The Twilight Series 2012 Challenge is hosted at Pages of Forbidden Love
by Stephenie Meyer
I haven’t read these books since 2008. I joined this challenge to reassess my feelings towards the series. I wondered if I would still feel the same and if the hype over the past few years has impacted me at all. I will be reviewing each book separately and I may review the series as a whole once I finish!
My review will only talk about what takes place in this book, not the rest of the series.
I still love this story. I’m drawn to it, much the same way I was when I first opened this book. It’s a simple love story that captivates me.
I connect with Bella in so many ways and find her to be a wonderful character. I don’t see her as weak, overly insecure, or pathetic. My first thoughts while re-reading this book were that she seems intelligent and perceptive. I don’t think she has low self-esteem. I think her insecurities are ones that are normal and relatable, such as being nervous to go to a new school and not wanting to be in the spotlight. Bella is also pretty shy and doesn’t understand why people are drawn to her at her new school and I can definitely relate to that, too. Again, I don’t really see these things as stemming from any kind of unhealthy self esteem issues. Bella seems to know that she’s an intelligent person and quick to pick up on things. I think what makes more of a loner is that she doesn’t quite fit the mold and sees herself on the fringes of the typical high school groups, not that she doesn’t think highly of herself.
What I saw when I re-read this book is that Bella was drawn to Edward from the first moment she saw him, but it didn’t seem to be based on his looks. I felt like she noticed the family and realized they, too, were outsiders of some sort and was curious about them all. When the incident in the biology classroom occurred and he was glaring at her, his reaction only intrigued her more and caused her to think more about him and what made him tick. Bella seems to be a curious observer and Edward is probably a very strange person to observe before the two of them actually started talking to each other.
I thought it was clear in the book that Edward was drawn to Bella for various reasons. His inability to read her mind and his vampiric reaction towards her were the first things and after that, his desire to protect her became apparent. But I also noticed that he was drawn to her complexity as a person and her intelligence. When they were partnered up for a biology lab and she seemed to know what she was doing, he had a reaction that seemed to me like relief. It was like, “Oh, thank god you are intelligent! I’m already curious about you, but now that I’m actually talking to you and finding out that you are mature and smart, I’m so relieved and would like to continue talking to you.” At least that’s how I saw it. That small bit in the book really stood out to me and mattered to me. I also think it was the same way for Bella, since Edward was mature and different and intelligent. Had Bella been stupid, I think he probably would have just attacked her at some point and had he been stupid, she would have just moved on with her life.
I liked the way the story progressed from there. I thought their connection to each other was apparent. I don’t think either of them were obsessive or unhealthy about their relationship. I tried to keep this in mind while reading because it is such a main criticism, but I still don’t see it. Falling in love and wanting to spend time with that person doesn’t seem unhealthy to me at all.
Since I haven’t read this book in years, my recollections about certain scenes were either from memory or the movie, which conflicted. Some of the scenes were so weird and awkward in the movie and I kept thinking that they didn’t seem that way to me when I read this book way back when. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my memory served me well and these scenes didn’t seem awkward in the book. The movie was just terrible. One of the scenes was the whole lion and lamb thing where Edward talks about how he’s the perfect predator. I cannot get over how awkward this seemed in the movie and how smoothly it played out in my head while reading.
One of the major problems I have with this book is the vampire rules. I’m a huge fan of vampires of all sorts. I’m typically okay with rule changes to some degree and enjoy vampires in all forms from the scary terrible vampires that are ugly and bloodthirsty to the good and noble vampires that want to help the human race. If vampires walk in the sun, as long as there’s a legitimate reason that I buy, it’s fine. If vampires aren’t affected by garlic and crosses and holy water, that’s fine, too. But I cannot get on board with the sparkling. When I first read Twilight, I ignored this. I just skipped over it and pretended like it never happened. It is much harder to ignore this now. After the movie and the fan items, sparkling is everywhere and something that stands out. I also have issues with the way vampires are turned and the fact that they have some sort of venom and lack fangs. While I applaud the author’s creativity and originality, these things are a little difficult for me to get over and I wish they weren’t considered vampires. Mostly, I can get past the lack of fangs and the venom thing because I think it could be rationalized, but the sparkling serves no purpose. Why can’t they just be sensitive to light or appear weaker or stranger in sunlight that alerts humans that something is wrong? I just don’t get it. Sparkling is just so… ugh. Fortunately, it’s really not that big of a deal in the book and again, I just pretend that it never happened and continue reading.
