So, it’s confession time.
Despite my highbrow and (according to my friends) irritatingly-picky taste in literature (to be fair, I am studying English and literature at uni), I have to admit that I really like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. No, this isn’t a joke. No, I did not lose a bet. In fact, it is one of my favorites in the “Young Adult” genre. (Disclaimer: I still have a strong dislike for the films and three other books in the series; I enjoy Twilight as a stand-alone piece.)
I think I can say with confidence that what has made Twilight so off-putting for people is the amount of hype it generated over the past several years. It’s similar to how I currently loathe Disney’s Frozen because of how much attention it is receiving. Not to mention that after Twilight became popular, YA authors hopped onto the vampire/paranormal romance fad and hundreds of nauseating Twilight knock-offs were being chucked at consumers.
Sure, the writing in Twilight is rugged. Sometimes it’s even cringe-worthy. Meyer is not Faulkner. Nonetheless, I think it’s simply stubborn of people to deny that Meyer has a profound eye for imagery and is an excellent storyteller. She has vision.
I love Meyer’s characterization of Bella and Edward. Many critics of the novel complain about how Bella is plain to the point that she is insufferable. I find Bella endearing. She’s not remarkable or unique in really any way except for her resilience and ambition. She’s a contemporary echo of one of my favorite characters in literature: Jane Eyre. Jane isn’t pretty, and she’s ordinary and modest, but, much like Bella, her boldness is illumined when the darkness of the world around her becomes its foil. Bella’s normality, in my opinion, is compelling, especially when Forks gradually reveals itself to be a little more sinister than it once appeared. Bella’s “plainness” keeps the story grounded, and her warmness and humanity make the supernatural revelations all the more startling and eerie.
Edward, on the other hand, is an undead counterpart of Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester (with a little bit of Darcy thrown into the mix). He’s fascinating. Edward is regularly condescending, dark, cruel, and savage, which makes his moments of compassion, sincerity, and tenderness incredibly powerful. His temperament, to me, is a combination of Beatrice and Dante from The Divine Comedy. He’s glowing, proud, and imperious like Beatrice, but inwardly insecure, tormented, and stricken with self-loathing like Dante.
Furthermore, in my opinion, Twilight isn’t a silly, bloodless teen romance. It has meat. There are heavy undertones throughout the novel that celebrate and highlight themes found in a variety of works from Austen, Shakespeare, the Brontes, the Brothers Grimm, and even the Bible. And not only that, Meyer takes big ideas like sex, love, temptation, morality, humanity, mortality, choice, and sacrifice, and translates them in a way that are comprehensible, and even relevant, to teen audiences.
Most will probably disagree with this and think I’m ridiculous. I just thought I’d say my piece, maybe offer a more intellectual, intelligent reading of Twilight,and possibly facilitate some conversation.