Sunday, August 03, 2008

Something Serious

I have been thinking about something for the last 24 hours or so, and I'm feeling the need to address it. Blogs are, after all, the place to talk about deep, meaningful personal issues, am I right? And as someone that is consumed by deep, meaningful personal issues*, it was inevitable that this topic would come up eventually.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm talking about Twilight. Maybe it's not so deep and meaningful, but let me tell a quick anecdote and explain why I'm bothering to write about it. When I was in first grade, I had a book about whales (I loved whales...I still love whales. Whales!) and I knew from my book that killer whales are really Orca whales. One day a boy was calling them killer whales and, being the insufferable know-it-all that I am, I corrected him. He didn't believe me. I corrected him again. It went back and forth, and neither of us ever budged. But I was right! So...I'm going to get into my thoughts on Twilight because I don't want anyone to have the wrong impression or have the wrong idea of what I think about it. I don't like being misinterpreted and I really don't like knowing that I'm giving off the wrong impression and being misinterpreted. OK. Let's clear this up.

We'll start at the beginning. I read a translator's brief review of it, very soon after the first book came out. He called it "vicarious" and that stuck in my head. So I didn't read it, until October 2006 (Saturday of General Conference, to be precise). I read Twilight that day, and I read New Moon a week later or something. And I read Eclipse when it came out. I liked them well enough--they're entertaining, they suck you in and it's easy to get totally absorbed while you're reading them. But! I also think they're seriously flawed--the writing, the structure, the plots, the characters. I could go on for a very long time about all my scruples over these books, but I ignored them or laughed about it because whatever, they're fun.

I reread Twilight last September after a friend gave it to me when I moved to Indiana. It was still fun (I do really enjoy the first half of Twilight because it's all new and for some reason, I really like reading about Bella doing homework and making dinner for Charlie). Life went March of this year a friend read New Moon and I decided to read that one again. And happened.

Halfway through New Moon...Jacob broke my brain. I was reading it and suddenly I thought "This book is awesome!" It was as flawed as ever, and I knew it but for some reason I didn't care and was suddenly all caught up in the teen angst of it all. And it was all Jacob's fault. And basically the rest is history. I read Eclipse. And then I read all of them again. And then I started checking MTV every week for Twilight Tuesday. And then, of course, the Twilarts started showing up.

So, basically, the point is this: I enjoy the Twilight books, I do. Do I think they're really good? No. Do I think they deserve all the fanfare and rabid fans? No. Do I think the fact that Stephenie Meyer is Mormon makes them appropriate for all ages? No. And if I had daughters, I would think very very carefully about them reading the books because I take issue with a lot of plot elements. Also, I hate imprinting with all my ability to hate. But you know, I like eating good food but sometimes you'll still catch me buying a three pound bag of gummi bears. And dang it, I love the Jacob/Bella kiss at the end of Eclipse. That is a bag of killer gummi bears right there.

So on Friday night I got with some buddies and we were excited for Breaking Dawn. I like being excited, and I like being excited about the same thing with groups of people.

I have a lot of thoughts about Breaking Dawn, but I can't post them yet because certain readers haven't read it yet. And even though she they would like to know all the details, I'm no spoiler! Anyway. I just wanted to clear the air.

Oh, I will say this about reading Breaking Dawn--the whole time I was thinking "I want to read Deathly Hallows." (One day I will have to blog about how I hate hearing Harry Potter and Twilight compared.) Speaking of Harry, one day I will have to tell about my long road to Harry Potter love because it was actually a pretty similar process to Twilight. And Star Wars this a pattern? Hmm.

And if any of you had the fortitude to read all of these, well...I will give you something. I don't know what, but um, you can have it.



  1. I hope you didn't read my blog review of Twilight and take it personally! It really is a cry for help understanding the fanaticism about those books. I can understand women enjoying them, but I don't understand the fanaticism.

    I love your analogy to the gummi bears.

    The books are definitely vicarious, but that's the whole point of books. I think most women who read Twilight enjoy vicariously meeting and falling in love with Edward and/or Jacob, just as I love reading The Wheel of Time and vicariously enjoying Rand, Mat and Perrin's adventures. There's nothing wrong with the vicarious nature of books, that's one of the purposes of fiction.

    I'm glad it annoys you as much as it does me to hear Twilight compared to Harry Potter. I was so irritated I actually looked up sales numbers and was comforted that Twilight is no where near selling like Harry Potter, even though I've heard claims that it has sold better. I think Harry Potter will be known long after Twilight is forgotten.

    Speaking of Harry Potter, did you know you were quite instrumental in turning me on to the series? You and the rest of our mutual church youth friends. I thought it was going to be the stupidest book ever, some stupid kid with glasses riding a broomstick and casting spells, and I mostly read it because I knew I'd end up seeing the movie with some of you guys. I ended up reading all four books that were out at the time in one month, just in time for the movie. Until then I'd been strictly hard-sci-fi, anti fantasy, but Harry Potter opened the floodgate. I then started reading Orson Scott Card's fantasy (such as Enchantment, which was great), then I read.... The Lord of the Rings.

    There you have it. I have no idea if you knew, but you and your friends opened up the whole fantasy genre to me, including Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, so here's a decade later thank you. That's also why I read Twilight, hoping for the same experience, and unfortunately it didn't happen. It was the HP comparisons that really set me off to write such a lengthy post about it. I hope you read or have read it, and give me good feedback (though your blog post is good insight).

    Oh, right, you also introduced me to Tombstone and The Fifth Element and I think some others. Also Horatio Hornblower and Pride and Prejudice, but I didn't enjoy those, but I gave them a shot. Oh, well...

