It’s over. It’s finished. After a week of subtly torturing myself I can look forward to moving on with my life. Working on myself. Improving. Taking up hobbies. Learning to enjoy being alive. Do thing I enjoy doing. Cherish my existence.
I finished Twilight.
Twilight, in case you’re not aware, is a popular teen book about a girl who falls in love with a vampire writer by Stephenie Meyer. It was stupidly successful in the 2000s and had a whole series of films come out that were also stupidly successful. I saw the first movie years and I don’t remember much. Bella, vampires, love, drama, danger, etc. I have the vague memory of it being okay/decent but also really cringy for some reason.
One of the kids asked for the series for Christmas which I immediately jumped on. Books? Good. Reading? Fantastic. A book series? Even better; anything to promote reading is sometime I get get on board with. Plus books are cheap!
She read the first book and wouldn’t shut the hell up about how amazing Edward, Bella’s vampiric love interest, is. “He’s so sweet! He’s so romantic!” She’d also talk shit about this other dude Jacob for some reason. Since I had finished the Narnia series I was yearning for something to read, anything really, to ward off the drinking urges. She suggested Twilight thinking I would never read it, but fuck it, why not?
(Check out my post on ranking the Narnia books!)
I went into it with an open mind. A book this popular can’t be all that bad, right? Sure it might not be exactly what I enjoy reading, but I was expecting to get sucked in against my will and fall in love with the story. But…no. It’s terrible. It’s awful. It’s cringy. It’s poorly written. It’s hilarious at times, but usually not purposefully so. It was a struggle to read and I found that I couldn’t read more than a few chapters at a time. My coworkers even commented on this saying, “You only read for 20 minutes and put the book down. You were plowing through the Narnia books for hours at a time!” To which I said, “The Narnia books are good though. This is fucking torture.”
This post will be a mess because I have so much to complain about and I know it’ll just be a rant about the book. I’ll try to be somewhat coherent.
Literally nothing happens in the first 60 or 70% of the book. Bella meets Edward at school and they talk and fall in love and what not. This is literally the majority of the book. It’s like a case study of falling in love in high school when your hormones are raging and everything is so damn important and dramatic! I have to admit this did give me some painful flashback to my own time in high-school and these weren’t fun at all. You know, feeling that one person, the first person you meet and “fall in love with”, is your world and you can’t survive without them. Naive shit like that that most people grow out of by their early 20s (hopefully).
Not that that stuff is bad by default, it just doesn’t need to take up 60% of the book. We get it: they’re in love. We get it: he’s a vampire. Yes I know he’s tempted to eat her and she’s in danger, but is anything going to happen besides Bella going to school and being swooned from Edward’s presence? Sure. Eventually. If you can hang in there that long.
This probably plays into the ‘boring’ aspect, but the book is also long, way longer than it has any right to be. Twilight is a whopping 498 pages long and I think it could be a good book at half that length. The story itself, the general idea behind it, is good and the last 30-40% (starting around page 375) almost turns into a page-turner in it’s danger and intensity but by that time it’s way to late. If it was cleaned up and condensed down it’d be a hell of a lot better.
Plotholes Like Potholes in Spring…
Let’s not forget the random plotholes too. A few times throughout the book I was confused why the characters would make such stupid choices. Bella finds out Edward is a vampire and, I assume like no one would do in a realistic world, doesn’t question this at all. You’re telling me a seventeen year old girl who likes some boy and discovers he’s a vampire is going to accept it? She’s not going to say, “Haha, good one. There’s no vampires you jackass. So what’s really so strange about you?” Nope, in Twilight she has a hunch he’s a vampire, asks him, he confirms her suspicion, and she’s cool with it. She’s about as blown away at discovering mythical vampires actually exist as you would be to find out your friend is actually Puerto Rican instead of Mexican.
Towards the end Bella is being hunted by a Bad Vampire, and her vampire friends concoct a plan to hide her. Well, Bad Vampire calls saying he has her mom hostage, and that she needs to escape the Good Vampires and give herself up so he can eat her. Now vampires are stupidly fast, powerful, dangerous, and have high-end senses in the world of Twilight, so what does Bella do? She blindly follows along with his plan and abandons her Good Vampire protectors despite how insanely powerful they are. No, Bella, tell your vampire friends, all five of them, what this guy’s plan is and let them protect you and you hostage mom. Also Bella is somehow successful in escaping from the Good Vampires who swore to protect her easily. Like, no way, they’d know exactly what you’re doing and are so fast and strong they’d fucking catch you instantly. Nope. Let’s not forget that one of the vampires can see the future and doesn’t seem to be able to piece together what Bella is up to. The author paints the vampires as these incredible people only to make them seem stupid and gullible during the climax of the book.
