One of my best friends from high school passed away last week. I’d like to think she’d find these posts hilarious. Cassie, this is for you, and we will miss you every day.
I read the entire Twilight Saga in a week.
Here is what I learned, annotated with appropriate .gifs. Note: I didn’t really talk about the retcon job Stephenie Meyer did on the vampire mythos at large, simply because it’s been done to death. But suffice to say, VAMPIRES DO NOT SPARKLE. If you are looking for better texts to read on vampires, go read all of Anne Rice and thank me later.
Book 1: Twilight
1. Take a really interesting concept and write a bunch of shit around it, so you get flashes of interesting ideas that make your audience read the entire goddamn series. Had these books just been about Carlisle creating his weird nuclear/vampire family, I would have been all. about. it. Apparently Stephenie Meyer thought about making the entire story about this concept, but gave up because it would be “too much research.” That tells you all you need to know.
2.Make your protagonist/narrator an unapologetic butthole with no agency. I hated Bella. When she wasn’t bitching about her environment or crying, she was mentally berating everyone she came into contact with (the constant referrals to her male classmates as ‘dogs’ was really gross). The reason why Katniss works as a character in Hunger Games is because her traumatic experiences are an extension of her character, but they are not her entire character. She has flashes of genuine kindness and compassion that makes the climax of those books so heartbreaking because the books’ events are slowly eating away at her humanity, and she has to figure out a way to regain it. Bella has no growth, except when she’s literally growing a fetus inside of her. (spoiler for Breaking Dawn!)
3. All high school guys are trolls except for the ONE PERFECT GORGEOUS MAN WHO WILL MAKE ALL OF YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. This is the part I sort of related to. I had a huge crush on one guy all through high school and he really did make every other guy I interacted with look like a slug in comparison. HOWEVER. I did think there were a few other really hot dudes that I crushed on during my breaks from crushing on my main dude, and guess what. I HAD A LIFE THAT WAS TOTALLY SEPARATE FROM MY CRUSH. And then later on in the series Bella completely gives up on any friends aside from the ones she’s made in proximity to the Cullens, or Jacob Black (or Wolfe..hahahha)
4. Have no idea how to create dramatic tension in your prose? ……….Ellipses!
5. If a guy acts like he’s physically repulsed by your presence, it really means he’s completely and utterly obsessed with the way you smell and that means he loves you. This is written in a much more ridiculous and upsetting way than the other ways I’ve seen “the guy ignores you because he likes you” trope. In Divergent, Four ignores Tris because he sees something in her that he has repressed in himself, and it’s hard for him to be around her because she reminds him of what he gave up to Dauntless. Edward is literally gagging in Bella’s presence unless he can get some of that sweet, sweet mortal meat.
6. It’s super romantic when guys watch you sleep. Every night. Even in A Discovery of Witches (which is a WAY better series than this but follows some of the same guidelines) this is employed, but it’s employed because the vampire thinks the mortal has something he needs in her possession (an actual book, not her booty or something). in this, he’s literally just like “vampire must look at pretty lady because he can’t sleep.” AND SHE’S TOTALLY OKAY WITH IT.
7. Obsession and love go hand in hand. Bella and Edward don’t interact like any teen couple I’ve ever seen. They don’t laugh. They don’t joke. They don’t do stupid shit. They just lay in fields and stare into each others’ eyes (which, perhaps, is their version of the aforementioned ‘stupid shit’). Also, Bella tears herself down all the time in front of Edward.
8. Muse. Stephenie Meyer is completely obsessed with the band Muse, to the point that she dedicated the final book in the series to them. These books should have been 1000x better if she was using Muse as her writing playlist! Then again, she also namechecks Linkin Park as another favorite band, so her taste is somewhat questionable.
In summary: Badly written, laughable romance, and stupid revisionist vampire lore. But on the whole, nothing too infuriating.
Book 2: New Moon
1. Make your second male lead ten times more interesting and fun than your first male lead. This is the book that gives us Jacob’s story, which means New Moon is my favorite of the four books. It’s also not surprising given Edward completely disappears from the narrative for nearly 300 pages. By the end of the book I was furious that the plot’s machinations made Edward not only come back into the picture, but made it virtually impossible for any other choice Bella could make. There’s a reason why Katniss ends up with Peeta, people – Peeta saw Katniss at her worst and stayed. Edward ran off like an asshole.
2. Breakups will literally nearly kill you and make everyone around you completely annoyed at how useless you’ve become because LOVE IS WHAT MAKES YOU ALIVE. Again, I completely understand what Meyer was trying to do – convey how everything to teenagers – especially love – is intense and overwrought and full of ANGST and FEELINGS. If you’d like a similar idea but much better conveyed, go read literally anything by John Green.
3. Refer to better texts than yours as a way to ‘compare’ yourself to those lofty pieces of literature. When Bella and Edward were lying on the couch and comparing themselves to the characters in Romeo and Juliet? I wanted to gouge my eyes out. If you’re comparing yourselves to the two most idiotic teens in Shakespeare’s canon (with the exception of Chiron and Demetrius from Titues Andronicus because, dude, they raped and mutilated a chick), then you are doing it wrong. Sure, I loved Romeo and Juliet when I was in middle school, but by the time I was 17 I started getting much more invested in the more adult comedies such as Much Ado About Nothing. And Wuthering Heights? Sure, if you want to compare your tale to one of insane life-destroying obsession, why not?
Truth be told, nothing happens in this book except Bella sucks and Jacob is great, and then holy shit Jacob’s a werewolf (OR IS HE *SPOILERS*) and then whaaaat Edward’s back and he nearly kills himself through the power of his relentless sparkle body. So…it’s all right, but I was starting to get a bit annoyed at how Bella has completely pinned her entire life on this dude. He’s boring as hell!
Oh, and the one or two times we meet the females on the Quileute reservation…they are doing the wifely duties of cooking tremendous amounts of meat for the hungry men-folk. What is this, Oregon Trail?
that’s part One.