always at his mercy – she lives at his sufferance. (And he utterly delights in reminding her of this fact, which is disgusting.) Plus, since a vampire feeding is inextricably linked in the public consciousness to sex – seduction and rape simultaneously – there are some extra-disturbing undercurrents to all of this. See, Edward and his family have sworn off drinking human blood, but Bella is so extraordinarily tempting to him that he has to fight every second that he’s around her not to kill her. Uh, romantic. Plus, they can never have a sexual relationship, because as he tells her, if he ever loses control, “I could reach out, meaning to touch your face, and crush your skull by mistake.” That is some charming pillow talk there, Ed. First of all, this means that Bella can never make any romantic or sexual overtures towards Edward for fear of disrupting his control; when they kiss, she has to essentially lie back and think of England (or Forks). But more importantly, I’m sorry, but I don’t find a guy having to concentrate fiercely every minute to keep from violating or destroying me romantic. I find it creepy and terrifying.

Now, all of this would have been mitigated if even one person in the book had expressed any concern about the relationship based on something other than the fact that she’s food to him. But no. A few people, Edward included, tell Bella that he’s dangerous to be around because, duh, vampire, but no one – not Bella’s parents, not her friends, no one – says that it’s a bad relationship because he’s an abusive, moody, controlling stalker with rage issues. Bella herself never twigs that the relationship is mind-bogglingly unhealthy, but Bella can barely stand upright, so you can’t expect much from her.

So you’ve got this friendly User’s Guide to Setting Up Your Home Abusive Relationship – and it’s being stuffed into the hands of every teenage girl in the country, if not the world, and touted as romantic. That’s incredibly irresponsible and reprehensible. It’s not a writer’s job to raise the youth of America, but it damn well isn’t her job to tell them behavior like Edward’s is love, either.

Without this last horrendous aspect, Twilight would probably get one cupcake – maybe one and a half, if I were feeling generous. As it is, Twilight gets zero cupcakes. It’s infuriating, disturbing, and just plain bad, and I’d cut out my own tongue before recommending it to anyone, especially the girls it’s marketed to.

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    172 Responses to “Twilight”

    1. youngauthor says:

      I can say unashamed that I have read all four Twilight books including the “half-book”, Midnight Sun. Alike some previous commentators, I loved the books after the first reading and loved the first movie. HOWEVER, after thinking deeply about each one, I can’t pin-point what I actually like about them or designate one book as my favourite (although I think Breaking Dawn was the worst for it was quick in the beginning, drawn out in the end, anticlimatic, and what was with the switching point-of-views?).

      Edward is scarily controlling and using reference to Jessica’s opinion, is the exact opposite of what pre-teen girls should look for in a relationship. My sister and some of her friends never read the books and do the whole squealing due to the actors of the movie. It puts the image in their minds, “If the guy is hot, who cares?”
      The book makes women vulnerability seem the way girls should act whereas for the past 80 years or so, women have been desperately trying to show their own strength and state of mind and to abolish feminine stereotypes of weakness, which Bella is a clear representative for.

      The more and more I watch Twilight or read the novels, the further I become confused about its content. I can’t see what makes it so gripping that I will stay up to 11:00pm (which might not be late for you if your usual sleep time is in the early hours of the morning, but is super late for me) flipping the pages. I can’t figure out why I was excited to by the movie and watch it for the first time. I can’t determine why I thought the movie was so good when I watched it. Because in reality, the movie ruined the books for me and I pick out more and more negative and awkward things each time I read the books or watch the movie.

      Reading the critique, I must agree with Jessica’s findings of abusive realtionships that has hindered Bella’s character, as it would in today’s world. I’m also glad that after reading this and recognizing the underlining factors of Edward’s behaviours, that the novel I am currently writing does not have content that demoralizes and stereotypes women but actually lifts them higher as they accomplish great achievments. But who knows, with the millions of people on our planet, multiple dimensions and meanings of a story can be extracted out depicted as the good or bad of it. That’s the entire purpose of writing a book.

