Love it or Hate it? The Twilight Series
Have you ever noticed how some books seem to drive a wedge between people? You check the reviews and find almost no middle-of-the-road ratings. Instead people either seem to love it or hate it. Well, welcome to the Love it or Hate it post category! Each month, we’ll pick one book to review and two contributors will battle it out to convince you to pick it up or throw it out. Last month we discussed Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This was our biggest point differential with the Love its taking over 80% of the votes. Many thanks to John (Hate it reviewer) and Book Worm (Love it Reviewer) for their wonderful reviews.
This month’s selection is not the sort of book we typically feature in this blog and I admit that I’m embarrassed by the choice. Apologies to our new followers who joined us to read reviews about quality literary fiction. I do promise that we will return to quality literary fiction picks for the remainder of the year. So bare with us as we deviate from our literary fiction reviews for one time today. We will make up for it by upcoming reviews of authors like Banville, DeLillo, Kafka, Adichie, and some promising debut works in the next coming weeks.
Without further ado…This month we be voting on the Twilight Saga by Meyer. The names of our two contributors will be revealed after voting closes. Please make sure to vote for this month’s book even if you haven’t read the book! I trust that my faithful readers will make the right decision! The poll is at the bottom of this post.
Synopsis (from Wikipedia): Twilight is a series of four vampire-themed, fantasy romance novels by American author Stephenie Meyer. It charts a period in the life of Isabella “Bella” Swan, a teenage girl who moves to Forks, Washington and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. The series is told primarily from Bella’s point of view, with the epilogue of Eclipse and Part II of Breaking Dawn being told from the viewpoint of character Jacob Black, a werewolf.
Love it (reviewer A): About one thing I am absolutely positive. I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with the Twilight Saga.
Is the writing completely horrible and could benefit from a plethora of synonyms for “beautiful”? Yes.
Is Bella a weak female character who makes me want to lecture every teen girl I see on the dangers of falling for the “bad boy”? Yes.
Am I ashamed that I have read this saga three times? Yes. (But that doesn’t stop me from wanted to read it for a fourth time.)
Did I read it from cover to cover with unfiltered glee and love every cheesy, dramatic, unrealistic second of it? Abso-freaking-lutely.
Unless you live in a nuclear fall-out shelter completely cut off from all human civilization, then you know the basic premise: high school girl falls for hot vampire, manages to befriend gorgeous male werewolf, and lives her fragile mortal life while harboring dreams of being undead.
These books are addictive. They are quick reads and take very little brainpower. What Stephenie Meyer lacks in constructing anything more than a basic, thesaurus-devoid sentence, she makes up with her seeming magic at pulling you into the story. At crafting a narrative that is both blatantly obvious in where it is going and so compelling that you stay up until the wee hours of the night to read one more page, one more chapter.
There is no deep-seated message to be mined from these books. There is nothing that is mind-blowingly amazing that will make you see the world differently. These are pure fluffy amazing tween angst.
And for that glorious break from reality, I give this entire saga the full five shiny star rating. Pair them up with the horribly acted, painfully awkard, yet addictive movies that introduced us to the non-brilliance of K Stew and the broodiness of R Patts, and I don’t know if anything better has come out of popular literature. Ever.
Hate it (reviewer B): I can’t even begin to express how much I hated this series on multiple levels. I should clarify that I read these books as an adult, and the fact the I am guilty of actually having read all of them probably takes away some of my credibility. As I look back on the books today (as the mother of a young daughter), I hate them even more. I wish I could unread them and gain back the IQ points I lost from reading them. Here are top 5 reasons why I hate Twilight.
1. The writing: It’s terrible. Here are some quotes that speak for themselves:
“He was both dazzling and dazzled.”
“He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare.”
“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb… I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.
‘What a stupid lamb,’ I sighed.
‘What a sick, masochistic lion.’ “
2. Sparkly vampires. I find the trend in recent literature to portray vampires as potential love interests pretty disturbing. It reminds me of the women who fall in love with serial killers through mail correspondence. Twilight takes romanticized vampires to a whole new level. The basic characteristic of vampires is the fact that they prey on humans and turn into piles of ashes in the sun. From the mid-1700s, Vampires have been characterized as demons, evil beings, and malevolent spirits. Vampires should not be dreamy beings that sparkle like diamonds in the sunlight. Bram Stoker is rolling in his grave.
3. The main character. This is my main gripe with the book. The stupidity of the plot, the sparkling vampires, and mind numbingly awful writing aside, Bella Swan is worst part of the book. Bella Swan is everything that I hate in a female protagonist. It boggles the mind that this character was written by a woman. Bella does nothing for the first 2/3 of the books. She spends a majority of the series pining away after her love interest, and when she faces the loss of his presence, she becomes semi-suicidal. Twilight lovers will cry out “but she ultimately saves the day and is powerful.” But how did she become powerful? This is the part that truly kills me. At the risk of giving away spoilers, Bella gains her strength and power through the most stereotypical feminine way imaginable. Disney princesses are like feminist icons compared to Bella Swan.
4. It led to the even worse (if possible) movie adaptations. I tried to watch the first movie with my husband. He turns to me about 20 mins into the movie and says “you have lost all movie picking privileges for the rest of your life.” We couldn’t make it through the full movie. To Kristin Stewart’s credit her blank, vapid performance says more about the protagonist of the book than about Stewart’s acting abilities.
5. It’s targeted to young adolescents/adults. This brings me back to my third point. Do we really want young women to see this book as the example of either idealized relationships or as characteristics toward which to aspire? As adults reading this book, we can see the absurdity in the relationship, but teenagers may see the relationships in the book as something toward which to strive. I know that the last message I want to send my daughter is that when a partner leaves, the best way to win them back would be to engage in self-harm or risky behavior. But don’t worry, those manipulative, self-destructive behaviors are all worth it in the end because you’ll achieve your lifelong goal of marrying and reproducing!
So if you are looking for a well-written series with complex (or even mildly complex), interesting characters and a believable plot line, run for the hills. This book series has none of these qualities. Young adult literature can be (and should be), entertaining, high quality, and contain a strong message. Stephen King captured this best when he said, “Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”
What do you think? Vote in our poll and tell is if you love it or hate it. If you haven’t read it, you can vote on whether you want to or not.