Twilight recap and mini review

Twilight recap and mini review

That’s right, I’m tackling it. The mother of all teenage self insertion young adult novels. Twilight.

Let’s get cracking.

***

The novel begins with Bella Swan passive aggressively moving to live with her dad, Charlie, in the sodden butthole of the world, Forks. She’s sad and annoyed with this change, but suffers silently because she’s vying for martyrdom.

She arrives and Bella is instantly the most attractive person in the school. All the boys want her and the other girls hate her. But what’s so attractive about her is that she doesn’t know that she’s beautiful. Because knowing your own self-worth is bad news, I guess? Anyway, I’ve never read a book where so little happens in so many pages. The start of this book is as interesting and nuanced as its main character. The only interesting thing that happens is that Edward is a total jerk to her for no reason.

But then a car crash happens and Bella is shoved out of its way by Edward and she sees his superhuman strength and speed and comes to the only possible logical conclusion.

Oopsadaisy. Watch out for the van.

Edward Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way is a vampire! Oh noes.

Bella (being the intelligent, independent girl that she is) does some googling to back up her theory. But she needs more proof than Wikipedia, so she drives a couple of hours to a book store and after almost getting gang raped in Port Angeles (seriously, Stephanie, what even?) she finally gets to go on a date with Edward! Squee.

Edward, after saving her from the rapists, takes her to dinner because he stalked her across hundreds of miles and it’s only polite. Edward is of course so sexy that the waitress won’t stop hitting on him, but he only has eyes for Bella. Le swoon. She has mushroom ravioli and two glasses of coke. It’s beautiful.

Edward tells her he can read minds. Edward can’t read her mind though, cuz she’s spesh. Either that or her thoughts are absent. Who even knows. He also tells her that he has to fight himself not to kill her because her blood is like heroin to him. Actual quote. Also he loves her. She kinda shrugs off the death thing because he’s hot and she’s into him.

“You are exactly my brand of heroin.”

Edward Cullen – sexy and cavalier about Bella’s Death

Edward brings her home to meet his family, Esme and Carlyle, his adoptive vamp parents and his weird pseudo-incestuous, one dimensional siblings. Edward is moody. Alice is weird. Esme and Carlyle are blandly parental. Rosalie is a bitch. Emmett is dumb. Jasper is strange. Bella is nervous. It all goes pretty much as expected. They end up playing baseball for some reason. I dunno man, I never said this book made sense.

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Just doing baseball things.

Now for some plot, right up in your face. New vampires! In town! Oh my! So basically, these dudes roll up, red eyed and wild, wanting to play baseball with the Cullens – for real. They then smell Bella with them and it’s on like Donkey Kong. Apparently she’s tasty to other vampires too.

Edward reads the leader’s mind and apparently he’s got a raging hard on for the thought of killing Bella right under the Cullens’ collective noses. He’s a tracker. Cuz hey, why not?

A family meeting happens. Edward is moody. Alice is weird. Esme and Carlyle are blandly parental. Rosalie is a bitch. Emmett is dumb. Jasper is strange. Bella is guilt-ridden. Argue, argue, argue. And suddenly they’re off, trying to confuse this dude and keep him away from Bella.

But then James manages to draw Bella away by preying on her one weakness: her stupidity.

Creepy tracker vamp tells Blandy that he’s got her mother (he doesn’t) and he’s totes gonna kill her dead for reals unless she comes to him right away. So she does.

He bites her and gives her a hot injection of vampire juice to turn her into a vampire.

This is a romance novel.

Edward arrives and sucks the vampire juice right out of her before she gets all pointy toothed. And even though her blood is like crack, he manages to stop himself from sucking her dry like a juice box because true love.

The movie translates this scene in an interesting way. Looking good, K Stew.

The book ends with Blandy begging Squidward to turn her into a vampire so that they can be together forever. Ol’ Squiddy shoots that idea down because he hates being a vampire and she can’t possibly like things that he doesn’t like or make her own decisions about her future.

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Also, this younger dude called Jacob is there. He turns into a dog later on and has the hots for Bella (because everyone does). Finito.

***

I wish I could go back in time and read this book the way that I did in 2006 when it resonated with my girlish teen heart. I read this book when I was 17 and unironically enjoyed it because it had something to offer me. A sort of escapism into a Mary Sue that had everything that I wanted. Which is why I can’t bring myself to hate it now. For all that I’ve written about it, I do believe that Twilight and other books targeted towards teenage girls are important.

Is Twilight flawed? Yes. Horrendously. Massively.

I could write essays on how abusive both Edward and Jacob are and how they both take Bella’s agency from her at different points in time within the series. I could dissect the possessiveness and obsessiveness of both boys when dealing with Bella and how these are massive red flags outside of fiction.