    2. pjones says:

      omg……i love the twilight series sooooo much……but this iss soooooo true……twilight is truly horrible…….:'(

    3. THOR says:

      Ms. Jessica, this review is full of win. Thank you.

    4. Sledogirl says:

      I agree with everything that you said….I mean come on he is sooooooooo over protective and he could hurt of kill her just as easily maybe even more easily than Jacob, and he is like “oh i love you, but you cant do anything you want to do with out my permission” If i were Bella i would dump him ASAP and Move back in with my mom. I also hate it when girls are like “Edward is so HOT” I mean in Harry Potter 4 No one cared about him, just because he Stars in a new movie he is now the hottest guy on earth.

    5. […] something fierce. I could give you a million reasons why, but instead I’m going to link this AMAZING REVIEW that sums up everything I want to say about twilight, only much more articulately than I could ever […]

    6. Loves To Spooge says:

      ‘If you don’t like the book then don’t read it’. How can you find out whether or not you like the book without reading it? It’s even worse in the final book when they do have sex and Edward knocks her out, get’s her pregnant, the baby, being a vamp, brakes her spine kicking so Edward gives her a cesarean. With his teeth. Seriously. Wolf boy goes all paedo-wolf on the baby stating that it is his soul partner and real writers die a little inside.

    7. Ariadne says:

      It upsets me when people compare Twilight to Harry Potter.

      Twilight will never even compare to Harry Potter. In a couple years, everyone will have forgotten about Twilight, while the world of Harry Potter will still be popular, in the book world, the movie world and the theme park world. I mean come on, HP has it’s own theme park now! Harry Potter is a work of modern day literature, while Twilight is just a fantasy the writer wanted played out somewhere else besides her mind.

    8. Sandy says:

      I realized it’s weird of me to post a comment here so long after the original article was published, but there was something so compelling about the series’ review that made me want to post here. I commend you, Jessica, for writing an insightful, thoughtful, mature and rational review of the series! I was getting tired of reading the mindless criticism of the books on other sites.

      I read the series before the movie came out and before a great deal of the uh, craziness? and fame of it started. I grew up with, what I consider true classics – SlaughterhouseFive, 1984, Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, you name it, I’ve read it, so I never even considered the series to be masterpieces (the word choice and grammar were like nails on chalkboard for me). However, because I read the series as a teen, I can truly understand the appeal they had (have?) on my peers. There is something really compelling about the passive-abusive relationship between B&E where E does everything “out of love” and B can just sit back and let E be in charge of the relationship as a whole. The readers of the books are probably barely starting to date and the appeal of a fool-proof, easy, sensual relationship is very alluring to them. Also, beyond B&E’s relationship, there is also the fact that B, a simple girl, gets thrown in into an amazing world of love, danger, magic and adventure! We all dream of escaping our boring lives and suddenly getting to live an amazing life, which B surely got. So, as you can see, one of the greatest points of the book is this escape into the idealized lifestyle!

      Anyways, that is not to say I like the books. In fact, they make me cringe a little to just think about them. Why? I think the 150~ reviews before me have covered that topic very extensively, so I don’t think I need to rewrite it. I would never EVER recommend it to anyone, BUT, I truly do understand why my peers are so badly in love with the series.

    9. Natasha says:

      This was a fantastic review.

      I found that the “Twilight Saga” was just enough to get me through the rough time between college semesters when I wanted to do anything but really think. As I tell all of my friends who brag about me “seeing the light,” I did not hate Twilight, but it is by no means great literature or anything worth reading twice. It does not deserve the fan-girl status it has risen to and I shudder to think of the sheer amount of money they’re making from all of the random strange products that came from this series.

    10. Blake says:

      I very much enjoyed this review!

