I ramble incessantly about Doctor Who, books, David Tennant, and Harry Potter. It's a hell of a ride.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Breaking down Twilight: the book series that defines our generation?

Twilight: one of the most popular books of my generation; inspired hundreds of ripoffs full of Immortals, Fallen Angels, Vampires, Werewolves, Shape-shifters, and the like. Grew into an enormous fanbase full of shrieking twelve-through-twenty-year-old fangirls.

The first time I read Twilight, I was hooked. Like many others in my age group, I fell in love with Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and the drama that followed.

Now, however, I can hardly read the books without choking on the poop that is dripping off the pages.

...okay, maybe that's a little extreme. But it can't be denied that Stephenie Meyer's writing leaves something to be desired.

I often wonder, when I pick up my copy of the Twilight saga, what it was that drew me in, what has drawn in so many others. I remember what I always gushed about whenever discussing it with friends:

1. The romantic (read: freakishly stalkerish and controlling, possessive, dry, emotionless, really creepy) qualities of Edward Cullen.
2. How I could connect with Bella (oh yes, I could connect with the obsessive need for self-punishment.)
3. Jacob's sexy abs. (Okay, this one hasn't changed. Hot damn.)

When I first read the story, I was sucked into the emotions: falling for Edward along with Bella, shouting obscenities when he left her in New Moon, rooting for Jacob in Eclipse, and nomming pillows in Breaking Dawn.

But now, all I can see are the glaring errors and faults. Bella's a glutton for misery, and her favorite words are beautiful, topaz, and dazzling. Her heart seems to be able to perform superhuman feats, such as stopping randomly, beating so loud it is audible, and tapping out beats so complex they could be the drum track for a new pop song. And let us not forget her ever-present chagrin.

But Stephenie obviously had something. Because Twilight is a pop culture icon, the star of the show and (sadly) what my generation will likely be remembered for. Somewhere in the twisted fantasy of a grown-up woman's dreams about an eternally-seventeen-year-old sparkling sex god, there was a nugget of marketability.

But what is it?

A lot of people try to compare Twilight and Harry Potter, arguing over which is better. *coughHARRYPOTTERcough*

No, I kid (Well, I do think HP is better, but...). It's like trying to compare Titanic and The Blair Witch Project. One is a romantic drama. One is an freaky horror flick. Two completely different genres, two completely different subject matters.

Same goes for Harry Potter and Twilight. HP is focused on action, an epic adventure and truly a quest novel: hearkening back to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Lord of the Rings; and Star Wars.

Twilight is a romance, not as focused on moving forward a quest or epic; more focused on the growing lust (I refuse to call that relationship love) between two characters.

Elmore Leonard has 10 rules of writing. Let's see how many of these rules Twilight follows or breaks:

1. Never open a book with weather.
Twilight has a lot of focus on weather, almost an overdose, I'd say. Sorry, Stephenie, I'm pretty sure you break this one.

2. Avoid prologues.
Prologues, prequels, ect. All are bad in Leonard's mind. Sadly, I disagree with him... I like prologues. However, Stephenie's "prologue" is more of a glimpse into the future, rather than the past. So I'll give her this one.

3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
I'm pretty sure Twilight breaks this rule several times over. Let me grab my copy to check... lied, insisted, urged, announced, prompted... yeah, this one's a no.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said."
Hmm... sheepishly, gruffly, reluctantly... This one's not too bad, but still. However, I don't have too much of an issue with adverbs. So. I guess it's okay.

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
Are you kidding me? Bella talks in a monotone. Edward is Mr. Gruff. Stephenie, you get a win for this one.

6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
I'm going to say she's broken this rule. I'm pretty sure she's used "suddenly" a few times. So have I, but you know what, I'm trying to change that.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
I think she gets an okay for this, actually. They're all English-speaking white people. (Except Jacob, and she doesn't change his dialect at all.)

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
Okay, sorry, but this is the biggest FAIL ever in Twilight. Bella spends an entire paragraph describing herself, and Stephenie awkwardly works in descriptions of everyone else; it's very unnecessary.

9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
Yeah, another fail. How many times does Bella talk about the trees, the rain, the moss, the rain, the roads, the rain...?

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
Stephenie is very much into descriptions and dragging things out--the action didn't happen in Twilight until page 380! Sorry, no cigar.

So, needless to say, Twilight has its own set of rules; but I can't help but respect Stephenie Meyer and her bizarre ability to get 4 best-selling novels out of this drivel.

But I still blame her for the poorly-spelled hate mail that attacks anyone who says they're not a fan of sparkling vampires and marble chests.


1 people made my day brighter:

OhSoSqueamish said...

I love you for writing this. :D
I was flipping through Twilight the other day to try to figure out what exactly had hooked me the first time reading it (I couldn't figure out what, needless to say), and stumbled across this gem that I'd miraculously skipped over the first time (paraphrased, because I don't remember what it said exactly): "I lifted my hand to my cheek and found traitor tears there, betraying me."
There was also a bit where she was watching dust motes float through the air. she said 'dust MOATS'. *face!palm*

I want to burn something every time I read the word 'chagrin'. XDDD

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