The brief history of vampires that is touched upon in this novel is interesting to me. I felt like I better understood the Cullen family and realized that they are not only outsiders among humans, but among their kind as well. I think this has molded them into the kind beings that they are and what shapes each of them. It also explains a lot of conflict that happens later, when the traveler’s pass through and notice the Cullens and their protection of Bella.
While some may see the rest of the book as Bella being weak or Edward being melodramatic, I don’t see it that way. When Bella walks into danger to protect her family and her own protectors, she’s being selfless and strong, and it amazes me that this strength is overlooked by so many people. Edward saves her life and she sees him as a savior, while he blames himself for being the one to put her in danger in the first place. She also wouldn’t mind becoming a vampire, while he is completely against it. I know this is the conflict that sets itself up for book 2, but I also think it’s believable. This is the one way in which Edward and Bella see the world differently. Both sides make sense to me. I don’t think Bella is so completely obsessed with him that she wants to be immortal just for him, but also sees it as an opportunity to embark on a new walk of life and not be quite a hazard. And Edward sees becoming a vampire as the end of life and the beginning of damnation, so he’s in complete disagreement. I think this is a great conflict and it isn’t one that is really talked about in many other vampire/human novels.
One thing that stood out to me this time around was how coincidental it was that James had previously known Alice and could therefore piece together the story for her. This seems a little convenient to me. I said I was reviewing only this book, but I can’t help but think this is the first “red flag” of conveniences I know the author will later spring on me.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I’m glad I reread it this year. I love this story. It isn’t the most well written piece of literature, but I think the author’s raw and rough narration worked well through a 17 year old narrator. It’s a simple love story with a supernatural element. That’s all. I liked Bella and I realize how far off the first movie was with this book. The times that Bella is keenly observing something in the book are the times Kristen Stewart stares blankly and open-mouthed, like an idiot. She’s really not an idiotic or pathetic character. The acting in that movie are the reasons she’s seen this way, I think. I’m not even going to begin to talk about Edward vs Robert Pattinson… even worse of a portrayal than Bella.
After rereading, I can safely say that I’m still a fan, but a small one- the same kind of fan I was before. I will never understand how this book skyrocketed into popularity the way that it did. While it opened the door for more paranormal YA novels, I don’t know that it deserves to the be poster child of YA romance. It’s one of those books I love, but in a way that reminds of me an underdog. If this book sat quietly on the shelves and didn’t explode into a phenomenon, I would have been more comfortable. Or maybe if it just didn’t have a movie and everyone ignored the sparkling.
It’s really not a terrible book. I’d read much worse. I can understand bad reviews because of the raw writing, the sparkling, or being disappointing to people expecting more from the hype. I can see that side. What I cannot understand is how this book displays a terrible message to young girls or glamourizes an abusive relationship. I’m not really going to get into that, either, or I’ll write a 10 page essay on why I think this book is fine in that regard.
Book 1 Challenge Questions:
1. For those of you who have read this book before, how did you rate the book this time vs when you first read it months/years ago for the first time?
I rated it 4 stars back when I first read it. This time, I’d probably rate it between 3 and 4 stars, but would end up rounding up to 4 to make it easier. So I suppose it’s much the same.
2. For those of you who read it for the first time this year please share how you thought it was, did it live up to the hype?
3. Do you still love the characters, even though Edward and Bella were ruined in the movies? Many people say all Edward does is sparkle and that Bella is a whiny pathetic character, do you agree?
I still love the characters. I don’t think all Edward does is sparkle, though it is a trait that I’m not fond of. And Bella isn’t pathetic to me at all. I definitely agree that the movie made them look terrible.
4. Vampires, can we still live with them?
I’ve always loved vampires and probably always will. However, my biggest issue with this book is the vampire rules and that has not changed.
5. Ultimately, was it worth reading/ would you recommend?
I think it was definitely worth reading again, especially to reassess how I feel about it. I don’t know that I’d recommend this book to anyone anymore because of the stigma attached to it. I’m glad that I read this before the hype and was able to get my recommendations out before.