Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Twilight Series

I've decided to finally write my opinions of the Twilight books on this date for a reason. It's an anniversary of sorts, one that is tied into the books, and I'll get to that later on.

I've been weary of writing my opinions of Twilight because I know that people have opinions which are very emotionally fueled. People fight over it passionately and I wouldn't want to upset any of my readers because of a difference of opinion. And yet... I wouldn't be honest if I did not stick to my intentions with this blog and write my opinions of these books.

I read all of the books twice. For the first time it was two years ago... this very date (and no that is not the reason I was talking about, we'll get to that later). The second time was the summer after when Breaking Dawn came out.


I had completely different reactions to the books after both reads.

The first time I read the books I adored them. I was sucked right in and couldn't bring myself to step away. I was glued to every word, every chapter, every character. I wanted to know what happened next and I recall ordering the rest of the books when I was still only halfway through Twilight itself. My mind ran away with the books and didn't want to come back. It was entertaining, distracting, and something I had been looking for.

The second time I read the books I was left asking a number of questions. First, 'why did I like these books so much the first time I read them?' and it took me a long time to answer that one. The other questions were basically, "Stephenie Meyer uses so many of her descriptive words over and over. This is ridiculous.", "Wow, I really dislike Bella. She's kind of really annoying and a weak character. The other characters are so much greater.", "Why are so many people so obsessed with these books?", and other such questions.

I mulled over my questions and answered them one by one. Stephenie Meyer isn't a genius when it comes to writing. She is not the next Shakespeare or Jane Austen. Her dialogue is simple and pretty much straight to the point. If you are looking for a hard read, then don't try reading the books, but if you are looking for what I like to call an 'easy read'- something that doesn't leave you scratching your head every few sentences because of the vocabulary used- then these are the books for you.

Bella... I just really grew to dislike her character. The story line has been heard of before, girl who is new/lonely/clumsy/unloved/outcast/in need of a savior (take your pick) falls in love with a vampire. Believe me, there are plenty of other books that have the same gist. But, to be fair, it's just a form of the general love stories that are out there. Girl falls in love with someone who she should really not be involved with. Like Romeo and Juliet, Atonement, the ending might be different. The guy might prove he is worthy of her love. He might prove he's not. But it's the general sense of most love stories.

The obsession with these books... okay some of the fans I think are a little overboard. But there are overboard fans for numerous things. Just look at the celebrity gossip site TMZ, browse through their stories and I'm sure you'll find a 'crazy fan' article somewhere. It happens.

Some fans claim these are the BEST books ever written... and yet they have never read anything else. This unnerves me to no end. Don't judge the wide range of literature only through your one taste of it. However, for those teenagers that became interested in reading all sorts of books due to Twilight, I applaud you.

There is one point that seems to be argued about all over the place. Edward sneaking into Bella's room to watch her sleep. Now... that is very much cause to be arrested in the United States. Let's make that clear. If I, personally, woke up to see a guy in the corner of my room watching me sleep I would probably spray him with my pepper spray and then beat him until the cops showed up. In fact, I know someone who did wake up (years ago) to find a guy in her room watching her sleep. It does happen and it's not cool. So I hope that some love struck, lonely, or just silly kid who reads these books doesn't start to think that having someone creep into their room at night is okay. Because it's not.

However for the books it goes with the story. It adds to the mystery and the romance of it all and with Stephenie Meyers writing puts forth that this is an innocent gesture and Edward isn't being a creep. He's a vampire after all, he could just as easily hang off the rain gutters to check her out as he can sneak into the room soundlessly. It's fiction. Straight and simple.

I can see why people find themselves in love with the books so much. Here is this teenage girl who suddenly finds love in the most unexpected of places. Don't we all have some form of a fantasy of that? Not only does she find love, but she practically has people falling over each other to get to her. Good people (Edward, Jacob) and not so good (hello nasty little vampires).

