Based on everything I’d heard about Twilight, including a basic synopsis sprinkled with some finer details (like the sparkling), I could only assume that Stephanie Meyer was yet another author who managed to squeeze out a literary turd and somehow convince a publisher that it was solid gold. Still, I had never read the book(s), only skimmed them and read a paragraph here and there, so it didn’t seem fair to criticize this alleged turd without sifting through it.
I was right. It’s a piece of shit. And here’s why.
You Don’t Fuck With Folklore: Granted, there are countless variations when it comes to vampire myth, from their powers to their weaknesses…but there are some things that shouldn’t be changed, because they completely detract from the myth itself. Vampires are, across the board, creatures of the night. Now Miss Meyer tells her faithful readers, ‘Nope! They can, like, totally come out during the day – they just turn all glittery!’ A stake through the heart, evidently, is no longer sufficient to put an end to the unlife of a vamp: now we must tear them apart and burn the remains. Hm. I coulda sworn that method of destruction was specific to witches…but that’s just semantics, I suppose.
Characters, Sans Character: Never in my life have I read a book with such boring, one-dimensional supporting characters. What the hell were they even doing in the book? They served no purpose other than as filler between the flatly written Bella-and-Edward scenes. They had no quirks, no personalities, no likes or dislikes. They weren’t even characters; hell, they barely qualify as character outlines for a yet-to-be-started novel. Miss Meyer further expects her readers to believe that although the heroine is a poor conversationalist who is distant, borderline rude, to her compatriots they still – particularly the males – feel some kind of warped loyalty to her. Based on what, exactly? Oh that’s right. We don’t know enough about the characters to figure that out. I’m all for using my imagination, but my imagination shouldn’t have to fill in the backstory that you didn’t have the talent to write.
For Realism?: I ask you, readers: what are the odds that a clumsy, socially awkward, shy, pasty city girl would just fit right on in with a bunch of kids who’ve grown up in the same town together their entire lives? What are the odds that she’d have not one, not two, but three boys ask her to a school dance in the same day? Are we all agreed that the answer is ‘slim to fucking none‘? Teenagers are assholes, as I’m sure most of you remember. Small town teenagers are worse. Oh, but she’s Chief Swan’s daughter, so surely she must garner some sort of awe-inspired respect. Right. Cuz, you know, that’s what teens are famous for: loving the police and being respectful of authority.
Now let’s look at the scene toward the end of the book where Bella tells her father she’s going back to Phoenix. Even though he’s her father, and he loves her, and he knows that if she goes back she’ll be alone in the house, and he’s bought her a truck…he just lets her leave? Any normal parent would have called the cops before she could have finished packing her suitcase. And since Bella’s dad IS the cops, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for him to ring up his buddies and chase the goofy bitch down. Seriously – that was lazy writing done for the purposes of accelerating an otherwise stagnant plot progression.
BFFs and BFs, OMG!: If ever there was a prime example of poorly constructed personal relationships in a work of literary fiction, this is it. Why is Bella treating her father like he’s a child? Why is he letting her? Why are her friendships so shallow and underdeveloped? How is it believable that this emotionally detached, romantically inexperienced young girl could fall in love so quickly with a guy she knows nothing about, when she keeps herself so guarded around everyone else she comes in to contact with? I suppose the underlying reason is that he’s special, blah blah blah…but basic human psychology dictates that a girl with her emotional restraint and closeness issues wouldn’t have just gone batshit crazy over a guy just cuz he was so darn pretty and mysterious.
Abusive Vampires and You: It’s been some time since I was a silly teenager in love, and maybe it’s just me but…doesn’t Mr. Cullen just seem a wee bit on the abusive side? Always grabbing her wrists, pinning her up against the car, growling at her, glaring at her, warning her he’s dangerous, driving like a fucking psychopath while she’s in the car…I guess you could call it love. I call it a restraining order waiting to happen.
A Thesaurus is Not A Type of Dinosaur: At one point in the book, I couldn’t help but notice that the word ‘scowl’ had been used three times in a page and a half. Just out of curiosity, I flipped back exactly 20 pages and counted the instances of ‘scowl’ and all derivatives thereof
Eighteen. EIGHTEEN GODDAMNED TIMES. Glower. Grimace. Glare. Frown. These are all acceptable synonyms, not to mention more colorful phrases like “look daggers at” or “evil eye” or “dirty look.” But all Miss Meyer could come up with was ‘scowl.’ Again – lazy, lazy writing from a sub-par author who probably couldn’t diagram a sentence if you gave her an step-by-step guide written in crayon.
Story Arc? Fuck it!: Does anyone know what this book was about? Aside from the forbidden romance between an obsessed teenage girl and her aggressive undead lover? It seemed to me that the first 300 pages consisted of her Googling shit about vampires, being evasive with her friends, being secretive with Edward, biting her lip, and pissing and moaning about the weather in Oregon. Finally, roughly 300 pages in to a 500+ page novel, some shit goes down. Some actual action. A conflict! A fight! An antagonist that isn’t just a mean girl who doesn’t like Bella! And it only took 300 pages of mushy, gushy, asinine bullshit that has no relevance whatsoever to the aforementioned final conflict! Here’s my $29.95, Miss Meyer! I can’t wait for your next one to come out so I can blow my money on that piece of shit, too!
I’d like to conclude by saying that there is a method to writing. There are mechanics to writing. Those who don’t do it may not understand, but if you read enough then perhaps you do. We, as writers, have a responsibility to our readers to provide them with something that has substance, something that we didn’t just piss out of our fingers because we figure a bunch of hormone-ridden teen girls and bored housewives will buy it and make us rich. And we have a responsibility to ourselves to write something that we’re proud of, something that both follows the rules of conventional literature while simultaneously breaking them, enabling us to create a piece of work that is so excellent, we don’t even care if it gets published.
It is blaringly obvious that Miss Meyer did not write this book for her readers, or even for herself; if she had, then she would have put more work in to developing and shaping more than two characters; she’d have used a flippin’ thesaurus; she wouldn’t have pattered around on her keyboard for two-thirds of the book going on about sparkly skin and almost-kisses before finally throwing in an actual problem.
In Duma Key, Stephen King wrote, ‘All talent wants is to be used.’ If Miss Meyer does have any talent as a writer – and some passages and dialogue exchanges hint that she does – then she has a committed a crime against her talent, allowing this drivel to be mass produced and passed off as good reading. Catcher in the Rye was good reading. 1984 was good reading. Clifford the Big Red Dog was good reading. But Twilight?
Twilight is a slap in the face to every talented author who dreams of seeing their words in print. So congratulations, Miss Meyer. You are revered by your target demographic. But you are despised by those of us who know, respect, and produce good literature, good literature that will probably never see the light of day or reading lamp so long as people continue to believe that the garbage you write is worth reading.