      I began the series when it was still relatively unknown, and honestly did not read too much into it. I saw it as a decent story, not terribly complicated or well written, but entertaining. It wasn’t until recently, when I picked it up again, that I saw some of the more disturbing elements of the story. I have to agree, there are definite themes of abuse in the action of the story, whether they were intentional or not. That so many young girls now view this as the epitome of a romantic relationship is even more concerning – I have heard several accounts of a true and honest belief that Edward will find and love these girls, or of relationships ending due to the fact that the poor boy “isn’t like Edward”. This escapism and inability to separate fact from fiction is the scariest part of the entire phenomenon.

      Apart from the fact that when a man (whom you are not even friends with) a) watches you sleep without your knowledge for months; b) follows you out of “concern for your welfare”; and c) reiterates constantly how dangerous it is to be around him – he is not going to love you eternally. Chances are, he is a crazy stalker who will KILL YOU to “keep you with him always”.

      Cheers!

    11. Steven says:

      One thing I haven’t seen in the comments, though I only read about half of them, is that Edward is a pedophile. In case anyone forgot, he’s 104 years old. Dating a teenager.

    12. Erin says:

      Yet another truthful review, it’s disgusting how teenage girls flock and fall in love with a controlling creep. And in these comments, what’s with the random burst of twilight lovers?

    13. Anastacia says:

      I read Twilight last year and I loved it. Why? I haven’t the slightest idea. But I read the first book all in one night, then almost died of anticipation over winter break, after which I would be able to demand the next one from my friend. Finally I got it, read it… and was very disappointed. The series got worse and worse, and I did not like Breaking Dawn at all. I still like Twilight, though. But what I absolutely HATE is how many people are OBSESSED with it! Sure, it’s a good book (in my opinion), but it’s nowhere near as great as those millions of fangirls would have you believe. So, I can understand both sides of the argument. I have a friend who wants to kill Stephanie Meyer, and I have a friend who has bought probably ever piece over Twilight merchandise ever. And that’s fine with me.
      I remember one time I went to Knott’s Berry Farm, and while waiting in line at a ride, I randomly looked over at a pile of bags and backpacks waiting for their owners. I counted at least four Twilight-themed ones. And I remember thinking, “That’s just ridiculous!”
      You know why all these girls really like Twilight? Because Edward and/or Jacob are so hot. If they were both fat, pimply guys, NOBODY would love Twilight. (Except maybe me. Because I love outwardly ugly characters.)
      A Random Thought: You know who probably hates Twilight most of all? Real vampires. I’m NOT saying I think vampires are real, I’m just saying that IF they existed, they would hate Twilight more than ANYONE posting here.
      😀

    14. Mira says:

      I loved this.

      I read the books when they came out and found them to be, well ‘books’. Good little thing to read to keep up in conversation with the girls in my class, but not really that impacting. When you bring up how abusive/controlling he is, I completely agree. Other than being eye candy, he sucked as a character and brought shame to the idea of ‘vampires’. I started reading other comments left and started to feel sick, I can’t believe that someone who was being ‘nice’ about your review had to warn you about getting your throat cut… It’s a book! Get over it! It’s not the bible! Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I love the way you backed up each argument. The idea of this kind of psychotic relationship is being idolized and pushed onto young girls is horrifying. Zero cupcakes is a good idea. Anyway, yeah, I just felt I had to say that….

    15. Anne says:

      I totally agree with you Jessica. It seems like Stephenie Meyer was telling girls that “it’s okay to fall in love with bad boys, only if you do what they tell you to”. I read through the entire Twilight series. And trust me, Edward only gets worse.

    16. Katie says:

      Wow, this is an absolutely perfect review of this book. This book is the most epic screw up of a love story. He’s everything that any girl should be afraid of but just because he’s ‘pretty’ that seems to make it all right, which is wrong.

    17. kurisu7885 says:

      The saddest part of this for me is the stories I heard of people either getting screamed at, preached at or punched in the jaw for so much as insinuating that they don’t care for the series.

      Some have accused me of hating books, which isn’t true. I began reading Legends of the Space Marines of the Warhammer 40K novels, pretty good so far in my opinion.

