Megan Tingley Books, $10.99, ISBN 0-316-01584-9
Fantasy, 2006 (Reissue)
Oh boy, I have to hand it to Stephenie Meyer: she has created the most potent kind of pornography for teenage girls in Twilight – the Mary Sue epic love story. Even a jaded old crone like me can feel the pull of the pornographic vibes in this story, persuading me to indulge in the escapist fantasy of being the most special girl in the universe.
We have our heroine Bella Swan. The name alone should warn people that this heroine is no mere mortal. Bella is the embodiment of the inner selfish fifteen-year old girl in every woman out there. She claims to be physically unattractive and she can’t fit in, but that is because we all know that the people around her are too blind to recognize how special she is. Heaven knows, in this story, everyone but the obvious meanies love Bella, so I don’t see where Bella gets off from calling herself an outcast. Maybe playing the outcast card allows her to be beautiful and beloved without being hated by any homely fat girls out there that may be reading this book? Heaven knows, this book plays very strongly to the reader’s sense of self-identification in order to work, so the author has to very careful in ensuring that Bella is the perfect Mary Sue heroine.
Bella is special, with a capital S. She even captures the attention of Edward Cullen, the vampire who makes it a habit to reprise the role of a teenage boy year in and out. I can only shudder as I imagine how vapid Edward must be to enjoy being a permanent teenage kid. That or he has a thing for school girls, which of course he hasn’t because he’s nothing more than an extension of the validation process that will ensure that Bella will glow like a radioactive munchkin. Edward is created solely to love Bella and make her feel even more special in the process.
Edward, by the way, literally sparkles in daylight. But that’s okay, because Bella is a supernova. She’s the embodiment of what every young girl secretly dreams of: for the world to finally recognize how special she is and to bow down and worship her because of her innate purity, beauty, and magnificence. And Bella, magnanimous in her basking of the adoration of Edward and gang, will deign to forgive those who were mean to her in the past.
The love story between Edward and Bella give me the creeps. I feel disturbed by the ease in which Bella accepts Edward for what he is. In another person, I would assume that Bella is just desperate to get laid, but because we all know that Bella is special and incapable of sexual desires (only sexual desire that is secondary to the true love forming in her heart for Edward… or something like that), I suppose Bella is just being this universal understanding Goth babe that can see beneath Edward’s fangs, sparkling epidermis, and stalker tendencies to see her twin soul inside.
There is an embryo of an interesting story here. I could like the canon of the sparkling vampires in this story if Ms Meyer hadn’t wrapped everything up in a glittery package designed to stoke Bella’s ego. Edward could have been a magnetic sociopath whackjob if Ms Meyer had acknowledged Edward’s less than perfect way of dealing with his emotions. Hey, I love Wuthering Heights, but that is because I know and I love the fact that the main characters in that story are self-absorbed sociopaths with self-destructive tendencies. Here, Ms Meyer attempts to sweeten Edward’s behavior and pretend that everything is sunny and sweet, ugh.
Perhaps that is why a part of me dislikes Twilight – everything in this story is an excuse to stoke Bella’s ego, to reassure her that she is the most perfect girl in the universe. The people who adore her are the good guys, while the people who don’t are the villains. Everything and everyone in this story is created to reassure her that she is indeed the most awesome person in the universe. And with Bella being this most awesome creature in the world, she will naturally bat her eyelashes and insists that she is not worthy of the adoration even as Ms Meyer reassures me non-stop that Bella is, indeed, worthy, nay, deserving of the adoration.
There could be a good story in here, somewhere, but it’s buried under a mountain of mawkish writing designed to reassure the reader that Bella is the most awesome girl ever in the world and that her having this cool vampire boyfriend is just icing on the cake. The intellectual part of me wants to give this book the middle finger, but dang, another part of me finds this book compulsively readable because of the sheer awfulness of this story. And I really, really hate myself for that, believe me.