Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Before We Begin
It should come as no shock or surprise to anyone that there are two very polar extremes when it comes to the novels and movies in the Twilight saga. One extreme will tell you that Twilight is a beautiful piece of literature written for young women (and some stay-at-home moms) about the most unrealistic of relationships possible between a bland, boring, normal teenage girl and her incredibly beautiful, sexy, and all-around attractive boyfriend, who also happens to be the sweetest, most romantic man in all existence, with absolutely zero downsides, including immortality. On the other end of the spectrum, you have this massive audience who has such disdain for everything that Twilight stands for, mostly in reference to how the classic image of a vampire is forever tainted by Stephenie Meyer’s interpretation.
At some point, I became mildly obsessed with trying to figure out what exactly the draw to this novel series was. That happens to me a lot, actually. If I ever find something that catches my interest even for a fleeting moment, then I absolutely have to know everything about all of the inner workings about it, and I find myself doing research for hours, even if it’s knowledge I’m never going to have a need to use ever again. And yes, it even happens when I’m completely disgusted by things such as Twilight. Before actually reading the novel, the conclusion I’ve reached is that after Meyer had some incredible dream one night that she couldn’t get out of her head (because that’s literally what Twilight is based on, a married Mormon-woman’s dream), she decided to write a large fan-fiction piece with a self-insertion character who is required to do a total of absolutely nothing and yet gets everything she ever wanted. To a young, naive teenage girl picking this series up, I can almost see the attraction. Of course. Why wouldn’t you want everything you ever wanted just handed to you? This is all aside from the fact that, yes, vampires are portrayed in such a way that it completely shatters every previous incarnation of the lore that has ever existed. At first, you might want to go out and say, “Hey, she tried something new, and at least she was daring enough to do it.” But the truth is, she didn’t even really know what she was doing at all. An interview with Entertainment Weekly shows that Meyer had never read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, that she can’t read other vampire novels because she gets upset if the vampires end up too similar or too different to what she created, and that she can’t stomach watching vampire movies. The ending result is something so far apart from any previous incarnation of vampire that it is, of course, very jarring to anyone who knows anything else about them, and leads one to question whether you can really call the creatures in Meyer’s novels “vampires” at all.
I am well aware that bashing on Twilight is not exactly a new concept. The first novel was released in 2005, and its movie adaptation was released in 2008. Since then, the war between the fans and the anti-fans has been ravenous, and I’d think that’s actually putting it lightly. So when I join in, maybe too late for anyone to care, I realize that I’m pretty much doing it just for myself at this point. Like I said earlier, once I start something, I just can’t seem to stop until I’m done. I don’t know if this is something I’ll actually be able to complete or not. But it’s something I feel driven to do at this moment in time.
Part of me wants to claim that I’m “giving the series a chance”. I’ve sat and watched all of the movies released thus far, and part of me is still fighting, trying to say, “Well, movie adaptations of books are never as good as their source material.” Except the part that fights that reasoning is the fact that Meyer herself was incredibly involved with the production process of these movies, and they’re touted as being incredibly close to the source material. Frankly, the movies were so cliched and over-the-top in the teen romance department that half the time I was sitting there wondering if Stephenie is simply the most supreme troll thus far seen in the 21st century; It all felt like an incredible joke. So, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on what side of the Internet you’re coming at me from), I’m not exactly going into this reading with much of a positive outlook. So, be aware. When I start the pickings, I’m doing so with some bias against it.
That having been said, I’m ready to jump into the first novel in Stephenie Meyer’s outrageously popular saga, Twilight.
Later today, I’ll be posting with the pickings on the Prologue and Chapter 1. Please keep your eye out for it.