Rereading 'The Twilight Saga' | A Reading Challenge
Alright, so I will admit that I loved Twilight when I was in Elementary School, enough so that I read the entire series about five times and even went to the extended pre-screening of Eclipse. I haven't read it since though so I have no idea if it still stands, but that is exactly why I am doing this reading challenge. Maybe I will like it for nostalgia's sake, or maybe it will be too creepy and bland now.
Now, before I get into any details, I will say that this is NOT a complete review of the entire series, as I will not be reading the novellas or Midnight Sun (for the sake of my own sanity). Also, because this is Twilight were are talking about here, and most people have read it themselves, I am not going to make a separate spoiler section, so the entire review is going to contain spoilers.
Finally, I am first going to go over my thoughts on the series as a whole, before delving into each individual book. You might want to get cozy for this because there is a lot to talk about, and I mean a lot.
Let's get into it!
THE TWILIGHT SAGA
Young me clearly had a way better time reading this, because reading this was like talking a casual stroll through hell. I honestly cannot fully believe that I actually took the time to re-read these books when my TBR is over 1500 books long...but here we are.
Re-reading this goes to show how much my reading tastes have changed. Or maybe not that my tastes have changed per se, it is just that my tolerance for characters has dramatically decreased. And that is partially what became my biggest issue with this series - Bella and Edward (and Jacob) were horrible characters. This series is fundamentally a bland and flavourless romance story featuring main characters who were terrible as individuals and worse as a couple.
It kind of blew my mind how annoying I found them, though it isn't surprising because I find most characters annoying now... Their relationship is also borderline unhealthy. Actually, that is a lie, it is unhealthy, and you will see why when I break down the books. It is kind of funny in hindsight though, how everyone was obsessed with being either team Edward or team Jacob, but both of them are horrible.
Back on track though, Bella is not main character worthy at all, and she falls prey to a very hated trope; a plain and boring girl who everyone loves for some reason and ends up becoming super special. Edward isn't any better either because he is most definitely not someone I would want to be in a relationship with. Broodiness aside, he has mood swings, is easily angered and is controlling as well.
Even the side characters weren't very good either. Jasper and Emmett were okay because they were interesting and had likable personalities. Charlie was great, except for one small moment, and he deserved way better than what he got because of Bella. Bella's friends, however few they appear in this series, are reduced down to either providing girl hate or being obsessed with Bella.
This is very much so an empty head kind of read, but not even in a good way. Reading it now though is odd because you subconsciously picture the movie actors who were too old for the role. In my mind, I picture Douglas Booth as Edward (or even Morpheus from The Sandman cause he is peak Edwards vibes) and Hailee Steinfeld as Bella.
Out of all of the books in this series, this one is probably the best. However, that does not mean that this was quality content by any definition of the word. The story was decent but the romance wasn't...and the romance takes centre stage so that provided a bit of an issue. Honestly, the best thing about the book is the opening prologue, which was worded well.
Let's jump straight into Edward's character, because how could we ever forget that Edward tried to gaslight Bella. I get that you are required to keep your vampirism a secret, but that was not the way to do it. Despite this though, she still says that she feels safe with him. This is on top of him essentially stalking her and constantly turning his temper against her, which at many points in the series made her cautious. She fully stated, though I forgot in which novel, that she had to be careful how she dealt with him because of that. He is a walking red flag that she is just too lovestruck to notice. She was even flattered when he told her he would watch her at night because that is the right reaction to have to that.
As for Bella, again, right away there was something off about her character. She often describes herself as plain and boring but, low and behold, everyone ends up infatuated with her as soon as they see her. This was written a while ago now when that was more common, but it still makes for a flat character. If she was only plain and boring though that would have been fine but, sadly she wasn't. Instead, her personality included lying all the time, whining when she found it necessary and clapping back at people unnecessarily. thus catapulting her character from uninteresting to annoying.
More on the romance, they knew each other for about a week before they were anxious to see each other all the time. At this point, she also already has said that she was 'unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him'. A week wasn't even really a week either because he avoided her for most of the time too. By the end of the book, Bella is so assured of her love for Edward that she is already dead set on becoming a vampire. I don't know how quickly you decide your entire future with someone, let alone an eternity, but that seems a little fast. Not once did she also think of anyone but herself in that situation, and I feel bad for her family.
