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« Top Book Blogs | Main | Getting Published - The Holy Grail? An article by Fiona Robyn »

July 15, 2009

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I am very surprised by your review. I did not enjoy Twilight at all - I thougth the storyline was strong but the characters very weak. And the romance thing a tad unrealistic - I mean how seriously can people be in love when they are 17 - its today's generation that we are talking about.And I do love HP series. :(

I love Harry Potter out of all the series I've read so far, and feel that the characters there, especially Hermoine are quite strong and defined.

While Twilight has been the best of vampire fiction I've come across, I felt that the characters were a bit soppy especially Bella. I mean at 17 falling in love isn't the most important thing, any teen would be worried about universities or life ahead :) but she seems to be focused on romance.

So Bella apart, I liked the series enough to read it twice till date.

Hmm - well I knew that I wasn't going to get a unanimous " we love it" in the comments. Thank you for your comments both, and welcome to Juxtabook Zoya.

I am making no claim for great art here, my enthusiasm is very much based in its teachability and its readability. Clearly if you can read the whole series twice Zoya it has something going for it!

Maybe I'm too old to dislike the series properly?? I have to confess it never crossed my mind that 17 would be too young to fall properly in love, clearly most people don't meet the One at 17, but it is feasible surely?

I am very interested to know what others think.

I had rather assumed that I wouldn't like Twilight, but your review suggests that I certainly ought to give it a go.

How seriously can people fall in love when they are 17? I moved in with my boyfriend when I was 17, married him a year later and we are still together 38 years later. I guess it just might be feasible...

:) Yes it is very feasible to fall in love at 17 - it may not happen a lot but it is feasible. My main contention is the way the story develops - I guess I did not see the depth in the relationship for it to be serious. A story has to convince you of its feasibility and unfortunatly Twilight did not.But I do know a lot of people love this book and the series so I guess I am missing the point :)

I really wanted to like the Twilght books - I teach English in a girls' secondary school and almost every girl seems to have read them! I just couldn't get past the cliched writing though - all that smirking and smouldering from Edward drove me mad (very repetitive)! Great narrative pace/drive (although predictable) but I did feel Bella was a but of a weak girly character, always needing rescuing. Also I'm not sure about the whole presentation of sexuality?

A friend's daughter is hooked on these books but I dismissed them... I'm 38 for goodness sake... that's proper grown up and ev'ryfink.

But if YOU rate them (you're a proper grown up, after all) then I'm very tempted!

Thanks again for all the comments coming in. I think this is a marmite kind of book: you love or you hate. But it does engender discussion - which is why I think it would be a joy to teach.

Helen - have you seen Midnight Sun on Stephenie Meyer's website. It tells the story from Edward's perspective so we lose Bella's hero worship and self-depreciation. They make a good pairing.

Bella is obviously a flawed narrator and however grown-up her feelings we do get the teenage narrative full on - smouldering smiles and all!

I have to say I don't really see Bella as weak. She gets in pickles and has to be rescued but that's because her world has collided with the supernatural. In her real human life her parents are useless and she has taken care of herself and them for years. She also tells Edward at one point that she won't be his Lois Lane, that relationships have to be equal and that she can be Superman too.

I like the books' celebration of love, of their acceptance of the "other", of possibilties of doing the best with the hand you've got, and of the value of all kinds of human life and of all kinds of love.

But I am not saying she's Austen - she ain't. They're just interesting, and like Potter get kids reading.

Any more thoughts anyone?

Catherine - you're the second adult to rave about these books, my oldest friend (and mother to teenagers obsessed with the books) being the other.
And I'm a huge Harry Potter fan so these begin to look like a must.

Oh I thought I had posted a comment on here and it doesnt look like I have how odd. I have to say I wasnt bowled over by Twilight,I liked the premise and thought the characters were good but the 'I knew he was bad for me and yet I couldnt resist' repeated every other page began to annoy me. However I LOVED the movie and really want to see New Moon, so I may have to give the book a whirl too. It might convert me!

Alis - they really do have something, but as I say it is a marmite kind of thing, but i hope you enjoy. Good holiday reading!

Simon - don't know what happened there but thank you for taking the time to comment twice. I liked New Moon very much - even more on the second reading. Jake livens things up a bit.

I think where I find the premise sexist is not marriage (I too got married very young and still consider myself feminist!) but the whole "I will stalk you everywhere you go, watch you sleep, and prevent you from doing what you like because I know best what is good for you and it's for your own protection" thing. If it was real life I would say that was an abusive relationship and as it is I do not find it romantic at all. Yuck.

I would agree totally if I thought any of that were true Jenny - then it would be yuck indeed!

Firstly, it's a fantasy, he's a vampire and that brings a whole new kind of threat to Bella. This is not a normal relationship, obviously. His only significant attempt to control her in the first book "Twilight" which is when he speeds away from the baseball game and ignores her pleas to go home. He is not kidnapping her, he is trying to save her, and they are not alone as Alice and Emmett are there too. He is scared stiff that the vampire tracking them will get Bella. It is not meant to be normal. Even here he slows down and listens to reason quite quickly and the plan they eventually follow is Bella's plan, not Edward's one.

