About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, (2007, Atom), pp. 170-171.
Hi everyone! I have now read Twilight for the very first time. Across two days I took around nine hours to read it. My review will be broken down into three sections. The first, why I think this book appeals to its target audience, teenage readers. Next, my thoughts about the book with a focus on characters and plot. Finally, an overview of my feelings after reading the book.
I am almost certain that if I had read this book between the ages of 13-16 I would have given it five stars straight away, without question. It has all of the ingredients for a teen good romance novel. The girl protagonist who is less than perfect. The main love interest who is too gorgeous for words. The angst of waiting to see whether our girl gets her man in the end. For that I have to some amount of credit to Meyer. The book was addictive to read. I found myself wanting to carry on reading, despite some reservations I had. Bella and Edward’s relationship is built up reasonably slowly in the first half of the book. I have never been a fan of instant love- instant lust being a very different thing. As a teenager I wouldn’t have questioned the fact that Edward invades Bella’s bedroom. I also wouldn’t have questioned her flirting with Jacob (who thankfully played a very small role in this book) to get information as slightly cruel. The ending leads on to the rest of the series which I feel like I will read at some point but if I was reading Twilight as a teenager in the mid 2000s I would have desperately wanted to get the next instalment to see where Bella’s journey went.
Reading Twilight as I am now, twenty years old with more reading experience, I can sum it up in one word- boring. Bella’s inner monologue was repetitive and monotonous. After the second time of her mentioning her dislike for rain I no longer cared about the weather patterns of Forks. Bella subtly falls into the category of ‘edgy, not-like-other-girls’ female protagonist. She is apparently well-read and is good at science (something you would have never guessed by just watching the films) but she loses all sense of intelligence by constantly repeating how clumsy she is. The most unbelievable part of this book about vampires, is how accident prone someone who knows their accident prone is. Bella will not let you, the reader, forget that at any second she will be falling over. She is not someone who I would consider a strong female. Her refusal to accept the fact she is in danger comes across as horrifyingly stupid. Overall, Bella as a character is flat. Her thoughts are repetitive and even though we never leave her mind I fail to see any other reason, besides his beauty, why she in love with Edward.
Edward. I was always a Robert Pattinson fan. I would have happily told anyone in the early 2010s I was on Team Edward. Edward in the book is a completely different beast. Nothing about him seems to be attractive, besides his face, his chest and his sparkly skin. Much like Bella, Edward loves to repeat things (in case the reader forgot what he had a said a chapter earlier). He is constantly telling Bella how she should stay away from him, he’s dangerous. He then proceeds to never leave the girl alone. Invading her bedroom is creepy. Wanting to know exactly what Bella is thinking, constantly, is creepy. Obviously, his reluctance to turn her into a vampire is frustrating for various reasons. Firstly, the idea that he sees their relationship as one of protector/victim is laughable. Bella’s lack of concern for herself demonstrates that to an extent she is capable of looking after herself (her visiting James alone proves that she is somewhat brave (but mainly stupid)). He clearly wants to maintain the upper-hand in the relationship. By being physically more powerful Edward gives himself a more significant role. Bella mentions equality at the end of the book and Edward casually casts that idea to one side. I am keeping in mind that this book was written in 2005 but I cannot get over how restrictive Edward is towards the end of the novel. His apparent chivalrous behaviour actually makes him across as a weird gatekeeper to the glory of becoming a vampire.
On a much smaller note both of Bella’s parents do not come across well in this book. Charlie, her dad, is more bearable but even he is reduced to a socially awkward, annoying, man who I much prefer in the film. It is Renee who comes off far worse in the book. Most of Bella’s personality seems to stem from the fact that her mum could barely look after her. Although Meyer clearly wants to show an independent woman in Bella but by having her step into a parental figure for both of her parents reduces her to a home-maker role. It makes me question two things. One, how her mum ever let her go if she was so anxious about Bella (which is seen at the beginning and turns into nothing at the end)? And secondly, how Charlie ever fed himself anything other than sandwiches before Bella arrived in Forks?
The plot is fine. I preferred the first half to the second. Once Bella and Edward became a couple I lost interest. The build up to James’ arrival was quick and the ‘fight scene’ was none existent. Meyer removed all sense of action from the plot. Also, I felt that upon reading the end and Bella’s insistence about being turned was so strong that it seems odd that Edward didn’t turn her. I know when she does turn but the thought that there are going to be two more books where I imagine she will just be pining for a bite in her neck makes me wary of starting New Moon and Eclipse.
In general I don’t think Twilight is terrible. It has flaws in the writing, the pacing and the characterisation but it is somewhat enjoyable, I wouldn’t have read it so quickly if I thought it was the worst teen book of all time. As I was reading I could see all the bad points people previously had pointed out but I couldn’t help feel a sense of nostalgia throughout. It is a book that was written fifteen years ago that hasn’t aged well but I can see why people enjoyed and still enjoy this book. Rating this book now I would give it two and half stars. There was an element of enjoyment in reading Twilight but I will probably never want to read it again, but I will more than likely re-watch the film whenever I feel like it.