Instead, I’ll leave you with the only reason I have any time for this series at all. In a time when teenage girls are thought to be shallow, superficial and fickle, it’s nice to see teenage girls taking the lead role in a novel that demonstrates any sort of differentiation from these stereotypes. Bella Swan may be fickle when choosing between her two love interests and she may be as interesting as televised golf tournaments, but she’s not a typical “girl”. And that’s enough for me.

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8 thoughts on “Twilight recap and mini review

  1. These books seem deeply conservative and regressive despite the ‘accident’ of a female protagonist. I’m curious how Bella is not ‘shallow, superficial and fickle’? It seems that her greatest aspiration is to be loved by a guy that wants to kill her. Really funny review 🙂

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    1. I suppose I meant shallow and superficial in a material sense, rather than in her motivations as a character. Honestly, this book does not fare well under scrutiny. When the only good thing you can say about a character is, “Hey, at least she’s not materialistic,” you’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
      I guess I was trying to locate the good within the book, but struggled, especially with the prolife-even-at-the-detriment-of-the-mother attitude that Stephanie shoehorns into the later books.
      I think (under greater consideration) I like Twilight as a concept, but the execution is dog’s balls. Under a different author, the series could have been done well.
      Although I must say, I adored the genderbent Twilight that she released simply for its stupidity. It was a novel I read hoping that it would be bad simply for entertainment value and I was not disappointed.

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  2. I, too, read Twilight at an impressionable age and spent many hours figuring out if I was Team Edward or Team Jacob. I usually jump head first into discussions about gender roles and representation of healthy relationships (or lack thereof). But whenever someone starts on me about the plot of the fourth book I actually find myself defending the first three because the story takes a running leap from “believable if you’re a teenage girl I guess” to “batshit insane”. I feel no positive attachment to this series and haven’t for a long time but to this day I can’t hear a single criticism about Breaking Dawn without bursting into “Look, even the hardcore fans were scratching their heads at this one. It doesn’t even feel like it’s written by the same person” rants.
    I agree with your comment to eandersonwords: Twilight is an okay concept, but Meyer’s execution was awful. With a better editor and a less-rushed conclusion, it could have been a great piece of literature. Unfortunately for us, it’s not.

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  3. Thank you for this review! As someone who liked the books at a young age and then grew to be very critical of them, I share the sentiment of being somewhat conflicted – you can see how problematic the books are, but that girl who loved Bella and Edward resides deep inside of you so you can never really hate them. I agree that it’s important that teen girls have media targeted towards them – so I find it irritating when some of the criticism I’ve seen runs along the lines of ‘this is stupid and worthless and anyone who likes this must be stupid also’ which ultimately ends up shitting on teenage girls. Could Twilight be better? Most definitely. But I think it’s important that the criticism is rooted the desire to make books better and more positive for teen girls, not in misogynistic thinking like ‘if teen girls like this it must be bad.’
    Also the line, ‘And even though her blood is like crack, he manages to stop himself from sucking her dry like a juice box because true love’ cracked me up.

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  4. I’m glad you can appreciate that even though they are absolutely cringe inducing to our now refined adult sensibilities, they did provide something teenagers were looking for when they were first released. I mean hey, they wouldn’t be popular for no reason? I think one important thing the books brought to light was the discussion of female agency. Literature is supposed to start a conversations and these books certainly did that!

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  5. I found Twilight when I was eighteen and was hardcore obsessed with it. I was one of the first books I was able to buy for myself, and the movie the first I had seen alone after leaving home. It was as some call “a gateway book” back into reading after many years of focusing on recovery and ironically as I was reading it I was in one of the most abusive relationships of my life, in which a lot of the themes reflected in the book itself were evident in later reflections.

    This book has its major problems, its shadows in both the physical and the literary world and of course who can forget it being a gateway for the god awful abuse porn of fifty shades of grey, and yet as conflicted as I am about what message it brings to young teenagers now, then and in the future I think it did a lot for the Y.A world and got a lot more people reading and discussing topics that had often hushed.

    I enjoyed the review, it made me laugh, reminded me of the responsibility we have as writers and how sharing our thoughts means more discussion about the power of fiction.

    :3

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  6. This is a great re-cap. Brought back many haunting memories of being forced to watch the film adaptation of this novel with various girls throughout my middle school/highschool career. I like your comment about the book not exactly holding up under scrutiny, but sometimes that’s alright yknow! We all need entertainment where we can just turn our brains off for a little while

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  7. ‘Edward Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way.’ You’re killing me.
    This was an insightful and hilarious review. Yes, I too once read these books with non-ironic enjoyment as a young teen. I have trouble relating to that young mind and figuring out what it was that I enjoyed. I think You nailed it on the head.
    I am sort of thankful to Twilight, when I started thinking about it and recognised that is was massively creepy I grew as a person. It gave me a understanding of what abusive relationships are… I just wish the author knew that her story is a big ‘what not to do.’

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