I have decided to do a new set of posts: Book vs Movie Face Off. I plan to break down the good and bad of both mediums. First up: the Twilight Saga.
Last weekend, while avoiding chores, I stumbled on the Breaking Dawn, Part 2 marathon on ABC Family. I started watching a bit, never really finishing the movie, and I decided I was in the mood to read/watch Twilight. So I went the gym to watch the Twilight movie. The whole time, between my giggles from amusement at the horribleness, I had a thought: “I don’t remember the characters being this bad.” And so began the long week of re-reading the Twilight Saga and re-watch of the movies. For Part 1, I will just focus on the books since I have a feeling this will be a really long post if the two are together.
Everyone bashes Meyer’s writing. But this series was never pitched to when critical acclaim in the book world. It was meant to sell books. And it did that quite successfully. Literary writing and commercial writing are two very different things. Not to mention that this was her DEBUT books. Newbie authors only grow stronger the longer they write. I will admit to feeling peer pressure to say she is a bad writer; she isn’t. I have seen far worse. I probably would have taken this to my boss to acquire and more than likely have gone to bat for it.
Actually one of my favorite part of her writing is how she handles the months passing in New Moon. That had maximum impact to show just how in a fog Bella was
So here’s the thing: Bella does have a bit of backbone in the books. Now, stick with me here, I can hear some of the groans out there. In the first book, Bella straight up tells readers her anger is tied to her tear ducts. As someone whose emotions are tied to certain body parts, I totally get this. So sometimes ball comes off like she is crying and upset but she is ANGRY. Emotions are there.
Everyone has seen the memes about Bella vs Hermione, or Bella being anti-feminist.
I’ll tackle the Bella vs. Hermione first. The world is filled with some many different types of people, and so it is roughly true in YA. Not everyone can be a strong character; it gets boring. The reaction Bella has to Edward leaving her is pretty similar to what I image I might feel when my mother dies: like a part of you has been ripped out and you are in pain. Remember, Bella and Edward are more than soul mates; they are supposed to be one person. Imagine losing your arm or leg. The phantom pains that people experience. So yeah, it seems plausible she would fall apart.
As for Bella being anti-feminist, I would say whoever said that clearly has never read the books. 1) Bella has sexual agency. Most people forget that it is Bella would is always trying to initiate sex. I am not getting into a multi-layered discussion about Meyer’s motivations and messages. The fact of it is, Bella has an equal hand in her relationship as far as physical intimacies go. 2) When Edward proposes, Bella is very put off by the idea of marriage. I think this is one of her most feminist moments: Bella points out that marriage does not equal forever. She is very against the idea of marriage, especially at such a young age. 3) Bella is constantly pushing to be treated as equal. She wants to be in the fights for her life just as much as Edward. She is not sitting on the sidelines willingly and when given the chances, tries to help out. If you think Bella is not a feminist, then maybe you should re-examine what feminism means for you. For me, it means being an equal player in the relationship and standing up for what I need. Bella does this, multiple times throughout the series.
Now there are some things I would have pushed for if I had been Meyer’s editor. Like I said, I totally believe Bella could fall apart when Edward left, but I think I would have liked to see a bit more hesitation and anger on her part when he returned. Your other half left you for several months, and now you just hope back into the relationship, maybe a bit more panicky when he leaves. I think I would have asked for Bella to be more hesitant with trusting Edward again, and also a little angry that he took her choices away from her. More drama that way.
Bella might stand up for herself, but Edward often gets in the way. People have called him abusive, controlling, a stalker, etc. Part of me agrees with some of these assessments. But I also understand the positions behind them. Keep in mind that Edward is used to hearing everyone’s thoughts. That means Edward is constantly in control of every situation. He instantly knows what the other part wants, if they are lying, if they need things from him. And then BAM! He finds Bella, who he cannot hear at all. For someone used to being in control of every situation, he is suddenly out of control. It makes a person get MORE controlling. SO yeah, that is where Edward is approaching this.
Edward’s abusive nature is a bit harder. He is trying to keep Bella safe. As Bella herself admits, she is a klutz. Edward sees Bella as very fragile and is constantly trying to protect her. And that is where the problem comes in. Edward does take away some of Bella’s agency with his over protective ways. But again, like above, Edward is used to being in control.
Edward was never my favorite love interest for Bella.
BEST MAN EVER. I will hear nothing bad about him. Team Jacob 4EVER!
Vampire Baby, aka Nessie
When I first read the books, I was so disgusted with this development. Meyers had given multiple interviews where she had said that vampires were frozen forever when they were turned, and then she pulled this?! She was very quick to say she deliberately said female vampires couldn’t have kids, but males had the option. Whatever. Didn’t buy it then, don’t buy it now.
But having just finished the series, I can see the slow developments over time. In New Moon, Bella wishes she had a more permanent claim to Jacob, like a brother; something that would make him a family. In Eclipse, Bella has moment where an alternate future flashes before her eyes and she sees the children she could have had. Furthermore, Bella’s dreams (not quite prophetic, more like cutting to the truth and passed the façade) hint to several key developments in the books: Edward as a vampire, Jacob as a werewolf, having a baby with Edward. There are clues along the way once you know.
Not happy about the decision, but it was nicely worked into the overall series.
These books are more complex than most people would like to admit. But that is the joy about books, these nuances in character can be showcases better. Yes, there are elements that I would have loved to influence, but these books still manage to play with my heartstrings every time.
Come back tomorrow to see part two where I examine the movies. That should be fun…