In this ongoing feature (*gulp*) I will be delving into the much-dreaded world of Twilight. That is to say, Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, a work that is dreaded by serious writers the world over. I fear what terrible horrors, what mutilations of the English language, what unbelievably poor excuses for story construction await me.
In all seriousness, as an aspiring writer myself, I thought it was time that, for better or (more likely) worse I saw what all the damn fuss is about. What follows is my thoughts, my color commentary if you will, on the book as I go along.
So, Stephanie Meyer, give me your best shot. I’m all yours.
Beginning Thoughts: As I began my journey deeper into the book proper, it lulled me at first into a false sense of security. Sure it was kind of like reading an almanac, with its continuous listing of seemingly pointless facts, but it was tolerable. Much like, well, reading an almanac.
The never-ending string of the main character’s likes and dislikes was a little less pleasant. I don’t even know the character’s name yet, but I do know her favorite shirt, that she hates some small, rainy, shithole of a town, that she loves Phoenix instead (and all the horrible, sweltering, heat-related crap that goes with it), and that apparently she’s a city girl.
Um, sorry, I hate to barge into your fascinating rambling list of random tidbits here, but you seem to have neglected to tell me your main character’s name.
Ah, thanks awkwardly inserted name in a sentence of dialog where a normal person wouldn’t have said a name in their dialog. Bella, eh? Fine, fine.
Note: You’ll have to forgive me, by the way, if some of what follows seems a little stream-of-consciousness. It is often hard to fully collect my many scattered thoughts on this dreadful experience into a cohesive hole. I shall do my best to make it readable.
Bella Problems: As soon as I realized that the book was told from a first-person viewpoint (which was, in fact, the first word: “my”), I realized that this daunting task was going to be perhaps even worse than I thought.
After reading yet further, my fears were confirmed. Bella’s head is one that I most definitely do not want to be inside of.
Puzzlement: Can you undertake an action “with great horror”? Stephanie Meyer seems to think so, but I must admit that I somewhat question her judgement on this sort of thing.
Thought #1: Apparently Bella’s poor mother is some sort of helpless lunatic who is taken care of by her daughter. That’s good to know. Got some good parents, this Bella gal. Came from good stock. Proper, healthy upbringing, I’m sure. Not going to produce any weird neuroticism or character traits at all, no sir.
Notable Quote #1: I have now come across a sentence that is awkward in so many ways it’s almost hard to know where to begin: “But I could see the sacrifice in her eyes behind the promise.”
I’m sorry, I won’t relent on this one. Sacrifice is not something that is visible through a human eyeball. Anger, sure. Sadness, yes. Happiness, fine. Sacrifice is not one of these simple emotions that can be seen through the eyes. In fact, unless I’m mistaken, sacrifice is not actually an emotion at all, and therefore can’t be displayed on a face.
Can’t you see the sacrifice on my face right now?
Nope. Tried it myself now. Doesn’t work. Not an emotion.
On top of that, this non-emotion is apparently hidden behind a promise, which I suppose is also stuffed in that inhumanly expressive eyeball somehow. Or so this horribly written sentence would lead us to believe. This is false, lazy writing at its finest. And it’s only the first page of the first chapter. Goodness gracious this is going to be a long trip.
Notable Quote #2: “That would explain why I didn’t remember him. I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory.”
I would like to argue the above point based on the vast array of needless crap you have just dumped upon me, the poor reader, from your own first person viewpoint in an alarmingly short number of pages. You might wish to begin rethinking your self-perception in this regard.
Thought #2: Wait, the rocking chair “from [her] baby days” is still in her room? The one she lived in growing up? That can’t be healthy. And you have to love how she refers to her infancy as “my baby days”. Like it was some phase she passed through.
Yeah, I tried out the baby thing. Worked for a while, but I got a little sick of it. It was just so last week, you know?
She’s Got Issues: She plans out her crying sessions, apparently. Yup, Bella’s a weird one all right.
Egotist Protagonist: For the love of Pete, stop talking bout yourself already! There are six full paragraphs of describing and philosophizing about herself and her oh-so-unique teenager-y problems here. Get over yourself, babe.
*Sigh*: Oh, she’s claustrophobic too? Great. Just great. Keep it coming, Steph, you’re character’s not quite enough of a basket case yet. What else ya got?
Notable Quote #3: “Charlie left first, off to the police station that was his wife and family.”
I think I know what she’s trying to say here, but could she really not think of any better way to say it? This makes it sound like some sort of obsessive sexual fetish, not simply a guy who works too much.
Thought #3: What Meyer has neglected to give me here, amongst her heaping helpings of vagaries and piles of descriptions that don’t actually seem to describe much in particular, is a reason to care about her character. Aside from the fact that she seems to be a mentally screwed up weirdo from a broken home, I don’t know why Bella is of interest. Where is the conflict? Where is the story goal? Where is the plot going? My only hints are a few mysterious clues so forced and pointless it’s laughable.
Some weird girl from Phoenix moved to a cold place she hates for some reason even though she didn’t want to. Woo. Get to the point.
Notable Quote #4: “I can do this, I lied to myself feebly. No one was going to bite me.”
Oh ha ha. Very funny.
Notable Quote #5: “My plain black jacket didn’t stand out, I noticed with relief.”
Why would a plain jacket ever stand out? Isn’t that the point of wearing something plain? Not to stand out? You’d think the thing that would stand out here would be, you know, her. The one person in the small school everyone knows is new and should be staring at like some sort of state fair sideshow attraction but are apparently not noticing for some reason, which kind of goes against all the details of the place that have been laid out so far. Way to go with the consistency there, Steph.
Notable Quote #6: “[Bella’s new teacher] gawked at me when he saw my name — not an encouraging response — and of course I flushed tomato red.”
Um, ew. Unless Mr. Mason here happens to be in a federal database of some sort, this is not a reaction that a teacher of children should have.
Contemplating Bella: I can feel myself slowly growing to despise Bella. My casual indifference is slowly turning into something far more sinister. Call me crazy, but I find something unappealing about the way she seems to consider herself a paragon of perfection next to the inbred hillbilly freaks that are, of all the terrible sins to have to suffer, trying to politely introduce themselves to her and make her feel at home in her new town. The concepts of hospitality and friendliness seem to be totally lost on this poor girl.
It all goes further to prove my belief that her loneliness is completely self-inflicted. Why should I feel sorry for this poor creature, scheduling sadness sessions in her day planner in some pathetic attempt to induce sympathy, when she won’t so much as try to make connections with other human beings?
Thought #4: I have reason to believe that Edward is a sexually frustrated weirdo due to the whole “vampire” thing, but I see no logical reason why he should act actively angry at Bella when he first meets her. What kind of stalker-wannabe acts like that? This reeks of an author trying too hard to be deceptive.
Angry Bella: Oh great, she cries when she’s angry too. Doesn’t get enough of the good ol’ tears in her scheduled sessions, apparently.
Actual legitimate question: Does anybody actually respond to anger by crying? Is this a real human response? I’ve certainly never heard of anything like it before, but I’m no expert. Still seems odd to me.
Thought #5: The gym teacher’s name is Coach Clapp? That’s both horribly inappropriate and terrifically entertaining.
Notable Quote #7: “[Edward] was so mean. It wasn’t fair.”
You’re a stuck up, antisocial bitch. Get over it.
Farewell: Until next time, dear readers. Wish me luck. It’s not getting any easier from here….