I have to preface these final thoughts with my weird feelings toward this book. In past posts, I mentioned how boring and bland a good bit of it was; I talked about how much I couldn’t stand the way things were written, and I often hated our main characters. But, here’s the thing, I hated reading Twilight, but I also kinda loved it in that watching a car crash way. I caught myself grinning at parts, but also turning around to complain to my boyfriend about something on the same page. I originally halted this project because I couldn’t get through the first five chapters all those years ago, but this time it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Maybe it was because I am a bit more open minded than I was in 2017 or it could be the nostalgia of it all. I’m not sure, but now to get to my full-on review.
Meyer had some decent ideas for Twilight. A world where vampires aren’t just a myth and they are usually nomadic or stick to more “dreary” (I use quotations here only because I do not find areas like this dull or lifeless, but most people would) areas so that they do not have to deal with the sun is a pretty good starting point. Then she added the idea of personalized powers for said vampires, and some humans, giving it more depth and intricacies. It was very ambitious of her to change up the vampire lore so much that it’s a meme still to this day. Though I might disagree that the idea of a sparkly vampire is good, I still commend her for thinking outside the box for that detail.
Not only that, but she seemed to give some deeper thought into the saga as a whole instead of only focusing on the first book and then using it as a cash grab with the rest. She set up parts of New Moon, at the least, from the very beginning. Again, as a writer, I can greatly appreciate the thought and planning that had to go into that. I understand how difficult it can be to fully settle on an idea you have, and to have written Twilight while keeping many of the details of future installments in order was likely a very difficult task. That’s thousands of pages of story that she had to remember throughout all the writing.
The side characters were the best part of Twilight. Charlie and Alice are my MVPs, but I hold a great appreciation of Esme’s motherly writing, Jasper’s encouragement, and Emmett’s pure “himbo” energy. They bring life to the writing and show what Meyer is capable of, even if she doesn’t often execute it. Alice is endearing because of her confidence and encouragement. This makes sense for her, since she can see the future, even if it can change. Her power fits her personality, or is it the other way around? She encourages Edward to, at least, befriend Bella because she wants him to be happy, but she also wants to be happy by becoming Bella’s friend as well. And then there’s Charlie. I have talked about him many times in many posts, so all I will say is he is best dad and we deserved more of him.
And, finally, the sexual tension. I may be biased, but I actually thought it was written well enough. The raw teenage feelings do come through well with the constant neck kisses, snuggles, and the like. It’s very teenager to constantly want more than you can have, and you can feel that want through the writing. I do wish there was a bit more show don’t tell moments for this, though.
The worst part of Twilight is the problematic things I talked about in many of my posts, so let’s do a quick recap of some of them. First off, there’s the stalking that Edward does and the apathy Bella has for it. This should make her scared and creeped out, not excited. There is also the way Edward makes decisions for Bella against her wishes, and how it is not a red flag to her and not meant to be one for the reader. It, unfortunately, hammers home the archaic ideal that a woman is lesser than a man and must be lead by him. And, finally, there is this reverse god complex (if this has a name, I am not aware of it. Please tell me more about it in the comments if there is, as I would love to learn more) Bella has about Edward. It’s not healthy to constantly liken your partner to a god and believe that they can do no wrong. Not only does it put pressure on the receiving end, but it also messes with the reality of the one who has this view.
This is another problem I have talked about a lot, but the editing is just atrocious. If the editor of this book would have done their job correctly, I believe Twilight, to some degree, would have better earned it’s fame and fortune. But, as is, the book is basically a rough draft at best that was published. There are better written fan fictions (not 50 Shades, mind you[note: I have never read 50 Shades, but like many I have heard the Gilbert Gottfried reading]) than this book, purely because the writer edited their work before publishing it to their respective fanfic site.
Though there was a good bit of setup for future installments to the series, there was not enough setup for this book as a whole. I have mentioned before that the movie did this better by showing the main villain(s) prior to the baseball scene as opposed to only mentioning Alice having a vision about them being in the area, like in the book. If Meyer wanted this “big climax” (read: disappointment) with James, she should have better set up the character and their motivations before the final quarter of the book. There is so much wrong with the ending, and this is its breaking point. It reminds me a lot of the book Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, as it gave me a similar feeling of disappointment. To explain, I really loved Snow Crash when I read it for a class my freshman year of college, until I got to the last one hundred pages and it turned into a stereotypical action flick. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good action film, but the book up to that point was setting up for something much better. Twilight is kind of the opposite in that it wasn’t setting any conflict up whatsoever, and then threw one in there so it had a “conclusion.” Both stories just lost themselves with their endings.