Aside from this Bella has the most freedom I've ever seen given to a teenager. Now that's something I could be envious of if I were 16. I was always craving freedom when I was a teenager and here is this character that just says, hey I'm going to a city to go shopping. Or she suddenly runs out of the house intending on leaving to go to Arizona. If I told my parents while I was in High School that I was going to take the car and drive to my aunts house in DC because my boyfriend broke up with me and I needed to get away they probably would've shot the tires before I got out of the drive way (okay they didn't have a gun, but still, they wouldn't have let me go). She has freedom. Her father has great trust in her and lets her go as she pleases. In more ways then not, she's an adult. Tending to the house, getting groceries, making dinner. A dream that seems all too far away when you're a teenager and in teenage angst. It's captivating and really nice to read and daydream about.

The books are good for teens, I feel, because they do make sure to not be too graphic. If you want graphic books there are so many more out there and the majority of vampire literature is graphic. In comparison to some of it's neighboring vampires, Twilight vampires are pretty docile and simple. Reading Anita Blake or the Vampire Chronicles is a whole new ghastly world. But when you're writing young adult lit those grotesque or more graphic scenes kind of do need to be let out.

So... basically, I understand why people dislike the books. I really do. But I understand why people love them too. I think my biggest annoyance with the Twilight series is when some of the fans screech when they see the book covers (remember, I work in a book store and I worked in one when the first movie came out). People have screamed. Literally. And it's very startling and annoying... I feel that way for anyone who screams over a book though so this doesn't only go towards Twilight fans. The books are a fantastic read if you want something that's quick and easy to read. Something that can entertain you from cover to cover and leaving you wanting more.

If you want a book that is any different then this, then the books aren't for you. I am so tired of having people go "The Twilight series are crap! They're so stupid!" and they never read the books themselves. Or, "The writing is horrible and I feel like I'm loosing my IQ when I read it!" Okay, if you need something 'greater' to stimulate your IQ then find a different book. It's pretty hard to not know what Twilight is about, even if you haven't read the books, so if you know the subject matter already and that your IQ will turn to smoosh then don't read it and stop complaining.

But getting to the reason why I originally fell so in love with this book is for this reason and this reason alone...

I read the books two days after my friend Catherine died.
Cathy was a wonderful, bright, happy, forgiving, beautiful angel of a girl who made everyone around her happy and didn't have a mean bone in her body. She was fantastic and I... I really cannot express just how wonderful she really was. I met her when I was 14 in my dance class. She and I danced together all through High School and thanks to Facebook kept in (occasional) touch. College, and a move on my part, kept us from rarely seeing or speaking to one another. I had the opportunity to see her the summer before she died and she was happy and wonderful, wishing me all the luck in the world, giving me a tight hug before we parted.

Two years ago, today, she died very suddenly and very unexpectedly. She had written on her facebook just a few days before saying she had a cold. Suddenly her temperature rose, she was sent to the hospital, then her organs shut down and she was gone. It wasn't for another six months until we (her family and friends) found out the cause of her death.

She caught Q-Fever, which is generally unknown, and completely curable. With a quick dosage of medication it can be out of the persons body in no time but without proper medication the person will die. Just as Cathy had.

I was shocked, numbed, I had never had a chance to say goodbye, I wasn't able to get back to New York for her viewing or funeral, and I felt completely wronged. I picked up Twilight shortly after and began reading the books. They took me out of the world I was in, away from the pain and feeling of emptiness, it distracted me and kept me going. They brought me back to life in many ways. I was so empty, my brain was useless, I could barely carry on normal conversations, but reading the books got my brain working again. They made me daydream and think of something else.

I have, unfortunately, dealt with a lot of death in my life. Each time someone dies I react generally the same. I'm lost and looking for comfort. I read books for comfort. Books that usually have some form of a character who lives on even though they should be gone. Somehow, it makes me feel better. That maybe if Cathy is no longer here she is now simply joining my other family members and friends who have passed. She's sitting amongst them, cheering me on, and urging me in decent directions in life. Kind of like watching a ball game. "No, no, don't do that! Turn the other way. That's good, that's good, you've got it now. You'll make it!" That's how I picture it at least. Here are some characters in this series that should be, quite possibly, very angry at the world. Jasper for instance had a more recent rough life and now he's working on it steadily to become something with morals, although vampires generally don't have such a thing. It made me feel that I could move on, I could get back to living my own life. After all, Cathy wouldn't want me sad forever.

