The 10 Worst Things About "Twilight"
"Twilight": The Subject of Widespread Blind Worship
The world has been bewitched... by vampires!
Stephenie Meyer's new series "Twilight" has topped the "Best Sellers" lists for months now. The books are raved about by the media and by every female reader who has ever craved a romance novel with a fantastical twist. Meyer has been hailed "the new J.K. Rowling" and has enjoyed incredible fame and fortune in the wake of the staggering success of this series.
And I do see some similarities between the two deified authors of popular young adult books -- similarities that lie mainly in the juvenility of their writing styles.
While I may well be opening myself up to attack for having the gall to publicize my criticisms of the "Twilight" series, I feel it is my duty as an avid reader to do what I can to stop the blinded masses from mindlessly worshiping this drivel. If I can make even one person apply reason to the love they lavish upon these books and admit that, while they are enjoyable, they are not, by any means, great works of literature, then this lens will have been a success.
Please note that this critique is of the original book, "Twilight". While I have read the others in the series as well, the same complaints I had had about the first book carried into the others, so I will focus on only the original novel for the purposes of this lens.
Wait -- I'm A Fan, Too!
Fun reads, for sure... but great literature? No way!
I want to make it clear that I actually liked these books very much... on an incredibly superficial level. I enjoyed reading the stories because I came at them knowing in advance that they were most likely going to be nothing more than poorly-written and -developed potboilers. Having anticipated that I would be severely disappointed were I to expect skillful writing and development, I came away from the series with an appreciation for the most basic points of the plot: girl falls in love with a good vampire who has taken a vow to never drink human blood.
That aside, these books were beyond terrible on a number of other levels: writing style, plot points, character development, et cetera. I will address each of these in turn. As I do so, bear in mind that there's nothing wrong with liking a book that is not the equal of Tolstoy or Shakespeare; potboilers are fun -- there's no denying it! But I want people to comprehend why hailing Meyer as one of the greatest authors of our time is simply laughable.
PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you have not yet read "Twilight"
but are looking forward
to doing so...
Terrible Thing #10
Some chapters end at weird places, and pick up again at weirder places.
It's sort of like, "She came home and put her clothes in her dresser. [End of chapter.]" The flow of the book was often interrupted by this. It got slightly better in the later books, but in the original "Twilight", at least, it was a common occurrence. It may sound silly that such a minor detail could interrupt said flow, but trust me: it's jarring.
Terrible Thing #9
Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Edward is beautiful. This is made clear from Bella's description of him when she first lays eyes on him.
A reminder of his hunkiness is given us the next time she sees him.
And the next.
And the next.
And we continue to hear it, over and over and over again. Purple prose abounds as Meyer forces the character Bella to focus solely on Edward's appearance. I would be so bold as to estimate that there are no fewer than fifty mentions of his beauty throughout this rather small novel... and by "mentions", I mean "full paragraphs". Ridiculous.
Other points are hammered into us as well, such as those tense scenes between Bella and her father. We get it, Meyer. She's a bratty teenager who doesn't like her dad and would prefer not to live there. Do we need to witness the same exact scene over the same exact dinner table twenty times?
Really, it might behoove Meyer to give her readers a little more credit than that.
Terrible Thing #8
Example: toward the end, Bella's heart stops when Edward kisses her in the hospital. She's on a monitor, and when the nurse comes in five or ten minutes later to check on her, she looks at the readout and says, "Are you feeling anxious, honey? Your heart rate got a little high there." Okay, I'll let the heart stopping thing go in respect for the needed suspension of belief that it takes to even get through this book; that being said, she's on a heart monitor because they're monitoring her heart. Her going into tachycardia and then momentary arrest would have set off the alarm and sent hordes of nurses instantly running in there. Second, since when is "arrest" equivalent to "heart rate got a little high"? You don't need medical training to know that that's literally incredible bullshit.
Terrible Thing #7
Character development is so minimal as to be practically nonexistent.
My favorite author is Orson Scott Card; compared to his character development, every author is a second-rate wannabe in that department. But Meyer's attempts -- or, rather, lack thereof -- are severely disappointing. So much could have been done with these characters, but they're the same filler characters that can be used in any book to fill any purpose. Very disappointing. (Again, though, maybe I've just been spoiled by OSC.)
Terrible Thing #6
Bella, the main character, is entirely unbelievable as a person.
She claims to be ordinary and second-rate, and that not a single boy in her big-town school was interested in her; but the minute she moves to Podunk Nowhere, suddenly all the boys want her, as if they're a sub-breed of human or something and she's their goddess -- like Yasmine Bleeth to every lonely man ever. I know that the main character is supposed to be the best of the best (else why write about her?), and I know that it supposedly gives her a kind of appeal, to be the innocently naÃ¯ve beauty who is bewildered as to why so many guys like her. But, seriously -- every young male character she comes across? Really? And by the fourth guy, she's still surprised? All that tosses any sense of realism straight out the damn window.