I also don't quite understand how not one single person thought that the Cullens were strange, aside from their familial situation. First of all, their eye colours change between two drastically different colours. Second of all, one of those colours is gold...which isn't an eye colour humans have, but nobody thought twice about it. Speaking of the Cullens, I also would like an explanation as to why the sparkles. Sure it has been ridiculed to hell and back because it was just straight-up ridiculous, but I don't get how Meyer thought that a human disco ball was more interesting than spontaneous not-so-human combustion.
Also, there is the lack of fangs, which is a non-negotiable thing to have when it comes to vampires in my mind. Not only just because it is cooler looking, but it makes more sense. First of all, biting someone with your entire upper set of teeth just makes for a way bigger wound than needed. Second of all, it isn't subtle at all for those who feed on humans because it either kills them or turns them.
Still on the Cullens, I don't quite get their solution to dealing with James. Sure they dealt with him quickly, but only because they made the mistake of splitting up and Bella running out on her own. Even Jasper agreed to the plan, even though he should have been able to strategize better considering his past.
Let's talk about the Quileutes and Indigenous representation in this novel, and series as a whole. I don't know much about this subject matter, but I know enough to realize that this series not only portrayed harmful stereotypes, but it also did so without communicating with the very real community themselves.
Moving onto another issue that popped up, though it was only one single line (but it was a bad line). Bella is clumsy, we know that and she knows that. Clumsy enough too that it is like being almost disabled apparently because that is exactly how it was worded in the novel. That was just insensitive on so many levels that I am surprised that the editor allowed for that to be in there.
Twilight wasn't bad. It wasn't good but I wasn't hating myself yet either. New Moon though...that is where the regret really set in because this was an absolute dumpster fire of a book. Pretty much the entire book, except for the introduction of the wolves and the Volturi, could have just not happened. Really, the book should have just not happened in general rather than making me sit through over 600 pages of nothing.
We start off the book with Bella still obsessing over being turned. That is annoying enough but she is so focused on herself that she thinks her choice is the only thing that matters, even though the Cullens would have to go against the morals to turn her. She also has no clue what it would be like to be a vampire (though that is partially on the Cullens for not telling her). She is romanticizing immortality because of her weird aversion to growing physically older than Edward.
After all the drama that is her birthday party, we are now heading straight for boring, and probably offensive, territory. So much for forever because Edward ditches Bella, in the middle of a forest no less, when the going got hard.
What happens afterward is a 4-month time skip, courtesy of blank chapters with only the month as a title. Even after this skip, she acted like a hollow shell. Now, I don't know much about depression, or breakups, but is this what happens? Possibly yes, I am sure many people felt the way she did after something earth-shattering happened. The issue here though is that it did nothing for the story because, as I said, nothing was happening. Her dad had to watch her spiral and refuse therapy and a change of scenery.
This was made worse when what got Bella out of her depression was a phantom Edward that would show up when she is being reckless. First of all, I don't know why the author decided to go in this direction. Second of all, reckless Bella wasn't great to read about. Overall, her character had no positive growth at all because, depressive episode aside, she was still the same impatient, angry and habitually lying girl.
Moving on from Bella, but not too far, we have Jacob. Oh boy did he present a new issue. He kept pushing, and pushing, for Bella's love. In the beginning, when she first said she wasn't interested in him like that (because she was fully in a relationship), he said it was fine as long as he was her best friend. But nope, that mentality didn't last long because he kept trying to wiggle his way in between her and Edward. I also wish she did give him a firm answer instead of just letting him act the way he did. She fully said at one point that she 'wasn't dating Jacob in the technical sense of the word'.
pointOne thing the series doesn't do well, that I haven't mentioned yet, is the whole 'soulmate' thing. Aro describes Bella as being Edwards 'la tua cantante', which I guess is the vampire equivalent of soulmates. However, this is barely delved into so it doesn't feel like they are soulmates, just two people thrown into a whirlwind romance. All it does is make their obsession with each other come off worse too.
As for the writing, there were some weird lines of dialogue. Bella saying that Quil and Embry were weird names, even though they are Indigenous. Her also remarking that Leah was beautiful in an exotic way which, again, she is Indigenous. The author also uses adjectives that make Bella seem even more unlikable because she speaks impatiently.
A Goodreads reviewer summed up Bella perfectly with this image, and I thought it was hilarious.
Credit to Creators
New Moon was an absolute dumpster fire, but we are now past that (thankfully). The Cullens are now back in town, and the 'romance of the century' continues, to my dismay.
Right off the bat, something happened that I found hilarious. Charlie said to Bella that she was amazingly non-whiney for a teenager...because she hasn't spent the last two books being moody. That was only one of his few slips in this series though because even he realized that Bella's dependence on Edward was unhealthy. Honestly, I just feel bad for the poor guy, because Bella doesn't understand where his concern is coming from, even though she has disappeared three times now. She also said that Charlie didn't deserve Edward being polite to her which...no.
