My Problem with the Twilight Series - And It's a BIG One

At first I was caught up in the frenzy just like everyone else. Stephenie Meyer had created a world of danger and angst and romance that was hard to beat. Bella was normal and clumsy and relatable. Edward was romantic, handsome, tortured and forbidden. Does it get any better than that? I read Twilight in a couple of days and was glad I'd come late to the party, so I didn't have to wait for the next two books.

I'd heard that a lot of people didn't like New Moon--not enough Edward. I disagreed. I liked Jacob. I liked their friendship. I wasn't bored. To be honest, I was disappointed when Edward came back, although I knew he would.

Eclipse was my favorite of the series. The love triangle was believable and painful. Bella was really torn, and rightfully so. Jacob and Edward represented two different destinies and the choice was difficult. I loved the scene when Rosalie takes Bella aside and tells her the life of a vampire isn't what she'd have chosen--she'd have wanted to have children, a family, a real life. But Bella was still torn. We probably all would be. She's offered forever with her first love or a different kind of love that included her best friend, her parents and children.

Stephenie Meyer created some memorable scenes that were very entertaining. The tent scene is one of my favorites--great dialogue, some humor and more romance. As I read, I was thrilled at what was to come. Meyer was setting up an incredible choice for Bella. Each option had both pros and cons and BIG consequences. It was great storytelling and I was hanging on Bella's decision. In fact, Bella described it best--Edward was a drug and Jacob was the sunshine. Eclipse left me hanging. I wanted to know what she'd choose.

******At this point, I must offer full disclosure. While I understood the appeal of Edward, I was firmly on Jacob's side. I love being a mom. I can't imagine not having children. I can't imagine having to give up my parents. To me, Bella's life with Edward would be shallow and hollow and empty.*******

And here is my problem with the Twilight series.

I eagerly awaited Breaking Dawn. I expected some real turmoil as Bella struggled with the choice that was left hanging in the air at the end of Eclipse. What would she choose? A romantic life with Edward and the Cullens, but no children, no contact with her family, no Jacob and no sunshine? Or would she choose a life with Jacob and a different kind of love, but with children, with her parents, with the perils of mortality and death? It was a hard choice and the consequences were enormous on both sides.

BUT NO! All the rules that Meyer's had created through the first three books, all the drama that had been set up, the terrible choice that would involve incredible sacrifice no matter what she chose...

WERE GONE.

There were no more rules--Bella could get pregnant after all after some wild and violent and teenage inappropriate sex (who were these books marketed to?). Jacob, whose very existence was defined by his hatred of vampires could remain friends with a vampire Bella and even imprint on a half-vampire child. (And don't even get me started on the ridiculous name of the baby.) What was the point of Rosalie's conversation with Bella? What was the point of creating a dramatic choice, if no choice had to be made?

Breaking Dawn starts out with the wedding, almost as if the choice didn't have to be made. What? Did I miss something? Is there a missing book between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn? Now Bella can have it all AND WITH NONE OF THE CONSEQUENCES.

THAT ISN'T REAL! Don't tell me that none of it is real. I know that. But good fiction, even fantasy fiction, has to be based on some sort of trust between the author and the reader and Meyer (or her editor or publisher) decided that all the trust that had been built during the first three books was meaningless and could be flushed down the toilet without a thought.

I was disappointed. Whatever choice Bella made, I wanted the choice to matter. I wanted some of the real pain that accompanies hard choices. I wanted my teenage daughter to see the result of choices. I wanted all of my Young Women to see that choices have consequences and have to be carefully considered. I wanted everything I'd learned of the world Stephenie Meyers created to be consistent. Good fiction is consistent.

Breaking Dawn disappointed me in almost every way.

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23 comments:

Tawnie J said...

Completely AGREE. I loved reading the first three books and couldn't even finish the fourth. What a disappointment. I sold my books for cheap at a yard sale. Not even worth owning. Wish she had continued the fourth book to make sense with the rest of the series.

Heidi said...

Ditto. Ditto and ditto. I sold the books at a garage sale as well. I don't want my daughter to stumble upon them someday!

Anonymous said...

Wow, aren't garage sales great! We can get rid of unwanted junk! I had purchased book number four, but because of what I had been told of it's off color contents, I didn't even crack the cover. On hindsight, I should have just tossed them and not subjected the cute teenage girl who bought them such reading! I am supposed to be my "brother's keeper."

mormonbirthmom said...

Wow Karey, I hadn't even thought about this! I guess simply because I was reading the series for pure escapism and nothing more. I actually found myself relieved she could get everything she wanted even though how it all happened was still really strange to me - especially the conception. (I didn't mind the sex scenes - weren't they already married for their first time? And again, I could stay in my fantasy world even in that arena). As for young women readers, I believe it makes great conversation and a real opportunity to delve in to the realities of life and let that young woman feel the conflict and imagine what she would do - in probably more realistic dating terms. I totally agree that life is usually filled with sacrifice and consequences and the only thing perfect that we can count on is God and how He makes the suffering we experience "worth it". Thank you for opening my eyes to the literary "oops" in story developement but I will still enjoy the fantasy for what it was worth: about $75 for the whole collection.

Lisa said...

thank you for putting my own feelings into words. i also did not finish book 4. my favorite fictional books and movies always have an element of right and wrong mingled in...that's what makes them worthwhile. i hope my daughter never chooses to read those books and i wish other mothers would realize that they aren't harmless reading for them or their impressionable daughters.

Christie said...

