Books I Don’t Think Are Worth Reading, But Understand Why People Do: Twilight

So as a result of my request for female authors one of my off-line friends decided it would be a lark to say “you know, you really *should* read Stephanie Meyers.” And after the requisite laughter that follows such a suggestion, I said “yeah, right-o” and promptly organised to borrow a copy of Twilight from my sister (who had, in turn, borrowed it from a friend, and wishes it to be quite clear that this is not her book I am borrowing; she was lured into reading it by its popularity among non-reader friends, and her response to the novel are probably even more negative than most).

To be honest, the book wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I mean, it didn’t touch me anywhere inappropriate or threaten to eat my children or anything like that. It just kinda ambled along telling an familiar-if-unpretentious story for the first half in which Bella and Edward stay away from each other, then turned into overblown teenage angst which made me want to slap the characters as they referred to one another as heroin addictions and such, then had an inexplicable vampire-attack-chase-scene-watchamie to come to its unlikely conclusion without any real meaning ’cause, yo, the bad guy was just there to make for an ending, yeah?

Then there was prom.

I could gripe, because this is a very easy book to gripe about, but I figure there’s enough of that. And, honestly, after years of reading some of the more florid ends of the gothic romance I can even understand the appeal, especially if I were part of the target demographic. Lets just say it’s not my thing, and that I’d probably need some kind of bribery to convince me to continue with the series. Instead I’m just going to wander off and quietly contemplate how much more awesome this book could have been if it was written from the POV of, say, Billy or Tyler-who-cannot-drive-on-ice, becoming the friend and confidant of his neighbour Edward Cullen, who is in the process of going all Jay Gatsby for the new girl. ‘Cause I think Twilight by way of the Great Gatsby would have been awesome, and it would have spared me the interminable angst that made up the middle portion of the book. Plus, then, the stalkery stuff would actually be a literary homage rather than just plain creepy.

  3 comments for “Books I Don’t Think Are Worth Reading, But Understand Why People Do: Twilight

  1. Uninvoked
    13/08/2009 at 4:27 PM

    A book like Twilight has been due for a long, long time. It may not be the greatest book ever written, but look at it this way:

    On Quizilla (and other popular teen writing sites) Vampire fiction is THE thing to write, right up there with fan fic and imagining romances with My Chemical Romance or some other popular band.

    No matter how awful the writing is…it is read by everyone on earth, religiously. You can misspell every word, paragraph everything in a solid block of text, and follow a plotline more stereotypical than a regency romance. It will still be popular.

    I won't even start my rant about how stupid the FMC of these stories get. (Suffice it to say when they sense themselves being stalked, doors to their house being left open, etc. they don't call the cops, oh no, they go for a nice refreshing walk (alone) down a dark alley at 2AM.)

    Twilight takes these sad attempts at writing, sorts out the story into something more or less plausible, and writes it in a professional manner. That's why it is popular. It is the unanimous voice of the teen population, written in something besides chat speak.

    Ok. I'm done now. *climbs off soap box*

  2. Laura McDougall
    26/08/2009 at 7:07 AM

    The human condition is broader than the exquisite and noble sentiments captured by high art. Someone once said that romance novels are porn for women and I'm inclined to agree. There's a large demographic of giddy, under-loved but optimistic women for whom the character of Edward Cullen is the equivalent of a blow up doll.

    That's what makes something like Twilight so popular and so addictive from book to book. Like porn, it satisfies a primal, unmet emotional need in its readers.

  3. 26/08/2009 at 9:26 AM

    I write pulp noir novellas about faeries and unicorns – I'm hardly the type to hold it against a book just because it isn't equisite and noble fine artistry 🙂

    The problem I have with your analogy largely comes down to the fact that Edward isn't the passive, blow-up doll of the relationship in the book (which perfectly in keeping with the gothic romance tradition, but is one of those things I find vaguely upsetting if the story's being consumed without any hint of questioning the idea).

    I can see the books appeal as the equivalent of porn, just like I could see the appeal of Pamela Anderson when I was thirteen. It doesn't mean that I'm going to buy into it, or stop being bewildered by the fact that hundreds of people have Pamela posters on their walls well into adulthood…

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