Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review - The Twilight Saga

Original Titles: Twilight - New Moon - Eclipse - Breaking Dawn
Series: The Twilight Saga 
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: 2005 - 2008

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Before starting this, let me tell you that I didn’t read this saga recently. I did back when I was 17, 18 years-old (2009, 2010), but I didn’t write reviews back then. Now, I’m just having a couple of rough days, with a lot to do, bad mood, everything hurting, and overall, I’m one stupid question away from bursting like a bomb. And that means that I have the right to complain about whatever I want. I’ve always intended to take this saga and write my thoughts about it, but as, sadly, I have no praise to dedicate to it, what better way to do it than when I seriously need something to rant about? 

You will probably notice that I’m not the first one to mention certain things about this story, and God knows that I’m not the first one to criticize it, and complain about it. So, if you like the Twilight saga (books and/or movies), please, do not read what follows, because you are not going to be happy about it. Stop right now!

You have been warned.

First of all, I read the first book back when I was in high school, and I had never read something like this before. I had no idea this genre was called Paranormal Romance, and to be honest, the only romances I had ever read back then were the classics by the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen. And I had definitely never read anything about vampires. I only picked it up out of curiosity, because of all the fuss around it. All the girls in my school were in love with it, and I decided to give it a try. I do not recall all the little details in this saga, fortunately, but when I remember the taste it left, it’s not a good one. 

The very first annoying thing the Twilight saga has, of course, is its protagonist (don’t make me use the word heroine, please), Isabella Swan. She’s a 17 year-old-teen who is sent to live with a father she hates, in the saddest town ever, where it is always raining. I had never read a character like her, and I remember thinking “Am I supposed to like her?”. From page one, I knew she would be as annoying and unbearable as a stomach ache; her attitude, says it all. She doesn’t want to be there, she hates the house, her father, the town, and overall, her own life. Way to go, Bella. I understand that the author tried to make her relatable, to make her “like any other girl”, but ended up failing miserably. What lots and lots of authors do not realize is that it isn’t enough to give your protagonist brown eyes and hair (the most common type) for people to feel identified with her. Don’t get me wrong, I get that, at 16 and 17, most teenagers have low self-esteem and a negative image of themselves, but Bella is a whole case in herself. She beats herself up, telling us how clumsy, mediocre, insignificant and not at all remarkable she is; it is as if she somehow enjoys trampling over herself, and there was a point in which I was thinking, “Ok, you hate yourself, I get it. Next!”. But it isn’t just self-loathing what Bella feels. She hates EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. Her “friends” at school (I don’t think she likes them enough for that), her family… Even her own birthday! I mean, I understand when a person goes for the low-profile type of personality, but there’s a difference between that, and just being a plain idiot. Nothing is good enough for Bella Swan. All the other girls are stupid (and are stupidly portrayed). Literally, the only thing she likes is beyond human, and so amazingly beautiful and perfect, that even matches her expectations. *eye roll*

Which brings me to my second point. The vampires. Particularly Edward Cullen, the male protagonist. Oh, those good old days when vampires hated sunlight, lived in gloomy castles, bit necks, slept in caskets, and you could get rid of them wielding a powerful piece of garlic! But these guys seem like beauty pageant contestants. That’s their only merit, aside from their amount of cash. They are overwhelmingly beautiful, have tons of money, designer clothes, and a bunch of supernatural abilities, like mind-reading, super speed, etc. And believe me, it’s been years, and I still can’t figure out why, in the name of God, Edward fell in love with Bella. You’d think that a 107-year-old guy would have some common sense inside that granite skull of his. But no. Every possible interaction Bella and Edward have in the first book of the saga is filled with poorly written dialogue, and I got bored sick of how Bella described her body’s reaction every time some part of Edward’s touched her. Too many paragraphs describing the electricity that crawled up her arm when it accidentally brushed his, how she forgot how to breath… It gets tiring, and all I could think of was “what a waste of ink and paper.” First of all, girl, breathing is an involuntary body function, you literally don’t have to think for it to work. And second of all, where’s the conflict here, the fight to look forward to? My patience doesn’t last forever, and it wasn’t different back then. Add to this mix the whole "I love you but I'm too dangerous for you, please stay away" (cliche) plot point, when in fact, he's the one that watches her as she sleep, and her every step. He claims that if he loses control and actually drinks her blood, he would never forgive himself, and as he lives forever, that's a lot of time. But, still, all that distance he tries to keep fails because of his incredible stalking skills... And still, we are not talking about love here. I think that the author tried to reflect that irresistible pull to each other that normally is the first sign of chemistry in love stories, but this one in particular... I just don't buy it, and you'll see why.

