Should I read… Twilight?
|October 18, 2011||Posted by Emma French under should I read...?|
Controversially – particularly for a first, tentative post – I am going to say yes. (Though this is perhaps not controversial at all – I can never keep up with whether the number of Twilight haters outweighs the number of Twihards, as the former are usually a lot louder and more articulate in their arguments.) I would just like to state for the record that my vote in favour is not due to my fetish for sparkly vampires, nor for Robert Pattison. I am, in fact, a stout Twilight hater. I would simply argue that, if you want to slate Stephanie Meyer with some integrity, you have to read what you are flaming. Then you can join me in long, angry rants about what an abominable series it is.
There is a small glimpse of an argument I can give for actually reading the first book in the Twilight series for pleasure – apart from the amusement of being a party to the best joke in the 21st century – and that is that it is the best book of the quartet. I’ll admit, though it makes me practically consider suicide now, that when I first read this book I was hooked. I was also fourteen, thought that angst made you cool, and had not read any decent literature yet, so it seems that Meyer is at last accommodating her ‘tweenage’ demographic. This was before the books became tainted by an inane, characterless love triangle, or the paedophilia and blackout sexual intercourse of the train crash that is Breaking Dawn. This was when Bella wasn’t yet fully developed, and so had not reached the peak of her annoyingness; when Edward seemed like a young Mr. Darcy and not an overprotective creep; and the film, with its wooden acting and cult following (as in the fanatical kind), was not yet conceived.
I’ll admit, looking back, that I fail to see the appeal of the storyline, which I’m sure many are acquainted with – girl moves to small town, girl meets dark, mysterious boy with a secret, girl discovers his secret, etcetera. It is incredibly predictable, clichéd, and their attraction for each other seems to stem solely from looks or lust (which is the only thing I can liken Edward’s ‘thirst’ too). As romance is a genre and not a plot line, I have to confess that, these days, this story seems boring and bland to me, with little action and a lot of moping. But at fourteen you don’t really rank credibility amongst your requirements for a book. You are also of the same intellectual age as Bella Swan, who is perhaps the most immature and selfish, one-dimensional character I have ever encountered, and so her tortured inner monologue holds some relevance and interest.
(See what I mean about long, angry rants? And this is when I’m trying to show restraint.)
What I am trying to say is that I can see why girls of the younger generation enjoy the books. They are still at that idealised Disney phase where a guy watching you sleep every night is romantic, not creepy, and it’s natural for a heroine to be practically perfect yet not realise it. I will not even touch on the fact that, if they read quickly as I do, girls such as these are not ready for the pornography that is Breaking Dawn (sexual fantasy much, Stephanie?). Basically, I’ll agree that, in terms of meeting the demands of its audience, Twilight is quite a successful book. Like J. K. Rowling (though the comparison pains me), Meyer found a gap in the market which she filled well, as vampire fiction for girls was a genre not particularly exploited before she came along, trailing an avalanche of duplicates in her wake.
But, you’re probably thinking, I’m not a girl in her early teens. I’m not in her ‘demographic’. Why should I read it? Simple answer: it’s funny. It’s absolutely hilarious to read what counts as a bestseller these days – as an aspiring author, it personally gives me hope that a woman who sat at home with her thesaurus has managed to get so far. You’re privileged enough to see the English language at its very worst and laugh at the consequences, made ever more amusing by the fact that it takes itself so seriously, as if it is a real novel – honest. Also, you’re able to understand why the films are so terrible and why Robert Pattison went from being a reasonably cheerful Cedric Diggory to the awkward, moody character he’s now best known for.
Of course, if you wish to remain virginally pure and avoid the corruption of the Twilight taint – something I shall never wash off – you can always alleviate boredom by reading the Wikipedia page on a rainy day, or a rant such as this one, to keep you informed. Perhaps the best on offer is the Alex Reads Twilight series on YouTube, which is well worth a watch. But as I said in my introduction, you will not be a full initiate to the Twilight haters group, standing for reason in this age of insanity. You will never enjoy mocking the terrible writing style. You will never be able to hold your own in an argument against a rabid Twihard. All very important skills in this new era of ‘Dark Romance’. I’m not going to lie, it annoys me no end when people say they hate a book and they haven’t even read it. How can you make an informed decision otherwise? It’s like a virus – you need to take a weakened strain to make yourself immune.
On that, I shall sign off. Next week, I promise I won’t treat you to an angry tirade, but perhaps even a proper book review.