I think I feel the opposite. I think real life has consequences that are not fun. We all know that (even most teenagers). I read fiction to escape the realities and real heartache of life. I want my love stories to be completely romantic and unrealistic. Because it entertains me and is a fun escape. Do I ever confuse the two? No. And I'll take my messy, boring, unromantic life any day over the novels. But I like the escape and the ease of it all.

That being said, the name of the baby in the fourth book is the worst name in the history of names. Seriously. What was she thinking?

Jen said...

Perfect explanation as to why I HATED the last book. It felt like she didn't finish ANYTHING. Even the "ending" was too good to be true...

Karey said...

Christie, I can understand what you're saying, but I found the lack of hard choices and any consequences to be really unsatisfying.

Also, at the time I read it I was YW president and all my girls were reading them. I found it really troubling that they were getting the idea that you could do whatever you want and have whatever you want with no consequences.

It would be nice if that were true, but it isn't. I don't think every book has to teach a moral lesson, but I felt that my girls were being given the wrong message.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

i know my comment sounds really serious and heavy but i guess what i didn't realize is that all of us read for different reasons. for the most part i DO NOT read for entertainment...honestly i have too many other ways to entertain myself. i read to be INSPIRED. maybe this explains why my opinion on this is different than most of my friends'. here's a question i just thought of. to those who love the twilight series for entertainment and to be swept away from real life: are you all the harlequin romance novel types? there are those who love/read harlequins, and there are those (of us) who don't. and we are all still great. i guess the tragic thing is that stephenie meyer could have entertained AND inspired (cause good books do that). opportunity lost, stephenie!

Hope said...

the way in which mrs. meyer finished this series was pure laziness. from the cheap, rough sex all the way to renesmee and beyond. what a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Boy, do you people take your reading seriously. Book four was not the best of the series, but it she wrote it well and it was an entertaining series.

I see you're a writer. Maybe you're just jealous. She made a lot of money off those books.

Leslie said...

A. M. E. N.

I wish i could make those letters even bigger to get the point across BIGGER!

this was spot on. SPOT ON!

i will not ever read book four.

Lisa said...

anonymous: don't be shy! show yourself! this is not THAT serious... just some opinions being thrown around about a series of fantasy books. :)

i can accept if people call it entertainment and you are entitled to your opinion. but can you tell me what you think was WELL-WRITTEN about it? in all honesty, i would like to know so that i can fully appreciate it.

LL said...

Loved reading this!
I never read the books, but I really enjoyed this post and have to say, I TOTALLY agree with you.
Life is full of choices, but there is always a consequence.
I need to get YOUR book :-)

Mindy said...

I can't even say that the first three books were even worth much. This was a post I wrote a long time ago about my thoughts on the series: http://smithfamilyicecreamscoop.blogspot.com/2009/11/bite-me.html

Scott / Lori said...

I have to comment on this post. I read the first three and bought the fourth. I think I threw it away, unread. I heard too many things from trusted friends and relatives to subject myself to it. Knowing how it all ends, I now wish I would never have read them. The entire thing is disappointing and I do not want my daughters(I have four)to read them.
I went to Mindy's blog and read her previous post. I agree with her sentiments, give me Gilbert and Anne, or Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth any day!!!

As for the comment by "anonymous" I don't think the fact that someone made a lot of money on something is a good reason to accuse someone of being jealous. There a lot of things people could do to make a lot of money, but are we really willing to sell our souls to do that? Just a thought.

Bottom line.....a chance to let a light shine before men was lost in this case.(in my own humble opinion, of course)

Jenny said...

I agree with what Karey said any with everything in Mindy's post too. My husband and I have looked at small excerpts from the books and have been stunned at how dumbed down the language is. I haven't been tempted to read them. If you want to write a fantasy, at least use a heroine that the reader can look up to. What exactly were Bella's redeeming qualities? And it was always disturbing to me that married women were swooning over the two male lead characters. It seemed very harlequin to me. Do you remember that you're married? I am happy in my marriage, as I am sure many women are. It just didn't seem to make sense to me. Oh well. No offense intended to anyone who disagrees and likes the books.

Anonymous said...

AMEN sister!

Braden said...

I enjoyed this post. I didn't read the 4th book at all. I read the first three because I teach middle school and was curious to see what they were all about since very girl was reading them. I was also a bishop at the time and a lot of our YW were reading them.

I agree with much of what has already been said here about the problems with the series, but I had a bigger problem. Having Edward in her bed each night was a terrible thing for an LDS author to write. Anyone with experience knows that kind of proximity is going to eventually lead to sexual activity. It bothered me that an LDS author wrote that since it makes it seem harmless and even sweet.

In my opinion, that was the first place that Stephenie Meyer had some issues with choices not based on reality.

Kristi said...

Karey you were spot on. All the ladies where I live are gaga over the series. They think I am a weirdo for my take, which mirrors yours.
It could have truly been a great series if she had done it right.

Nicole *Ü* said...

I have some very obsessed Twilight friends. I read them and they were just OK. While I agree with everything you said about Bella's choices and where Stephenie Meyer could have gone with that and then ultimately did, I actually liked Breaking Dawn for the fact that Bella had a personality after she became a vampire and I couldn't stand her up until then. I think the last several books in the series needed a lot more tweaking to be good. They were just OK and they only sold because of the obsession that began with the first book, in my opinion. It was as if she just pushed them out and didn't take her time with developing and editing and so on. The Host was a much better book and concept than the Twilight ones, in my opinion. I wouldn't let my daughter read them in 4th grade when she kept saying she had other girls in her class reading them. Hopefully she won't want to now that the fuss has pretty much died down and will even more after the last movies finally come out.

Anonymous said...

Maybe instead of yakking about how everyone hated the 4th book they could write their own 4th book.