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Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 7

October 14, 2011

7. NIGHTMARE
I can’t believe just how dull this chapter is. I honestly cannot believe it. See, I always assumed that Twilight wasn’t particularly great reading, and that it must be filled with disgusting romance tripe, but there’s just so much going on in certain places that doesn’t even require the its given. Let me give you one early paragraph in this chapter as an example.

Once in my room, I locked the door. I dug through my desk until I found my old headphones, and I plugged them into my little CD player. I picked up a CD that Phil had given to me for Christmas. It was one of his favorite bands, but they used a little too much bass and shrieking for my tastes. I popped it into place and lay down on my bed. I put on the headphones, hit Play, and turned up the volume until it hurt my ears. I closed my eyes, but the light still intruded, so I added a pillow over the top half of my face.

I sat down at my computer desk. It was covered in tons of knick-knacks, figurines, recent papers, and a little garbage. To the side of my computer sat the novel Twilight. I picked up the book in my right hand, and with my left hand I peeled back the cover and began flipping through pages. I turned to page 129 and proceeded reading chapter 7. It was a very boring read, and one that I would describe later in great detail on my blog, which resides on the Internet.

The pages upon pages of paragraphs upon paragraphs go on and on like this. It’s awful. Very little story progression actually occurs in this chapter, and frankly, it’s embarrassing. It should be embarrassing to anyone who fancies themselves a writer, just as it should be embarrassing to anyone who fancies themselves a reader. Come to think of it, I guess in a way, I’m embarrassed.

Bella falls asleep after listening to this CD no less than three times in a row. That’s, what, like two and a half hours of listening to this one CD and doing nothing else? Doesn’t this girl ever DO anything? Anyway, she describes this dream in which she sees both Jacob and Edward, and hears Mark’s voice somewhere in the background, too. Mmm, men. Lots and lots of men.

And then Edward stepped out from the trees, his skin faintly glowing, his eyes black and dangerous

You know, this is the second time Bella’s had a dream that’s involved Edward and his shiny skin. Okay, let’s say that Bella now both knows and believes Edward to be a vampire. She STILL doesn’t know that his skin is shiny. Where is she getting this mental image from?

My modem was sadly outdated, my free service substandard; just dialing up took so long that I decided to go get myself a bowl of cereal while I waited.
I ate slowly, chewing each bite with care. When I was done, I washed the bowl and spoon, dried them, and put them away.

I’m so glad I read about the mundane act of eating cereal and then washing the bowl and silverware used to feed her, aren’t you!?

With another sigh, I turned to my computer. Naturally, the screen was covered in pop-up ads.

Naturally? You sure don’t take very good care of your computer, do you? And just what web sites have you been browsing to get you that many?

I shot down a few more pop-ups and then typed in one word.
Vampire.

You SHOULD be typing in the word antivirus.

I waited impatiently for it to load, quickly clicking closed each ad that flashed across the screen.

IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL FOR YOU TO ATTEMPT TO USE TECHNOLOGY! DONATE YOUR COMPUTER TO SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO SAFELY USE IT!

Alright, let’s see what Bella finds out about vampires… something about some Filipino vampire known as the Danag. Huh… Danag… Let me Google that for you. Nope, this thing isn’t real. Now, that isn’t to say that there aren’t some kind of Filipino vampires, or something like vampires, but nothing by the name of Danag. Even native Filipinos seem to have never heard of this thing.

As she describes her vampire research, it almost sounds as if I were listening to an actual account of what Stephenie Meyer did when pretending to do actual research on vampires.

I read carefully through the descriptions, looking for anything that sounded familiar, let alone plausible. …There wasn’t much that sounded like the movies I’d seen, and only a very few, like the Hebrew Estrie and the Polish Upier, who were even preoccupied with drinking blood.
Only three entries really caught my attention:

And that’s all I need to hear. It’s like Meyer was looking for entries on vampires and was hoping to find something she was already familiar with, and by familiar with I mean something that looked like the pop-culture children’s Halloween costume located down the seasonal aisle at Wal-Mart, and she only paid attention to the three entries that kind of matched up with that.

The three kinds of potential vampires Bella finds are… somewhat vague. There’s Varacolaci, which, when I personally search for it, I find a completely different spelling, with little true folklore information, though it does exist. Then there’s the Nelapsi, also found with very little folklore behind it. And then there’s the third one, completely and utterly made up for the sake of this book.

Stregoni benefici: An Italian vampire, said to be on the side of goodness, and a mortal enemy of all evil vampires.

