After completing the first two Twilight novels, about three things I was absolutely positive. First, James is a terrible name for a villain. Second, even if an individual physically appears to be seventeen years old, the fact that he is in actuality a centurion means he is probably a pedophile. And third, teenage angst becomes very old, very fast.
I’ll start by admitting that in spite of my distaste for both Twilight and New Moon, I have certainly experienced more poorly-written garbage. Nevertheless, Meyer’s shameless rape of accepted vampire lore transforms her tween prose into a senseless violation of the once bad-ass creatures of the night. For instance, I’m sure we are all familiar with the idea that exposure to sunlight will destroy a vampire. But no! Meyer sets the record straight for us by revealing that the real reason vampires avoid the sun is that its rays reveal the natural and overwhelming sparkly sparkles that apparently cover all vampire physiques. Who knew? This is only one example of Ms. Meyer’s systematic demotion of these fierce killers to laughable teenaged heartthrobs.
To avoid posting two identical reviews, I will tackle Twilight and New Moon here and will later review the final two novels of this gripping saga. Our protagonist (if you can really call her that), Bella Swan decides to move to the small, isolated town of Forks, where she can live with her father following the recent remarriage of her mother. In spite of a very demeaning self-description, the allegedly plain and awkward Bella has no trouble attracting every male within a five mile radius. This includes the oh-so-mysterious Edward Cullen. With “a voice like melted honey,” Bella quickly becomes enamored with Edward, and she “cannot imagine how an angel could be any more glorious.” After a rocky start, the flirtation between the two progresses to the point that Edward is comfortable enough to reveal his deep dark secret – he is a sparkly vampire.
Bella goes on to endure the standard trials and tribulations of young love – she gets to meet the coven of vampires that Edward considers his family; she begins to become familiar with Edward’s undead habits; and she faces the fact that her boyfriend was born in 1901, although she never seems particularly concerned that his interest in her verges on pedophilia (I think Meyer’s original titles was Twilight: A Portrait in Undead Pedophilia, but her publishes were less than thrilled). As Bella progressively falls more madly in love with Edward, she also shamelessly flirts with a local boy from the reservation, Jacob Black. She uses him for his knowledge of the Cullen family, and she is unperturbed that he eagerly reciprocates her feigned interest. Nevertheless, we are encouraged to think highly of Bella’s character.
In a nutshell, New Moon follows a similar trajectory, we simply have to insert Jacob Black to stand in for Edward Cullen. The Cullens abruptly leave town, and Edward convinces Bella that it’s because he doesn’t love her anymore – but gasp! It is, in reality, Edward’s attempt to protect Princess Bella from the dangers of vampire life. Boo hoo hoo. Bella goes into a melodramatic funk since she has lost the love of her life. She decides to hang out with Jacob Black in order to temporarily alleviate her broken heart while recklessly toying with Jacob’s emotions. Then, lo and behold, it turns out that Jacob is a werewolf, and werewolves are the sworn enemies of vampires. Not to worry, though. At the end of the day, Bella is reunited with her beloved Edward, and Jacob is dismissed as nothing more than a friend despite Bella’s periodic considerations that there could be something more.
Clearly, these novels are plagued by a variety of problems. For one thing, Bella instantly falls head-over-heels in love with a man who has essentially been stalking her. This is a great message for Meyer to convey to her target audience of young and impressionable tweeny-boppers – if a strange, pale, social outcast in your new school starts to follow you everywhere while displaying possessive tendencies, then this individual is probably your soul-mate. Especially if you find out that he’s a vampire – that’s just the icing on the cake! Moreover, at the ripe old age of seventeen, Bella is fully prepared to risk the eternal damnation of her soul so that she can spend eternity with Edward the Pedophile Stalker (another rejected title, alas). Although Edward gallantly attempts to dissuade her from this decision, Bella is still fully determined to take the plunge (ie, she is ready for Edward to plunge his teeth into her neck).
And then there is poor, lovesick Jacob Black, who clearly adores Bella in spite of the fact that she is a selfish, uncaring emo kid. Meyer here relays the important moral that it is okay to pretend you like someone and hurt their feelings repeatedly as long as you later pretend that this was never your intention.
Thus, Twilight and New Moon are both completely ridiculous on a variety of levels. Everyone is jumping on this vampire trend, but in truth, the only vampires that I would currently support are Anne Rice’s. Louie and Lestat are badass, bloodthirsty vampires – none of this vegetarian nonsense. The Cullens are nothing more than melodramatic and angsty. If I want teenage angst, I can read Harry Potter.