If I was supposed to root for them, it didn’t work. Besides, there’s no fun in reading flawless characters like Edward. It’s not me saying it, and I quote: “He was too perfect, I realized with a piercing stab of despair. There was no way this godlike creature could be meant for me.” After all, it’s not so difficult to love someone who has beauty, color-changing eyes, tons of money, five cars, brains (sort of), and treats you well (sort of, again), and says what he really wants is to drink your sweet, sweet blood. Alright. 

My point is that never, ever, in my entire life, I have witnessed such a flawless guy falling for some little, no-personality, annoying human being. Bella, according to herself, is completely lacking of the abilities, the talents, and the physical beauty that would make her noticeable, but still, without even making the effort, circumstances align for her to be absolutely irresistible to this guy who is the embodiment of perfection, and who, otherwise, would have never liked her, or even noticed her. What are the odds? She does nothing, but he falls head over heels for her, for literally no reason. I mean, Bella herself doesn't understand why such a man loves her, but we, as readers, don't do either! He clearly sees she's different from other girls, but the difference seems only to be that she doesn't like to gossip about boys, buy prom dresses and be happy about her birthday, like an average girl, although the intention is to read her as such. And the worst part is that every girl out there read about Edward swooning, believing that was the attitude to have, because it was possible to find such a man out there, that would become fascinated by them overnight, and I was baffled. How could they want someone like him? I mean, besides that sparkling vampire isn’t my type, Edward is a control-freak, he’s is constantly following her, watching what she does, who she sees, and doesn’t trust her. That is not love. That’s being a stalker. And my question is, are being godly handsome and rich reasons enough to accept this kind of relationship? Come on! The only thing I like about him is that he plays the piano, and I like musicians. That’s all.

Oh, and the whole mind reading power Edward has is supposed to make him special, even among vampires, but it is nothing but creepy, because his curiosity for Bella comes from the fact that he can’t read her mind, that it is impossible for him to decipher her thoughts. So, Edward’s interest starts because he can’t invade her privacy? It isn’t enough for him to sneak into her room as she sleeps and stare, or watch her from afar every time he has a chance? He has to read her mind too? Not that there’s too much in there to read, of course. And Bella, honey, stop being so surprised. If you believe yourself to be so clumsy, and ugly, and you get pissed off by literally every person out there, you don’t need a hot, supernatural boyfriend. You need therapy.

I’ll leave tons of things out (like the heroic rescue, and the prom night, ugh), and I’ll jump right into New Moon

Bella still hates her own birthday, and her major concern is that, as Edward is stuck at 17, she will turn 18 and be older than him. This made me want to throw the book at the wall. Bella, he’s already older for no less than a freaking century! If he didn’t grow physically in that time, I really hope he did mentally. Besides, how much do you think your aspect can change in one, single year? But let's not waste time with trifles. The main bad plot in this book is that Edward gets all brooding, and suddenly abandons her “for her safety”, telling her that her life will be as he had never existed. This is where we get to probably the worst possible thing that could ever be written. A burning, painful hole appears in Bella’s chest, and she goes practically comatose. For months. Literally, because there’s a few pages that only have months in them. All those that go by as Bella stares into nothingness, absorbed by her pain.

