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The first book in the "Twilight Saga" by Stephenie Meyer.

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A Feminism Nightmare.

  • Jun 30, 2010
I first read Twilight the summer after my senior year of high school. I was still 17, stuck up in bed for months recovering from a minor surgery, and reading at my most voracious pace yet (where was Netflix Instant in 2007, huh!?) in order to get away from endless Full House reruns. I had long since abdicated library authority to my mother and she had perfected the ability to pick a perfect mix of young adult and adult fiction and nonfiction for me. After one of these library trips, Twilight found it's way into my hands. Blame the teenage hormones, the cocktail of pain medications I was on, my "delicate" gender, or even the break-up of an awkward relationship only a few months before, but I was wooed by the sparkles, the feelings, the bloodlust, and the smoldering looks. It wasn't until later that year that I had found out about the rest of the series, and despite the sudden Twilight obsession, continued to read and enjoy. It wasn't until I returned to the series for a second go-around last year that I realized something was very off this time. Something about it just nagged me and pulled at my mind. Slowly I began to realize the types of things that Twilight was actually advocating. On the surface Twilight appears to be a strong female narrative. Written by woman with a woman protagonist, it is a veritable triumph for feminists everywhere, correct? Oh so very wrong. Bella is described by most Twilight fans to be a strong girl whose main strength lies in her ability to sacrifice herself for those that she loves. While this may be somewhat true, I feel it is only so apparent because it is contrasted with a somewhat meek and forgiving nature. She is adored by everyone, especially males. The fact that she even manages to attain adoration and obsession by creatures that aren't human only serves to show this even more. What causes this adoration? She cooks and cleans for her father while he cleans his gun and brings home the bacon, she looks pretty, she is so very fragile, and can charmingly not handle anything more than reading and daydreaming, unable to fend for herself. She is diminutive and doe eyed. This is all it takes for her to be adored and exalted. Her character is creepily perfect without any real flaws other than the harmlessly charming self-deprecation and clumsiness. I won't even delve to deeply into the fact that Edward invades Bella's privacy and her home before he even says hello to her...that he watches her sleep on a consistant basis, and we all find it so sweet and charming before you realize that it is more than a little creepy. Should we, as women, expect to have our privacy violated and to find it charming? It is a common societal belief that the line of "creepy stalker behavior" is drawn quite differently for men than for women, considering that when most men behave in an overbearing and unhealthy attitude we are conditioned to see it as charming, as a testament of love, but when women do it is stalker, Fatal Attraction behavior. There are many more reasons that I have such issues, as a feminists with Twilight, but many revolve around the narrative as a whole and I wanted to just focus on the first book. While I agree that the books are written about as well as any other young adult fiction is written (long flowery prose, etc.), I feel it's underlying messages are much more dangerous than we give them credit for. 

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July 13, 2010
There have been a lot of feminist critiques, yours in a wonderful introduction to them all for women who might not be familiar with them. Glad you got on the front page!
July 08, 2010
Good points all, though you've left out the fact that Meyers uses incorrect grammar on a regular basis, the characters are all one-dimensional, and that nearly every sentence has the same structure.
July 08, 2010
Finally! Someone else who sees through this. You forgot, though, that she is awfully good at moping and pouting as well.
July 06, 2010
So much of the books annoy me because of how Bella really is a Mary Sue character and because she doesn't have any pronounced flaws.  By the time you get to the fourth book... uh... it seems like the only real "flaw" Bella had was being a human being.  Her clumsiness is... above all, not really much of a flaw.  I don't think we ever really learn anything about Bella aside from the fact that she likes Edward and that's really about it.  I can understand what it's advocating, but I do actually think most teenage girls are smarter than that.  It's no surprise that she put her own Mormon beliefs in there to some extent.  I'm okay with that and all (it's a book of fiction after all) but I have a hard time believing most teenage girls are so stupid as to take the message home that this is what they should be doing.  I've yet to find a girl who takes it that seriously. 

I agree with much of what you've written, though.  In particular I'm disturbed by all of Meyer's flowery prose and hearing about how perfect Edward was.  The first book in particular doesn't even have any real plot until around 300 pages in.  I admit when I first read the first book I thought it was alright.  Then I thought New Moon was better (only because I hate Edward that much) but by the time I got to Eclipse I was getting tired of seeing the same flaws over and over and over again.  But I still finished the series (Breaking Dawn was the worst of the lot for sure).
July 06, 2010
Thanks for this very thoughtful review!
July 06, 2010
say it sister ; )
July 04, 2010
i really never noticed that before, i really never liked bellas character in the first place(increasingly so in the later books) because shes selfish. she has everything and more with edward and she cant let her little playmate go even though she makes it clear as day that shes not intrested in him like that.
July 02, 2010
I could not agree more. I think a lot of young readers get too caught up in the romanticism the text provides without seeing that it deconstructs itself in many ways - one of those ways having to do with feminism. Bella is a contradiction; seemingly strong yet weak. I think that, had the series been written in third-person, the character of Bella *could* have been more developed. Then again, maybe not. Almost all of the characters are dull. The so-called obstacles they have to overcome are a bit passe. I love supernatural fiction, but I have read far better supernatural fiction for young adults.
July 01, 2010
Agreed, it's disturbing how females are portrayed as weak and breathless followers of men in the media, particularly here.
July 01, 2010
You gave it one star. I didn't think it was THAT good. It was solidly in negative territory for me. Great thoughtful review.
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Ryn Greer ()
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Member Since: Jun 29, 2010
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About this book


Twilight is the debut, young-adult vampire-romance novel by author Stephenie Meyer. Twilight was initially rejected by 14 agents, but became an instant bestseller when published originally in hardback in 2005, debuting at #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list within a month of its release and later peaking at #1. That same year, Twilight was named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2005. The novel was also the biggest selling book of 2008 and, to date, has sold 17 million copies worldwide, spent over 91 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and been translated into 37 different languages.

It is the first book of the Twilight series, and introduces seventeen-year-old Isabella "Bella" Swan, who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen. The novel is followed by New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. A film adaptation of Twilight was released in 2008. It was a commercial success, grossing more than $382 million worldwide and an additional $157 million from North American DVD sales, as of July 2009.
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ISBN-10: 0316160172
ISBN-13: 978-0316160179
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Vampires
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Date Published: October 5, 2005
Format: Format
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