      Also, I managed to get my hands on an Ebook version of Twilight. I am SO glad I didn’t pay for it.

    18. […] care for vampires in general, am waiting impatiently for the current vampire trend to be over, and despise Twilight with all of my soul. But at the same time, these are female fantasies written for teenage girls by women (for the most […]

    19. Britty says:

      Oh my goodness. I’m not really a fan of Twilight, I used to be but I read it a second time and I couldn’t read much past the first page. It just drags on and on, and I agree that it sends bad mesages out to the preteen girls. My at the time 14 year old sister read it, and she was absolutely in love with the Edward character, and one day she came home from school saying that a boy asked her out who seemed like a real life Edward, She thought it was cute and showed her how much he loved her when he FOLLOWED HER around town, showed up at her friends house, and came to our house without even talking to her to find out where she lived or even if it was okay. Not only that, but the whole Edward spying on Bella in her sleep, a close friend of mine found that ‘Romantic’. Uh…thats just plain creepy. It’s scary to wake up and find someone in your room watching you sleep. I think that Twilight is just getting girls to de-volve to the state of mind that the more he treats you like a piece of HIS property, the more you should idolize him, females are human too, and it seems to send out the message that if some guy doesn’t own you, you have no business leading a normal life.

    20. […] A couple of things have happened recently that have got me thinking about books, readers, snap judgments, and personal preferences, and I needed to vent my spleen. First, I posted a comment over at Dear Author regarding a review of Melissa Marr’s new book, Ink Exchange. Secondly, there has been a HUGE debate over Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight on the YALSA listserv between those who “love” it and those who “hate” it and everyone in between. [I'm an in between.] I’m not going to rehash or try to summarize the debate or the back and forth responses, but you can read the blog that sparked the debate here. […]

    21. L3897 says:

      I have to say, I love both the films and the books of this series, but I’m more than happy to admit there are flaws in it. Bella has next to no personality, which makes it hard to relate to her. I do disagree with you when you say the relationship is abusive and controlling, if you properly get into the series you understand that Edward is trying to protect Bella. Yes, at first it does seem extreme that he would cut her brakes to stop her from seeing Jacob, but when you discover Jacob’s background in the later books you understand that Edward saw him and his kind as a danger to Bella.

    22. ND Nightshade says:

      Okay. Everyone saying “You have to read the entire series to apreciate it, just give it a chance…”
      I was one of them once. I read Twilight in eighth grade, and I freaked out over New Moon because Eclipse wasn’t out yet and I didn’t know if Edward was ever going to come back.
      I’m seventeen (going on eighteen – try not to sing that in your head, now) and I’d read all the books. When the first move came out, I was so thrilled. I saw it, how it should be portrayed and not actually made acceptable by my writer’s mind, and it snapped me out of the obsession completely. I mean, really? The ONLY redeeming quality was Charlie and his shotgun. If only he’d actually used it on Eddie and saved us all this pain.

      When I was twelve, thirteen, and only barely getting into the teen romance (I was raised on Harry Potter, but was finally branching out from Kids to teen books since that was where the HP books were going) I thought it was amazing. Then again, I was embellishing it by mentally reprimanding Edward and Jacob for their idiocy, smacking Bella around for being so dependent on a guy’s attention and laughing at how inaccurate everything was that I couldn’t see at the time exactly how horrible it is.

      NO ONE should view this work as anything more than absolute, pointless fluff and perhaps a doorstopper if you want it to be particularly useful. It’s fine for middleschoolers to swoon over how lucky Bella is to have two guys and end up married right out of high school and her rebound falling in love with her DAUGHTER, but when you get to high school age and beyond, just leave the crap behind. Really. Read something worthwhile, like Jane Austen or Sherrilyn Kenyon if you want romance and James Patterson and David Edings of you want action.

      And the end of Breaking Dawn, all the build up for an absolutely fizzle-tastic ending? Really? I mean, the LEAST Madame Meyer could’ve done was *kill* someone.

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