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TPG Reviews: Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

August 30, 2015

I, uh…yeah.

When 17 year old Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father she expects that her new life will be as dull as the town.

But in spite of her awkward manner and low expectations, she finds that her new classmates are drawn to this pale, dark-haired new girl in town. But not, it seems, the Cullen family. These five adopted brothers and sisters obviously prefer their own company and will make no exception for Bella.

Bella is convinced that Edward Cullen in particular hates her, but she feels a strange attraction to him, although his hostility makes her feel almost physically ill. He seems determined to push her away – until, that is, he saves her life from an out of control car.

Bella will soon discover that there is a very good reason for Edward’s coldness. He, and his family, are vampires – and he knows how dangerous it is for others to get too close.


My rating: ?!?/10

…Nope, not going to rate this one. I went into this expecting not to like it, and I didn’t like it; as such, a rating strikes me as unfair. The only reason I (finally) did a full read-through here, in fact, was as payback for recently inflicting Meyer’s The Host on a friend. He now thinks The Host is worse, whereas I now think that Twilight is worse; go figure.

So…yeah. It is my honest opinion that Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, is bad. Very, very bad.

Frankly, I doubt that I could ever list all my complaints about this book in concise manner. Every aspect of it has problems in my view – be it the writing, the setting, the characters, the plot, whatever – and it would likely take a blog post each to go properly go through them all. As such, I’m simply going to cut straight to my strongest complaint:

I did not feel as though  Bella genuinely loved Edward.

Seriously. I didn’t. Bella’s feeling towards Edward are remarkably shallow, usually focussing on his (informed) beauty and/or physical prowess, and just about every interaction between the two ended with one or both becoming angry at the other. Not to mention that by the end of the book, Bella seemed to care more about becoming a vampire than about anyone else – hardly a strong basis for a relationship.

To be honest, it doesn’t surprise me at all to have written the above: like I said at the start, my expectations here weren’t exactly high. But something did surprise me, though:

Even after reading it through to the end, I do not understand what readers see in this book.

This has never happened before. I’ve found myself disliking popular books before, sure, but I’ve always managed to see why others like them. I didn’t like The Lives of Tao, say – but a lot of that was down to my personal tastes, in retrospect, and I can see that the book’s blend of SF and spy fiction would be of interest to some people. I didn’t like Talonbut I did get the impression that the main pair at least cared about each other – more than I can say here – and the finale was admittedly pretty darn cool.

And since I brought up it up at the start: I would happily argue at length that Stephenie Meyer’s The Host is truly terrible work of science fiction…but it does have some cool cool concepts in it, and the characters again seemed to at least care for one another. It’s the sort of book that I can see working well for readers who are new to SF – who, incidentally, are exactly the sorts of readers it was originally marketed towards.

With Twilight, though, I just…don’t see it. I’ve discussed this with people offline, and the only thing we could come up with was that it obviously speaks to a certain demographic – a demographic which, clearly, does not include myself.

Anyone got any opinions on this point? As a fan of the series or otherwise? If you do, then I’d be very interested to hear it; feel free to comment at the bottom of this post.

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  1. Huh. The longer I think about it, the more I wonder why I enjoyed the “Twilight” series so much. I wasn’t Team Edward or Jacob. Wasn’t invested in Bella’s romantic life, or in her as a character, much at all. And yet, for whatever inexplicable reason, I was mildly obsessed with the stories, before they got so ridiculously over-hyped/over-hated that I couldn’t deal with the noise anymore. Who can figure?

    • Not me, certainly :P. The books aren’t particularly deep, so maybe they just make good things to relax to? I dunno…

  2. I read the entire saga way back, when I didn’t yet know any better and when I still “had” to finish any book or series I picked up. You know better. Why would you do this to yourself?

    One theory I read as to its popularity (which makes the most sense to me), is that it’s the ultimate teenage girl fantasy. Most teens (of both sexes) go through a phase where they feel invisible, awkward and unloved, so girls can’t help but identify with Bella. And here Bella has not one, but two guys crazy about her. They’re both gorgeous, mysterious, brooding, broken, and extremely dangerous, and they would both gladly give up their lives for her. What more could a girl want?

    And just like boys will always be boys, no woman ever completely outgrows that awkward teenage girl, which goes a long way to explain the popularity of the novels among adults, and the success of the unofficial spin-off that shall remain nameless.

    • Beats me :P. I pretty much never give up on a book after getting through the first 1-2 chapters, so that probably had a lot to do with it. I don’t regret reading Twilight, mind: if nothing else, it’s made me pay more attention to how I treat controlling characters in my work, simply because of how controlling (and infuriating) Edward turned out to be.

      That theory has a lot going for it, I reckon. It would explain why guys don’t tend to like the series, and it would also explain why many teen girls liked it so very much.

      And yeah: the less said about THAT particular series, the better :D.

  3. I only got as far as the second book (New Moon?), and I had to quit this series. Bella frustrated the hell out of me, especially during that second book. I wanted to strangle her by the end! I do see why it would appeal to the teenage girl demographic, but… I don’t know. I just couldn’t get into series the way other female readers did.

    • Well, I’ve officially quit after Twilight, so you got one book further than me. Isn’t New Moon the one with those four blank pages (to show how depressed Bella is)? If so, that really does sound like a frustrating read.

      • I don’t remember, to be honest. That’s how much I disliked it: Except for the clearest bits (the reasons why I didn’t like it), I’ve shut the rest of it out completely!

  4. Haha. I love that you read and reviewed Twilight. Lol.

    • Well, only seemed fair under the circumstances :P. I think I’ll be trying to stick to books/series I like for a while now, though.

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