*Deep breath at the growing rage*

I don’t see any of this as something someone who loves you could do. But besides that, the attitude? Seriously? It isn’t for the sake of comparison, but, if you take a look at other YA heroines, none of them has such behavior, and, that I recall, all of them have a guy they love, but they do not let them take the center of their lives nor they depend on him for it to have meaning. I mean, they love them, yes, but all of them have lives and reasons to fight, aside from being someone’s girlfriend. Look at Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior and Annabeth Chase. They have their loves, but they keep fighting to the very end, with everything they have, and do not let the guys take control of their lives or their decisions. They fight their own battles and don’t need anyone to fight for them, unlike Bella, the permanent damsel in distress that needs to be rescued at every turn by a knight in shining armor. They are plenty of better role models for teens than Bella Swan, who lets her life slip into a worthless mush of staring into the distance, unable to react, and putting herself in danger (multiple times) just to hear Edward’s voice, which isn’t even real, but a product of her imagination. Jumping off a cliff? Come on! What kind of example is that? Act stupid and your boyfriend will return? Abandon everything and everyone (that you already said you hated), just because a guy dumped you? You can only be and have a life with a man’s validation, that you are absolutely nothing if he isn’t around? Again, girl, consider therapy. Or get a hobby. Please. If the author was trying to reflect some sort of love with this… No. Just no. 

But she gets the consolation prize, befriending Jacob Black, who has nothing else but chiseled abs, and a zinger or two here and there. Oh, and he’s a werewolf. Seems like stupid girls are a magnet for supernatural beings. And don’t make me start on those posh Vulturi vampires, although they are the closest thing to a real vampire (in a manner of speaking – at least, they drink human blood). Let’s move on to Eclipse

If I thought the story couldn’t be worse, this book just did it. Now, you may be thinking, why did she kept reading if she hated the story? To be honest, backstories were the most interesting part for me. The Cullens, before turning into sparkly, living granite statues, had lives, and that was the most interesting point to me, like Rosalie’s story, or Jasper’s. But if you are a reader, you will understand that sagas are sagas, and if you get to the third book, you already are far too deep down the rabbit hole. You need closure. 

But let’s get to it, shall we? After the “hinting” (yes, that was sarcasm) of the love triangle in the previous book, she saved her boyfriend in Italy, everyone came home and lived happily ev… Wait. No. Not like that. There’s still a bunch of supernatural creatures trying to kill Bella, and other two trying to win her over. This is where I get confused, and I’m gonna quote the authoress Jenna Moreci on this one: “love triangles are the dumbest thing in the history of dumb things.” Not only that, but it is also so poorly written, that it gets supremely annoying! I understood the metaphor of fire and ice, how Jacob and Edward are so different, but still… It’s Bella Swan. Still the same weak, hateable girl who despises everything asides her sparkling boyfriend and his special family. And it’s not enough that she has one guy in love with her, that she gets two who want to fight for her? How can anyone be like she is, and still be loved by two men? And they are both immortal! Who, please, someone answer me, in their sanity, could decide or want to spend no less than eternity with a girl like her? 

Through some sort of epiphany, Bella discovers that she’s in love with both of them. *Eye roll so big that I may go blind*. But even so, she and Edward get engaged to be married, diamond ring and everything! Come on! I still don’t see any love in this, because I haven’t seen the blood, sweat and tears! Especially the blood! They are vampires, for God’s sake! They take this big step, and still, there’s no character development, whatsoever. Unless you want to call that to Bella getting horny over Edward and trying to sleep with him as the last thing she wants to experience as a human before being turned into a vampire. Edward tries to bring her to her senses, basically stopping her hands when she tries to get him out of his clothes, and proposing. He’s still the abusive, control-freak, father-like boyfriend, watching her every move, telling that she can’t protect herself, not letting her see Jacob (even ruining her car so she can't go see him), who, by the way, kisses her against her will. But still, her dependence of men gets to a whole new level in this book. I recall only one mention of Bella mildly saying that she wants to study, and go to college. But then again, only one. There’s not another hinting of her desire to forge her own future, in addition of being with Edward, ever again. She has no passion for any topic, and wants nothing but her toxic relationship, because it “makes her whole”. In this aspect, Leah Clearwater, even being a secondary character (and not very well written, that is), is a lot better than her, given that she’s a werewolf too, but instead, she does want to make her life count, go to college, study, and overall, have a future, in despite of her immortality.

