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Friday, December 12, 2008

More on "Twilight"


I've gotten a request to revisit my thoughts on the popular book "Twilight" from a reader who left a comment on: "Twilight" Movie Review". This revisited review of "Twilight" includes several quotes from the book that some might find offenisive, so think about it before you decide to read this.


Anonymous writes: "were the [Twilight] books realy that detailed my parents checked other sites that blew parts in the book way out of proportion like bella cliff diveing would you post a new blog for me please explaining the story line of what was going on for my parents instead of other sites where they took things out of context[not saying that you did] i would realy appreciate it but understand if you dont thanksasking for a favor."


My response: Thanks for writing, and I will happily respond to your request anonymous- though this may be a very lengthy post as the series of books have a lot of material to cover. Let me start by saying if you are over 17 years old (in my opinion) the "Twilight" series is age appropriate for you if you like fantasy romance type novels. The author is talented in weaving her story and more than any other element in the books, her characters are endearing and that is what I think the "hook" is more than anything else. If you took Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" characters stripped them of being vampires and werewolves and made them into Cornish Pixie's or Leprechaun's they would still be appealing without the 'vampire' or 'werewolf' themes because the characters have depth and come to life in the story. It's the chemistry of the characters more than the fantasy vampire element that have made this so popular. People are crazy about Bella and Edward and Jacob for who they are, not what they are. That said, the chemistry, desire and hunger (Edward for Bella's blood and Bella for intimacy with Edward) that covers each book is not appropriate for younger readers. Period. Which is why I wrote my original article (Connecticut Catholic Corner: Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" Series Book Review ) warning parents about the series and young children reading it. Especially starry eyed impressionable young girls who fixate on this type of stuff.

What I find the most disturbing about the story is Bella herself. Bella is obsessed with Edward and not in a healthy way (as if there is a healthy way to be obsessed!). She is willing to throw away her life, her family and her very soul to hell, just to be with Edward. Death means nothing to her most of the time and her life has no value to her at all. Being with Edward and becoming a vampire and getting to have sex with Edward is a driving force for her. This obsessive type relationship is not healthy for anyone, let alone young teens to read and think this is "true love" and healthy or right. It's not. That said, here are some quotes from the book that reflect her obsession:

"About three things I was absolutely positive. First Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him- and I didn't know how potent that part might be- that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him." [Bella speaking] Twilight, page 195.

This next quote is about how Bella so easily succumbs to Edward, that his appearance and smell entice her into losing her reasoning and not being able to think when she is close to him. This situation repeats its self numerous times in the series. It is Edward who has to repeatedly back off Bella's aggressiveness to be closer to him.

"His golden eyes mesmerized me. 'What are you afraid of, then?' he whispered intently.
But I couldn't answer. As I had just that once before, I smelled his cool breath in my face. Sweet, delicious, the scent made my mouth water. It was unlike anything else. Instinctively, unthinkingly, I leaned closer, inhaling
." Twilight page 263

And this next quote is after Edward tries to explain to Bella how her blood and only her blood drives him wild. She, Bella, is Edward's perfect brand of heroin. (Bella says, "So what you're saying is, I'm your brand of heroin?" I teased, trying to lighten the mood. He smiled swiftly, seeming to appreciate my effort. "Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin." Twilight pages 267-268)

Here Edward is trying to explain the day he first smelled her and plotted to kill all the children in the classroom and the teacher just to have her blood. This is Edward speaking to Bella:

"To me, it was like you were some kind of demon, summoned straight from my own personal hell to ruin me. The fragrance coming off your skin...I thought it would make me deranged that first day. In that one hour, I thought of a hundred different ways to lure you from the room with me, to get you alone. And I fought them each back, thinking of my family, what I could do to them. I had to run out, to get away before I could speak the words that would make you follow..." He looked up then at my staggered expression as I tried to absorb his bitter memories. His golden eyes scorched from under his lashes, hypnotic and deadly.
"You would have come," he promised.
I tried to speak calmly. "Without a doubt.
" -Twilight pages 269-270


For more on Bella and Edward's first meeting, the author Stephenie Meyer has published an online chapter of this from Edward's vampire point of view in "Midnight Sun". This is not in the original Twilight book, but can be read online here:
http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/midnightsun.html

The other issue that I have with young teens reading the book series is the sexual tension between Bella and Edward and later with Jacob wanting Bella nearly as obsessively as Bella wanting Edward.