Oh yeah, vampires glitter in the sunlight too. Fun little fact. But they all go to the airport at 9 a.m. in Phoenix Arizona of all places without mention to how they stayed out of the sunlight and obviously give themselves up as just a bit strange. I thought maybe this day was cloudy — it wasn’t specified really — but a chapter or two later Bella is running in blinding sunlight reflecting off the pavement. Somehow the vampire clan travel through populated and sunny Phoenix without issue despite their trait of glittering magnificently in the sunlight.
There’s also the whole possibility of turning Bella into a vampire to solve nearly every problem in the book. This isn’t necessarily a plot hole because it delves into the characters and their emotions/motivations, but the book would make a fuckton more sense if they did. Edward wants to eat Bella because she smells so good? Vampire her and you’re fine. Vampire is hunting Bella because she smells so good? Turn her into a vampire and he wont want to eat her. Edward keeps wanting to protect Bella from all the dangers in the world and keep her
alive existing? Turn her into a damn vampire! I’m pretty sure later in the series she does become a vampire so her actually being bitten by Bad Vampire and saved by Edward sucking the venom out seems kind of pointless overall.
But The Main Problem…
When I first started reading I didn’t know why I didn’t like it. The first few chapters nothing too egregious happened but the book seemed off for some reason. Before I found all the other obvious glaring problems with this book I had no idea what exactly it was. It took some time to find it, but it’s this: it’s just poorly written and cringy.
The tenses fluctuate around here and there. Not as much as someone writing their first story, but they did change quite a bit. I kept trying to figure out if it was all past-tense or happening as I was reading it. It’s not blatantly obvious but it still throws you off by making the story feel somehow disjointed.
There were countless times I had to hear about how muscular, handsome, and wonderfully beautiful Edward is. Okay, I get it. Once again the author didn’t hold back. At least once per chapter she’d have to mention Edward ‘looking like a Greek God/statue’ or something similar. I swear anytime she compared Edward to Adonis (the god of beauty and desire, of course) I wanted to throw the goddamn book. And it happens multiple times!
Stephen King in On Writing pointed out one thing that really applies to Twilight: he hates adverbs and adjectives, especially in dialogue. I didn’t even know this was a problem or was so awful to witness until I read this book. Here, take a look at this short passage.
“And you still want to know why you can’t see me hunt?” He seemed solemn, but I thought I saw a trace of humor deep in his eyes.
“Well,” I clarified, “I was mostly wondering about your reaction.”
“Did I frighten you?” Yes, there was definitely humor there.
“No,” I lied. He didn’t buy it.Twilight, page 224.
Seemed solemn. Clarified. There was humor there. He didn’t buy it. It’s exhausting. Meyers needs to remind us after every line how the character sounds or what emotion their displaying. Like King said, we get it, there’s no need to flourish each line with a descriptor.
There’s also this gem which is the low point of the book for me, the part where I knew how terrible the rest of the book would be, where I gazed upon the hell that would haunt me for the next 420 (lol) pages:
When I got home, I decided to make chicken enchiladas for dinner. It was a long process, and it would keep me busy. While I was simmering the onions and chilies, the phone rang. I was almost afraid to answer it, but it might be Charlie or my mom.Twilight, page 78.
Chicken enchiladas. Bella is cooking chicken enchiladas. When I read this paragraph I stopped, put my head in my hands and groaned a massive groan of disappointment. Do we need to know this? Does it pertain to anything? Is it relevant to the story or the plot at all? Is her dad going to get food poisoning and die or something? The answer is no. It’s just there. It’s especially jarring because it follows a pretty dramatic interaction between Bella and Edward, and after that drama? Chicken fucking enchiladas!
Look, this is fine to do if it serves a purpose. If someone writes about going through a McDonald’s drive through, cool, but they better be writing a stoner buddy comedy or a depressing satire on everyday adult life. Maybe I’m overreacting here on how bad the enchilada paragraph is, or missing the point of it being here (her needing to keep busy?), but it totally broke the flow of reading for me. It was jarring and hilariously pointless to anything regarding the story.
The 498 pages and days of my time weren’t totally wasted; in fact I think this was the most interesting book I read this year (ignoring East of Eden that is). It taught me more than the Narnia series did. The Narnia series and East of Eden shit on me because they were so good: I could never be a writer like those guys, the giants that are Steinbeck and C.S. Lewis. Might as well pack it up and find a 9-5 job and do that until I die. But this book? This book told me “Jeremy, hey, I know you have confidence issues but if this got published, what the fuck are you doing?! Get to writing! You can do better than this!” And I almost want to do better than Twilight because I know for a fact I can if I just get my ass in gear. Twilight was so bad I want to write just to spite it, to prove it wrong, to hold my shitty stories up to the world and say, “Still a better love story than Twilight!” Twilight is the perfect book to show you how not to write and it’s not a book that teaches you numbered lessons or facts; it shows them to you, shoves your face in them, smears your face in shit and makes you hate the flaws so much as to never commit them yourself. Twilight fucking sucked but at least it has some lessons to teach, not that they’re the lessons the author probably wanted to teach you, but lessons none the less.
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