Twilight (Twilight #1) by Stephenie Meyer (2006)
YA Fiction | Paranormal Romance
“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 dominant that part might be – that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
In the first book of the Twlilight Saga, internationally bestselling author Stephenie Meyer introduces Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, a pair of star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship ripens against the backdrop of small-town suspicion and a mysterious coven of vampires. This is a love story with bite.”
How to write a review on the Twilight Saga…that is the question. Honestly, I suppose I shall have to write a two-part review for each book in the series: a) How I felt when I first read the books at age 14 and b) How I felt when I re-read them at age 18. Yes. Yes that shall be my format for the following four Twilight Saga book reviews. Now let’s proceed.
pooled ink Review:
AGE 14: When I first read Twilight at the end of seventh grade it was still a relatively new book and most certainly had not exploded the market as of yet (but it was definitely on its way and far from obscure). A friend recommended it to me and so I put in my request at the library to wait my turn with the book. I finally got the book, I read the first couple chapters or so and returned the book. It just really wasn’t for me. But lo and behold the book had gained some momentum and a year later at the start of ninth grade I decided to give it another try.
Maybe it took that extra year for something to click because this time when I read it I read it in one sitting. No joke. I blew through that book and loved it. I couldn’t put it down and soon I was promoting the book amongst my friends and soon my whole group of friends were reading it and then a few months later the Twilight movie was to be released and I was ecstatic.
Bella was so relatable and she was average! Finally a heroine who isn’t a born beauty queen but instead is someone who isn’t ugly but isn’t gorgeous either, a person who was strengths and weaknesses, and who would rather read books or do well in school than go shopping for dresses or drool over boys. And yes, somehow in this lonely world a beautiful, handsome, chivalrous, old-fashioned boy with enchanting golden eyes and a crooked smile falls in love with her. Her the average American girl.
Okay so he turns out to be a vampire, that’s not ideal obviously but it’s something I could probably overlook just like Bella did. In this world where girls were starting to date boys, wear makeup, follow fashion trends, and be beautiful, in this world where I (like many other young girls I’d bet) felt I didn’t belong, I didn’t measure up, I would never fit in…I found someone who was like me but still found love and adventure. This book swept me off my young teenage feet as it filled me with hope and a thrilling paranormal fantasy. This book told me that I had a chance.
AGE 18+: Flash-forward to age 18 after I had read the whole Twilight saga twice and decided to re-read them yet again (as I am prone to do with my favorite books). I don’t know what changed about me, but suddenly I didn’t see these books or its characters at all in the same way.
Originally I wasn’t enthusiastic about Bella’s sarcasm and loner lifestyle, but now suddenly those were my favorite parts about her. She was a normal awkward teenager, but one with the personality of Ellen Page (who I think could’ve made an excellent version of Bella in the movies LOL Can you just imagine how different they’d be?).
Also let’s address the insta-love between Bella and Edward. Originally it hadn’t really phased me, in fact I dreamed of walking into a room and suddenly meeting my soulmate. But now I saw how strange and rather ridiculous the whole situation was. Edward didn’t love her, he wanted to kill her. Of course Bella didn’t know that, all she knew is that he had a secret and that mystery, along with his beauty, drew her in. I can’t really fault her for that actually…someone saving your life, being extremely physically attractive, and walking around cloaked in mystery would undoubtedly draw me in as well, not to mention vampires are designed as human honey-traps so some of her infatuation wasn’t wholly her fault. But even so, I felt like she claimed her love for him (even if only to herself) far too soon and it rubbed me the wrong way. It was probably one of the first moments I began calling her an idiot (something that only increased with each book).
Look, obviously if you met a vampire in real life you’d freak out or run and probably end up dead either way. It wouldn’t be a whimsical fairytale. But I had to remind myself not to get so snippy and realistic, I mean this is a book! It’s clearly advertised as a Young Adult Paranormal Romance, so what did I really expect?
I get that when you’re reading a paranormal story you’re supposed to step out of reality and accept the laws of this fictional world. Which I get, but I don’t have a problem with believing that vampires and werewolves live in this Washington State setting, I just think that The Vampire Diaries (TV show) is a bit more realistic with regards to their behavior and presence amongst humans (although yes, that show is overall just as dramatic and ridiculous most of the time).
I mean, I do wish the romance hadn’t moved so fast. I think I would’ve enjoyed it more (although at age 14 I didn’t seem to have a problem) if Bella and Edward developed more as friends before suddenly being willing to whip out the whole Romeo & Juliet scenario. As I’ve grown older I’ve definitely fallen more in love with the slow-burn romances.
I’m not sure what a few years of growth did to me but somewhere between 9th grade and 12th grade my brain broke past that ridiculous falsehood so many girls fall prey to when they enter puberty and thank goodness I made it through because some young women are still living in this illusion, confusing lust and attraction for instant love when real love is anything but instant.
But yes I saw all of the movies, and at the midnight premieres no less (after the first two it was more of a friend-group tradition than an actual fan-driven desire), and yes I genuinely loved all of the books when I first read them (I refuse to deny that). But I grew up and I saw that there are far better love stories out there and I should set my sights on them because they contain stories of true love built on solid foundations like friendship and not just some desperate attraction.
So I won’t make fun of you for liking Twilight (too much) because that’s your opinion and I respect that. Hey, beyond the obvious character and plot flaws, a part of me still holds a torch for that first excitement I felt for this book. And yeah, I admit it’s an occasional guilty pleasure of mine, although I never make it past the baseball scene. Not only is that where things really take a nosedive in the plot, logic, and writing, but NOBODY treats Charlie like that (lol he’s my favorite character in the movies and I refuse to witness how Bella crushes him no matter her reasons).
Overall this isn’t technically the best book ever written, and it not longer fits my reading tastes, but if you’re looking for an exciting teenage paranormal romance (emphasis on romance) and you don’t mind insta-love, love triangles, brief suspensions of logic, and the general teenage/high school setting, then definitely give this series a go. I mean, there’s a reason it became a best-seller, right?
P.S. But if you’re one of those people who are legitimate fans of Fifty Shades of Grey well then NOPE. Hands up. I’m out. Ain’t nobody got time for people like that. (The writing is so terrible it’s hilarious. And don’t even get me started on the plot. But I will say that I like Anastasia a bit more than I like Bella…).
P.P.S. Okay so there’s a lot wrong with the Twilight saga but just because it is rather ridiculous at times doesn’t mean you should try to tear out Meyer’s soul. Don’t be cruel. I hope my reviews are more brutally honest than particularly mean. Is she the greatest author? Maybe not. Did I like her books? Yes. Do I like her books? Meh (though I’m obsessed with The Host). But writing, publishing, and sharing a book is like any other form of art. You take a piece of your soul and hold it out to the world in your quivering hands with utter vulnerability risking either an embrace of love or an attack of hate. She got a lot of love at first and then she got an avalanche of hate. I am definitely not a “Twihard” but that does not make it okay to hunt her down and stab her in the heart with a wooden stake. Cool. I shall descend from my soapbox now.
Meet Stephenie Meyer!
I was born in Connecticut in 1973, during a brief blip in my family’s otherwise western U.S. existence. We were settled in Phoenix by the time I was four, and I think of myself as a native. The unusual spelling of my name was a gift from my father, Stephen (+ ie = me). Though I have had my name spelled wrong on pretty much everything my entire life long, I must admit that it makes it easier to google myself now.