"He lifted his glorious, agonized eyes to mine. 'You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever.'
My head was spinning at the rapid change in direction our conversation had taken. From the cheerful topic of my impending demise, we were suddenly declaring ourselves. He waited, and even though I looked down to study our hands between us, I knew his golden eyes were on me.
'You know how I feel, of course,' I finally said. 'I'm here...which, roughly translated means I would rather die than be away from you.' I frowned. 'I'm an idiot.'
'You are an idiot,' he agreed with a laugh. Our eyes met, and I laughed, too. We laughed together at the idiocy and sheer impossibility of such a moment.
'And so the lion fell in love with the lamb...,' he murmured. I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.
'What a stupid lamb," I said.
'What a sick, masochistic lion.
' - Twilight page 273-274

"He raised his free hand and placed it gently on the side of my neck. I sat very still, the chill of his touch a natural warning-a warning telling me to be terrified. But there was no feeling of fear in me. There were, however, other feelings..."
"You see," he said. "Perfectly fine."
My blood was racing, and I wished I could slow it, sensing that this must make everything so much more difficult- the thudding of my pulse in my veins. Surely he could hear it
." -Twilight page 275

"With deliberate slowness, his hands slid down the sides of my neck. I shivered, and I heard him catch his breath. But his hands didn't pause as they softly moved to my shoulders, and then stopped.
His face drifted to the side, his nose skimming across my collarbone. He came to rest with the side of his face pressed tenderly against my chest.
Listening to my heart.
"Ah," he sighed
." -Twilight page 276

"He opened his eyes, and they were hungry. Not in a way to make me fear, but rather to tighten the muscles in the pit of my stomach and send my pulse hammering through my veins again.
"I wish," he whispered, "I wish you could feel the...complexity...the confusion...I feel. That you could understand."
He raised his hand to my hair, then carefully brushed it across my face.
"Tell me," I breathed.
"I don't think I can. I've told you, on the one hand, the hunger- the thirst- that, deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you can understand that, to an extent. Though"- he half-smiled- "as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can't empathize completely. But..." His fingers touched my lips lightly, making me shiver again
.

"There are other hungers. Hungers I don't even understand, that are foreign to me."
"I may understand that better than you think."
'I'm not used to feeling so human. Is it always like this?"
"For me?" I paused. "No, never. Never before this."
He held my hands between his. They felt so feeble in his iron strength.
"I don't know how to be close to you," he admitted. "I don't know if I can.
"
-Twilight pages 277-278

"Edward hesitated to test himself, to see if this was safe, to make sure he was still in control of his need.
And then his cold, marble lips pressed very softly to mine.
What neither of us was prepared for was my response.
Blood boiled under my skin, burned in my lips. My breath came in a wild gasp. My fingers knotted in his hair, clutching him to me. My lips parted as I breathed in his heady scent
."
-Twilight page 282

This is the type of sexual tension that as a parent I feel is totally inappropriate for young teens. This is the mildest of it as it's only the first book, the tension and pushing the limits grows with each book in the series (see the quotes below). While there is no graphic blow by blow of explicit sex, the point and sexual tension and frustration is clearly depicted between the characters. And each night, the never-goes-to-sleep-vampire Edward, climbs into bed with Bella so they can be close and he can watch her sleeping. She tries several times to talk Edward into being intimate with her, but he refuses saying his vampire strength could kill her if he loses control of himself for even a moment (Twilight pages 309-311).

