Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle has been criticized as a Star Trek-politics rip-off. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series has been dubbed ‘sheer absurdity’, and of course we know how that Mallory woman fought fang and talon to have the Harry Potter books removed from libraries because of their devilry, and she’s snot (typo intended) alone in that mindset. I like to call this bandwagon allergy. While I respect every reader’s right to their little red wagon of opinion, it’s rather obvious when people are just being snobs.
Readers are far more intelligent than their couch potato counterparts, yes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t read for pleasure and delight. Twilight delivers both (At least, when the reader is receptive). And so it’s up there in the top ten of the NYT Bestsellers. How many times will it have to be said? A good story, not necessarily great
writing do a bestseller make.
With the film's imminent release, we’ll want to have our fondness for Twilight defended in our minds, a defense ready to spout at a moment’s provocation (But do not go on a hissy fit or pick fights just because the cashier at the bookstore/cinema has a disdainful eyebrow lift. It may be a facial tick).
First off, Twilight is not really YA, methinks. Sure, it’s there in Reluctant Young Readers lists, teen picks, etc., but what it foremost is, is a romance. It’s a love story. Many, many critics—or dare I say all of them—miss or dismiss this fact. This is why it ‘reads like fan fiction’. Because Stephenie Meyer likes her romance and went all out, the way we do with our favorite characters in fanfic archives!
I blame the books’ beautiful covers. Should have depicted Edward and Bella instead and have done with it. LOL. The symbolisms hint of depths, which, though not necessarily deterring in their absence, are nonetheless absent. The point of the books is Bella getting to stay with Edward. No large-scale battles or ramifications or realizations. Just happily ever after, his and hers. There are no underlying messages. I didn't look for or see any. For underlying messages, I read Ursula K. Le Guin, Katherine Paterson, Toni Morrison, to name a few.
IMO, Meyer just wrote a romance. And there's nothing wrong with that.
I love this part of Cat Rambo's review
: "Okay. Lemme just start with the soul mate thing, because I hate this idea so much. Because what it does is give people the idea that there is this one true love thing that happens and everything is magically swell because you and your partner are twue woves. While in reality relationships are work. They take work and patience and humor and cooperation and a willingness on both sides to accept the various farts and burps and personal quirks the other has. And that willingness and hard work seems more meaningful than being insta-partnered with someone because they’re the metaphorical key to your figurative lock."
Now, *nodding and giggling* the only thing I can say to this is most other romance authors since the Regency era and even in the Regency romance genre are already too aware and very educative about this. The werewolves' imprinting and Bella and Edward's tenacity in their twue wove is actually refreshing. ^_^
Bella. As in most romances, the story is in our heroine’s POV. I haven’t read The Host
yet, but I’ll go ahead and say that I think it’s unfair to judge Meyer according to the Twilight series which she wrote from the POV of an eighteen-year old lovestruck girl. A lovestruck girl, moreover, who’s lucky/unlucky enough to have fallen for a vampire endowed with all the trimmings of a fantastical predator: attractiveness, beauty, charm. Bella’s gushing is not only excusable but understandable.
Also, this ‘beautiful swan’ is not blind or self-derogatory. She came from a large city. She mustn’t have been noticed there at all, except when she was being clumsy. This would account for her fear of notoriety. Whereas in Forks, she was the ‘shiny new toy’. Boys noticed her. And if the Cullens weren’t there to eclipse anyone, she would have discovered she was
attractive, given time. Except that in the romance genre, heroines are better when they’re modest creatures unaware of or oblivious to their beauty.
Next, Bella is not “weak”. Just tremendously in love. Ever wonder why there’s such a phrase as ‘stupid cupid’? We do stupid things when we’re in love, like approaching drunk men just to hear our beloved’s voice. Heh. And give her a break, it’s only been months since Edward left then. If I’d
had an Edward, it will take me years to get over him.
Edward is Bella’s universe, nothing else, not even her personal growth, because the books are romance books. I could go deeper into this, but I’ll only sound phony because I never really thought about Meyer’s religion while reading the books. She MAY have integrated her religion’s beliefs, or she may not. Either way, is it really so hard to stomach a heroine focused on staying with her lover and keeping their family safe? These were the pressing issues anyway! She can grow as a commendable individual later when all is happy and quiet, in her eternity as a vampire.
Again, typified love story. Boy meets girl, conflict, they become a couple, conflict, couple, conflict, couple, conflict, HEA (happily-ever-after).
Character isn’t really delved into in romances. Unless the hero or heroine is tormented/tortured by their past, you will have to go to plays to get your dose of character development. The focus is on the relationship. Edward is,
to some extent haunted by his past and what he is, and he constantly comes to terms with it again and again with Bella’s help. Bella is supposed to be this middle-aged teenager, and we do see that in her independency. She only became clingy after she met Edward, and in romances, this IS only right. It’s even in submission guidelines, that the hero’s entrance into the heroine’s life unsettles her a little/a lot. There has to be that sense of the earth tilting or the carpet being yanked from underfoot.
And just who wouldn’t be clingy with Edward, right?
Now, if Bella’s flaw is her clumsiness and obsession with Edward, then Edward’s flaw is his obsession with Bella’s safety and well-being.
Bella’s biased POV aside (and that is what renders Edward and Bella Gary Stu/Mary Sue-ish, their perfection in each other’s perspectives. And that is just so sweet), picture this: a vampire who has been alone for nigh a century discovering the love of his life, and she’s a fragile, mouthwatering human. He restrains himself
from harming her. By heaven and hell, nothing and no one else
is allowed to do so!
Edward could have been a bad-ass, badmouthing vampire, but this devotion to Bella would have been enough to rocket the books to popularity. That’s another element of the romance genre. Whatever type the hero is, he must be devoted
to the heroine. And it must show.
On one hand, you have the old-fashioned gentleman in Edward. On the other, you have the roguish, irreverent Jacob.
Devotion times two. And not just any two, but the two most favorite types of heroes in the romance genre.
And Bella complements them both. She tries to rape Edward, and punches Jacob when he kissed her. When either of them brood, she doesn’t take it.
As a romance, the books are a success. Dashing hero (es), check. Devotion, check. Conflict, inward and outward, check. HEA, check. But while typified and following a classic—if rudimentary— pattern, there’s the unique and fresh vampire mythos that will keep Bella and Edward’s love story beating. There are better books, yep, but any romance aficionada will be satisfied with Twilight.
Meyer even managed to throw a baby in. Haha! And as for the grossness of Carlie’s birth, Twilight is a romance, but it’s a dark, fantasy romance
, so the blood and the bizarre was expected.
I can’t defend ‘Renesmee’
Or the movie posters they made after this one.
As for the Bella thinking she will have a little Edward Jacob, that's just Bella being Bella, in love with the thought of having a miniature Edward. Still, I'll
be very careful when writing my own books. Gee.
~Written in response to too many reviews I've seen, but in particular, Cat Rambo’s wonderful Why the Twilight Series Bugs Me
in Fantasy Magazine. Resource of romance genre technicalities: reading experience and Anne M. Marble’s articles in Writing-World.com.