Mental Pause Mama, of The Mental Pause Chronicles, is hosting a bloggy book club meeting today, here.
I am participating.
I will have to write this on the fly,
I've only got three million
chores on my to-do-list today.
Bear with me.
Without doubt, the single most redeeming aspect of Stephanie Meyer's book was Edward. Not just Edward's cool and beautiful hawtness, but his restraint. His dangerous desire reigned in with low grunts and growls. His tender touch and sweet breath. How much he longed for Bella's sweet smell. What woman isn't turned on by a man who finds her scent captivating and damned near irresistible? Oooh yeah, baby. Suck my blood now. (It was enough to revive this reader's carnal desires of the human variety, if you know what I mean, and, I don't mind publicizing, one of the few books from which my husband has reaped personal benefit).
The second most redeeming facet of Twilight is the underlying storyline: teenage vampires in our midst, or mist. Well, both. It's a fascinating concept. The explanations, the myth borrowing and busting. I especially loved the ingenious vampire version of vegan. It's a metaphor for humanitarian motives: overcoming our baser instincts, practicing self discipline, bettering ourselves by making conscientious and healthy choices.
The most disappointing aspect of this book is our heroine, Bella. She stumbles through this book, literally and figuratively, in a romantic daze. I didn't find it cute. I didn't find it endearing. I found it annoying as hell. I found her clutziness a symbol of weakness and a lack of forthright, confident self-directedness and self-knowledge. Ok, so Bella is a teenager in love. Cut her some slack, why don't I? Of course. But the heroine is supposed to grow and undergo significant change in the course of a novel. I don't see this happening.
Frustrated and irritated, I just didn't find much to admire in Bella. Yes, she's a dutiful little student who gets high grades. So an intelligent young heroine, in the academic sense, yes. But otherwise, she does not represent a strong heroine with a purpose that I respect and want my daughters to emulate. I kept hoping to see a young woman who grows to make decisions in her own best interest, not one who repeatedly drops everything and reroutes her life in singular pursuit of a romantic interest. As one example, Bella becomes largely bored with her friends and loses them whenever Edward wiggles his perfect little finger. This is so not the modern message we want for our teenage girls, or adult women, for that matter.
Time and again we see Bella happily choosing the traditional female role of service toward others and nurturing loved ones, often at her own expense. Twilight opens with Bella leaving her home in Arizona, not because she wants to get to know her father better and explore new terrain but as a sacrificial offering to her mother, to alleviate her mother's guilt. Once she gets there, she eagerly cooks for, worries about and dotes on her father, the other man in her life, who, for reasons not explained, has lived alone for longer than a decade. What? No eligible women in Forks?
But the biggest problem I had with this novel? That tired and insidious female victimhood thing happening. Female victim romanticized. Yet another female rescued by strong, perfect, omnicient male. Made sexy.
At one point an evil foe is in hot pursuit: Bella comes up with the plan to save herself and her vampire friends. And everyone around her nods. Yes, this plan could save us.
Ah, I thought with satisfaction. Finally. Redemption. Bella's transforming on the page. She will save herself and save Edward too, rather than the other way around.
But no. Instead she walks right into harms way, into the hall of mirrors, further endangering herself and Edward. It reminded me of so many books and movies where the heroine (seldom her male counterpart) does the very thing that puts her in the most danger, leaving the audience incredulous: "Why is she doing that?!? What is she thinking?!? She's so stupid!!"
With Bella, I'm disappointed to say, we are given a weak and clumsy victim in need of repeated rescuing. Bah.
And yet, upon completing Twilight, what did I do? I quickly ran into my teenager's room and found the sequel, New Moon. Must see what happens next. Must be seduced by more Edwardy hawtness. Feminism be damned.
This is the true gift of Meyer's writing. Like her hero Edward, she keeps us wanting more, even when it isn't all that good for us.