Bella has been referred to by critics as a "Mary Sue" -- an empty shell, more or less, onto which the reader imprints his or her own personality. But to a reader who expects characters to have their own personalities (gasp! I ask too much!), Bella is a severe disappointment as the protagonist.
Terrible Thing #5
Again re: Bella: she glares way too much.
What the hell. Every time she doesn't get the response she likes, or doesn't get a response fast enough, she "glares" at the person. Apparently, Meyer seems to think that this is the only reasonable facial expression to don when you're not getting exactly the answer you want exactly when you want it. Either the main character is a bipolar raging bitch, or Meyer is just a pretty crappy author. Since the former would signify an inconsistency unparalleled in any bestseller I've yet read, I'm banking on the latter theory.
Terrible Thing #4
Again re: Bella: she represents all that those who fight for feminism are battling to demolish.
Bella is timid, meek, and not terribly bright. She latches onto a guy she barely knows because of how pretty he is, and then she proceeds to crumble in book 2 ("New Moon") when he leaves her, giving no thought to the possibility of lifting herself up and moving on with her life. She lets him do everything for her: drive her, cook for her, save her life, tuck her into bed, sing her to sleep, even carry her places on his back (and while there is a plot connection to this that speaks to a need for him to do these things because of his vastly greater strength and skill in all areas, the image is a demeaning one). She has no actual interests or hobbies outside of "loving" him. She looks at him like she's a whipped puppy and he's the human who's come to feed her, if she agrees to behave.
I don't think "sickening" is a strong enough descriptor of just how abhorrent her anti-feminist behavior is.
Terrible Thing #3
Edward is completely devoid of anything actually resembling real, human characteristics.
Edward was meant to be perfect... and so he is. In every way. Not only is he drop-dead, "mind-scramblingly" gorgeous (as Meyer sees fit to have Bella point out more than fifty times throughout the novel), but he's a shiny diamond statue on the inside, too. He has no weaknesses, except for Bella's love (d'aww). He has no moral scruples. He's always insanely polite and always says the exact right thing at the exact right time. His IQ must be through the roof. He speaks multiple languages and plays the piano, and his only concerns are to make the girl he loves happy and to protect his family.
How about a flaw or two, Meyer? Something to actually bring him to life? As it is, he's a cardboard cutout of [insert your favorite male daydream here]. Perfection does not make a character feel real. An example of his balance between good and bad -- that same balance that each of us struggles with every day of our lives -- is needed to lift him off the page and into our hearts.
But Meyer prefers her cardboard cutout, which is, in the end, really too bad.
Terrible Thing #2
A 100+-year-old man falls in love with a 17-year-old girl.
Edward is, by his own reckoning, over 100 years old, as he "died" (read: became an immortal) at the age of 17 in 1918. Yes, he's forever trapped inside the body of a seventeen-year-old boy. But his mind certainly hasn't stayed that young.
Yet with whom does he fall in love? "Plain Jane", been-a-million-just-like-her-since-1918, seventeen-year-old Bella.
It's one thing to make an allowance for the physical attraction; after all, there's nothing wrong with one 17-year-old body liking another 17-year-old body. That makes sense. But there is something darkly frightening about a man who is mentally, emotionally, and experience-wise well over a century old falling in love with a mere child.
There are other vampires of his age with whom he could carry on a relationship and to whom he could have a deeper, more meaningful connection, as they would share age, wisdom, and experience. Then again, the whole love story doesn't make sense at all anyway... which leads me to Terrible Thing #1.
Terrible Thing #1
Their "love" is not love.
The "love" that Bella and Edward share is nothing more than shallow attraction that neither of them is willing to fight, despite the fact that his instinctual drive to drink her blood might at any point override his physical desire, resulting in her death. Because there is nothing concrete to either character, there is nothing concrete on which true love might be built. They don't share any interests, because neither of them have any interests. They don't have the same views on philosophy, because neither of them is any deeper than a teaspoon. In fact, the only "real" reasons we plainly see for the mutual attraction are that he's pretty, and she smells good.
As one blogger so aptly put it, it's "[l]ike if you fell in love with the best brownies you have ever smelled but you can't eat them."
This is not a soul-crushingly beautiful tale of romance and love. It's the story of two incredibly shallow, underdeveloped characters who like each other for superficial reasons and childishly refuse to let go of that, even for the sake of the physical safety of one of the two. It's disgusting.
Duel - Do you disagree?
Let everyone else know your opinion of this critique of "Twilight"... good or bad! My opinions are not necessarily right or wrong, and I want to know your thoughts in response to my review.
What do you think of this critique of "Twilight"? Do you think I hit the nail on the head, or do you think I'm a crotchety pessimist who doesn't believe in true love?
Buy "Twilight" and Its Companion Books
While these books can be a fun read, the stories are mind-numbingly shallow, and the writing style is clumsy and juvenile, at best. If you're up for a decent potboiler, then go ahead and grab these books. But I warn you: turn off your brain before reading!
Photo Credit - Linkbacks to Flickr Photostreams
Links to those whose Creative Commons photography contributed to this lens. In order from top to bottom of lens.