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Re-examining Twilight: Is It Really As Bad As We Remember?

Ainsley Cox

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  Ahh, Twilight. That heartwarming childhood story about a 100-year-old man trying to get with an emotionless 17-year-old. Or should I say a 100-year-old vampire, does that make it less creepy? No? Yeah, I get it.

 

   Fourteen years ago, on October 5th, 2005, Little, Brown and Company and Stephanie Meyer brought us one of the most controversial novels of all time. Why controversial, you ask? I don’t mean controversial as in that it was a thought provoking work that inspired a generation as such classics like Common Sense, The Great Gatsby, and To Kill a Mockingbird. No, I mean that it caused controversy because it was so mindbogglingly mediocre that people didn’t know what to think of it. Yet it flourished all the same.

 

 But why did this book capture the hearts of American pre-teens? Could it be the dreary setting, the risk of the heroine being eaten by her boyfriend, or the fact that when said boyfriend took off his dreadfully out of date buttonup shirt he sparkled in the sunlight? It could have been any one of these, or it could have been that the book depicted a lonely girl catching the attention of an “extraordinary” “boy”. And it could have been that young girls fresh out of adolescence wanted that, wanted to be noticed by someone like that and be swooped on a miraculous adventure.

 

  But as I said before, examining all the reasons would simply take to much time. And so I pose the question: was it really that bad? In preparation for answering this question, I allowed myself to re-read the book. Yes, RE-READ. I have read it before but it was in fourth grade, and I wasn’t aware of standards yet. But why all the judgement in the first place?

 

  I re-read the “498”page monster and then subjected myself to what some might call torture, I watched the movie. So now let’s break it down.

 

 We’ll start with the book, as every decent person in the world knows, one must read the book before they see the movie, not that anyone, including myself, does. It started out slow, giving you Bella’s background at an annoying sloth like rate. She has to move in with her dad to a place she hates because of the weather…blah blah blah. Then we get our first taste of Bella herself, and I gotta be honest, she’s just plain mean. We all knew she wasn’t the greatest character in literature, but being boring and being mean isn’t the same thing. From the get-go, you see that she’s boring, but it’s when she gets to school when you see her miraculous transition from basically asleep to rude. Instantly people want to be friends with the new girl, offering to walk her to her classes, show her around, sit with her at lunch, be partners for class, and she’s just inconsiderate. She instantly forgets all of their names, calls Eric and over helpful chess club type, and doesn’t even attempt to be present in conversation. She thinks Jessica is to cheery and nosy and believes that Mike just isn’t really worth her time.

 

  But it’s all ok because cue the Cullens. Edward doesn’t help her engage with her “friends” any more than she was trying to before.

 

  Then we have the scene where she walks in front of the fan in Biology and her hair “scent” goes everywhere and old Eddy flips out and nearly breaks the desk in half with his death grip. Like Bella’s instant obsession with Edward isn’t creepy enough, we later learn that when she walked in on him trying   to switch out his classes, he wanted to suck her blood and kill the admin so that there would be no witnesses.

 

  Anyway, Ed disappears for a few days and when he returns, he’s all chipper and ready for class. They talk about the weather, life, anaphase, and prophase etc. She tells more to him in one class period than anyone in the last two weeks, and he seems very intent on following her to her next class, but, as Edward does, Bella says something a little too close to home and he storms off. From this, we can see that he has a short temper, but just you wait.

 

   As the story continues, we see that our completely healthy relationship can only get better. As the weather gets colder in Forks, the roads get slicker. Bella almost gets flattened in the student parking lot by her “friend” Tyler, but Edward, throwing all caution to the wind when hiding his vampiric talents, saves her life, whooshing over to the other side of the parking lot to put a dent in both of the cars. At the hospital, Bella’s dad, Charlie, threatens Tyler, you know like any good police chief, and continually asks if Bella is ok, even though the doctor, aka Edwards vampire dad, Carlisle, literally just examined her before his very eyes and said she was fine.

 

  Bella confronts Edward about the accident, asking him what exactly he is. He asks if she will ever let it go, she says no, he says “I hope you enjoy disappointment.” I know it’s a fantasy book, and it’s not real, but someone asking me what I am… yeah, not my style. Also, I feel like this is a missed opportunity for Meyer. At this point in the book it was hard to change what the characters were in my mind seeing as it took us 100 pages to get there, but if Edward had responded with “I’m a Virgo.” to Bella’s question, I would have laughed out loud, alone, in my room, at 11:30 on Tuesday night. That’s high praise.

