Santa gave me Twilight in my stocking, and I was pleased.
Because I hated Twilight.
Allow me explain:
I have long been opposed to Twilight, but had never actually read it or seen the movies. I objected to it on principle. I read that teenage girls were dumping their boyfriends for “not being enough like Edward”. I also heard that Edward was an obsessive creep who stalked Bella and couldn’t decide whether he wanted to eat her or kiss her. That he tried to physically stop her from seeing people he was jealous of, and that he bossed her around constantly.
This offended me.
So I wanted to read Twilight so that when I got aerated about it, I could actually have something to go on other than sheer hearsay. I asked for it for Christmas, but with the condition that it had to be a used copy, so I didn’t end up funding the publishers. This way I could give it a chance. Much the way I gave caviar a chance, even though I hate both eggs and fish. I was right, I did hate it, but it was worth a try, right?
So I read Twilight, and I came to three conclusions:
- That Twilight is even bigger literary garbage than I had expected, and consequently hilarious.
- That Edward is not so bad, if you give him leeway for being undead.
- That I hate Bella.
Perfect Husband said it best. On page 2 of Twilight he looked up and said, “My gawd, this reads like Mary Sue fan fiction. It’s fan fiction of itself.”
That’s totally what it is.
It’s written about as well as the standard fanfic slush you’ll find on the net. The characters are about as three-dimensional. It’s just… garbage. I wasn’t surprised by that, although I was a little baffled. Considering how successful these books were, I was expecting them to be entertaining, if vacuous. Like a Dan Brown novel. Instead I had to read it in segments, filling in with a Stephen King book when the awfulness became too much (as an aside, King once said, “Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn” and I trust Stephen King’s judgment . I like children’s fiction best, so his subject matter doesn’t usually appeal to me, but GAWDDAMN, that man can write well).
I had also read that Twilight is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. Whoever said that is off their nut, because Twilight bears the same resemblance to Pride and Prejudice that a turd bears to a diamond. If you want a good modern re-telling of P&P, pick up a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary. But Twilight doesn’t come anywhere close. If anything, it’s closer to Jane Eyre, and by “closer” I mean the proximity of the Earth to Pluto as compared to, say, Betelgeuse.
On the bright side, Edward didn’t piss me off nearly as much as I expected him to. I mean, he is a terrible model for a boyfriend – the man suffers from such radical mood swings that he might benefit from lithium, and he is possessive, insultingly bossy/condescending, and a creepy stalker, but actually he has a couple of redeeming features.
First of all, I feel obligated to cut him some slack because after all, he is an undead creature. But barring the wants-to-drink-your-blood issue, he seems like a decent person. For one thing, he is aware of the fact that he is a creepy, obsessive, undead monster and frequently warns Bella that she really should try to stay as far away from him as possible.
Now, I am a bit of a sucker for a Byronic hero, and Edward fits the mold so well that Meyer might as well have drawn his character directly from the Wikipedia definition (and she very well may have). The love of my literary life when I was an impressionable thirteen year old girl was Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre (for whom Stephenie Meyer named her male hero). These two Edwards could go head-to-head when it comes to passionate, obsessive love… which is extremely attractive to pubescent girls for some reason.
Edward Cullen’s love for Bella is selfless, passionate, and unreasonably unconditional. He is about as two-dimensional as you could ask for. He’s pretty much written to spec: *Insert Female Fantasy Here.* Characters like him are to women what porno women are to men – a fantasy object, not a person. That is what sells the Twilight books. It certainly isn’t Meyer’s writing ability.
So here’s what pisses me off: Unlike Jane Eyre, who is awesome, Bella deserves no such attention.
Bella is a self-centred, melodramatic, self-martyring twatwaffle.
While I can
suspend my disbelief cling to the supposition try to pretend that an extremely sexy and selfless vampire with extraordinary willpower is attending high school in small town Washington, I can’t believe I refuse to accept I find it impossible to imagine that he would choose Bella to fall in love with.
If you haven’t read Twilight, but aren’t afraid of spoilers (and I assure you, spoiling Twilight would be like trying to spoil last year’s fish heads) or if you have already suffered through this book, read on:
The whole premise of his attraction for her (besides the fact that apparently she smells DEElicious) is that she is the only human being on the planet whose mind Edward cannot read. No reason for this is ever given. He finds this intriguing and he is always trying to find out what she is thinking, with a perseverance which any warm-blooded woman would find endearing.
But let me tell you – there is nothing unique about Bella’s mind. She is the most banal, stereotypical teenager you could ever ask for. Edward speculates that Bella’s mind must run on a totally different frequency from everyone else’s.
Allow me to walk you through Bella’s mind:
The book starts with Bella starting a new school in Washington. She moans on about how she just knows she won’t fit in, because she never fit in in Phoenix. She says “I’d never fit in anywhere” and “if I couldn’t find a niche in a school with three thousand people, what were my chances here?”
Well, far be it from me to judge a girl starting school in a new, small town. I’ve been there. It sucks.
But when she actually attends school, she is immediately swarmed by a host of other teens all desperate make friends. The first is a boy whom she describes as “overly helpful” and “a chess club type” (whatever that means). He offers to take her to her next class and makes conversation with her on the way. She freezes him out with some sarcasm and then bitches to herself about how no one appreciates her sense of humour.
As various fellow students lead her to her different classes, ask her questions, eat lunch with her, and basically treat her like a celebrity (all of which is extremely unlikely – I’ve moved to a small town while in my teens. They don’t welcome outsiders), Bella isn’t pleased in the least. She doesn’t bother to remember the names of people being nice to her, or listen to them when they talk with her (“I smiled and nodded as she prattled about teachers and classes. I didn’t bother to keep up“). When another boy who she describes as “cute” is friendly to her, she decides that he is “the nicest person I’d met today”. Because the girls who ate lunch with her, or the other boys who talked to her don’t count… why?
I already disliked this girl and I was only on page 25. The more convinced Bella was that she is a special snowflake, the more insipid and mundane she became.
“Did you get to The Sentence yet?” Perfect Husband asked me. I didn’t know what he was talking about. “You will,” he promised. “You’ll know it when you see it.”
I knew it when I saw it.
“Forks was literally my personal hell on earth.”
…Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand there went my last vestiges of
respect tolerance for Bella and her creator. Either Stephenie Meyer put that sentence in ironically, knowing how often teenagers misuse “literally”, or she actually thought that was a valid sentence. Either way, Bella is a banal, stuck up little idiot with painful grammar. Tiffany Aching would kick her ass.
It’s all downhill from there.
Other charming characteristics of Bella:
- She falls down and faints so often that I am convinced she has some kind of medical problem. Perhaps early onset MS or some form of epilepsy?
- She purposely flirts with a younger boy that she is not attracted to just to worm information about Edward out of him.
- She misinterprets a lustful physical attraction for “love” (a common mistake among teenagers) and spends a lot of time sighing about how irrevocably in love she is with this guy, even though she never gives a reason other than his fabulous looks.
- She lets Edward push her around, always resisting temporarily before submitting with lamb-like docility. Bella is the reason that some men think “no” secretly means “yes”.
You are a bad person, a banal mind, and (the worst accusation one can make in literature!) a boring character.
P.S. You undergo absolutely no psychic growth through the novel, which makes this the worst book I have read since Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Have you guys read this? What did you think?
Coming up next time: