So my blog tag-line states that I’ll be posting my views and reviews here. While I’ve definitely posted quite a few reviews (and even some quotes), I haven’t really posted any views. So without further ado, let’s begin. Word of caution, these ‘views’ I’ll be posting will vary in format and topic. On that note, today’s topic is the Twilight book series, written by Stephenie Meyer (again — super spoilery so beware) and will take the form of a view with a review.
When Twilight first came out in 2005, I didn’t really know about it. I know it apparently made The New York Times Bestseller List, but since I don’t follow it religiously, I had no idea the book existed. My introduction to Twilight only began after the movies had begun filming and the hysteria that would soon overwhelm was just starting. It was literally by sheer chance that I picked up the book in Chapters. And to be honest, I’m not ashamed (at least not anymore LOL) to admit that I really, really enjoyed the book. I was an impressionable teenager and Bella’s story seemed so romantic and Edward seemed so lovely. Together, their love story was exactly what made my angst-y teenage heart melt. My like of the series was further fuelled when my best friend also read them and got into it. There’s nothing like having a friend to share in your obsessions and so Twilight became ours. She fuelled my adoration for the book, while I fuelled hers. And then the movie came out.
I remember being so incredibly angry when the first movie came out in 2008. I felt like I was ripped off. The movie, for those of you that have seen it, was just something else. It was filmed by this indie filmmaker who was obsessed with random moving camera angles (there’s literally a scene where the camera is pointed toward some trees at an upward angle and it’s just spinning LOL), cool blue tones (there wasn’t a single warm tone in the entire movie tbh), random musical intervals (scenes with just music and nothing else), and of course, those crazy close-up face shots (where the actors try painfully hard to act LOL). If you can’t tell by my tone, the movie was a mess. Sidenote – I actually re-watched the movie recently and found that I didn’t mind it as much (of course this experience was also made better by my siblings joining me and making snide remarks and witty comments during each scene and thus fashioning the movie into some sort of satirical piece rather than the angst-filled, serious love story it was supposed to be LOL). Not only was the direction weird, but the acting, my god the acting was just atrocious. I’ve written about Kristen Stewart and her lack of acting chops on this site before, so I’ll skip her here. But it wasn’t just her acting that was off, Robert Pattinson was hilariously bad too. All he did was grimace like he was in pain, or at least try to make it look like he was grimacing in pain LOL. The two leads were so incredibly one dimensional and flat in their acting, my teenage self was mortified. The side characters were 100x more engaging, and it’s actually telling that Anna Kendrick, who was on screen for maybe 20 mins max, made such an impact, that it led to her getting more movies and critical acclaim. But even if you take acting aside, the casting itself, in terms of looks was so weird too.
The Cullens are described as being these perfect, too-beautiful-to-be-real sort of people and so when it came to the movie, I was really excited to see who was who. The only people who I felt sort of embodied their characters, were Kellan Lutz as Emmett and Ashley Greene as Alice (although her tallness was really distracting; Alice is supposed to be barely 5 ft and Ashley Greene was almost as tall as her co-stars, and the hair was pretty bad too). Okay, if I want to be kind, I can maybe also justify casting Jackson Rathbone as Jasper, but that’s it. Peter Facinelli as Carlisle and Elizabeth Reaser as Esme did not work. They both tried to make it work with their acting, for which I will give them props, but looks-wise, they didn’t fit, especially not in the way their characters were described in the books. The worst casting of all though, was Nikki Reed as Rosalie. Let me put it this way, in the books, Rosalie was described as being as pale as ice with super icy blonde hair and a tall, imposing height and presence. Nikki Reed, is tan with brown hair and is super, super tiny. I mean, she’s actually really pretty, but the way she was made up in the movie, with makeup to make her look lighter, her hair dyed blonde, and wearing triple times the platform heel to look taller, was just bad and wrong. They did her so dirty. I mean, how difficult was it to just cast some tall looking blonde, or at least any sort of tall person? Alas, it’s useless to talk about these things now because the movies have finished. However, as the author of Twilight is still alive and could potentially write more books (remember JKR always said she’d never visit HP again but she did!), I think it’s still worthwhile to talk about the books.