PFFT! HAHAHA! What silly wording! A good vampire! Battling on the side of goodness against the big bad evil vampires! BWAHAHA! Sure, there have been vampire characters who fight other vampires before in the past. But the phrasing in this book is so shallow and immature. Like, “No, my boyfriend isn’t one of those BAD vampires, he’s the good kind!” You keep telling yourself that, honey.

And then another problem, one that I’d remembered from the small number of scary movies that I’d seen and was backed up by today’s reading – vampires couldn’t come out in the daytime, the sun would burn them to cinder. They slept in coffins all day and came out only at night.

Oh. So you DO have a vague idea as to how this whole thing works. Okay. So, then, why did you need to do this research? I don’t get it. What was the point of this again?

The next couple of pages involve Bella walking outside and talking to herself in her head about how much she’s dwelling on the fact that Edward is something other than a human. Trust me, it’s all quite boring.

Now that I knew – if I knew – I could do nothing about my frightening secret. Because when I thought of him, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now. Even if… but I couldn’t think it. Not here, alone in the darkening forest. Not while the rain made it dim as twilight under the canopy and pattered like footsteps across the matted earthen floor.

AH! TWILIGHT! SHE SAID IT!

She talks about walking home. She talks about doing homework. She talks about eating breakfast the next morning. She talks about how she gets Mike to realize that Jessica really likes him. She talks about how the girls happily invite her to go dress shopping in Port Angeles in a couple days. She talks about how she’s disappointed that Edward isn’t at school. She talks about cooking dinner for her dad. She talks about E-mailing her mom to keep her calm… Good lord, this is so boring! NOTHING IS HAPPENING!

I decided to kill an hour with non-school-related reading. I had a small collection of books that came with me to Forks, the shabbiest volume being a compilation of the works of Jane Austen. I selected that one and headed to the backyard, grabbing a ragged old quilt from the linen cupboard at the top of the stairs on my way down.

I lay on my stomach, crossing my ankles in the air, flipping through the different novels in the book, trying to decide which would occupy my mind the most thoroughly. My favorites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

MOST BLAND HEROINE EVER! Oh, and should I be surprised that Stephenie Meyer took personal inspiration from Pride and Prejudice?

I’d read the first most recently, so I started into Sense and Sensibility, only to remember after I began chapter three that the hero of the story happened to be named Edward.

Oh, is THAT where you lifted your literary work from?

Bella falls asleep in the backyard. Bella wakes up. Bella watches TV with her dad. Bella prepares lunch meat for her dad. Bella goes to sleep. Bella wakes up. Bella goes to school. Bella doesn’t see Edward. Bella meets up with the other girls to go to Port Angeles.

And… that’s it. Nothing happened in this chapter. NOTHING HAPPENED! This also makes two chapters in a row in which Edward doesn’t show up at all. And yet Bella is completely obsessed with his existence, despite her never seeing him. This is ridiculous. I’m pretty positive we could have cut out this chapter entirely. We could have just been told in the next chapter that Bella was concerned that Edward was a vampire, and then skip straight to her getting together with her friends on an escape to Port Angeles. Why was any of the rest of this necessary?

Short answer: It wasn’t.

Next chapter, chapter 8, Port Angeles.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 3:28 AM

    Ok, I’ll always love these books, even if there’s no good reason, but I gotta admit, these riffs are making me giggle 🙂

  2. Hamel permalink
    October 14, 2011 6:26 AM

    Yay! I’m glad you’re tearing this book apart! I love your reviews and this is just great. Its very true, as both an avid writer and reader, I was embarrassed to even read just up to when she SEES the “vampire”. I had to force myself to read it and usually the only time I ever had to force myself to read something was when a book was assigned from school that wasn’t particularly interesting. I actually fear that people that read this book will try to emulate its mundane boring structure and incorporate it into their own works.

  3. October 14, 2011 9:39 AM

    I’m wondering if the pop-up ads aren’t a requirement of her “free” service. Has to be paid for somehow. That or Meyer needs an antivirus of her own and thinks that’s how the internet works.

  4. October 14, 2011 12:44 PM

    As a techie Bella disgusts me. Good review, keep on tearing it apart.

  5. October 14, 2011 7:15 PM

    I always hated this chapter and Meyer’s CONSTANT referencing to classic literature. Just because you reference them doesn’t NOT mean that your book is intelligent. It most certainly does NOT give your writing credibility. And I’m not sorry, but your characters do NOT have the multi-dimesional characteristics of Austen’s work! STOP TRYING TO SOUND CULTURED. YOU FAIL AT IT.

  6. October 15, 2011 12:41 PM

    STREGONI BENEFICI? That’s odd. The last “stregoni benefici” I read about was named Glinda, and the was the “stregani benefici” of the South.

