The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer

Here’s a note before I begin – I’m writing this review as if you’ve read the books. Because I have come to realize that people read these books, and then search all over to find OTHER people who have read the books. It’s a fan obsession unlike anything else! So if you have NOT read the books, some of this may not make sense. Go, quick, pick up some copies, though. It won’t take you long to catch up!!

If you are the kind of Twihard (or Twilighter, if you prefer) who cannot handle a little honest criticism of Meyer’s Twilight Saga, then you may want to find yourself another litblog. Because while I honestly LIKE this series, there are SOOOOO many flaws that I can hardly contain the itch to mention them.

First of all, I’ll tell you what works about these books. They are pure, unadultered, sinfully delicious escapist fluff. No big thinking involved, just divine, quick-read pleasure. The world of the story exists on such a tiny scale, it’s hard not to get intimately involved. In fact, whenever the characters *do* leave the tiny Olympic Peninsula town of Forks, Washington, I am impatient for their return. They don’t do well in the “big, wide world” – all the tension and angst and danger that feeds the storyline rings truer in the misty forest town. And although I think Meyer has major limitations with character development, I do think she creates an exquisite mood in these books. A mood in which every muscle contraction seems to mean something and every fleeting emotion is amplified by 10 degrees. It’s hard to resist the heavy doses of romance, beauty, strength, wealth, and dramatic declarations of eternal love that line the many pages of these 3 (soon to be 4) vampire novels.

I also appreciate that there is no bad language, violence only in very broad strokes, and enough sexual content to make you blush, but not enough to make you embarrassed that you and your teenage daughter are reading the same books!

So, you see, I like them. I really do. But with all the stylistic flaws, I almost feel like I shouldn’t.

Most of the characters in the Twilight saga are just cardboard cutouts. You may as well just slap a one-word sticker on their chest and not bother looking for more. Emmett? Brawn. Jasper? Brooding. Carlisle? Wise. Esme? Motherly. Rosalie? Distant (and Intimidating…okay, she gets two words). Renee? Free-spirited. And forget about any of Bella’s high school friends – Jessica, Angela, Mike (and others whose names I cannot remember). They’re only there in the story to give Bella some classmates, I think. In my opinion, the GREATEST disaster in terms of weak character development is with the villains. What the heck?! We meet James for about 5 stinking minutes at the baseball game, and suddenly he’s the Big Bad Guy. We see Victoria even less, and yet she turns out evil enough to start a war with the Cullens. I was seriously shaking my head thinking, “Did I MISS something? Who the heck are these people!?” I could not for one second fear them or feel suspense about their actions, because they were never, ever more than 1-dimensional plot devices to put Edward in the position of Saving Bella.

Meyer also has some difficulty with dialogue. Her characters will oftentimes go ’round and ’round – it reminds me a little of those cliched soap opera scenes that go something like this: “I’m telling you Raoul, I’m going to leave you.”, “What do you mean Nicki?”, “I mean I cannot stay.”, “Are you trying to tell me that you won’t stay with me?” , “Yes, Raoul, that’s what I’m telling you.”, “But, Nicki, I don’t understand. Just tell me what you’re going to do!” You get the point, I think. So what happens is the characters (and this is usually with Edward and Bella) go in circles, and then Meyer will write something at the end of it, explaining what just happened. I found myself getting a little unfocused at those points, and uninterested.

But again, I really do like the books. Meyer does eventually flesh out the characters of Bella, Edward, Jacob, and Alice. And even Charlie a little (although what the heck is Meyer doing making a 40-ish man act like someone in their mid-60’s?! She makes him seem like an old widower instead of a bachelor in mid-life!) I like the love triangle, and after reading Eclipse, I think it makes perfect sense why she loves both boys. I can’t quite understand all the “Jacob haters” out there – I think he’s the closest thing Bella has to a Friend in the Teenage World. And she is just a teenage girl after all. With Edward, she sees herself as something out of Anne of Green Gables. Jacob has to be there to put her somewhere in the 21st century! I also liked the truce between the vampires and werewolves (although – again, because of the horrible character development on Victoria – the reason for their partnership seems so totally contrived).

It’s been fun talking to my 14yr old daughter about these books, although she thinks I’m completely lame for “over-thinking” the writing and technique. It’s just that I think of other Young Adult novels that are written so much better, and are so much more compelling (I’m thinking of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies/Pretties/Specials trilogy), and I know that there are better reading choices out there. But as my daughter has told me, sometimes a book doesn’t need to MEAN anything or DO anything or BE anything other than fun. And honestly, I have to agree.

