The Great Twilight Debate – good vs. bad

We all know it’s coming close; Breaking Dawn Part 1, the movie, is blossoming into Australian cinemas on 17 November.

The Twilight Saga novels

Whenever one of the movies in the Twilight Saga has been released, another flurry of comments swarms over the literary community. ‘Her novels are boring.’ ‘It’s such a typical love story.’ ‘She can’t write well.’ ‘She uses too many adjectives and adverbs.’ And etcetera.

What humours me is just how many ways Stephenie can make people, essentially, discuss how much they hate her and/or her work. What’s more, is the truth behind all the harsh words toward her writing.

Let’s take a moment to gather the facts. In the US alone, 1.3 million copies of Breaking Dawn were sold in the first 24 hours of the book’s release back in ’08. This set a new first-day sales record for the highly successful Hachette Book Group USA. This book was sold to over 50 countries and translated into 38 different languages. Now, before I lose your interest, I’ll stop there. If your reading this, your probably big on the ‘opinions thing’ and thus are well aware of the success of this book.

I draw attention to how successful this book has been, following the former Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse novels, to bring up a glaring point: If the Twilight Saga is hailed as the worst series in history by some, and stories that alter lives for others, then what’s the answer for such a literary and media storm?

Stephenie Meyer knows how to sell a book. That’s it. She graduated from University with a degree in English Literature so the woman knows more about writing than many of us. She’s a mother who reads books to her children so she knows stories. She had an amazing dream and used the passion she felt to form the memorable characters in Bella’s story.

With 19 days left until the second last movie in the series releases in Australia, I thought I’d catch up on my Breaking Dawn memory of the story. And on the second read, I see some of the haters’ opinions out there.

Now that I’m studying Professional Writing and Editing, I’ve pulled apart and analysed almost every aspect of what makes stories work, and what doesn’t make them work, to recognise the good and bad.

Yes, her use of adverbs and adjectives are features of her writing style. I can see how this annoys some people – ‘I use adjectives and adverbs in my writing and people criticise it. Why can she get away with it?’. I’m trying to think of something else to go off on a tangent about, but I can’t think of anything. I mean, I go to put Breaking Dawn down and I find myself saying, ‘Just one more page. Or ten.’

But then I think of what really matters. I’m a 20-year-old woman reading YA fiction. I’m reading the same book my friend’s 45-year-old mum read and my 11-year-old family friend read. And millions of others, with similar ages and beyond, have read this series too. I can’t get enough of Bella and Edward’s story. I’m drawn into Bella’s mind, her wants, her conflicts, her normalcy in an abnormal world.

Stephenie draws on the humanity in this fantasy series. You don’t sit there for five minutes trying to figure out what powers the vampires have, or who is who in the vampire or werewolf history. She lets you lose yourself in the humanity of the story. The conflicts that bar the characters’ wants are unique, fantastic! She mixes poetic descriptions with a pace that doesn’t send you to sleep.

I’ve got one more thing to send your minds thinking. I’ll stick to a disorder I’m familiar with. Types 1 diabetes was once called Juvenile Diabetes. It had this name because only juveniles showed symptoms of the disease. Fast forward to 2011 and babies through to retirees are first showing symptoms of this disorder. So, Juvenile won’t cut it, right? Same thing with Stephenie Meyer’s books. If you have a sample of a few thousand people reading her book, you’d probably struggle to make even one fan club that hated her books. Now, let’s take a sample of people from the 116 million books that have sold in the Twilight series as of October 2010.

You get it, don’t you? You could cure Type 1 Diabetes and you’re still going to have some haters around the world.

It’s only a series, and she’s only an author, but you’ve got to have created something pretty darn special to have over five times of Australia’s population own a copy of a Twilight book.

7 thoughts on “The Great Twilight Debate – good vs. bad

  1. Pingback: Interactive discussion from a (proud) vampire fan: Best of Lists | Novel Girl

  2. My favourite of the series was Twilight, and I liked each book a little less than the one before it. But overall, I still really enjoyed the series.

    Twilight (the first book) was amazing to me, because I instantly felt drawn to Bella and to her point of view. I was transplanted from my reality to hers – I really felt like I was in Forks, Washington, the rainiest place in the continental U.S. I think the first book appealed to me the most because of the novelty of the situation she was in. It was completely new to her, and therefore completely new to me.

    There are a lot of haters of New Moon, but I was quite drawn to this second book of the series. People criticize Bella’s reaction to being dumped by Edward and insist that she’s a weak and sniveling character. I didn’t see it that way. This book captured the essence of depression. It’s not necessarily a literal description of what happens for most of us when we go through a break-up, but if taken less literally, it’s certainly how it feels. Like you’ve been kicked in the stomach, bowled over with the force of it and you can’t seem to recover, to get back up on your feet.

    Not only did it have great imagery for the heartache of being dumped, I also found that it said something about depression in general: a very serious, dark depression. It’s something I’ve suffered from my whole life, and I really related to Bella’s struggle. The stark blank pages representing life passing her by also added to this powerful imagery.

    Great post. Always nice to read an intelligent defense of Twilight.

    • I loved the first book the most too; however, I’m sorry but I hated “New Moon”.

      I remember being drawn to Bella in “Twilight” because I wasn’t popular in high school and I was a complete clutz for many, many years. Plus, Edward was so appealing.

      But although I didn’t like “New Moon”, I thought the way Stephenie portrayed Bella after Edward left her was amazing. It’s hard for most of Stephenie’s target audience to understand because they’re too young to have gone through the type of heartbreak she went through. I don’t think Bella’s weak; anyone who loved their life partner/soul mate to the same depth as her would have had to be just as devastated.

      I hope that this book helped your own struggles.

      Thanks for commenting (and finding the post)!

  3. I’m awed by how Meyer took us from riding in Bella’s head the whole series and then plonked us in Jacob’s head … And it worked!

    I love Charlie heaps because of the great job the actor does at his character. I understand your love for him. And so many of the other characters too. She’s great at making you root for the other team — even when you swore you wouldn’t.

  4. The Twilight series is one of those strange occurences that is one minute totally the ‘in’ thing and the next everybody is embarassed to have been so obsessed with – a bit like flared jeans, page boy haircuts, etc. The thing is though, I totally loved the series and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I came to it fairly late – I read a random review about Twilight that piqued my interest and went to look for it. I got home that night and started to read – first 30 or so pages, indifferent – then, bang, totally addicted. I read it in one night. I didn’t get up out of my seat until much later! I didn’t speak to anybody, I was just plain rude!! I was addicted.

    And, I don’t know why everybody beats on Stephenie Meyer about her writing – I liked her writing – and she certainly knows how to write a romance. I don’t think I’ve read anything since Twilight where the relationship has proved as compelling. I’ve thought about it and can’t put my finger on what was so compelling – basically I simply adored Edward. So old fashioned, well spoken, protective and yet dangerous. He fights with his demons and then after he wins the fight he is totally overcome with passion for Bella – it was just gorgeous! Basically, I like Jacob but I missed Edward when New Moon first started. Then we had Eclipse which was just ‘it’ for me. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve picked that book up and just read random chapters – a bit like the way that Bella could pick up one of her favourite books. Breaking Dawn was a bit of an oddity – I have to applaud SM for writing the ending that she wanted and frankly at first I thought ‘fair enough’ – over time I’ve come to the conclusion that aliens abducted the book and rewrote the ending! LOL. No, seriously, I read reviews saying – ‘oh a vampire can’t conceive a baby’ – hello, can you hear what you just said? A vampire. You’re already suspending your disbelief beyond normal boundaries so what gives. After all authors don’t have to stick to rules written about myths that are centuries old do they? Nobody balked at the fact that Edward could go out in the sunshine, I’m pretty sure that crucifixes didn’t scare him, he didn’t sleep in a coffin or turn into a bat/wolf/rat and just try killing him with a stake (ha).

    That being said – I could have happily ended the series with Eclipse! I think the reason for that is that the nature of the relationship between Edward and Bella changed so dramatically after they were married – I mean, eventually, maybe, but before the honeymoon ends! Anyway, you didn’t need to hear my long winded diatribe (although it was nice to finally have the opportunity to get all that off my chest). Outcome – Loved the first three, not so keen on book four – although we did get a happy ending!

    Thanks for this post and the opportunity to ramble!
    Lynn :D

    • I’ve always declared my love for Twilight proudly. I haven’t found another author who’s connected with me as much as Stephenie Meyer. I agree on how compelling the relationship between Edward and Bella is — it might end up being a classic like Romeo and Juliet. Who doesn’t dream of having a partner as loving, trusting, and courageous as Edward? Who doesn’t wish they had a best friend as hot, caring and awesome as Jacob? It’s hard remembering they aren’t real people, out there somewhere else, maybe. They feel real credit to SM’s writing ability.

      But I agree on your point about finishing the series at Eclipse. Now that you mention it, the dynamic between Edward and Bella changed so much once they got married, and then even more so when she became a vampire, that the clumsiness and ordinary nature of Bella was lost, as so it changed what we fell in love with.

      And to the haters: yes, they are paranormal creations, SM can do what she likes, and since she makes it more believable than anyone else, people who knock her writing abilities are just too weak to admit that they’ll never be able to create a phenomenon better than what she’s done.

      Can’t wait to read all your book review blogs, Lynn. I started reading them late last night and then had to draw myself away from sheer exhaustion. You have soo many there, and they are exactly the ones I’ve wanted to hear. Awesome job! Can’t wait to hear more from you.

      • I agree that possibly the best thing about Twilight is that it gets people talking about books – whether they like the series or not, everyone has an opinion. I loved the last one. To me it made the dullness of the first couple worthwhile. I think Stephanie Meyer has a very sneaky little way of making you fall in love with characters you might not immediately like. Actually, there is quite a lot I don’t like about the leading trio, but maybe that’s just part of their ‘humanity’. I like the fact that Meyer did not hold back. There were lots of scenes I cringed at, but maybe now I can’t imagine Bella’s world without it.
        For the record I am with Charlie all the way.

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