And the vortex spits me out again…

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer, and I praised the series for being fun and engrossing – for pulling me into its vortex.  Ah, the difference three books makes. 

I’ve now read all three published books in the series (Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse), and reached the point of not wanting to ever read another word about these characters.  Maybe I overdosed by reading all three books in a two and a half week span, but I think that’s being generous. 

So here are a few of my harsh criticisms of the series, which are bound to make me some enemies:

  • Bella is annoying.  Very, very annoying.  The girl never seems to grow, change, or develop in any way: the Bella we meet on the first page of the first book is the same Bella that we leave on the 650-th page of the third book.   
  • Meyer overuses two words to the point of nauseum:  “grimaced” and “smirked.”  Can’t her characters engage in any other facial expressions than these two?
  • Speaking of repetition, why does Bella always have to a) pass out or b) be so exhausted that someone has to pick her up and physically carry her?  I can see this happening once in a while, but I’ve lost count of the number of times Bella is carried around in the books.
  • And, yes, more repetition:  Edward habitually takes Bella’s face between his two hands in order to gaze into her eyes.  Over and over and over again this happens.  Gag.
  • Then there is the surplus of Important Relationship Discussions in these books.  How tedious.  You’d think that after a year of dating, Edward and Bella would be tired of only discussing their starry-eyed feelings for each other.  Can’t they ever go bowling together?  Or watch T.V. together?  Or something???
  • Edward, by the way, is about the dullest hero to appear on the pages of a romance.  Yawn.
  • And then the stylistic quibble:  Meyer is a clumsy writer.  She tells, rather than shows, and writes copious amounts of prose where half as much would do.

My problems with the books lead me to make two conclusions:  these books are decisively sexist, and very much aimed at a young teenage female reader who has yet to experience a relationship of any depth or commitment.  Why sexist?  Because Bella consistently passes out, has to be carried, and needs Protection from her adoring male admirers (and occasionally from the rest of the vampires and werewolfs).  Yes, some of the other vampires are female, but our attention is focused on Bella, and Bella is a stupid, helpless, fainting female who can’t take care of herself and manages to bungle things up on a regular basis.  About all that Bella can handle doing is cooking dinners for her father, who, despite many years of living on his own, can’t seem to cook anything besides eggs.

As for the intended reader, I readily admit that I do NOT fall into the intended reader category.  I’m middle-aged, cynical, and happily married.  But I’d like to argue that that shouldn’t matter.  Even if the books are aimed at starry-eyed young female readers, Meyer could still add a bit of punch to her plots and backbone to Bella.  She could take her characters from that wonderful first fizzy phase of their relationship into a deeper, more realistic, established relationship.  Edward and Bella could, and should, move on and grow and change.  Meyer wouldn’t lose her teen audience if they did.

Now that I’ve left the magnetic pull of these books behind, I seriously doubt that I’ll bother reading the fourth one when it is published this summer.  I feel like I’ve lost the last couple of weeks to reading the series, and don’t want to waste any more time on them.  On to other, hopefully better, books! 

3 thoughts on “And the vortex spits me out again…”

  1. There’s this psychological theory of relationships that holds that every relationship passes through three stages — that first “fizzy” stage; stability; and then discord; after resolving the discord adequately, the couple passes back into the first fizzy stage. Part of this theory holds that each person has a stage they like best — we all know the couples that seem to be perpetually dating, and there are the couples who are perpetually fighting. In my own observation, young people (e.g., Bella) tend to pass through these stages more quickly than adults. But yeah, you’re right, in “Twilight” Bella never gets out of the fizzy stage — it’s like the relationship with Edward is frozen at that first moment when they declare their love to one another. …. Is that maybe why the book is so popular with many young teenaged girls? –so few of them have had real relationships, and they assume it’s all fizzy?

  2. Sophia (Peabody) Hawthorne spent many years of her life before she married Nathaniel being a weak woman who was always fainting, withdrawing from the world, etc.

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