We have Bella, yet again, defending Edward's less-than-healthy romantic disposition. She said that it's not that he's unreasonable, he just doesn't understand. But that is exactly why he is unreasonable because he doesn't want to understand. He refused to let her go see Jacob and would stop her when she tried. Rosalie also said that she had a better track record of drinking human blood, that being none, than Edward which is concerning.
Bella, of course, is not better either herself. Her constant threat of moving out was just unfair to poor Charlie. There is also her whole dynamic with Jacob because they just can't draw a firm line. I also don't understand, to get Jacob off her back about turning, she didn't just tell him about the Volturi and their demand to have her turned. It would have made things a lot less unnecessarily dramatic. She also manipulated both Edward and Jacob in this which was...great. Not to mention, she tried to push Edward into having sex by saying that she deserved to have something from him if he was asking her to marry him.
Then we have Jacob, who is relentless and not in a good way. Bella is in a committed relationship, but does that matter to him, apparently not. He does not stop trying to get in between them, to the point of him being proud that he forcefully kissed her. That is also the one bad moment with Charlie because he praised Jacob for taking his shot even though he forced himself on his daughter... And he kept pushing with the excuse that she was indeed in love with him which just makes him sound like an obsessive stalker.
One recurring issue I have found with the series was its lack of resolution. Whenever Edward and Bella or Bella and Jacob fought, which was a lot, they would suddenly go from fighting to everything being fine, without a proper apology.
We also have the proper introduction of imprinting in this book. On the one hand, it is a more fleshed-out concept compared to whatever it is vampires have in terms of soulmates. While the concept was explained more, let's say iffy details, needed more explanation. I am talking in regards to the whole imprinting on a child thing. Jacob describes it as being platonic as you assume the role they need until they are of age which...is creepy, it's creepy. It is not made clear whether or not the relationship remains platonic and just jumps straight from familial to romantic. It is also worded very hetero.
With the first big fight scene, not including the one against James, and with that comes more questions regarding vampirism. It makes no sense, zero, that they are depicted as essentially marble statues. How on earth are they functioning then? Like why do they then need to consume blood, and why do they not bleed when literally being torn apart? Also, what is it about the transition that makes their bodies turn from flesh to marble?
We have finally arrived at the last book, and so my suffering ends. We still have an entire rant to get through though, so let's get into it. Without even starting reading it was already rough because I had forgotten that I am going to have to sit through half a book worth of Jacob's perspective for some reason. Why that is a thing in this I honestly don't know. I did make my suffering less by skipping over the entire honeymoon because, well, I didn't care to read about it.
Like a lot of things in this series, I need an explanation behind how in the hell Bella got pregnant. He is a walking statue so at the least he should be impotent, but plot happened I guess. Because of this though, the story does end up touching upon a complicated area regarding pregnancy. Edward wants Bella to terminate the baby, but Bella wants to have the kid even with the risks. Carlisle, thankfully, understood that it was her choice and he wasn't going to force her against it.
Bella was at least tolerable in this book, mainly because she was in less of it because of Jacob's perspective. The downside to that though is we got more of Jacob instead which...nobody wanted. We had to suffer through his disgruntled thoughts, him trying to literally kill a baby and then imprinting on said baby which, again, is weird.
Plot hole found I think at least? So, Bella is discovered to be a shield that can stop other abilities from reaching her, or those she projects to. The issue here is that, while many characters were unable to do so, for some reason Alice is able to see her future, and Renesmee can use hers on her as well. Is that just a loophole in her ability or is this just a gaping plot hole? It also makes no sense that her ability was present while she was still a human instead of manifesting after she turned like every single other vampire.
Staying on the ability train, Bella also has perfect control which makes no sense other than to try and show how special she actually is (note the sarcasm here). This bleeds into something that bothered me throughout the entire series, that being that no one actually explained what being a newborn vampire was going to be like. Aside from the more physical aspects, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. This was kind of just written off though because of her illogical lack of bloodlust.
Yet another thing that doesn't make sense is Bella the mother. Understandably, Bella is young, so she probably wasn't thinking about kids at the time until she found herself suddenly pregnant. Still, though, I feel like she would be the last person who would be good with kids due to her awkwardness and clumsiness. There was also just no bonding between her and Renesmee to the point where they didn't feel like mother and daughter, which doesn't make sense.