AND NOW…

because half the fun of reading these books is to guess how it all ends…

a few of my predictions for Breaking Dawn:

*Who will Bella choose? Duh, Edward. But love triangles only ever work if the “third party” releases the person who is torn. So, to me that means that Jacob will “imprint” on someone else and give his blessings to Bella and Edward. Wouldn’t that be a kick if he imprinted on a vampire? Oh, that would be rich!

*What about the wedding? To be honest, I think it will be interrupted by some chaotic event. I don’t know what that could be, but I see some big wedding-crashing going on.

*Does Bella become a vampire? Am I the ONLY one who thinks this will absolutely not happen?? I cannot find another “prediction” list that agrees with me. No, I feel absolutely sure that Bella will not become a vampire. Does Beauty become the Beast? NO!! The Beast becomes human. And I don’t know how, but I think they will find a way for Edward to become human.

*What about the Alaskan vampires? It would seem pretty silly for Meyer to *name* them and talk about them in all three books and then never even introduce them. So, I think they’re going to show up in the final book. And there might be some tension because of Tanya’s feelings toward Edward.

*Any significant deaths? This seems pretty likely. Not Edward or Bella, but perhaps one of the Cullens. I admit I will be upset if Alice doesn’t make it. That would rot. Or Charlie. But I think Jacob might be in some danger, or Billy, or again, any of Edward’s family.

*Will it be happily ever after for Edward and Bella? I say “yes”! I say Bella stays human, Edward BECOMES human, and they possibly wait to get married – heading off to college together for real, taking their time because now they HAVE time to grow old together. But I see them eventually marrying, having kids, being a part of both of their families’ lives. That would be the perfect romantic ending for me!

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  • I’m so with you on what will happen at the wedding, Bella becoming a vampire and your prediction for what their future could be. I firmly believe that Bella will NOT become a vampire, but that she and Edward will be together, so something will have to happen to him to make that happen.
    This sounds funny even to me because of this just being a book series, but I really hope that Jacob finds a nice girl. He’s my favorite. I like Edward because Bella does, but my taste in fictional (and non-fictional) men runs on the side of hairy and hot blooded, not cold and rock hard. 🙂

  • Okay, we disagree. I read these as they came out because I had a student who was completely obsessed with them. I got sucked in–and I didn’t like the feeling. Besides having serious literary flaws that you have so adeptly pointed out, I really don’t like the message these books send to teenage girls about romance. She chooses EDWARD? Obsessive, possessive, watches her while she sleeps, can’t decide whether to marry her or eat her EDWARD? This is not healthy. This is exactly the kind of guy you do NOT want your teenage daughter to be fantasizing about. How do I know? I am divorced from someone who was obsessive about me–who would have watched me sleep, couldn’t be apart from me for an hour, etc., and it sucked (no pun intended, because that would be a really horrible pun.) It really did. It also really bothers me that because the author is Mormon every Mormon book club and teen and young mother out there is reading these books–I don’t think she would have nearly the fan following without that factor. Why can’t people be wowed by shannon Hale, if they feel the need to pick authors based on religion? Find me a woman in Utah County who hasn’t heard of these books. Vampires really aren’t okay with me, not even vegetarian ones. I know I’m ranting and I’ll probably regret it, but a book read for thrills like this and then touted as wonderful YA lit is embarrassing. It’s the same kind of thrill you get from a romance novel or a Stephen King. It’s just not good literature, and I have started telling people with daughters to stay away and read something healthy–like Anne of Green Gables. Anne chose Gilbert–who has no superpowers and respects her for her mind and heart, not her tantalizing aroma.

  • Much to my surprise, I enjoyed Twilight (I haven’t read New Moon or Eclipse yet). I understand some readers’ concerns about the creepiness of Bella and Edward’s relationship, but it didn’t upset me. If you choose to read vampire romance, it’s pretty much a given you’re going to get some obsessive blood-lust in there. Maybe if I was a mom I’d feel differently, but as an adult sans children, I thought Twilight was a great guilty escape.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. The first book was okay but forgettable for me because it was like every other teen romance. I tried to read the second book and could not get past the first chapter. It was all so contrived. Good call Stacey!

  • kate

    i really wish bella would become a vampire so much but i think your right edward does not want her to become one so badly i bet her will do anything to stop it from hapening…i DO NOT think that edward will become human i think it will runin everything..plus i was on mayers website and she said she was writing another book called “midnight sun” that is twilight in edwards prespection witch i dont think she would bother if it was a hapily ever after tail. i Startes these books a few weeks ago and i am on new moon but i think i am OBSESSED i have been put under the twilight spell and its amazing..im looking foward to all the books to come. peace. Kate

  • allie

    bella becomes a vamp.

  • allie

    in BREACKING DAWN(the 4th book