Monday, April 11, 2016

#ReRead Review: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight (Twilight #1)
Author: Stephenie Meyer 
Narrator: Ilyana Kadushin
Publication Date: October 5, 2005
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
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About three things I was absolutely positive.

First, Edward was a vampire.

Second, there was a part of him - and I didn't know how dominant that part might be - that thirsted for my blood.

And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

In the first book of the Twlilight Saga, internationally bestselling author Stephenie Meyer introduces Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, a pair of star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship ripens against the backdrop of small-town suspicion and a mysterious coven of vampires. This is a love story with bite.

I first read Twilight waaaay back in 2008 at the ripe old age of 20 as a buddy read with a coworker. Every day we'd come in to the hospital we worked at and rant and rave over Bella and whatever she had been up to since the previous day's conversation. It was quite honestly ridiculous, but oh so much fun! Sometimes I really miss having a friend (offline) to read with and discuss. (Not to say I'm not immensely thankful I have all of you lovelies!) Recently I've really, really wanted to re-read the series, but I've also been really scared to take the plunge for fear that I'd absolutely hate it after having read so many fantastic YA books in the last 8 years. When I was able to check out the audiobook from the library, I finally read it and I have mixed feelings.

Twilight is the story of Bella, new resident of Forks, Washington, where it apparently never stops raining. Bella has always hated Forks, the town where her dad lives and where she was born, but is determined to make the best out of her living arrangement now that she's back. Lucky for her, everyone in school is seemingly obsessed with Bella and wants to be her friend or her boyfriend. Everyone except Edward Cullen, the aloof and even rude classmate who doesn't even want to be in the same room with her... until he gets over himself and becomes even more obsessed with Bella than everyone else.

As you may have guessed by now, I did not love Twilight as much 8 years later and my main problem is the characters. First of all, Bella. One of the first notes I made regarding Bella was, "Is she mentally handicapped?? Why can't she walk?" Seriously. There is a difference between being clumsy and whatever Bella Swan is. She literally cannot seem to take ten steps without falling over. She can't participate in gym class because she'll hurt herself. SHE CANNOT PUT A SEAT BELT ON. If I was Bella's mother, I would have taken her to a doctor to be checked out. I'm also immensely curious why every single person in this book is obsessed with her. I mean, I'm sure she's a nice girl, but no one in the history of people has ever been that likable.

Next, there's Edward. After re-reading this book, I can absolutely draw the similarities between this and Fifty Shades. Edward is absolutely, unhealthily controlling of Bella. From the second he takes notice of her, Edward is totally consumed with making sure she's "safe," which apparently includes while she's sleeping. Honestly, how does he think she survived how ever many years of her life until the point he met her? Surely she is capable of basic day-to-day activities without his constant supervision. It's super creepy to watch the lengths that Edward goes to to keep an eye on Bella, even against her will. Which brings me to their actual relationship.

It isn't so much insta-love as insta-obsession. Unhealthy. I won't go to the extreme of calling Edward abusive, but there are certainly red flags all over the place. More than once, Bella thinks about how she's afraid of making him angry. She's afraid of his anger and his mood swings, not the fact that he is a vampire! What even?? In addition to his apparently constant PMS, Edward is also extremely controlling. He does not allow Bella to do anything he doesn't like. I mean, I'm married. I get doing things to make your spouse happy, but Bella seems to have basically relinquished every claim she has to herself by the middle of this book, instead allowing Edward to make all of her decisions for her. I do not understand how anyone (including my 20-year-old self) could read this relationship and think it's romantic. It's toxic.

All that being said, I do actually enjoy the story. I find this take on the vampire story to be really interesting and honestly refreshing. I like the thought of a coven of vampires coming together as a family and finding a new, non-harmful way to exist with the rest of humanity. I love them bringing a human into their fold and protecting her from other, less friendly vampires. I love the apparent rivalry between Jacob's people on the reservation and the Cullen family. I love the conflict that comes up towards the end. There isn't much to be said about the setting other than it's rainy.

All of this... this entire review is why I was scared to re-read Twilight. I enjoyed it so much 8 years ago and I didn't want to see any of it in a new, negative light. Still, I'm glad that I've been able to see how much I've changed as a person and as a reader since way back then. I enjoy the story so much!! I just wish Stephenie Meyer could have written the characters to be more realistic and less toxic. I will probably continue the series for the same reason that I read the first book, but now I guess I know what to expect.