 

   But, alas, Stephenie Meyer likes to stick to the Wattpad sort of writing style as the book further portrays. After this event, Bella’s friends plan a trip to La Push beach, a local hang out that’s on the Quileute Indian reservation nearby. She invites Edward, as the two have reconciled for what feels like the eightieth time, and he rejects this because  obviously as I said before, he sparkles, so the beach, no go. But that isn’t the reason he won’t go, as the climate in Washington state might suggest.

 

   At the beach, Bella and friends are joined by a group of reservation teens including Jacob, who will, in later books, be introduced as the third point of a not so epic love triangle. When the beans spill that Bella invited Edward to come to the beach, the three boys who have feelings for her (yes three) Mike, Eric, and Tyler, are notably despondent. But that doesn’t seem to perk Bella’s interest, oh no, what perks her interest is what one of Jacob’s friends says in regards to this. “The Cullens don’t come here.”

 

  Curious to understand his meaning, Bella flirts with the young Jacob (She’s legit 17 and he’s 14. The age differences in this book really are a kicker) to get information. As yet another young man falls at the feet of this girl, she is told the Quileute legend of the cold ones. As the legend goes, the natives found the vampires hunting on their land, but seeing that they were different and only hunted animals decided that a treaty should be formed. The cold ones would stay off their land, and in return, the tribe wouldn’t expose them to the humans, which explains why Edward didn’t come to the beach because he would be breaking the treaty.

 

  

Bella is asked to the dance by Mike, then Eric, and then Tyler. She rejects them all, saying that she is going to Seattle on that Saturday, but she encourages Mike to ask Jessica as she has a crush on him. Mike does so while Bella’s other friend Angela asks Eric. Bella joins the girls shopping in Port Angeles and goes off on her own to find a bookstore. After a while, the sun sets, and she is cornered in an ally by some skeevy Washington state dudes. Right as she’s about to get literally sexually assaulted! I like how Stephanie didn’t say anything about that after the fact! Anyway, right as that’s about to happen, Edward zooms up in his shiny silver Volvo and saves the day by staring at them.

 

   They arrive at the restaurant that Bella was supposed to meet her friends at hours ago, and like good friends, they ate without her and are about to leave. Edward stays with her as her friends skidaddle, and she orders a family friendly meal of mushroom ravioli while her pale date is hit on by the waitress. They talk about how he suddenly reads minds, all except hers that is, and how he stalked her to Port Angeles, giving the reason for this as feeling protective over her.

 

  Throughout the next couple of chapters, our beloved leading lady discovers what he truly is: a Vampire (Shocker). They head up on a hike and he shows her his sparkly skin whilst yelling at her about how dangerous he is and how he could snap her neck in two. Yet two sentences prior he was saying how he didn’t want her to be afraid, and she’s not afraid, despite him LITERALLY BREAKING A TREE IN HALF FIVE SECONDS BEFORE. Earlier Bella had decided that the day in the meadow would be a crucial moment in their relationship. Her mind is already made up, she loves him and wants to be with him until his batsy brains get the better of him and he quite literally sucks the life out of her. The decision that would be made would be if Edward was willing to put up with her, or as the book describes it, if he was willing to let himself be near her.

 

   At this point in the book, I thought that the only reason Edward was paying attention to Bella was that he liked her smell, because why else would he hang out with her? Spend eternity with a bland teenage girl? No thank you. But it does present an interesting problem. Does Edward like Bella for her personality, is he in love with her based on cherished personal experiences and the connection that forms between people? Or is he just like obsessed with her… blood. Hopefully, Meyer can put an interesting spin on this.

 

  They spend that night together, not anything promiscuous, don’t worry, while her father thinks that she is about to sneak out. The next morning, Edward proposes, very last minute might I add, that he wants her to meet his family. When they arrive, Bella goes on a tangent about how she expected their house to be dark and musty and gross. In her head, of course, old vampy gets one whiff of that, you’re dead. Standing behind the front door are Edwards parents, Carlisle and Esme. They seem to approve while standing very warily by the pairs side as not frighten Bella. They are joined by two of his siblings, Alice and Jasper. Siblings is a stretch though, as they are only related by vampire tendencies and law, I think. Alice and Jasper prove to be an item and thank god they aren’t related because this book doesn’t need to add inscest onto its list of creepy themes.

