I’ve been hoping to post this for you since I wrote it, last October (the 13th, to be precise), but I keep losing the piece of paper. Now, when looking for something else entirely, I’ve found it. So here it is, a rant about Twilight. And I wish I could say I was calling it a rant for want of a better word, but I’m not. That’s what it is. This is a draft for my English GCSE assignment (and is copyrighted, so no plagiarism!).
Please note this was written almost a year ago. My views, writing style and general life may have changed. The idea was to write a newspaper or magazine article entitled “Don’t get me started on…”
Ah, Twilight. The teenage vampire romance that is sweeping the book stores and filling the libraries, ensnaring teenage girls (and boys) in its net of unrealistic romance scenes mixed with kind, compassionate and frankly pathetic vampires. To be fair, it does have its good points, especially if you’re a writer yourself: it doesn’t take too many brain cells to read it when you’re tired, and it makes you a whole lot more optimistic about getting your own book published.
Why? What makes it so bad? Twilight is like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it, and those of the former opinion refuse to hear anything bad about it, leaving the rest of us to educate the poor innocents whose lives have not yet been besmirched by this piece of – for want of a better word – literature. I will take this role upon myself. Reader, let me explain, let me tell you why Twilight is not everything it’s cracked up to be.
There are the vampires, for a start. They sparkle. Any child who has been brought up on a decent diet of myths, legends and fairy tales will know that vampires, when they come into contact with sunlight, do not sparkle: they burn. Add to that a huge plot flaw and it would seem you’ve got the recipe for a bestseller.
So what is that plot flaw, you ask. Simple. In the very first chapter, Isabella Swan (more commonly known as Bella) is leaving to live with her father in Forks, which she hates. Her mother tells her that she doesn’t have to go; “‘But I want to go,’ I lied” is Bella’s response. If you had stayed with Momma Renée we wouldn’t have had to read four books about you, Bella, I hope you realise that.
And the book could even be forgiven (for there are worse novels out there) if it weren’t for the fact that it has permeated every bookshop, every library, every catalogue, every writing website… on Protagonize (‘the home of collaborative fiction’) alone there are numerous ‘what happened next’ fan fictions. Everyone has either read it or is reading it. You will be sitting on a train – you look up and the young woman opposite you is ensconced in a book. Ah, you think, reading is coming back into fashion! But then you see that it is Twilight, and your heart sinks.
It has taken over the libraries, too. The teenage section of Central Library, the largest library in the borough of Bexley, is full of fantasy novels about vampires, werewolves and eternal love, forcing teenagers with more refined tastes to branch out into Adult books and enter the world of sex, drugs and library fines.
Before Twilight there was variety. There was originality. There were whole worlds and languages forming the backdrop for epic battles over magic rings … and now there are plot holes, shallow characters and poorly written action sequences.
It wasn’t always so popular, this Twilight. When it was first published, the Daily Telegraph commented that it was, “Astonishing, mainly for the ineptitude of Meyer’s prose.” The Washington Post went a step further: “Meyer’s prose seldom rises above the serviceable, and the plotting is leaden.” But it defied their expectations, being translated into 37 different languages, spending 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and going on to be made into a film, which took £1 million on the first day.
I’m not saying it should be destroyed. I just feel sorry for the poor people of Forks who are inundated with visitors sporting ‘Team Edward’ shirts and hoping to see wolves in the woods. If it hadn’t been written, they would be able to live a normal life, not one where the tourist merchandise is Twilight-themed and every red Chevy has a photo snapped of it. (For the uninitiated, Bella – until the fourth book – drives a red Chevy which her father, Charlie, bought her on her arrival in Forks.)
I’ve seen this book filed under ‘Horror’ in libraries and bookshops before now. (ED – that was before they invented the ‘dark romance’ section.) Certainly appropriate when authors, literary agents or editors happened to be walking past! Not long ago, here was a notable incident when one of my older siblings said, “Well, if Twilight can get published … I’ve only read the first chapter, but your stuff is better.”
It would have been flattering even if you didn’t take into account the fact that the last piece of my work Ben read was something I wrote when I was eleven, and he was fifteen. High praise indeed.
“What should our children be reading, then?” For a start, parents, if your offspring are old enough to be reading Twilight, they’re probably of an age to resent being called ‘children’. What’s more, they are perfectly capable of choosing their own books. However, in answer to your question, try them out with a little CS Lewis or Tolkien, Kate Thompson or Stephen Lawhead, Noel Streatfeild or Frances Hodgsen Burnett.
And if the name ‘Stephanie Meyer’ still means more to you than any of those authors, you’re not worse than several of my former English teachers, who admitted to not having read The Lord of the Rings. Such is the world we live in: masterpieces are forgotten, werewolves don’t need a full moon, and vampires sparkle.
Disclaimer – I may not be a fan of Twilight but I read Stephanie Meyer’s ‘The Host’, and actually rather liked it. There was more thought put into it, more time, and it was a new idea not an old one in a different way. So if you’re looking for something of hers to read…