Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Stupid Books

I read Twilight. I didn't want to, I tried to stop, but here I am today having read all four books, seen the movie, and purchased the soundtrack (which I defend; there were some good songs on there).

However, as I read the book, I came up with some criticisms that I maintain, despite popular support of the series and the waves of rage I am met with when I try to explain what is totally, horribly, wrong with them.

1. Bella, intended to be an Everywoman, is a weak, sad watercolor of a character, barely even one-dimensional. Her character is not developed at all, except to tell us that she is self-sacrificing in book one, something that is contradicted in all following books(self-centered is more likely).

2. There is really not a plot at all, just a hodge-podge of events with little relation to each other, thrown together in what I believe is the order Meyer thought of them, then published.

3. Without any sign of literary depth, the books tend to be carbon copies of Wuthering Heights, except that Kathy (Bella) ends up with Heathcliff (Edward) instead of Edgar(Jacob). Oh, and there are little bits of Romeo and Juliet thrown in for good measure, just to keep the vibe of star-crossed lovers and the whole fated to be apart thing.

If you want to read Wuthering Heights, just read Wuthering Heights. Don't read someone else's weak copy of it. Honestly. There are even dumbed down versions if you can't read the original text.

4. Bella lives only for Edward, there is no other purpose to her life, and she is miserable and near death without him. She would give up every part of her life to be with him. That is kind of sick. In fact, that is the kind of relationship your parents should intervene in, and Bella's dad does a pretty pathetic job trying.

5. Did I mention Bella using Jacob like a human electric blanket, only to drop him the second Edward looks her way? In my world, that is bad form.

6. How about Bella dropping all her friends? That's pretty bad too, especially when she lets a man come in and rule her whole life, or at least fill her whole life. Even when you are dating the best person on Earth, you still need something of your own or you lose your identity. And that's bad, right? I thought so.

7. And they're so bad! Horrible, terribly written books. My friend Rachael mentioned they would have made good first drafts. She doesn't have any idea how right she is.

8. There are whole aisles of Twilight merchandise in stores everywhere. Look on Facebook--see how much Twilight flair there is? And all the Hot Topic stuff, you would not believe it all. So, basically, I know there will be more books. Maybe about Bella's daughter (what a stupid (pronounced here as "stoooopid") name, I am not even writing it here. Goodness gracious). And they will be written and published no matter how horrid or unnecessary they are, just because they will make money. And judging from all the merchandising, that is the goal here.

9. And, I say again, horrible writing. Really.

10. The writing. Come on. Take one lit class, please. You'll see what I'm talking about.

I am not alone, either. Jennifer and I have had this rant a thousand times at least, and today I found the following site that agrees with me totally even though I think Jen and I phrased it better over many months of discussion and much better than I have written it out here, as I was looking for blogs and other resources I could use to find good teen literature that I could then order and read and try to force others to read. Take a look at Misogyny in Popular Teen Literature? which I think should lose the question mark.

I don't necessarily believe Edward and the other men in the novel are horrid people, but I do believe that the relationship is pretty skewed, and the writer of this piece has some good points we need to address. I think the writer perhaps neglects Bella's culpability and her mistreatment of others in her attempt to prove that male influences in the novels are all detrimental to Bella. Maybe Bella is detrimental to them, too.

Certainly she is.

She is a jerk, and a user, and the only reason she gets a break in the post I reference is that she is a woman. I don't think she deserves a break. And I think Bella's pretty abusive to Edward too. Not to mention poor Jacob. And her parents.

All that being said, I am very thankful that these books have gotten people reading at all. Goodness knows, I have spent most of my life trying to convince people to read, and if it takes utter literary stupidity to get them to buy or borrow a book, then I will let them read the stupidity and be done with it. Indeed, I will even read the stupidity myself, in order to recommend other books to readers who come to me begging for more. Only I will then push them toward better books that are still easy reads, so they will not be put off by other books and stay stuck on simple series books.

But I am losing patience with Twilight. More every day.


  1. Oh, but I do know how bad they are. I borrowed the first one, and found the rest online. I'm in the middle of the third book, and I'm only still reading because I know it's going to get worse. It's like watching a trainwreck of a novel, but the train spends 500 pages moving at a snail's pace, and expect you to care when something REALLY bad comes up in the last 50. The only character I've found myself liking is Alice, mainly because she's doing a far better job of pulling Bella toward "normal" than Edward or Charlie, or any of her so-called human or werewolf friends. I could go on all day, so I think I'll keep reading and leave the rest for Friday.

  2. Oh, Rachael. I'm so sorry. I was hoping you would be spared the pain of reading them.

  3. Bella, where was the toughness, the wit, the humor that I like so much about female characters? At least Edward had one redeeming quality, which is that he played the piano and listened to Debussy. What did she have? Oh, right, she had Edward...