I already mentioned how I enjoyed the initial love story between Bella and Edward. I think what also facilitated my quick positive reaction to Twilight was the writing. Many people have commented on this before, saying that Stephenie Meyer isn’t the most brilliant or original writer. And to be honest, maybe she’s not. But I think it kinda works for her in Twilight. Because the books are written in such a simplistic manner, it makes them very easy to understand. Sure you don’t get the pleasure that derives from reading beautiful, poetic, flowery language, but at the same time, it also doesn’t necessarily take away from the reading experience. Not all books have to be very touching or beautiful to read. Sometimes, even fluff books can be enjoyable; and a fluff book is exactly what I consider Twilight. It’s simple with a relatively uncomplicated plot. And like I said earlier, it works for Twilight. But I think it was also this very thing that ended up making the other books in the series less enjoyable. Because the writing was so simplistic, when Stephenie Meyer attempted to increase the drama and add more angst and complications to the plot, it kinda fell flat. A lot of times, writers can make certain scenes or situations sound a lot more emotional/ excitable than they really are. I think Cynthia Ozick’s book, Heir to a Glimmering World, is a good example of that. Those of you who have read my review on her book probably know that I wasn’t a big fan of the book at all. But, since she’s such a good writer, she was able to infuse depth and create a rich reading experience in quite a few scenes that were drab otherwise. However, within the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer didn’t possess that talent, or if she did, she didn’t display it. As a result, once the reader stepped back from the book and stopped to think about it, the two main characters and their love story actually got really annoying and stale eventually. As the Twilight series continued on, that’s exactly what happened to my friend and I. We grew really annoyed with Bella and Edward and ended up discarding our adoration for the series.
That said, I still cannot bring myself to say that the series was trash or bad or whatever. Despite her lackluster characters, I think Stephanie Meyer really did create some interesting side characters with fascinating back stories. I mean, take the Cullens for example (since I was discussing them earlier anyway). Carlisle is a vampire who has no problems being near humans with blood and has never drank it. Just in terms of like logical application (LOL okay bending the rules a little), how would one even go about accomplishing that? How much personal development would someone like Carlisle, who spent his human life thinking of vampires as evil and trying to kill them, need to go through in order to become what he is now? Or, if you prefer action to mental trauma, think of Jasper and his experience in fighting through Vampire wars. That’s a story just begging to be told (think of the logistics of having to train newborns and then direct them in battle and improvise battle strategies). Think of Alice and her experience as being psychic in the early 1900s, being imprisoned in an insane asylum and befriending a vampire. And finally, think of Rosalie and her backstory. I actually found Rosalie’s story to be really cool and even though her acting bit in the Eclipse movie was really short, I think it was one of the best parts of the entire movie. She literally choreographed the murder of her rapists and did it in the most dramatic and theatrical way ever. That’s literally brilliant LOL. And on that topic, imagine hearing their stories from their own mouths, aka through their mental narration. How incredibly interesting would that be? I bet Rosalie’s narration would be a hoot and Emmett’s narration would be just downright hilarious. Jasper’s would probably be both, bitingly sarcastic with humour thrown in.
And the interesting side characters aren’t just limited to the Cullens. Despite its mixed reception, Breaking Dawn is actually one of my favourite books in the series just because of the numerous side characters it introduces. I had so much fun imagining each distinct character and fashioning out little backstories for them. There’s Nahuel and his vampire father and life as a vampire hybrid. There’s the Amazonian coven and their exclusive lifestyle. There’s Leah and her experience as the first ever female werewolf. There’s Benjamin with the ability to actually manipulate his physical surroundings. There’s Vladimir and Stefan with their vendetta and past with the Volturi. There’s the Volturi’s themselves and their rise to power. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so many wonderful hints to the amazing backstories of the compelling side characters. I find them all so creative, with so much more potential and vitality than Edward and Bella (and even Jacob). And that’s why I can’t label the series as being trashy or just horrible (although I will say that the series has some real critiques), because there’s so much potential. My hope is that one day, Stephenie Meyer will go back and visit her Twilight universe again. But instead of sticking with her main trio, she’ll bring forth a new perspective and expand on some of the characters she introduced. And even if she doesn’t do that, it’s okay because there’s so many talented fanfiction writers who have taken her hints about the side characters, recognized their potential, and have crafted wonderfully beautiful stories about them.
In sum: Despite its simplistic writing style and horrible movie adaptations, the Twilight series has an incredibly interesting world with some fascinating characters whose amazing backstories just waiting to be told.