In "Eclipse" Victoria is tracking Bella as she wants revenge and Bella has been told that a horrible death has been planned for her if Victoria catches her. Again this is hardly a normal relationship situation. Even though Bella lives with her policman father she is totally unprotected against supernatual threats. Edward is very over-protective and keeps very close tabs on Bella even paying his sister to look after her when he is away. But this is not meant to be normal, it is meant to be a guard situation on someone under real threat of being captured and tortured to death by a supernatural being that even Chief Swan can't stop. Bella has a history of not taking threats seriously, but actually when Bella makes it clear that she wants to see her friend Jake whatever the circumstances Edward is fine, as he knows Jake has special anti-vampire powers too (avoiding spoilers for the non-initiated). Even though he is jealous of Jake he drives Bella to meet him regularly. He threatens Jake after Jake kisses Bella but even then he adds the caveat that if Jake is asked by Bella for a kiss then he (Edward) will not object. In fact throughout this book he gives Bella every opportunity to explore her relationship with Jake because there is part of Edward that would prefer Bella to love Jake, keep her mortal soul, and leave vampires alone. He tells Bella he will bow out graciously if she prefers Jake.

Seriously Jenny how is this controlling?

Other examples: Edward sits by and lets Jake share a sleeping bag with Bella. Edward gets Jake back to speak to Bella before the big battle, even though, because he is a mind reader, he knows that Jake is going to do his best to make Bella declare her love for him. When Bella does ask Jake for a kiss but goes back to Edward afterwards he just says never mind love don't worry about it. In the last book he offers Bella the chance to sleep with Jake because Jake could give her a human child which he (Edward) can't.

Throughout the end of "Eclipse" they discuss their relationhip and its terms over and over and use words like compromise and negotiation over and over again. I think that's quite a good role model.

"Eclipse" is loosely based on Wuthering Heights and Cathy being torn between Heathcliffe and Edgar. Edward quotes Heathcliffe saying that he couldn't deny Cathy Edgar in her life because to do so would be to hurt her. Similarly Edward never denies Bella Jake in her life because it would hurt her. Even though this tolerance hurts Edward.

I see this accusation hurled at "Twilight" quite a bit but the evidence is just not there. I would be appalled by any book that suggested stalking or controlling is acceptable. Close reading will tell you that "Twilight" and the others are emphatically not that book.

Bella gets home from hospital and tells her father, "sorry-I'll get dinner." Has dinner sitting on the table for her father when he gets home? Apologises when they have pizza then makes it up to him? The father gets shirty when his dinners not ready? Father helps stack the dishes so she can wash up afteer she has already cooked? Father can't cook anything more than bacon and eggs despite living alone for fifteen years? Not sexist? HA! Were we reading the same books?

Hello Danielle, I am not saying they're totally not sexist - what isn't sexist? It is a sexist world and most families are run on sexist lines to some degree. What I am just saying is that I don't agree that Bella and Edweard's relationship is abusive or negatrively conservative, The books are not any more sexist than most main stream culture, and in many ways less so.

And yes Bella does all the house work, and yes I noticed, and no that is not a fair situation as such, although it would be rather out of character to have small town police chief some kind of 'new man'. The text has to be realistic not idealistic. Police officers work long hours, are on call, and are notorious for fast food eating (yes, that's another stereotype -but why is Stephenie Meyer the only writer not allowed to fall back on a stereotype? Do women not do domestic work in, say, John Grisham?) so is it so odd that an adult student daughter working shorter regular hours should cook? It is what I did when I was 17 because my parents had careers and were home late.

The point is also made repeatedly in the texts that Bella has 'parented' both her parents, male and female, and that she cooked, cleaned etc for her mother. Her first email home describes where her mother's blouse is because her mother can't is lost without Bella dealing with the laundry. So this is not as simplistic a male/female dichotomy as you make out.

I always lean to a feminist critique of books but I find myself in the odd situation of defending Meyer simply because I think so many charges against her are plain unfair. She is allowed no common popular stereotypes, even though she is writing popular teen fiction not 'art' literature, and any infringement of political correctness is absurdly jumped on as though she is not part of our flawed society like the rest of us. People fling one aspect of behaviour into the debate and yell 'sexist', or whatever, when the truth is usually more complex.

I don't find the portrayal of Bella or her life sexist when viewed as a whole therefore. The one aspect that makes me uneasy from a feminist point of view is Esme who is defined entirely by her domestic life and is a shadow of Carlisle. She rarely fights or acts independently of her family. Possibly justified because of her backstory, as I say it does not do to yell 'sexist' out of context, and I think this is therefore a quibble.

Stephenie Meyer is a successful woman, and sadly the world (as often women as well as men) does not like successful women. I think this is the main reason so much simplistic critical mud is thrown at Meyer. I think this is the kind of sexism we should be worried about as unlike Bella washing up it is real. It is why Meyer gets pilloried in a way that Grisham does not.

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