kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

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Thoughts on the Twilight Saga

First, a confession: I have read the Twilight series (all 2400+ pages of it) more times than I care to admit. I'm into double digits. I know, I know: why keep rereading the same books when there are so many unread books in your TBR pile? Well, for one thing, the first time I read the books, I read them about 5-6 times through, and I lost 28 pounds in about 6 weeks. No lie. I call it the "Twilight Diet", and it has to do with a few things, I think:

1. I don't eat with a book in my hand, but I do drink tea. Or water. Which brings me to the next point:
2. The books talk about thirst a lot. So I drink more tea and water than usual. Also:
3. The books are all about the not having of things; it's all about not giving in to appetite. "I'd like to suck you dry, but I don't want to be a monster, so I'll go drink elk blood." That sort of thing. It's much easier to stick to a small serving of casserole when you've got Edward Cullen not-eating Bella for so many pages.

Interestingly, during my recent comfort reading spree (begun during the last push on Jane), I picked the Twilight books up again, and hey presto! lost 15 pounds during my obsessive reading. My friend Heather suggests that part of the weight loss comes from the way the books manage to nail the feeling of falling in love so well that they trick your brain into feeling that way, too - she claims that lots of people newly in love lose weight during that early euphoria. Whatever it is, I'm pleased with the results.

Second, another confession: The books (and movies) are kinda like crack, in that I find them strangely compelling and keep returning them - they have joined the ranks of my other comfort reads (books that I like to re-read because I know exactly what will happen in them - other books in this category are Austen's novels, Harry Potter, The Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig, and the Lord of the Rings). I think perhaps cleolinda said it best in her first Twilight summary post:

A lot of people are really passionate about these books. Some of them love and defend them passionately; others... well. I'm not going to defend them any more than I'm going to defend Twinkies--you go and get yourself a Twinkie when you have a very specific kind of craving SUGARRRRR!. If you want gourmet pastry, or even a homemade cake, you know where to get that. If you're eating a Twinkie, you clearly know what you want and why you're eating it, and you know that it's not good to eat very many of them, but... you know... sometimes you just want one. And then when you're done you read it all over again.

There's lots to love - and plenty not to love - in these books. I question many of the authorial choices and some of the subtext, most of which has been much more cleverly (and humorously) set out in Cleolinda's summaries, which make me laugh ridiculously hard every time I read them. Heck, on a day when I need a good laugh, it's one of the places I go. There or to YouTube to watch as Alex Reads Twilight. (P.S. about Alex: NERDFIGHTERS! Check out his John Green bobblehead!)

Things like how Bella is a satellite to the menfolk in her life, for instance, and has no real goal in life apart from being with Edward. And the whole suicide thing in the second book - not so much Bella's semi-suicidal behavior (catatonia! stranger danger! motorcycles! cliff jumping!), but Edward's - "I think that Bella's dead, therefore I must get dead too", which has a corresponding Bella descant of "At least if we fail in saving Edward from getting dead, we'll probably get dead too!" SO not cool. Kids: If someone you love dies, it is not a good reason to kill yourself. I'm just sayin'. And I have major issues with the Mary Sueness of much of the story, and I understand loving your characters and wanting them to be happy, but to let absolutely everyone off the hook for the decisions that are made (as is done with a particularly squicky choice in Breaking Dawn) isn't the way I prefer to see authors go about it - I'd rather see them make the hard choice and then have the characters live with it. There are nevertheless parts of each of the books, New Moon included, that I want to snuggle. It's okay if you disagree on any and all points, of course.

Third, a word about the movies: As is so often the case with screen adaptations, a lot gets left out. But some of what gets left out of these movies is on purpose. And some of what gets in is to leave a better message than what was in the book. For instance, in Eclipse Bella breaks her hand by punching Jacob in the face after he forcibly kisses her. In the book, the forcible kissing is way more protracted than in the movie, and far more disturbing - both as it occurs, and in the aftermath, when Charlie praises Jacob for having kissed Bella and laughs about her injury. In the movie, the kiss is less of a deal, and Charlie does not laugh or praise Jacob. Much better. [ETA: In the book, Bella is held prisoner by the Cullens rather than allow her to go to La Push to see Jacob; in the movie, not so much. Again, much less treatment of Bella as chattel - much better.]

But it's the conversation at the end of the movie version of Eclipse that I really want to talk about. If you haven't seen the movie, but intend to, then I don't want to wreck anything for you. You've been warned!

At the end of the Eclipse book, there's a sparkly meadow scene in which Edward offers to do things Bella's way (which means premarital sex is on the table (or in the meadow), and marriage is off it), only Bella insists on getting married first because - well, you either know this or you don't, and it doesn't really matter. What is really clear at the end of the Eclipse book is that Bella wants to be a vampire in order to spend eternity with Edward, but only after giving him exactly what he wants - a wedding. There are some other explanations in there that don't really jump out at the reader - what you leave with is "Bella wants Edward - the end."

At the end of the Eclipse movie, the sparkly meadow scene deprives us of the sexy rolling about/makeout scene that's in the book (woe!), but adds a conversation where Bella engages in literary analysis about the meaning of the Edward v. Jacob scenario. Kids paying attention to this scene ought to be well-prepared to write a term paper on this notion, since Bella patiently tells Edward that it was never about him v. Jacob. It was always about who she really is (the out-of-step girl who belongs in the vampire clan) v. who she should be (the girl who joins the wolf pack? no, the mortal girl who chooses what is seen as the more "normal" choice, if we ignore the fact that Jake can fursplode into a wolf at will). Edward says "So it's not just about me?" and she says no. This is a much better explanation and a somewhat healthier model than what the book presents, where Bella pretty much admits that everything in her world is about him.

One last thing for music lovers: The Eclipse soundtrack is made of awesome. I'm just saying. I especially love the first three tracks (Metric's "Eclipse (All Yours)", Muse's "Neutron Star Collision", The Bravery's "Ours"), Sia's ballad ("My Love"), the Beck & Bats for Lashes tune ("Let's Get Lost") and Band of Horses ("Life on Earth").

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Tags: books, meyer, movies

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