Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

For years, I had seen Twilight mocked and parodied as being a really bad book, but I don’t like to get my literary perspectives from the general consensus. I’m quite a fan of vampire fiction, after all, so I thought maybe I’d actually love it.

When I finally read it, I went in with an open mind. I didn’t hate it, but I can kind of see why others do. Let’s start with what I did like about it though: first of all, there’s the town of Forks (where the novel is set), which comes across really well as a setting. The surrounding forests, the gloomy, grey weather – it all felt very clear in my mind and helped make the novel feel more immersive.

Then there’s Bella Swan – yes, she can be annoying, but I actually kind of liked her. She’s a teenage girl, and she feels like a very realistic teenager. She thinks she knows everything, she’s really pretentious and looks down on everyone, and for these reasons she’s kind of funny and endearing. I cared about her, because she was realistic. I particularly find it funny how she’s so constantly looking down on everyone, but also really intimidated by everything too – it does rather encapsulate the teenage perspective.

On the other hand, I didn’t really like Edward Cullen. He’s a very creepy man who I didn’t think ever did anything to earn Bella’s affection, which I suppose is purely physical. He’s over a hundred years old (though physically a teenager) and spent all the time in school, which no doubt did very strange things to his mind, and paints him as a man with some strange issues.

Even if we accept that he is still a teenager because becoming a vampire preserved him as one forever, he’s still controlling of Bella (rarely considering how his actions affect her, always thinking he knows best) and completely contradictory in his attitudes. For example, he always tells Bella to stay away from him because he’s a monster who might kill her at any moment, but then he also invites her to meet him in secluded locations in the middle of the woods. He’s also attracted to her because of the smell of her blood, which you’d think would be a turn-off for Bella, but it’s not.

Ultimately, Edward isn’t as bad as, say, Christian Grey, (and he does help protect her from greater evils) but he still comes across as a weird, lecherous creature – which isn’t just because he’s a vampire either, because other vampires seem much more normal. Speaking of which, I really liked the character Carlisle Cullen, who is Edward’s father figure. He doesn’t get a huge amount of time in the spotlight, but one chapter explores his history and gives a fascinating tale that spans several centuries. I loved it. In fact, I wish the whole book was about Carlisle.

If you read between the lines, you can kind of read it as a pro-celibacy novel, which is probably the worst thing about it. I see nothing wrong with someone deciding to be celibate of their own accord, but I don’t think it’s something you can push someone to, and I think Stephenie Meyer was trying to do that with this book. But if you can look past that, it’s a relatively enjoyable book that accurately captures teenage angst – which can be a bit monotonous at times, but with a nice dose of vampirism in the mix, my overall experience with the book was a positive one.

Rating: 7.2/10

Buy it here.

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