(aka Vampires Are Not Disco Balls)
This is long. Settle in with some coffee if you've got time. This piece is the culminating piece in my attempt at slogging through the Twilight series.
Disclaimer: If you don't understand what this note is about by the title, I am not at fault for hurt feelings. If people can moon and fawn over the book series, those of us who don't like it should be allowed our chance to rip it apart. This is that chance and it is going to be bitingly honest.
You've been warned.
I'm going to forget about the poor formatting. I won't even mention the absolutely horrid use of a thesaurus - except to say that someone should have taken Meyer's copy and beaten her over the head with it. I will even be so kind as to let it slip from my mind that the pacing of the books has absolutely no coherent time flow and seems to be subject to the whimsy of the author; much like an ant hill with a three year old holding a magnifying glass squatting above it. Cackling with glee, might I add. I would say evil glee, but the three year old doesn't know what he's destroying. Part of me wonders if Meyer knew what she was doing. Perhaps if it was on purpose and she didn't take herself so seriously, I could forgive this utterly grievous piece of drivel.
Since I have thoroughly dismissed all technical issues, this leaves us with merely characterization and plotting. However, these seem to be the most problematic. As I've said previously, I will do my best to be honest without being crude. I make no guarantees, but I'll give it a whirl.
Almost all the characters fall positively flat. There is a decided lack of depth to any of them. What is there to care about? Poor Bella Swan is the new girl in Forks, WA. It is never explained to us why she moved from Phoenix, we are just supposed to accept it. The dumb, docile, sheep-like readers that we are assumed to be. And instead of showing any true test of character, rather than being ostracized when transferring in to a new high school as is usually the case in most normal high schools, Bella is fawned over and adored by students and faculty alike. She is instantly the object of affection of two supernatural beings - who are obviously DaVinci-like in their beauty - along with three other boys. But none are good enough for her. Not even Bella's parents are good enough for her, it seems. We never see her call them Mom or Dad unless coaxed to do so. That's right, kiddos, just call your parents by their first names. It's not disrespect, all the cool kids do it!
And if you didn't notice it by doing your research on the author after reading the book, I'll fill you in. Bella Swan is Stephenie Meyer. Talk about the self-insertion no-no number one. (If you want to know what the self-insertion rules are when it comes to writing, I'll give you a hint: don't freaking do it!) Bella was actually the name that Meyer was going to give to her daughter. The actress who plays Bella in the movie looks freakishly like a younger version of Meyer. What's wrong, Stephenie? Couldn't create a true, original character?
Oh, wait. She did. Or at least, she tried to. The sparkly vampire from her dream. We'll get to the glitter whore bit in a minute. Edward is so utterly lacking in any form of characterization, Meyer even went so far as to describe his skin as "cold marble." Well, thank you, Meyer. You stole the words straight out of my mouth and have now plunked a chunk of my dream counter top in your story. And Edward is about as personable, likable and attractive as a chunk of counter top. Wait, I take that back. Because I actually would hug and kiss my counters if they were marble. Who in the hell finds a hunk of marble that could - nay, would given the chance - kill you?
And since we're on the subject of Edward's creepiness... Who in their right mind finds someone who is in love with you purely because they want to kill you to be romantic? Who finds a control freak to be sexy? Listen, I have dated some psychos, but Edward's kind? Takes the cake. Because you know what it is? It's an abusive relationship. There doesn't need to be any marks for it to be abusive. He is controlling, obsessive, and more than a little creepy. He does absolutely nothing to correct Bella when she says things like she's not good enough for him. BULL! Given a real personality, I bet Bella would make quite the lovely Miss Congeniality. And if Edward being controlling wasn't bad enough, we also add in the fact that he is a super creepy stalker! No, no, hush - this is my turn. You fan!girls shush. Because if you were laying in your bed, sleeping, and woke up to find somebody outside your window you'd have your shotgun on them, two shells spent and then 911 on the phone, okay? What, simply because he's a vampire, stalking has now become okay?! (Seriously, somebody give me that get out of jail free card - I got some NKotB men to go stalking...)
The thing is, Edward's not even a very good vampire at that! I'm going to say this as nicely as possible. Vampires. Don't. Sparkle. (See how I didn't use all caps? I think I've grown.) It's a convenient plot gimmick that we're expected to believe simply because we are the mindless, sheep-like readers. Don't you see when an author is pulling one over on you? He doesn't die in the sun, he's apparently immortal and impervious to everything - except heat because he's "cold as ice" - and on top of that he drinks animal blood and is okay! Look, animal blood is second rate to human blood when it comes to the mythology of vampires. Trust me, I've done the research (and have wasted a 50,000 word manuscript proving it with extra scientific research to back it up). Even in the short-lived TV drama series "Moonlight", which had its insanely ridiculous moments, the main character (despite being a bad-turned-good-guy) still drank human blood. If you want to change it? I'm going to need a whole book's worth of explanation and buildup. I'm sorry, I am not the kind of reader who's going to sit back, nod and smile.
Oh, but Lindsey, it's crack!fiction. You can't take it so seriously. Bullshit. This is the kind of crap we're marketing to tweens! Not even full-fledged teens, people. We're teaching them that abusive relationships are okay, teen pregnancy is acceptable provided that it's with someone who at least considers themselves a supernatural being of sorts, and that bad writing gets published! The kicker, perhaps, is that there are women who want their significant others to be more like Edward. Or even Jacob! And don't get me started on that. His love for Bella gets thwarted, but it's okay because Bella winds up giving birth to a demon child that Jacob then takes and "imprints" himself on. But that's not pedophilia because she'll magically be full-grown by the time she's seven. You want the erotics of restraint? Go read Anne Bishop's "The Black Jewels Trilogy". A 50,000 year old man in love with a girl he knows is his soul mate, but he waits until she's old enough to make the choice to be with him, and even then it isn't until the final book that they're actually together in a romantic context.
And you know what? Pardon me for asking for a piece of fiction that I can read and one day pass on to my daughters. Pardon me for wanting something actually worth their time and something that will teach them what's appropriate to look for in a relationship. There are plenty of books out there that are crack!fiction without being completely lacking when it comes to any form of logical thought put behind it. I would rather stick a Harlequin in Anaya's hands than let her read this crap. At least then she'll believe she should be swept off her feet and carried off into the sunset, as opposed to told what to do and nothing more than a pawn in the hands of a psycho who may or may not kill her.
You just have to give it time. It's her first book. You can't expect her best work right out of the gate. Don't give me that. She's the one they decided should be published. She's the one that someone looked at her and said, "Hey, your writing's pretty okay. We're going to publish your manuscript!" And simply because of that, I deserve the best. Straight out the gate. This woman is thirty five years old and she has an editor. There is no excuse for piss poor writing, formatting, plotting, and characterization. I didn't even like "P.S. I Love You" all that much, but that book was better and the author was 22 when it was published.
I think the crowning glory of this entire piece of garbage is that everyone gets their happy ending. Don't worry, you, too, can be a swooning do-nothing heroine and as long as you stay with creepy sparkly abusive vampire dude, you will have your happy ending. There was so much potential for some strong female characters and... nothing. Meyer didn't do anything with them except slap them into their usual roles of wilting damsel in distress.
Good job, Meyer. Disney is so proud.