Having heard some of the usual stereotypey complaints, I wasn't initially interested in reading the books. However, a few friends of mine (Mia, Dani, Mel, and Julie) recommended I give it a try, as they know I am a hopeless romantic and felt that I would like it. Combine that with the hype of the first movie, and I decided to give it a go, buying eBooks for the entire series (didn't want to invest in the books until I knew I'd like them - though now I have the entire set in hardback, of course). One weekend, I sat and read Twilight, and fell absolutely in love with Bella and Edward's romance. I decided to read Midnight Sun next, which gave me a nice Edward POV transition into the next books. Even though I was already smitten as soon as Edward said "and so the lion fell in love with the lamb," I was completely hooked after seeing one of the most romantic lines I have ever seen in Midnight Sun: "her existence was excuse enough to justify the creation of the entire world." Dead. Completely gone. Over the course of one week, I could not stop reading the rest of the saga, even staying up late on work nights until I had them all finished, and owned the DVD of the first movie. I went from skeptic one day, to Comic Con pass-carrying fangirl who can't wait for the slightest glimpses of the next two movies being filmed.
Now, this post will actually be more of a soapbox rant, because I feel like it is my duty as a fan of the saga to share my responses to the usual arguments against Twilight. But first, I want to share why I love these books so much: Bella and Edwards's romance is the number 1 reason. I adore the unrequited and star-crossed love that both of them feel so deeply. As a person who is actually in this type of sickly-sweet lovey-dovey romance of their own, I can totally relate to the all-consuming nature of their love, and how neither of their lives were truly complete until they met. I put Bella and Edward among my personal favorite romantic couples of all time, along with Jack and Rose, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Satine and Christian, Romeo and Juliet, and Tony and Maria. I also love these books because they are total escapist fantasy. Since this is a mythical world, it is fun to fantasize and read about it and break away from the dramas of the world today. I love the beautiful, romantic one-liners that the books are full-of (such as "you are my life now"), and I also adore all the other Cullens and the actors who portray them in the films. There are numerous other reasons too, but the love story slayed me from the beginning, and will always be the primary reason I pick up the books again.
Now, onto my soapbox. Let me address some of the common Twilight criticisms. First, I would like to note that many of the people I have heard these critisisms from have not actually read all 4.5 books, so I find that often they are misinformed. Let me inform you now, and be aware that this will contain spoilers:
- Twilight is anti-feminist because Bella chooses a man/marriage over college: this is completely wrong. If you read all books, you'd know that Bella was not making the choice in this way. Her choices were not college or marriage, in fact, she will have the chance to attend college multiple times throughout her immortal life. Her choice was actually for immortality. And lets be honest, when we are talking about the hypothetical world of immortality, choices like marriage and college (even if it were between the two) are pretty small in scale to the decision to live forever, and all of the things you could eventually do if you live forever (like going to college!). We should also note, that if you read all books, you'd know that Bella does not want to get married, as she didn't want to be "that girl," until she realized that none of the superficial reasons not to get married matter in the course of eternal life and eternal love.
- Bella is too dependent on Edward: First, let's remember that Edward is also utterly and completely dependent on her, so this is a two-way street. Didn't Romeo and Juliet resort to great extremes as they felt they would rather not live than to live apart? Also, think back to your worst break-up. Didn't you feel like the world was ending? Remember, we see the books from Bella's perspective, so we see how difficult Edward's leaving is to her, just as if it were us. Big heartbreak totally hurts and sucks for everyone, especially someone young, who had found a love more deep and profound than many people ever find. Even the millenia-old Volturi were shocked to see the depth of the bond between Edward and Bella. A connection (fictional remember) this deep is bound to cause some co-dependencies. And Stephenie Meyer is the first to point out her characters personal flaws. None of them are perfect.
- Bella gets married at 18: To go back to the points I made in my first bullet, if you read all the books you'd know a) Bella does not want to get married because of society's stigma with young marriage (so this point is addressed several times), and b) who the heck cares what age you are married when you live forever? Does it really matter in the scheme of eternity?
- The books are for tweens/children: For the record, Twilight is categorized as Young Adult Fiction. Personally, given all the sexual tension and some violence that we see in all 4 books, I would not want a child or tween reading them. They are geared for teens and young adults. Harry Potter is for children. Twilight's subject matter is more mature (which is another reason why I love them :).
- The books are not great: people may have this opinion, however, it can not be denied that they are good and that this is a cultural phenomenon. ALL 4 books have been on the NY Times Bestseller List Top 10 consecutively for over a year. That says a lot.
- Stephenie sometimes strays from traditional vampire lore: Um, hello, vampires are not real. So technically, she can make up whatever the heck she wants about them. So just because everything doesn't match with Bram Stoker or Anne Rice's depiction of vampires, doesn't make it a less valid story (those were authors too, remember, who created worlds for their books). These are mythical, fictional characters and there is no "true" way to define them.