 

  A sweet tone is added in when Edward plays Bella a song he wrote about her on the Piano. Even I have to admit… that was kind of cute.

 

   Edward’s other two siblings, Rosalie and Emmett, never show. Edward attributes this to Rosalie’s disapproval of the relationship and somewhat disgust for Bella herself. He gives her a tour of the house and she gets to ask some questions. This part I did like because we get more a backstory about the family. Carlisle is from the mid sixteen hundreds and his father was an evangelical priest determined to eradicate every vampire on the face of the earth. One night he is attacked by a hungry vampire and turns into one. Throughout the years he has been part numerous covers including the Volturi, basically the leaders of all vampires. But after he gets tired of hurting people, he leaves to start a new life in the colonies. However he grows lonely and soon comes upon seventeen-year-old Edward dying of Spanish Influenza. He turns him, then happens upon Esme who fell off a cliff and turns her, and so on and so forth down the family line.

 

   They have a somewhat chill afternoon where he admits to sneaking into her room at night and watching her sleep. For the last couple of months. Sure Stephanie, put that in the book!

 

  Then we get to see a collection of scenes of Edward driving her to school and waiting outside of her classes. Her friends don’t really like the relationship but Mike in particular, who says he looks at her like she’s something to eat. If only he knew, hed wet himself and run for the hills finally realizing Bellas not really worth all this trouble.

 

   Edward invites Bella to play a game of baseball with his family. When she questions the timing due to a predicted thunderstorm, he tells her that his family needs it to play and that where the game will be played the rain won’t touch. Edward meets Charlie in a somewhat violent exchange where he promises to take care of Bella. They arrive at the game and he carries her up a mountainside on his back.

 

   The vampires play a couple games showing off their stunning athleticism until some tourist vampires hear the game. Alice, who can see the future, warns the family that they are coming. Polite words are exchanged between the two groups and the tourists ask to play a game. Edward and Bella turn to leave as everyone warms up, but the wind blow Bellas hair and the tracker of the other pride, James, goes to attack. Edward and James hiss at each other in a moment that made me quite uncomfortable cause they’re dudes but they’re acting like cats. The family splits up, some taking Bella and Edward back to her house, the others leading the enemy pride to their home. A plan forms and Bella storms into her house yelling and screaming. She tells her dad that she hates Forks and is going back home to Phoenix. He begs her to think about it but she tells him some more mean things until he backs off. When she gets back into the car with Edward, they discuss the plane further. The family will split up because James intends to hunt and kill Bella. Alice and Jasper will take Bella to Phoenix and keep her safe. Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett will lead James off the scent, while Carlisle and Esme will stay in Forks to look after Charlie. After a couple days of this, Bella gets a call from her mom but it’s revealed to be James on the other line.

 

  He tells her that if she wants to see her mom alive, she will have to go to her old house the next day without any of her vampire friends. She slips away at the airport and grabs a cab to the house. There she calls James again and her tells her to come to her old dance studio. At the dance studio, it is revealed that James never had Bella’s mom, he just used an old tape recording to make it sound like he did. He begins to video his attack on Bella, throwing her against the wall and breaking her leg. He then bites and just the knick of time is attacked by Edward. The other rush to kill James and Edward must suck the venom out of Bellas system so that she will not turn into him.

 

   She wakes up in the hospital where the Cullens have created a false story to cover their tracks. She tells her mother that she would like to remain in Forks. Then, in a conversation with Edward, the theme that drives the entire series is revealed. Edward is simply too dangerous to be involved with Fragile, Delicate, pathetic Bella. But he will be anyway because Meyers has to sell more books. Another question is answered as well: does Edward like Bella only for her blood or for her personality? He chose personality which kind of disappointed me.

  The Epilogue centers around Edward taking her to prom and introduces Jacob as the secondary love interest. It also introduces another “burning” question that the pre-teen audience just can’t wait to have answered: is Edward going to change Bella into a vampire?

 

  The film moves in a similar fashion with bad acting and a truly amazing soundtrack. No joke. I don’t blame the actors though, they weren’t given much to work with.

 

  But is the book really as bad as we remember? The answer: it hasn’t gotten better, so yeah, probably.

 

About the Writer
Ainsley Cox, Secretary

Ainsley would like you to know that she will find @Skobolts.

 

Writing Interests: Opinion, cultural, political

 

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Re-examining Twilight: Is It Really As Bad As We Remember?