After having a few days to recover, I can give my final thoughts on my Twilight adventure.
Audience is everything with this book. I think the reason opinions are so sharply divided is because this book is a one-trick pony. If the main character, Bella, makes you feel like ‘this is/was me’, then I can see how this book can be appealing. A hopelessly awkward girl who you can totally relate to gets the boy who is not only the most beautiful guy in the school, he’s literally the best boy ever. Mix in a little mystery and danger for spice and I can see that would make an entertaining fantasy. Even if you’re rolling your eyes from time to time, a little silliness might not take away the fun. Well, you have to like all the soppy ‘we’re obsessed with each other conversations too.’
So okay, I can actually see the appeal. The author has done one thing really well, she made a character that many in her target audience can strongly relate to. I think the common refrain ‘how did this book get published’ falls flat since this is a powerful element and the publisher clearly made the right call–it sold like hotcakes.
If the trick doesn’t work for you, this book is awful. The romance between the leads simply is, it doesn’t develop. There is little to no plot through most of the book, simply a string of drawn-out, repetitive conversions between the leads about their mutual obsession.
No serious character conflict exists and the only one hinted at between Billy Black and Bella never goes anywhere in this book, he warns her about Edward but doesn’t take any action, she ignores his warnings and promptly forgets about them.
Even when there is briefly some plot going on with James hunting Bella toward the end of the book, the rescue happens off-screen, so to speak, and it doesn’t change the characters in any meaningful way.
All in all, I found the book very dull and difficult to listen to. However, it does illustrate the power in creating a character than is compelling to your audience. It may be the worst book I think I’ve ever made it all the way through, but to the right audience it’s compelling. Of course, really good authors have a way of making their books compelling even to the wrong audience; I don’t want to give too much credit.
This remains one aspect of this book I do find unsettling. I worry that it romanticizes a relationship that is very unequal and behavior that is not okay.
There is this creepy aspect to the relationship where Edward is unquestionably in charge and acts as an adult to child. Bella is rather helpless most of the time without Edward around and he has been around for a hundred years while Bella is 17. The heroine being portrayed as child-like isn’t exclusive to Twilight and Bella actually is a child, but this kind of uneven relationship still makes me uncomfortable. For goodness sakes, there’s a scene where Edward has to buckle her into a car seat.
Worse though, is Edward’s behavior and the way Bella reacts to it. He’s a stalker, there’s nothing else to call it when he follows her and breaks into her house to watch her sleep. Bella just finds it romantic, yuck. Not to mention this is a wasted opportunity for conflict. Also, he constantly tells her how he must control himself around her so he won’t hurt her. Yes, he’s a vampire, it makes some sense, but Bella simply eats it up, ugh. Add this to the controlling behavior I mentioned previously and at times I found this relationship rather sickening.
So there it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think I can see the reason it’s so popular and I think I can see the reason it’s so despised. One thing for sure, I won’t be going on to the next book. The author may do one thing really well, but it’s definitely not for me.