I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the audiobook

I reread “Twilight” and am going to share my thoughts with you whether you like it or not

Josephine Laur, Copy Editor

Originally Published, June 11 2020

I recently learned that a previously assumed-to-be-deceased friend of mine is coming back to play. In fact, the offspring of that friend is supposed to be hitting the shelves and best-selling lists everywhere as soon as August 4th.

I’m talking, of course, about “Midnight Sun,” the next book in the “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer. Oh, what’s that? You also thought the series was done when the fourth (and, at the time, the final) book came out 12 years ago?

I was thrilled to hear about this.

“Midnight Sun” is apparently meant to be from Edward’s perspective — we all remember Edward, right? The poor, bossy martyr who contradicts himself with every other breath? — but aside from that, I have no idea what the book could possibly be about. Surely it will not be the same fascinating story again, but from Edward’s perspective? It will just have to be a fun surprise for all of us.

As I was sitting there, though, blindsided and dazzled by this shocking news, I thought about good ol’ “Twilight,” which I read for the first time in sixth grade.

That was a trip.

But as I was thinking, percolating in — quite frankly — my horror, I recalled that my family does in fact have the first two books of the series tucked away in the back of a bookshelf somewhere. So I found them, dusted the first one off, and now I want to talk about it.

First of all, the girl is 17. I am also 17, and I can tell you that I do not spend my time sighing over someone’s voice, even if it is “low and attractive” (as we learn on page 27), but also manages to be quiet, musical, lyrical and accompanied by a soft, enchanting laugh.

Anyway, Bella Swan, 17, manages to be a semi-interesting human being for 43 pages, at which point she has her first actual conversation with Edward Cullen, 104, and everything goes sideways. While we do learn in the first ten pages that Bella is different and just doesn’t “fit in” like a “normal person” (the latter is a phrase that comes up a lot in this book), we quickly learn that that difference translates into her magically being the only person that Edward — whom we will be calling Ed from this point forward — can’t use his invasive mind powers on…and also smells completely irresistible! To Ed! The 104 year-old vampire pretending to be a teenager!

They have like half a conversation, once, and then it’s off to the races.

Dear Bella is a klutz, and almost gets smushed by a car. Ed comes to the rescue and immediately denies saving her. She thinks about it for a day or two, hounds him like twice about it, almost dies again, and then he tells her — with relatively little resistance, it must be noted — that he is in fact a vampire. Eek!

I have to say, I was disappointed to (re)discover that the infamous movie scene that, as I remember it, goes something like —

Bella: “I know what you are.”

Ed the Vampire: “Then say it.”

B: “Something a unicorn threw up!”

EV: “Could you tell from my marvelous, glittery skin?”

— was not present in the book. Instead, they go to a clearing, the man-child glitters, he kisses her, she goes rabid. It’s very romantic.

My biggest issue with the “Twilight” franchise, honestly, centers around Bella and Ed’s relationship. That’s the main plot of the books, obviously, but the writing isn’t bad, and some of the plot moves Meyer makes are actually interesting.

But Bella is a Mary Sue, and very, very quickly becomes dependent on Ed to an unhealthy degree.

To the first point; a Mary Sue is a female character who is perfect, to the point of absurdity. Often, Mary Sues are the author’s self-insert, with “Gary Stu” being the male alternative. As a result of her having no real flaws, Bella the Mary Sue comes off as bland and lacking a real personality.

But wait, “Twilight” fanatics around the globe yell. She’s not perfect! She trips a lot and at one point wakes up with crazy hair!

Yes, true, but I would like to negate the bedhead argument because it happens the morning after Ed tells her he’s been watching her sleep and she’s like “great come hang out in my room all night and I’ll have a panic attack if you leave.”

The point is, Bella is pretty. She’s irresistible to vamps. Every cute boy in the Forks high school is on her literally within her first three days there. Every description of what she’s doing just feels empty, because things happen to her, rather than her happening to them.

That emptiness changes when Ed enters the picture, however, and then — it gets worse. If somebody asked me what a whirlwind romance was, I would point them to this trainwreck.

Even Ed’s breath is magical.

By page 195, Bella is “unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”

They have had maybe four full conversations at this point.

The problem is that Bella’s investment in Ed and his love for her is somehow supposed to replace her missing personality, but it just doesn’t work like that. A good romance — one that I want to read — should take the best characteristics of both characters and showcase them to the readers. Look, the author should be saying. These two people are two whole people on their own who love and support each other, and they’re both better for it. The best in one brings out the best in the other.

Bella, for all her dramatics, just doesn’t have a best to bring out. Her life starts to revolve around Ed, and that’s scary, because thousands of 12-year-old girls have read these books.

Ed puts her through an emotional turbine — he repeatedly tells her to be afraid of him; the one time she’s afraid of him he vows he’ll never hurt her; she goes back to not being afraid, and literally less than a page after he made his vow he tells her again she should be afraid of how dangerous he is. He apparently always knows what’s best for her. When she’s actually, genuinely upset about something he does without telling her on page 484, he chides her, “Don’t be difficult, Bella.”

It’s frustrating, because even with all this, even if he actually loves her, she’s obsessed with him, to the point where every time he starts to mention leaving her “for her own good”, she’s “desolate”, “agonized” or drowning in “anguish.”

Point blank, it’s not a healthy relationship, but kids don’t know that. When I was reading this stuff in sixth grade, I’m sure I thought it was romantic. Wow, look how much he loves her. But this isn’t the type of relationship somebody should hope for, because it’s not the type of relationship that says your partner really cares about you.

I did have fun reading this book, because it was so bad, and I’m planning on rereading the others (if only to get really mad at the living, breathing disco ball). I don’t mind Stephenie Meyer as an author, but I do mind people reading her books and deciding they’re the goal to aim for — which, as far as I can tell, is where a lot of those “Twilight” fanatics stand.

Overall, I think Ed murmurs it best on page 495, when he ignores Bella and still hasn’t apologized for making her mad: “‘Twilight, again.’”

“Twilight” again, indeed.