Later in the series, Edward's resistance to Bella's near constant demand for intimacy begins to crack as they push the limits further:

"His mouth was not gentle; there was a brand-new edge of conflict and desperation in the way his lips moved. I locked my arms around his neck, and, to my suddenly overheated skin, his body felt colder than ever. I trembled, but it was not from the chill.
He didn't stop kissing me. I was the one who had to break away, gasping for air. Even then his lips did not leave my skin, they just moved to my throat. The thrill of victory was a strange high; it made me powerful. Brave. My hands weren't unsteady now; I got through with the buttons on his shirt this time easily, and my fingers traced the perfect planes of his icy chest. He was too beautiful. What was the word he'd used just now? Unbearable- that was it. His beauty was too much to bear...

I pulled his mouth back to mine, and he seemed just as eager as I was. One of his hands still cupped my face, his other arm was tight around my waist, straining me closer to him. It made it slightly more difficult as I tried to reach the front of my shirt, but not impossible.
Cold iron fetters locked around my wrists, and pulled my hands above my head, which was suddenly on a pillow
." -Book #3 "Eclipse" pages 449-450

Clearly this stuff is NOT for young teens to be reading, yet I see girls as young as ten walking around with these books and saying things like "Edward is so hot!". This is why I originally wrote my article warning parents to PLEASE read these books FIRST. Know what your children are reading. It's great to see kids reading instead of sitting in front of television or computer screens all day, but parents have a responsibility as parents to filter out inappropriate reading material. I can't imagine parents reading these quotes and still saying "There's nothing wrong with my ten or thirteen year old reading these books!". Now I might be very naive, I could be, I just can't imagine it. My view is this, if YOU as a parent wouldn't be willing to read this stuff OUT LOUD to your child, then why would you let them go read it to themselves?

You mentioned Bella's cliff dive in your comment to me. Bella was not attempting to commit suicide, she had at this point in the series (book #2 "New Moon") become an adrenalin junky. She was riding motorcycles and once jumped off the cliff into the ocean after watching other teens do it (later you find out the other teens are werewolves/shape shifters who heal quickly should they get hurt). This was during her deep depression phase because Edward had left her. The only time she felt anything (or heard what she thought was the voice of Edward in her head) was when her adrenalin was going, so she sought out dangerous things and situations. They stimulated her and made her feel again. So Bella's reckless behavior was a side effect of her severe depression at Edward leaving her. Again, not a good thing for impressionable young teens to embrace as a way to handle break ups. Though Meyer does not show it as a good thing, she shows it for what it is; stupid. But how many young teens with stars in their eyes over this love story are going to grasp that fact in light of Bella's heartbreak? Not many probably. Older teens will get it, I think- I hope.

So again, my issue with the series is not so much about vampires and werewolves as it is the adult content of sexual situations and young teens. It's just not appropriate for young teens in my opinion as a parent. The Twilight series while well written with interesting and endearing characters, has just too much adult content for young teens. Parents need to know what their kids are reading so they can actually parent their kids (now there's a concept, eh?). It's as simple as that.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Man I dont think U know what you are talking about?

concernedmom said...

Well, I totally disagree with Anonymous. This blog is dead-on. My daoughter is 10 years old, and attends a Catholic school. I was shocked to find out that all 4 books in the series are on the accelerated reading list. And many of my daughters friends are reading these books. And the parents don't seem to understand the issues. I have read all 4 books, and I totally agree that they are meant for a much older audience. Thank you for takign the time to speel out these issues. I am going to pass this post along to others.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that Edward refused to have sex with Bella until they were married because he did not want her to sin. Also, it is never confirmed that becoming a vampire means living in hell. When I asked others what they thought about the Bella's feelings for Edward a woman said that she thinks Bella really loves Edward and describes love as something you can't explain with words.

concerned grandma said...

The idea of a vampire being the good guy, glorifies what they have represented in the past, deadly blood suckers. Glorifying violence of any kind contradicts Christian living. And just reading these quotes from the books depicting sexual desire is a form of pornography. It is very subtle, but it could ignite those feelings in an innocent reader leading them to inappropriate behavior, at any age. As mentioned, they are not appropriate for teaching about true love relationships, moral values, nor family loyalty.

Anonymous said...

Have you review/read House of Nights?

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