Oh, and the imprimation thing! Don’t even get me started. That could have been romantic, but, for me, only went down as dumb. All us girls have to do is to wait for some guy to instantly get fascinated with us and become anything we need, because it's destiny, and we have no say in the matter, he will always be there... Ugh, no. And it gets so much worse in the next book! 

In Breaking Dawn, the damsel in distress, still in love with the werewolf, finally walks down the aisle to meet her knight, in a fancy dress and a luxurious wedding she doesn’t like in the first place (shocking! - just add it to the list), more worried about what people will say about her marrying so young than her happiness for being with the man of her dreams, and then, they go to their honeymoon to their own private island. Because everyone has a private island, and can buy expensive cars to give to their girlfriends, it is so relatable! The sparkling vampire can’t expose himself to the sun, he tried to die doing that very thing, but takes his wife to the sunniest place on Earth… Right. Ok. Moving on. So, she loves him so badly, that lets him leave her all beaten up and bruised after their nights together, and if the relationship wasn’t abusive enough, they seem to like this moments of “love”. 

Now, when she gets pregnant, comes the only silver lining of the entire series. I’m not saying that I liked the fact that a man who is practically… I’d say “dead”, but it wouldn’t be right; but then again, he’s isn’t alive in the first place, isn’t he? Anyway, he manages to father a child, we never know why, and when Bella realizes she’s going to have a baby, Edward’s immediate reaction is to take her to get rid of it. Your child, Edward! You are the father! I can’t believe I have to say this, but he was the first one ready to make Bella abort the baby, and for once, Bella does something right. She refers to her baby as a necessity, and refuses to get rid of it, because they are both responsible for it. But that’s where it ends. After it, it gets genuinely disgusting. The baby starts sucking the life out of her, and the only way for them to save her is to make her drink blood, because the baby is half a vampire. So, the girl who used to faint in Biology class at the sight of a little blood, now is willing to drink tons and tons of blood, and she likes it! Come on! Is that supposed to be character development? But it only gets worse. Bella goes to labor, and everything not only gets more disgusting, but terribly disturbing. Her spine and other bones loudly break into pieces, she throws up tons of blood, screaming… There’s a reason why I remember that scene better than the rest of the book, and not because I want to. Ugh.

But if there’s anything worse than the whole unhealthy, vampire pregnancy plot, is the whole part of the book narrated by Jacob. I’m not delving into that. There’s no way you can make me. He’s not smart, he doesn’t have any plan for his life apart from complaining about his little pack drama, and moping over the fact that Bella would be safer with him, and all the “what could have happened” sort of thing, if Bella had chosen the hairy one instead of the sparkling one. And of course, the imprinting thing! I already said it was dumb, but it gets almost-pedophile, because Jacob imprints on Bella and Edward’s child! This is the author’s way to explain it all. Why the love triangle, and why Jacob’s obsession: because he was destined to imprint Bella’s daughter. And that’s supposed to be… what? Romantic? Ugh. Nop. No. Just no. 

When Bella gets turned into a vampire, only then she feels she can shine, and count, and be someone. And it really bothered me. So, if you are human, you have zero value? You need to be beyond human to be worthy of something? She’s as insufferable as a vampire as she is as human. Her maternal feelings are the only redeemable thing that can be read around those pages in which she goes from sick and broken pregnant teen to strikingly beautiful, blood-sucker vampire. And not even the transformation brings some development. *if I keep rolling my eyes it may get permanent*

I’m all for happy endings, but I don’t think that was the way to do it. Then, there’s the final showdown (sarcasm, again). The Vulturi are ready to come and kill Reneesme –and everyone in their way–, if not because she was a vampire child, because of that stupid name, though they may very well kill Bella for choosing it, and they would have my support. They come, all tall, hooded and scary, after the Cullens got an entire army of vampires and werewolves on their side, and here is where I get a few points to discuss. First, the good vampires. All of them hinted an interesting story, like the ones from Ireland and Egypt –like Benjamin and his elemental powers–, but there was no delving into their stories, and, as I said before, I like backstories. But no, there were only a few moments of them helping Bella to train her newfound power (shield! *gasp*), and little more. We get all those training scenes, expecting an epic fight, and at the end, the Vulturi practically turn back with a flourishing of their cloaks, and go back to Italy, just like that, because there’s no fight! NO-FREAKING-FIGHT. Alice comes back from South America with a young, half vampire, half human guy, who tells his story and just says how old he was when he stopped aging, and that’s it! Literally, NOTHING happens. And you can’t just build all that anticipation, bringing all those characters, and then play your readers like that! You just don't do that. No. It was boring, and disappointing. It was the only thing that could have, at least, given some bonus points to the story.

