I’ve done it myself…seen someone make a face when the Twilight movies or books are mentioned and then given them a look or even say, “I know, right?” like the whole series is the equivalent of a runny piece of cheesecake. You thought you wanted it but upon closer inspection you realized it wasn’t as good as it looked.
But why do we do this? Stephenie Meyer did the YA literary world a favor. She perpetrated a revival of Gothic literature and the Byronic hero. Rowling may have got kids reading again but Meyer created Beatle-mania about books.
No, her writing isn’t spectacular. Yes, one could drive Mac trucks through some of the plot holes (Alice’s LACK of vision in Eclipse, anyone?). Maybe Bella is a whiny, pasty, klutz. Perhaps sparkling vampires seem like the book equivalent of Bedazzling a bat. BUT – the voracious, possessive nature of the fans is compelling. The THING Meyer has done is make her readers feel like and (in some unhealthy cases) believe that IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME. Now, I realize sparkly vampires are not waiting in the wings to ravish all the Joanna Q. Publics in the world and brood at us with golden eyes and messily coiffed hair. That’s not what I mean.
‘Splain, please. I hear you cry.
In order to do so, I must tell you a quick story. My husband lost a bet. He lost a bet, and he had to read Twilight. He was ribbing me about being in love with Edward (who isn’t?!) and I told him if he lost our bet, he had to read Twilight. So…four books later (Yep haters, he kept reading after the first one!), we sat down to debrief. And this was what he said (insert exasperated tone), “I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?” To which I began to respond that Edward is the romantic, sensitive figure and Jacob is the rakish, adventurous figure, and blargh, blargh, blargh. He cut me off. “No! What’s the big deal about Bella?!” I was stunned. This had never occurred to me before. But, people, THAT’S IT!
Meyer created an EveryGirl in Bella. Most women have felt plain and clumsy and ignorable at some point in their lives and that’s what Bella exudes. My husband is exactly right, Bella is nothing special. But that’s why it works. We all would like to think that extraordinary things will happen to “little ol’ me” and that we could be loved by extraordinary partners. Meyer has managed to do what literature has been doing for readers for centuries. She made us see ourselves in her writing. And in doing so, she created yet another generation of voracious, possessive READERS.
For that, Ms. Meyer, I humbly thank you.