Then there is Edward and Bella (and later, Jacob). As I have mentioned many times before, these characters are pretty bad. I cannot think of a single redeeming quality for any of them. They are our leads, but they are so bland and gross that I can’t root for them. Jacob, in this installment, is the best one of our main characters because he hasn’t, yet, turned into the abusive manipulative type. Edward is already a manipulative stalker, and Bella is also manipulative and rude, but also so boring. Bella is so bad, that I question why anyone likes her, especially after she so often treats them terribly. The only “friends” she shows a semblance of respect for is Jessica and Angela, purely because she wants Mike off her back and sees that Jessica likes him and Angela is super shy and to herself in her own way.
What I Would Change
To better the book, I would flesh out the “magic system” a bit more(for a better understanding of magic systems, here is a rather informative article I found on the concept). For instance, Meyer seems to want a hard magic system with the way she describes Edward and Alice’s powers, but seems to break those rules a bit later in the book. She says that Edward can not turn off his ability and that Alice can only see outcomes that are connected to people once they make a choice. The problem is that it does not fully connect with that explanation. This is because she can also predict the weather when it has nothing to do with a decision, and New Moon, we also learn that she can not see the decisions of the shifters. It is, in my opinion, implied that this is because of the “magic” surrounding the pack, but is never stated. This is only implied, though, so it would fall deeper into a soft magic system. I think it would have been better had she fleshed out the magic system a bit more and thus better expanded her universe.
Not only does Meyer’s magic system need to be fleshed out, but her leads as well. Let’s start with Bella. She is our narrator as well as our main character, so she needs to be more likable. Though there are some well written, unlikable characters (see my previous mentions of Gone Girl), Bella is meant to be someone the reader can identify with. The only real trait, though, that Meyer gives her is that she, sometimes, likes to read. This is an okay start as there is that connection with the reader since they are, in fact, reading, but her other personality traits are almost non-existent. She is the new girl in school, but she comes off as standoffish. The best way to fix that is to make her more personable. Instead of constantly talking down about her “friends” in the narration, she should try to get to actually know them. It would give purpose to her actually being someone people would want to spend time with even after she ditched them for Edward until he dumps her in New Moon. Truthfully, she shouldn’t even ditch her human friends, just maybe hang out with them slightly less because it’s not healthy to only be connected to one person (I would know). I would also give her actual interests instead of making her “not like other girls.” Those interests do not have to be the typical feminine things, since her current character seems to look down upon most of them, but just give her something, an actual background. Maybe make her a writer, or have her be really into some nerdy games like D&D and that’s why she’s sad to have left Phoenix, because she left her party behind and it’s a time before the internet was as big as it is now so she can’t join them through Roll20 or something (yes, this is me projecting my happiness for being able to play online with my friends especially during a global pandemic, but also because we all live in completely different states). Anything to give her depth. Also, she should have a better relationship with Charlie. I would give them more time together so that they can truly bond and the scene when she runs away can mean so much more.
Then there is Edward. We rarely ever see him interacting with anyone other than Bella, and that really stagnates his character even more. At least with Bella, she is the one narrating, so we get to know her more (if there was really anything to know), so it’s safe to assume this partially gets resolved in Midnight Sun. But, I want more interactions with him and his family. They are the people he has spent the better half of a century with, so why does he rarely get any real connections with them. Alice is the closest we get to any connection in Twilight, and even that is barely there. I have heard that Midnight Sun has quite a bit more Emmett, which is great, but I wish we got to see more of that in Twilight as well. Instead of having fourteen chapters leading up to Bella finally meeting the family, I would have shortened the couple getting together (while still making the connection more natural) so that the reader can get a better understanding of who the Cullens really are. It would bring out the best parts of Edward because he would be his most calm and himself with his family. It was a missed opportunity to say the least.
Finally, for the ending. As mentioned before, sprinkling more in about the nomad vampires being in the area would have better set up the story as a whole, but it’s not the only thing about the ending that I would change. The last two chapters, if I were in charge of writing them, would have been completely different than how Meyer wrote them. First off, I would have Bella and Alice come up with a plan to better emphasize their growing friendship. Like I mentioned in my post of chapter twenty-two, this would cause drama between Edward and Alice that would have to be worked on in future installments as well. Then, I would have Bella be conscious when the Cullens swoop in to save her. Have her laying there, leg broken, watching as Edward and family come to her rescue and fight James, killing him by the end of it all. It could even be brought back around that Edward, again, thinks himself a monster for killing and that Bella should be afraid of him for what he just did in front of her, but all she can feel is awe and gratitude for saving her, which, in this case, would be fair. Then, once the adrenaline is no longer pumping through her, the pain of it all knocks her out and we have a hard cut into the hospital. There we would learn the coverup story and get a less abusive ending where Edward promises to be there when she needs him, but then the nurse comes in to give her more medication, not because either of them ask for it, but because it’s just that time to do so. This would still allow for a similar, if not the same epilogue (though I would change a few things in that, too: see yesterday’s post to get more on that).