I read it. My friends loved it. Me, not so much…
I read romance novels, so don’t get me confused with someone who can’t handle squishy romance junk, because I love squishy romance junk. Love. However, there are a few things in the book that I just couldn’t get past. I wanted to. I’d love to enjoy the series along with all the other millions of readers. There is nothing that I love so much as the shared experience of loving and being a fan of something that has this strong of a following and community. I’ve attended my fair share of midnight shows for that very reason.
But for this one…. I just couldn’t get past a few things.
Here are my sticking points.
Premise 1: Bella has blood that Edward finds irresistible.
I hate this as a motivation. I hated it when Charlaine Harris did it with Sookie, and it’s just not any better this time around. I realize that it’s hard to make a vampire love story make sense. Why would a being so much older and wiser than a human teenage girl, one who views humans primarily as food, have any interest in hanging out with – let alone dating – someone so much stupider and lower on the food chain? So some authors use the, “Oh my God, I want to eat you so much I love you!” motivation.
Now, let’s think about that for a moment. Edward wants to drink her blood, which is also the same as being sexually attracted to her? I mean, I really like Subway – a lot (Especially the cookies. Subway cookies are the Best. Cookies. Ever.) but Subway is not a turn on.
Here. I have the perfect example. One day, I was running undergraduates through my experiment for my Master’s thesis, and a participant came in – I don’t remember what he looked like or really anything about him; he was an undergrad… who cares? As I was having him fill out a form, I noticed that he smelled just like Subway bread. That smell gets right into your pores and you smell like it for hours after visiting a Subway store – I think it’s part of their marketing campaign. He was my last subject, and I was starving but guess what? I totally didn’t want to make out with him – or even have a conversation with him, for that matter. I just really wanted a sub, and not to cuddle with it either, to eat it, because that’s what you do with a Subway sub.
I guess it’s possible that Edward has his desires confused a bit because she can talk to him. I mean, my tasty Subway sandwich isn’t sentient and I can’t have a conversation with it. So it’s possible that if my Subway sub started talking to me, I’d be all like, “I love you! Let’s run away and get married!” I would certainly have qualms about eating it after it started talking to me – if only because that sub could make me a zillionaire! So let’s say that I buy that Edward is completely confused between sustenance and sexuality (Sustenance and Sexuality, BTW, would totally be the name of the vampire romance that Jane Austen would write if she were a modern-day author, because everyone jumped on that bandwagon.)
Can we pause for a moment to ask ourselves how the sub would feel about the situation? He tells her that he desires her because her blood is irresistible…. As far as compliments go, that one sucks. Big time. How is she ok with that?
Premise 2: He watches her sleep and it’s romantic because he cares so much about her and is good-looking.
So I didn’t like this particular story point when Buffy and Angel did it, and it hasn’t improved with age, so let’s give a ‘what if’ for a second. She’s dazzled because he’s oh-so-hot and sparkly or whatever, BUT what if he weren’t? What if he and Quasimodo were close relatives and he had pimples or was a hipster? Would she still be ok with him sitting in her room watching her sleep? Are crazy stalkers ‘romantic’ as long as they’re hot and the heroine likes them? What about when she doesn’t like him anymore? Is it still romantic then, or is it just a creepy guy that wants to drink your blood staring at you while you sleep?
I would like to see a rewrite of this novel in which Bella is still irresistible to Edward, but she’s not instantly enamored of him, but rather the appropriate level of creeped out, and then see what happens. For my money, it’d be a much more interesting story.
Premise 3: Fluffly, sparkly, celibate heroes are as interesting to read about as blood-thirsty, murderous, promiscuous ones.
I’ve read a lot of vampire stories, and starting with Ann Rice there was a definite trend toward romanticizing the monster – giving way to the rise of the “dark hero”. Enter authors like Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon – many dark tortured dangerous heroes were created, met their soul mates, and found a measure of happiness, but then “paranormal romance” took a turn. Suddenly everyone was writing about vampire romance. Nora Roberts even jumped on that bandwagon.
And then came Twilight. Oh, Twilight. I get that she tried to do something different than some of the standard vampire fiction – mad props to that, but in doing so, she took a powerful, predatory creature and made him sappy, angsty, impotent, and sickeningly saccharine sweet… and sparkly.
This is probably a personal preference, but I like my heroes to be a little more dangerous and a lot less pathetic (James Bond, Jason Bourne, Eric Northman… Dexter). Edward is a total disappointment in that respect.
Vampires kill people and drink their blood. You can’t soften that. If you take out the killing, they’re just misanthropic super heroes (who don’t even fight crime) with eclectic beverage choices and a severe sunlight allergy.