Oh, and Meyer, quick advice. You said that the half vampire guy was descendant of the mapuches. I am from Argentina, the exact country where the mapuches lived, and you could have said so without just mentioning South America. Don’t take this the wrong way, but Americans have absolutely no idea where my country is, I’ve had to explain it hundreds of times, maps included, and I’ve even been told that, when I mentioned it, they immediately opened a new tab just to google it. I’m not saying that this happens all the time, but nine times out of ten? Yes. The mapuches where the natives of the land in the Southern areas of the country, more specifically, the Patagonia, a land of forests, mountains, lakes and snow. Being from Argentina, I get offended when authors and filmmakers dismiss us just as South America, because stereotypes are preferred over an actual research. But, after all, in Breaking Dawn, there’s no deepening on anything, so why would it be in such a “trifle” thing?

Oh, this feels much better. Ranting is fun! In short, I just want to add that this saga sucks in so many levels, it is impossible to cover them all. I really hate to say bad things about books, but when they practically ask for it, giving me the green light to unleash my fury, how can I resist? I’m sorry that some people out there have this idea of romance. Bella and Edward do fall in love, I still don’t get why, but you’d think that love would change them, making them better, getting the best of them to the surface, and making them fight for their love. I may never have been in love, but I know one thing: this isn’t the way it is. Love is patient, and creates beauty. It makes you stay by your love’s side when they need you the most, you support them in their interests, projects and passions, and it isn’t a guarantee that you will have a perfect life, but at least, you will be willing to spend it with someone who truly cares for you and accepts you just the way you are, flaws and virtues. You grow. You get better. You FIGHT for your love. But, sadly, in Bella and Edward’s case, one of them is all perfection and the other, all flaws; there’s no balance, no reason to root for them, and no explanation for the fact that a completely flawed person gets the love of two people who vie over her. At the end, Bella gets the perfect life: her husband, her child, her family, but no personal development whatsoever. She never had any plans besides that, and that’s not the role model any girl should have. After all, you may not get the perfect guy (because no one is perfect, and much less, that perfect), but that’s not a reason to stop! You have your heart, your head, your passion and your fire to set you forward, towards any goal you have in mind. You can be anything you want, and I firmly believe that impossible is a word for those who have no passion or are too comfortable whining and feeling sorry for themselves. After all, I’ve seen skateboarders with no legs, deaf ballerinas and musicians, painters with no hands or feet, and hundreds of other people ready to make their lives count with no need to go comatose, and their problems were a lot bigger than just being dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend!

What I get from all this is “don’t be a Bella Swan.” Have a life, forge your future, fuel your fire, pursue your passions, fight for your beliefs! And with this, I’m not telling you “don’t get a boyfriend, don’t get married”, because everyone has a different opinion on those topics. I’m not opening that can of worms. Just, don’t do either of those things the Bella way. She’s pathetic. You aren’t. And if you are looking for a lot better YA female leads that know how to punch back, fight like hell and prove their worth all on their own –no sick love triangles needed–, there’s tons of books and sagas out there for you: try Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Percy Jackson. Those are the ones I’ve read and know, at least. And I’ve been told that the Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare, is good too, but I can’t tell for sure because I haven’t read it. 

Thanks for stopping by and read! I know I haven’t been very active since my last post. I’ve been very sick, and overwhelmed by exams and assignments, with little time to read. But you’ll get a new review soon enough! Feel free to comment, I want to know you, guys, my dear followers, and all those ghost readers that I know, are out there. I promise my next posts won’t be like this one, unless the book is so bad that practically begs me to do it. 

‘till next time!


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