…in the dark ages when Myspace was still A Thing, I wrote a review of Twilight. I also wrote reviews of New Moon and Eclipse, but not Breaking Dawn. I read that one too, but by that point I just couldn’t muster the energy to put forth more words on the subject of that series. These reviews were somewhat late to the party, because I had decided the books were not for me at an early stage. However, I had a friend who was convinced I would love them if I just read them, and I don’t like to be a hypocrite mocking something I’ve never read. When she insisted that I borrow her copies, I accepted and soldiered through all four novels.
What follows is my review of Twilight, circa 2009. I’ll tell you upfront that I hated it, and if people hating Twilight offends your delicate sensibilities please don’t read on. You will only be upset.
That’s a big so. Settle in, this should be a long one.
So, I borrowed Twilight from my friend partially because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, but also because I very much wanted to mock it and I feel guilty doing so without having read it (I did see the film). What follows are my problems with the books, I will try to make it more manageable by breaking it up by volumes.
After seeing the movie, I basically HAD to read the book because I figured it had to be the fault of bad adaptation when Bella falls for Edward after he indicates via body language that she is smelly, tries to switch classes to get away from her, and then disappears altogether for a week. Nope, this is EXACTLY what happens in the book. Good grief. The Amazon reviews make a lot of mention of “first love” and being seventeen, and maybe I was just a freak, but at seventeen if a guy I found lustily attractive had treated me so callously my opinion of him would have been irreparably damaged.
“BUT, SKEG!” you say, “He SAVED her from a bloody death by CRUSHING!” Fine, he can have one “not a douchebag” point. However, he stalks her in Port Angeles (which, SMeyer, is NOT a bustling tourist trap by any stretch of the imagination. Research, woman.) and watches her sleep. He comes into her room without her permission, and watches her lying there vulnerable and helpless and somewhat less dressed than usual. That is CREEPY. Not sexy, not endearing, not sweet, not fated love. He’s just a creepy pathetic weirdo with no respect for Bella’s boundaries. Breaking and entering is a crime, fella.
Bella, for her part, is such a whiny unpleasant loser that you think even a socially awkward creep like Edward could do much better. She is petulant and resentful of the friendly residents of her new town who try to befriend and include her, choosing instead to nurse an unhealthy obsession over a boy who treats her like a walking joke (when he’s not stalking her). She is touted as a bookworm, somewhat intelligent even, though her inner monologue never betrays it. Yet she never displays any sort of will or backbone of her own, she’s just blandly inconsiderate of her schoolmates and pouty with Edward.
“Aha, Skeg!”, my friend would say “You forget that he’s a bad boy! All girls love those!”. First of all (and again, I may be a freak) I never did. Second of all, by what stretch of the imagination is Edward Cullen a bad boy?! He’s a vegetarian virgin who drives a Volvo! He has an excellent relationship with his “parents” and impeccable self-control. I myself always liked nice boys of this general description, but don’t tell me Edward Cullen has mass appeal because he is dangerous. His supernatural self-control even removes the danger of his strength and Bella’s fragility. How much more interesting if he should have accidentally broken her arm while making out and she had to explain that to Charlie! He’s about as dangerous as a Ken doll. One of the ones with molded plastic hair.
The wee smidge of “action” thrown in at the end isn’t really worth mention. It’s a conveniently inserted device, and the one point of conflict it brings up is conveniently resolved by the last book.
Just from a mechanics standpoint, the book is a mess. Stephenie Meyer is the most epic failure of the school of “show, don’t tell”. Despite her endless mentions of “bronze hair”, “golden eyes”, and “marble chest” I found Edward impossible to picture. Edward has absolutely no personality of his own. He plays piano, he likes classical music and fifties tunes, and he likes to drive fast. He likes Bella’s stench. He is a cipher, existing only to fill whatever need Bella has at that moment, when he isn’t ordering her around. You might call that mysterious, but I don’t. I call it bad writing. What’s more, saying someone has a “perfect face” tells me nothing. Tell me someone has thick straight brows, a prominent nose, and lips that turn down slightly at the corners and we are getting somewhere. Tell me a guy has eyes “pale as glass” and not only do I have a mental image, I’m downright intrigued. It is a failure of Stephenie Meyer’s imagination that Bella and Edward have absolutely no reason to fall (and stay) in love, outside of lust.