    Ok, I'm done now.

  2. Wow, a girl who isn't positively gushing about these books!!! I read them too, and didn't love them for the exact reasons you listed early on in your post (writing, style, story, etc.). I plan on reading BD eventually, but personally, I'm in the middle of Deathly Hallows again, and I hate to start another book when I'm in the middle of one.

    And Twilight is NO Harry Potter. That bugs me to no end too. They are completely different in style, tone and morality. The only comparison is perhaps the hype and popularity (although Twilight hardly deserves the phenomenon status it's always given).

    I can't wait to hear your HP journey, probably similar to mine... I fought the hype for a loooong time.

  3. So you know that part when Jacob turns into a vampire himself?? That was awesome!

    Come ON! I hate no spoilers!!! Although I did enjoy the shout-out.

    I'm glad that you understand exactly how I feel about Twilight and that whenever we're gushing, I don't have to explain every time just how much I actually hate the books.

    3 pounds of gummi bears is ALWAYS a good idea - do you think we each ate a pound?

  4. Wow Control, you've done it this time. Look at those comments! Now I'm going to add mine to the mix. You've heard most of this before, but I'm posting it out there for all of your readers to see.

    I'm actually surprised that guys are reading the Twilight books! Whenever I talk to guys about Twilight, I tell them not to read it. I usually tell them this as I am checking the book out to read it myself. Again. (For those of you who don't know, I promise I'm not a rabid fan. But I still read it. My praise for Ms. Meyer is that she can definitely draw you in, despite the errors.)

    Part of the reason why I tell guys not to read Twilight is because of a conversation I overheard in Borders. A girl asked the sales clerk for his honest opinion as to whether she should read Twilight or not:

    "Yes!" the sales clerk said, "In order to survive socially, you NEED to read this book!"

    He then turned to the girl's boyfriend and said, "I wouldn't read the book if I were you. I tried to read it, and I didn't understand it."

    Although I'm not a guy myself, I agree with Mr. Borders Sales Clerk Man. Although I can't really explain what I like about the story, I end up saying things like "the book draws me in emotionally," which I'm not really sure would appeal to guys. And I don't even like Edward OR Jacob! Maybe my view is wrong, but there it is.

    Now you may take issue with my opinions. While you argue, I'm going to go watch North and South so I can fall in love with Mr. Thornton all over again. Anyone's free to join me if they bring the treats. Do we still have some gummi bears left?

    Oh, one more thing: Control, Thanks for not including spoilers. I can't wait to see you again so I can borrow Breaking Dawn from you!

  5. Well put, Marcie. Although, to be honest, with all the well written chick books out there, it still surprises me that this series is so popular with women. I read it because I remembered my extreme resistance to Harry Potter, and this kind of felt like that all over again, so I chose to ignore that I was about to read a romance novel, and was only thinking vampires.

    It really does come down to the differences in male and female brains. Books are vicarious experiences, and women read these books because they enjoy vicariously falling for Edward or Jacob, and guys read (or watch) Fight Club because they feel trapped in their mundane lives and wish they had a Tyler Durden to blow up their apartment and force them to give up their worldly possessions to become truly free. Then they can put down the book and enjoy their possessions some more. It's a difference in the desired vicarious experience.

    I still don't understand why women read Twilight, though. It's truly awful! Read your Jane Austin or whatever, instead. Help me understand!

    Also, I'm not fond of gummi bears.

  6. I want something!
    Ok, I haven't finished Breaking Dawn yet, but I will.
    I'm glad that you have a realistic opinion of the Twilight series and I agree with you.
    It's funny how you compare them with HP because I saw a newspaper article just the other day (Harry's birthday) that said something like "Is Twilight the new Harry Potter?" I immediately thought "NY (No Way.. wait, that's NW.)" But I haven't finished Breaking Dawn and maybe there is something to consider about that still.

    What about The Host??? Did we ever discuss that? I can't remember.

    Thank you for no spoilers.
    I like North and South.
    I also like gummi bears.

  7. Professor: I had been thinking of posting on this topic for a few days...your blog just gave me extra motivation. :) And yeah, fiction is vicarious by nature, but Twilight I think is more blatantly vicarious. I don't know. And I didn't know I had a hand in getting you into the fantasy genre, but I'm glad I did because you know...Tolkien! I DID find a copy of a certain ward road show script the other day. Perhaps you remember it--"Parry Hotter"? Hee hee hee.

    Drew: I try to rise above typical girl behavior. OK, maybe not, but I do when it comes to Twilight. And we will definitely have to swap HP stories.

    Ferskner: You can't fool me with your attempts to get spoilers! I, however, can continue to give you fake ones. As for the gummi bears...I like to think we each ate a pound but I worry that I ate two.

    Marcue: I don't have a problem with guys reading Twilight just to see what the fuss is about, but it does weird me out when guys LIKE it. Why? Why???

    Dolcezza: I will give you something! Like...something? How do you feel about some something? And I haven't read the Host yet, but I finally borrowed a copy so...soon!

  8. Parry Hotter? Oh, embarrassing! I wish I'd had more time and better equipment to do that music right. Researching that music has the side effect of randomly I have "Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius!" pop into my head. Good stuff. Believe it or not, that road show survives on tape somewhere.... I probably shouldn't tell you this. You'll never make a Mormon out of me!

    Yeah, it was you and Orson Scott Card working at me from different angles that got me to give in to the fantasy genre. He doesn't know, either (though I did meet him a couple months ago, finally!). Yeah, you two make a hell of a team; I've been extremely open-minded since that.