Once upon a time there was a woman. She was 25. She loved to read. She was always looking for a great new series or author to suck her into that wonderful world of fiction. And a large portion of her friend base was ranting and raving about Twilight and it's epic Bella-Edward Romeo & Juliet-esque story. So on one fateful day, she made a shopping trip to Sam's Club, and lo and behold, they had the entire Twilight "saga" on sale.
That should have been her first warning, but even our heroine can make mistakes.
Soon after her big purchase, this woman went home and cracked open the book that started it all - Twilight. Just a few pages in, she was already forming snarky comments in her head. Why did she keep reading, you ask? Well, because she has never not finished a book. Ever. And she wasn't about to start a bad habit by not finishing this easy-read piece of trash. Thus begins our journey...because of course, our heroine was, in fact, me. And Lord knows I can't keep my mouth shut when I read something as downright terrible as the Twilight series.
The first problem I noticed with this novel is the main character, Bella. Bella is described as a perfectly average girl--probably cute, a little smarter than most, but nothing special. And by special, I mean that she not only doesn't have any amazing characteristics - she also has no flaws. I refuse to count her "endearing clutziness" as a flaw, considering everyone apparently loves her for it.
And there is the second problem - everyone loves her. Seriously, she moves to a small town where everyone knows everyone else, yet they are all immediately accepting of and enamored with a plain, shy girl. One must remember that this is what happens when someone who was probably unpopular and chubby in high school writes a book based on her sad, pathetic fantasies. And I can say this because I was unpopular and chubby in my younger days...only I didn't remain delusional as an adult. Thank God.
Speaking of sad, pathetic fantasies - Twilight begins the Bella-Edward relationship by perpetrating that silly myth that boys who treat you like crap actually really like you. This has no basis in reality after maybe 4th or 5th grade, but of course Stephenie Meyer wouldn't want to admit that because then the fact that all the boys she want to school with treating her like crap would actually mean that she was unpopular and chubby.
I suppose it's not exactly mature of me to pick on someone who obviously had such a terrible youth, so let's move on to the next major issue with this story - the lack of vampires. That's right, I said it - there is a serious lack of vampires in this book, considering what it is supposed to be about. Now, I don't pretend to be some sort of vampire scholar - this is actually the first "vampire novel" I ever read, and beyond catching a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I was never big on vampire shows or movies, either. But I'm pretty sure that vampires are supposed to be allergic to sunlight, garlic, holy water and crucifixes. And oh yeah - they're supposed to drink blood. Human blood. I think Ms. Meyer focused on the absolute wrong points of Interview with a Vampire when she watched it (probably around a thousand times) in her younger days. Edward Cullen and his "family" are lame, even without the whole sparkling-in-the-sunlight thing. And don't even get me started on that.
All too soon, we learn that Edward sneaks into Bella's room at night and watches her sleep. I seriously wish that I knew what was going through Stephenie Meyer's head when she wrote about this. "What is the absolute most romantic thing my vampire hero could do for the mortal girl that he's in love with? OMG OMG OMG I know! He can sneak into her bedroom, uninvited, while she is sleeping, and stare at her from the corner all night! I would have totally wanted my high school boyfriend to do that for me...Oh wait, I didn't have a high school boyfriend, but if I had..."
While we're talking about the creep factor...at a certain point, age is about experience, not time. No matter how "old" Bella is for her age, and regardless of the fact that Edward was 17 when he was turned into a vampire, I can't get it out of my head that this is like a middle-aged man dating a teenager. Not only is it obnoxious, but what would two people with such an "age" difference really have in common? And liking Clair de Lune doesn't count. Everyone likes Clair de Lune. That's like saying "You think Shakespeare was brilliant? What a coincidence, so do I!"
The age thing is also an issue with me when considering Carlisle. No one seems to question the fact that Carlisle was hundreds of years old (despite being only in his 20s when he was transformed) when he turned two teenagers (Edward and Rosalie) and another younger man (Emmett) into vampires. In fact, only his "wife", Esme, was older than him in human years when she was turned. Let's get beyond the fact that I even remember this much from the books and question why this man has such a pension for "saving" very young humans from "certain death" by turning them into vampires.
Funny, though, that when Bella is bitten by an actual vampire, the usually-in-control Carlisle "can't" suck the "vampire venom" from her and needs Edward to do it for him. The only explanations I've heard for this are weak ones given by Twilight fanatics, because of course Stephenie Meyer can't be expected to fill the many plot holes in her own books.
In conclusion, I need to bring up a more serious issue with this book - that being the general relationship between Bella and Edward. Edward is, as every fantasy male should be, handsome, rich, intelligent, obsessive, overprotective, and controlling.
Wait a minute, what were those last three "qualities"?
It is drilled into the reader's mind that Bella can't do anything on her own (because she's clutzy, remember?) and needs Edward to watch over (even in her sleep) and protect her. At the end of Twilight, when Edward threatens to leave her (with the oh-so-awesome reasoning that doing so would "protect" her), Bella insists that he can never leave her, she couldn't live without him, blah blah blah. And instead of seeing the light and realizing what he's gotten himself into (this girl is clingy and psychotic, no?), Edward stays. Not that he was ever really planning on leaving her in the first place--as anyone who has been in a controlling, possessive, abusive relationship knows, threatening to leave will simply make it easier to bend her to his will. Bella has now become a sort of anti-heroine - completely submissive and self-sacrificing for the "man she loves", while all Edward does in return is be with her. Of course, that's all find and dandy because she's "not good enough" for him anyway, in her mind.
To be completely honest, had I read this book at 15, before I'd ever been in love and known what it was to be loved, I probably would have had a secret obsession with it. Secret, because I would have been intelligent enough to see just how badly written it was - the poorly portrayed characters, the plot holes, the pages and pages of crappy filler consisting of Bella and Edward gazing longingly at each other. Shit, had I read it at 22, I probably would have heaved a big sigh over the fact that I had married too young, was no longer in love, and would never again experience a "great romance" like that of Bella and Edward.
Thankfully, I read it at 25, when I had been through a relationship with someone who made all of my major decisions and did everything for me, because of course I was a girl and didn't know what was best for myself. Thankfully, I had gotten out of that relationship and found my true soul mate - a man with whom I have nearly everything in common, who was honest with me from the start, sees my potential, and treats me like a goddess, not a spoiled princess. Thankfully, I am one of many people (although unfortunately, possibly not the majority of people, at least within my social circle) who sees this book for the drivel that it is.