    Since when is a “good witch/wizard” a “vampire?”

    Wait…does that mean that Tara Gillespie is really Stephenie Meyer? That would explain a lot.

    (To steal the above quote) Ms. Meyer, stop trying to sound cultured. You fail.

  7. spacermase permalink
    October 15, 2011 3:29 PM

    The sad thing is, there *are* benevolent shapeshifters in folklore- the Benandanti from Italy who fought witches, and the Baltic Hounds of God (for those of you have read Gaiman’s Graveyard Book, no, he didn’t make them up, and yes, they really were reputed to be werewolves that went off and fought demons. Badass, no?).

    So, there was plenty she could have worked with, but she wasted all that potential.

    • October 15, 2011 10:47 PM

      Why cite Gaiman’s book? Of course he didn’t make them up! That is, of course, because Niel Gaiman isn’t a complete hack. There are plenty of ACADEMIC sources for shapeshifter Lore! I recommend:

      The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agranian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century or Ecstacies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath, both by Carlo Ginzburg

      and

      Witches, Werewolves and Faeries: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages by Claude Lecoteux.

      You’ll find the Benandanti, the Hounds of God, the Kresniki and Kudlaki, the Mazzeru, and the Taltos.

      You’re right, Spacermase, there’s plenty to work with. However, there will forever be a wellspring of vapid, useless writers who will continue to rape a grand literary tradition in favor of writing soulless stolid drivel that the next generation consumes with ecstatic glee and treat it as gospel truth. I weep for the future.

      • spacermase permalink
        October 15, 2011 11:38 PM

        Thanks for the cites!

        To the university library!

    • thefalafal permalink
      November 21, 2011 8:41 PM

      I love you. Thank you for showing me their name.

  8. Creature SH permalink
    October 15, 2011 5:20 PM

    Wow, this chapter really stinks of self-insertion, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s generally obvious, but now it’s like she wants us to know. Also, padding. Paddington Blah.

  9. October 16, 2011 9:09 PM

    3 things

    #1 “You SHOULD be typing in the word antivirus.” Absolutely brilliant line. I laughed out loud for about 10 second.

    #2 “IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL FOR YOU TO ATTEMPT TO USE TECHNOLOGY! DONATE YOUR COMPUTER TO SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO SAFELY USE IT!” I have so many people I say this too.

    #3 My biggest problem with Twilight (even before I knew how awful of a human being Bella is) was always how she treated vampires. Vampire lore is free for interpretation and things can be changed. I am not rigid about. However, the scary thing about vampires (to me at least) is that for them to live, they must kill. For them to continue their existence they must end the existence of another and/or add them to the group of people that have to kill to survive. That is terrifying and it really works.

    There can be “good” vampires. Angel is an example. Blade is another. They aren’t necessarily Lawful Good but they aren’t the evil ones. This book isn’t about Vampires, it is about a middle aged woman’s fantasies hidden behind vampire lore.

    • Björn Brändewall permalink
      November 23, 2011 8:31 PM

      Meyer was about 29 when she wrote this, I think it’s a bit harsh to call her “middle aged”. But there are plenty of other things to call her!

    • Badger permalink
      July 26, 2012 8:52 AM

      I really didn’t want to intellectualize these books too much. I agree with the whole “midlife crisis fantasy” theory of these books–I’ll add “harmful, dysfunctional, and psychologically disturbing, with strong aspects of necrophilia, beastiality, near-pedophilia, and general abuse/rape” to the “fantasy” description (Twilight, to me, is the romantic equivalent of Clarice Starling dating Hannibal Lector, if Clarise were a 15 year old mentally challenged invalid.); but Mike up there kickstarted my brain in a couple of interesting (to me, anyway) directions:

      I wonder if the idea of having to kill/destroy/exploit either another living thing, or the planet we all live on, in order to survive (which certainly all humans, and most life in general do) has something to do with the basic attraction of vampires, in the first place?

      Maybe this is an expression of humanity’s guilt over that, in the form of a monster who is an expression of the dark attraction of an ultimate consumer who doesn’t have a reason to feel guilty for killing, like the rest of us do. An ‘ultimate predator’ walking talking black hole in human form, who exists only to take life and give nothing back–someone who has obtained the best possible devil’s deal, one that still doesn’t require much compromise of them (they get immortality, various superpowers, physical, social, and inevitable financial dominance, beauty, what have you–and in trade they must only continue to take from others, forever, and hide their parasitical existence from the disinfecting light of the sun, appropriately the source of all life).

      Unless ofcourse, the vampire themself becomes unable to blissfully continue the inherant selfishness and self-centeredness of their existence.

