People have so harshly criticized her for the Twilight Saga, and so did I, for the last few years.
My main issues were:
-that the book had basically preached that love at 18 was strong enough to be bound by forever. Actually, their love was proclaimed as eternal when Bella was 17 and Edward at around 105.
I know I’m particularly pessimistic about real love but… really? I guess the fact that it was supposedly fate, Bella was a strong shield and a terrible human, Bella’s blood sang to Edward, etc. But still. Teenage girls are stupid and they are obsessed with love and falling in love. Not a good influence to tell them to get married just so you can bang and make small babies.
-that Edward was particularly possessive, never gave Bella ANY choices (this part is so screwed up I CAN’T even), and then portrayed as ‘perfect’. The least Stephanie could have done was make it obvious to girls that he wasn’t perfect- he was human, a stupid man, in some ways, too. But no- he’s ‘perfect’ and ‘all good’.
-AND MY BIGGEST OF ALL is that, from the beginning, Bella had NO passions. She had no goals or expectations from life- aside from being with Edward. She had no hopes, even. Like travel. For college- she didn’t even aim high. Or anywhere, for that matter. After Edward left, especially, she was like “okay. I might not go to college. or live my life. I might hit community college. but I don’t know. apparently, i don’t think about the future.” But from the beginning, the 17 year old martyr, had no goals or ambitions at all. I don’t understand that at ALL.Literally, the only thing Bella cared about was making sacrifices for everyone and being with Edward. I liked the she was essentially, a good person- but really. She got angry at times, which I realized was Stephanie’s way of making her seem ‘strong’, and more feminist friendly. But why didn’t she really tell of Edward and get smart? She should have been like, god damn it Edward, you ass, stop being so damn controlling or I don’t want to be with you. He would have changed his ways so god damn fast. She NEVER got mad at Edward- and he got mad at her plenty of times.
I forgave her for number one when I read that she had originally written Forever Dawn (I think) which took place when Edward and Bella were both in college- so it’s likely that the marriage and baby thing took place later in life, which is fine with me. But her editors and publishers didn’t want it to happen that way.
I kinda forgave her for number two when I thought about the fact that she was just writing from her own, simple heart. Its why she had a hard time making it particularly violent. I was doing meditation when I realized how hard it can be to write certain things when you’re in a good place, spiritually. I also think the Mormon side of her was an influence, but I think it’s borderline offensive to judge someone’s creative fiction by their religion. So I drop that.
Plus, who am I to judge how old you should be when you get hitched, or how Stephenie chose to finish the Saga? I haven’t written any books, and I most certainly wasn’t writing her book. So I don’t know what it was like. I don’t know all the decisions she had to make. I dont- and I shouldn’t judge.
I forgave her some for number three when I realized how brutal editors can be in the cutting process- anything that doesn’t tie into the plot goes.
Also, I’m not supposed to like or agree with everything every character says or does- just like I can’t do that with humans.
Stephenie managed to create many characters that you feel like you know personally (even if they were at times cheesy) – a lot of young adult books don’t make me feel that way. It often takes me a while to see some characters that have these passive voices as actual humans, not just a thing in the middle to help you read a story- but it was never like that when Stephenie wrote- everyone seemed personal, non-flat characters- even if I didn’t ‘like’ every aspect of their personality. Often a lot of author’s characters are put there simply to help the plot move along, in an obvious way that makes you not care about them- and she never made anyone seem flat that way. They all had a purpose, but they weren’t… I don’t know… like just thrown in there, the way a lot of other authors do.
She’s not perfect. She’s not J.K Rowling. (Yes- J.K is a goddess. Admit it. Say it- out loud. Say it.) But I admire her for honoring her vision- that dream. I admire her for putting pen to paper and the little characters in her mind out for the world to see. That fact makes me anxious sometimes. She’s braver than I am by far…
I was twelve when Twilight came out. I remember how I felt when I read the back of the book. I liked the dark cover and the red apple. I had volunteered to help at our school’s book fair- which was amazingly cool and cute, now that i think about it- and as a reward she said each volunteer could have one book. I chose Twilight. I was intrigued by this dark haired, crooked smiled boy. I was intrigued by quiet, reader Bella, who was trying to navigate school and life when she met Edward. I connected with her- and her infatuation with Edward was intriguing to me. I was especially touched in New Moon, when Bella’s depression so perfectly described mine. It was like therapy, for some odd reason. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way… maybe I wasn’t a freak like I’d felt… I didn’t start wanting to jump off cliffs, or do dangerous things to make me feel better- I was smart. I chose a healthier path, and decided to leave the things that made me unhappy behind, kept to myself, and went on with mundane life… it wasn’t the greatest choice, but I didn’t copy Bella- that’s the point I’m making here…
But when I got older, martyr Bella had maybe rubbed off on me. I started making sacrifices for my loved ones- like what Bella did for Renee but deeper, worse- that made me deeply unhappy. Not because of Bella, but because I wanted to be a good person, a good daughter. I made choices for others and not myself. I chose a career path that my family wanted me to. I was so, so sad. I had no dreams, no aspirations. I had thrown them in the garbage- and I was always, always a passionate dreamer.
I was trying to be a good person- in all the wrong ways. I know now, as an adult, how flawed I was, and that I can’t help anyone unless I follow my dreams and become successful and happy- only happy people who help themselves first so that their in a healthy, capable place can really help others.
It had sent me spiraling in a manic depression and breakdown- but it allowed me to pick up the pieces and super glue them tight- so I was able to survive so much more in life. And I don’t blame Bella or Stephenie for my actions then- just myself. I personally feel like that was something I had to go through so that now I could just BE myself. And I am 🙂
BUT THE MAJOR POINT IS…
The Twilight Saga was the Romeo and Juliet of my generation- whether you want it to be or not.
People often jokingly make comments on Romeo and Juliet, right? They were only 15-17 when they met, and everything that happened took place in two days. Romeo was madly in love with Rosalind when he randomly saw Juliet, and that eternal love disappeared after one conversation with Julie-, he was a goner. Typical foolish boy. That could of happened again, right? If they had stayed alive and run off together. But Romeo and Juliet killed themselves. So tragic. A great story (and I do love the story, the writing). But it has it’s non-realistic flaws because its FICTION.
And like the blind love R J had for each other, I suppose it’s fair that Edward and Bella were ready to die for each other.
I suppose I can’t criticize, because it was all in all it was fiction- and a fun fiction for my 13 year old self to read. I loved the vampires that she created, that had gifts- that took three days of hell to change- the interesting non-flat characters. I can see past the little things. I loved the bond between Carlisle and Edward, Carlisle and Esme, and EdwardxAlice. Probably because I dont see bonds like that in real life. I enjoyed the odd, colorful Nomads and the Denalis.
As a teen, I was always too passionate about everything- there were no gray areas for me. I either loved too much or hated too much. As an adult I feel like I’ve lost some of that passion… which saddens me. It was so raw and it gave me seed to live. But I’d had to tone it down and control it- because it was making me emotionally all over the place- too deeply affected by things. It caused problems in my relationships- which took a lot of self-work to realize. but my drive to work, to live artfully was so strong… I like that part of myself.
So I love that she let emotion- love- rule her characters actions, especially Bella’s- its a good reminder for adults who read it. I love a traditional book about powerful love. Although sometimes I’m not sure I believe in it myself… These days its underrated.