The Twilight Redux

OK. Stephenie Meyer. Twilight series. Let’s do this. I devoured the entire Twilight series in a week and half (which, once you’ve seen the heft of the books, you’ll realize this is quite an accomplishment.) I enjoyed my time with the books, but they will never make any of my favorites lists.

It’s not that they weren’t enjoyable. They were fun to read, and Meyer did a good job creating a world for readers to get lost in. My issues with the series probably stem more from the vampires of her world and the length of the books more than they do with the way she wrote the books.

The vampires in Twilight borrow a bit from Anne Rice’s vampires: they’re ridiculously good looking (even more so than Derek Zoolander) and very attractive to humans. They also drink blood, they’re crazy-fast, and they’re extremely strong. That’s about where the similarities end.

Meyer’s vampires are a dash teen magazine pin-up, a tad My Little Pony sparkle, and thickened by about as much menace as a newborn kitten. She’s distilled all the horror and menace from the good-guy vampires until they’re nothing more than really awesome super-human creatures who sparkle like glitter in the sun and have great sex. For pete’s sake, they don’t even have fangs!

Really, she’s made vampirism entirely too desirable. The vampires can go out in daylight (like I said, they don’t burn in the sun. They sparkle), they don’t sleep in coffins, they can refrain from drinking human blood, and they’re ludicrously wealthy. They can perform amazing acts of strength, some have super-powers (like mind-reading and the ability to see the future), and they almost all find vampire mates and live happily ever after.

As you can see, there’s really no reason to not be a vampire (When the main character’s vampire boyfriend repeatedly tries to convince her to not become one, you as the reader have the same reaction she inevitably does: Why the heck not?!)

The only sinister characters are the bad guys, whose eyes are red because they drink human blood. These are also bestowed with unerring self-control, however, so there’s very little menace there unless they just really feel like eating you. You can’t even say they’re ruled by primordial thirst, because even when the bad guys are really thirsty, they’re still able to just say no if they have to.

In a good vampire novel, the vampires should all be sinister, if for no other reason than that they’re some bizarre undead creature who feasts on blood for sustenence. For Meyer to turn that concept into a lifestyle we should all be lucky to lead is indicative of how much liberty she’s taken with the genre.

I’m not a huge fan of the shift, honestly. I like the struggle between Louis and Lestat (In Anne Rice’s books) to discern some kind of ethical code for their kind. I love the clear conflict to reconcile morality with an existence that’s defined by a pervasive need to end lives. The vampire genre needs that struggle to balance out the immortality and physical attractiveness.

Meyer’s vampires are my main problem with the series, but my secondary reaction to the series was that it was just plain too long. I’m certain that the whole story would have been much better served were it cut in half. There were too many strange curve-balls at the end that were unwelcome and out of place, and way too many passages that existed solely to drag out the story.

This is just my personal reaction, however. There are some people who are convinced that the whole series is too short. I just am not one of them. I feel like the series would have been much more powerful as a trilogy, or maybe even as an action-packed two-part book.

There were just too many world-shattering calamities, life-changing problems, and battles-to-end-all-battles for me to take it seriously once I got to the end. It’s the same problem I had with 24: No one is that unlucky. If you throw that much calamity at one character, some of your audience is eventually going to notice and the curtain of believability will be lifted.

If the author/screen-writer spends too much effort drawing a story out to fit length parameters, I can usually be counted on to notice and it makes me too aware that I’m watching/reading a work of fiction. Once this happens, I can’t submerge into the story the way I’d like to.

Now that I’m certain you’re all bored to tears and wishing I’d stop typing about this insipid series any longer, I will stop. Please tell me what you think, though. If you disagree with me about the Twilight series, please do let me know. If you agree, share that too. If you’ve never read the series, let me know how you feel about toast. My comments section is your comments section, capisce?

13 thoughts on “The Twilight Redux

  1. Despite the length of each book, the series is no Harry Potter. The books could have been 1/3-1/2 as thick and still covered the story thoroughly. The first book of her next series also was written wordy, so it may be an affliction where she can’t write concisely.

    As far as the “romantic” relationships went, I strongly preferred Bella/Jacob to Bella/Edward. I never really bought into the Edward as sex object; it wasn’t because he or his family were “kinder, gentler versions” of vampire, I just didn’t find Meyer’s descriptions that intriguing (see issues with writing style above). Or maybe reading about Jacobs long hair at the start was what drew me to him?

    I thought the last chapters of the final book did a decent (if somewhat obvious) job of tying up a bunch of the loose ends introduced in the preceding books. I closed the book feeling satisfied, and not dying to know what else happened in their lives.

    Overall, I’m glad I read the series, it wasn’t a complete waste of my time, but there is better literature out there.

  2. -Mrs. Higrens, You’re team Jacob?! Hmm, I always felt like he was her rebound guy, and way too good for her, you know?

    Man, I thought the last book was very frustrating. There were parts (relating to Renesmee specifically) that I thought were SUPER disturbing and I just had to get through.

    The ending was good, and satisfying, but I wish we’d gotten to spend more time with end-of-book Bella. She’s much more tolerable at the end, I think.

    Also, your comment was very concise. It was long, but that’s because you covered many topics :)

  3. -Matt, Wow, that sounds very mysterious. As I find myself in a book vacuum at the moment, I may just have to take you up on that offer. In fact, I just added that to my library list. Consider yourself the catalyst of a maybe-potential-future blog post, friend :)

  4. -Matt, DUDE. How could nobody have told me about a magician detective solving mysteries in Chicago series until just this second?! I’m appalled for my lack of knowledge so far. I have the first five books on hold at the library and I fully blame you if I disappear for the next few weeks.

  5. I read the first. It was good. There was a tv show. I saw the first one. They have it on hulu.com, I just haven’t gotten around to watching any of the others.

  6. It was nice knowing you, Erika. It is the best series I have ever read. A modern, grown up Harry Potter, but not the emo loser part of it.

    You will LOVE it, I promise. It’s a 21 book series when he is done, by the way.

  7. -Dane, In all the conversations we’ve had about books and cool things (Kevlar included) HOW did a series with a magician detective never come up?? I’ll delve in and let you know what I think. I probably won’t watch the TV show, though, because I’m rarely a fan of book-to-movie adaptations. LOTR being the notable exception.

    -Matt, 21 books. That is a LOT of words, that guy could’ve won NaNoWriMo every year for a decade! I hope you’re right and I do love it. I’m very excited, though Wes is sad to lose me to enother series so soon :)

  8. We have yet to begin to plumb the depths of my erudite esoterica. I’m like an onion. Layer after layer after lawyer after layer. And if you cut into me, I make you cry. And I make food taste good when cooked in the same pan. But when actually eaten, I am only good when shoe-stringed and fried.

  9. -If you ever say anything like “erudite esoterica” to me ever again, I will create a shirt that says “Dane Rules” and shall never be parted from it. I have only one questions for you though: Are you poisonous in large doses?

  10. Moderate doses is all it takes, my dear. Count yourself lucky that I’ve been away from home for the better part of a decade. It was for all y’all’s safety, trust me.

  11. -Dane, Oh I see. I do wonder how your lady friend escapes unscathed, though…Perhaps a snorkel? (I used to wear a snorkeling mask when I had to cut onions because that way I wouldn’t cry.)

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