      And, once they can no longer…unlive? with their guilt, or atleast the loneliness of an eternity of such pure destruction, here comes resolution of such an unnatural existence, significantly often atleast while the vampire is in a romantic relationship with (Carmilla), if not directly delivered by the hands of, a fertile young woman, and the fate of the vampire will present itself either form of a damning love, that leads directly to the death of the vampire and then sex/childbirth for the woman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula); or a saving love that leads to sex with the vampire, and then death/childbirth for the woman (Largely due to all it’s faults, the Twilight series, as this review handily and admirably demonstrates, is atleast very interesting to analyse.).

      Death and sex are some of Literature’s most constant plotting points, and vampire stories are great at mixing them both, and boiling to a fine distillation.

      It’s also kind of interesting that the issue of whether vampires even have traditional sexual urges, functions, and relationships seems to be so problematic, again and again, in so many diverse modern works about them (if even Anne “Sleeping Beauty” Rice can’t get vampires knocking coffins, who the hell can?), and yet some of the most iconic vampire stories such as The Vampyre, Fragment of a Novel, Dracula, and Carmilla carry with them such obvious, and often powerfully seductive, sexual attributes and connotations.

      Without looking any deeper into mythological sources, the religious undertones and parallels with modern Dracula-style vampirism are pretty obvious, too, and are maybe even somewhat inherant and unavoidable in this type of Western European Stoker/Dracula-tradition vampire story–and so at times it seems like a vampire must take on certain aspects, weaknesses, and powers of Christian roles-either straight, or twisted and horrific-of a sinner, a lover, a martyr, a priest/nun, or even Jesus/God. Appropriate for a being so close to the edges of both life and death, and one that has traits of both demon and angel.

      Stoker didn’t exactly invent the whole “eat (of my) flesh, drink (of my) blood, fear crosses and churches and the sun(god) in the sky, and you get to live forever” concept, afterall.

      I’ll point out that any faithful Christian Catholic doesn’t drink wine, either. During the Sacrament, the belief is that the wine they’d otherwise be drinking has instead been supernaturally transformed into the blood of an innocent, which grants eternal life.

      I don’t know that I’ve come to any real conclusions about the whole mystique of the vampire, and I’m not sure I’m quite convinced by it, myself, but I think that underneath this particular hump of shallow, awful, irresponsible writing, lies something so gene-deep and primal in our very attraction to these particular monsters that maybe makes us, against all natural instinct and reason, want to be bitten by them, and maybe that’s why they’re frightening, and why these unlikeable, unreasonable, unbelievable characters manage to make this trash sell.

  10. Björn Brändewall permalink
    November 23, 2011 8:34 PM

    LOL, now I’m starting to hear Linkara’s “sexy woman” voice whenever I read Bella’s expositioning.

    This series of blogposts is very rewarding to read. I hope you keep it up, gurl!

  11. locuas permalink
    March 14, 2012 6:56 PM

    oh for the love of god. i’m actually surprised meyers even KNOWS what a vampire is. why couldn’t they, i don’t know, be somekind of “angels” or something like that, or people with psiquic/magical powers or something like that.
    God, Kamen Rider Kiva at least tried to make the romances somewhat realistic(but who gets the girl/boy at the end? the second rider, of course! even tough his personality wasn’t all that likable)But this. This isn’t even a freaking human being!

  12. Shauna permalink
    April 11, 2012 8:06 PM

    Ok…I’m gonna assume your not that brain dead!!!??? It’s a book…wtf were you expecting??? Lets see its obvious that bella knows about vamps, but she don’t get how hes out side during the day time..” hints ” shes seen vampire movies..maybe confused? ?! I know for a fact you would be too!! You would be thinking I’m not sure but I. Think spool…..hmmm. very good brain!!! Maybe that’s why!! And as far as talking about herself and her daily life well that ones easy!! Its clear shes ordinary nothing special …right??? Then you realize she feels she don’t fit! Now she finally finds a place where she does…and plz spare me the bullshit that you always fit in!!!…lmao just saying

    • April 12, 2012 8:31 AM

      Wh… what? Was that English? I guess I understand why Twilight was such an easy read for you.

  13. Shauna permalink
    April 11, 2012 8:10 PM

    I don’t get why people hats on something soo innocent? ?? Waste your breath and criticism on things like WE THE PEOPLE FUCKED UP BY VOTING FOR SUCH A MESS FOR A PRESIDENT!!! Oh ty to all the idiots on here that did too by the way!

    • April 11, 2012 8:14 PM

      OK, I’m not an Obama fan myself but what does that have to do with Twilight?

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