Who knows, maybe I'm putting too much credit into the books. But for me, I tend to push people away when something bad happens. I need to regroup on my own until I come back strong and I always get help through books and writing. It might be silly to say, but I do believe this, the series helped me deal with her loss.

So kudos Stephenie Meyer and your books. I might have my grievances for the series but I do appreciate them showing me entertainment, getting my mind working, and waking my soul up again when I needed it. I appreciate it truly.

And on this, the two year anniversary since Cathy died, I miss you. I love you. When I am in a tough situation and unsure how to act, I think of you and your grace. You will forever live on in my heart and I'll see you again some day.

This entry is dedicated to you, Cathy.

8 comments:

  1. I loved the books in high school as well. I was just another hormonal teenage girl and loved them! Then when Breaking Dawn came out, I reread them too. And my opinion totally changed like yours. I hate Bella until Breaking Dawn. She makes a fantastic vampire but a horrible human. I always thought Edward watching her sleep was weird but in a cute way. I still think that (but I would rather it be when they're married later that he does that) All in all though I still the books are brilliant and as long as there are teenage girls with hormones (hahahaha) they will sell like crazy. Brilliantly written for young adult books, Stephenie is definitely no J.K. Rowling or Tolkein or C.S. Lewis. But as a young adult writer she's brilliant.

    As for your friend, I'm so sorry that you lost her so unexpectedly. I'm sure she's there cheerin you on and making sure she's got a really good seat saved for you ;)

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  2. This post was truly worth the wait. You make some extremely valid points about the series. They are an "easy read." I have to admit I didn't read very much before I read the Twilight series. I try looking for new books a lot more than I use to because of them.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I actually started reading Twilight almost a year ago, a few days after my grandmother passed away. I understand when you say it takes you out of the world you're in. It gives you a chance to step away from real life and everything that is going on.

    Excellent post!! And I'm looking forward to your review of the November book of the month!

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  3. This was a really great post. Ok, long comment, comin' up.

    I know what you mean about the books taking you away. Since they are so easy to read, I think you forget about it all and are just THERE. I totally felt all forksy when I read them. During finals, I would just read them all day and would look forward it. I think they're really good, but you bring up some good points.

    Bella kinda bugs me a little at times (no offense readers! :). I wish she wasn't as needy. Having this vampire with you every night, never having the chance to really be alone... Alone time can be good :) Seriously!

    I thought Breaking Dawn got a liiiiiittle too happy to be there and the "delivery" scene was very graphic, yet she fades to black for most intimacy. I don't know what that says, but I can't even watch the discovery health channel, so yeah.

    My favorite of the series is Twilight. The whole opening mystery and meadow scene. Did you like Midnight Sun?

    And I'm very sorry about your friend. I can relate to that, how terrible it can be at such a lost time. I'm glad you had something positive like reading to turn to.

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  4. P.S. I meant to say that Cathy sounds like such a wonderful person. I hope happy memories will always make you smile.

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  5. :) I agree with your assessment of the Twilight series - they are somewhat of a not-so-guilty pleasure, aren't they?
    What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. She must be smiling down on you!

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  6. i'm so sorry for your loss. i'm glad that you found something that absolutely took you away from reality. at some point or another, i think we all need that.

    i concur with your twilight consensus. i love them. they are easy, and entertaining. are they harry potter? not at all. are they deserving of the pandemonium the receive? nah.

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  7. I loved the series. I was reluctant to read them at first; in fact, I was peer pressured into doing so, lol. But I did enjoy them immsensely.

    But I agree with *a lot* of what you said. By no means are they literary masterpieces. Bella is a Mary Sue. Edward teeters between being "swoon-worthy" and creepy. I did enjoy them, though.

    Have you read The Host? It was pretty good. I definitely enjoyed that, too. It's an easy read as well.

    So...your post about your friend was sad and touching. I wondered why you said you were going to post your opinions about this series on this date. Now I know.

    Bad time to mention I left you an award??

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  8. Thank you all so much for your lovely comments. I was worried I'd ruffle some feathers for not totally loving Twilight but I'm silly for having been worried! You're all great and thank you for your comforting comments about Cathy. <3

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