When Stephanie Meyer announced that a new Twilight novel, Midnight Sun, would be coming out in August, she unearthed a part of me that had been buried for a decade: my Twilight phase.
Although my original copy of Twilight is long gone, I ordered another so that I could get to the bottom of why 10 year-old me really thought this was The Greatest Love Story Ever Written.
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series is undoubtedly one of the biggest book franchises of our time, with over 120 million copies sold. The human-vampire relationship between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen spawned four books plus one spinoff and now, Midnight Sun (12 leaked chapters – that I admit I downloaded and read in 2009 – caused Meyer to halt publication). Then there were the five Twilight movies. From 2008 to 2012, Twilight was absolutely everywhere. And then it ended, and disappeared entirely from my mind. Until three days ago.
‘About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him’ (p. 171).
It would be easy to bash Twilight, to say that it’s cringe and badly written. But although Meyer’s logic can seem a little skewed at times (Why does a 108 year-old fancy a 17 year-old girl?) and her writing a little cliché (“What if I’m not the superhero? What if I’m the bad guy?” – chill out, Edward), Twilight isn’t that bad, really. It’s an enjoyable read for the most part. The plot is engaging and easy to follow, the main action revolving around a cat-and-mouse chase between Edward, Bella and another vampire who wants to eat her. Even Bella and Edward’s relationship is kind of sweet if you ignore the fact that he spends the entire novel (and franchise) also trying not to eat her.
Twilight’s real problem, however, ultimately lies in its main character and narrator, Isabella Swan. I know Meyer is trying to capture the voice of an ‘awkward’ teenage girl, but oh my god, I don’t see how she could have made her more annoying. From rereading Wuthering Heights ‘for fun’ to her favourite colour being ‘brown’, Bella is hell-bent on being ‘different’ and actually says at one point, ‘maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period’ (p. 9). The angst! This is, of course, untrue. After moving to Forks, Bella immediately finds a nice group of friends and is asked to the school dance by not one, but three boys. What are the odds?
‘I was glad to leave campus, so I would be free to pout and mope before I went out tonight with Jessica and company’ (p. 127).
Bella also actively chooses to ignore the elephant in the room: her boyfriend wanting to drink her blood all the time. This is a flaw in their relationship that is obvious to everyone; Edward; Edward’s entire extended family; Bella’s dad; Me; You. On the contrary, she loves it.
Of course, the story wouldn’t be a story had she chosen to dump Edward the moment she saw him glittering in the sunlight (I forgot about the glittering, too – hilarious), but she doesn’t even consider it. She’s an idiot from the get-go.
Cynicism aside, Twilight definitely isn’t the worst book you could read. I enjoyed delving back into Meyer’s bizarre, vampire world. I’m giving Twilight two stars; one for the mems, one for Edward glittering.
Read the novel yourself: https://whatlilyread.com/upa8