Getting Sucked in by Twilight

images1Twilight is one of those books that, even if you haven’t read it, you know what it’s about.  It’s a phenomenon, a force, a sensation.  You’ve heard it’s amazing.  You don’t need me to tell you.

I resisted the lure of this book for months, but my preteen daughter begged and begged me to allow her to read it.  “Everyone is reading it!” she insisted.  After doing an informal survey of my daughter’s friends’ parents, it turns out “everyone” really means two.  But whatever.   She received it for Christmas, so I finally gave in, with the caveat that I would be reading it too.  

What was I expecting?  I’m not exactly sure.  I knew the story, but I didn’t think it would suck me in.  I’m a 40-something mom, after all.  I’m married.  I’m mature.  But I didn’t realize how charismatic Edward would be, how strong and powerful and gorgeous.  And Bella- so smart, so beautiful, so fragile, so klutzy.  I liked the characters right off the bat, and I had to know what would happen to them.  Would he give in to temptation?  Would she put herself in harm’s way to be with the boy she loved?

How well I remember being infatuated with a boy, when all it would take was a meaningful look to make my heart race (my husband of 20+ years has to work a bit harder than that for the same effect!)  Does he like me?  Does he think I’m pretty?  He said hello to me; what does it mean????  I remember a boy I had a HUGE crush on in the 9th grade.  If he noticed me at all it was enough to turn my insides into jello, and the “incident” would take up 3 pages in my diary.  So that is what Twilight was like for me- a trip down memory lane, except the boys I liked didn’t want to suck my blood.  At least, I don’t think so.  It was a fast, fun, absorbing, easy read.  It’s the kind of book I would have loved at age 14 or 15.  I probably would have read it several times.  I’d probably want to read the whole series.  I’d probably vow to name my firstborn son Edward.

On the other hand, as the mom of two preteen girls, I had some pretty big problems with it.  Edward’s behavior borders on stalking.  He’s totally unpredictable- nice one day and cruel the next.  He watches Bella at school.  He looks through her bedroom window and watches her sleep.  If he tells Bella to do something, she darn well better do it (for her own good, of course.  He is protecting her.)  He doesn’t like her friends and is suspicious of everyone she talks to.  He wants her all to himself.  He is frequently angry with her for no apparent reason.  He smirks when she tells him things.  He’s condescending.  He’s dangerous.  He’s fascinating.

And Bella.  She starts out as this smart, independent girl, but she ends up as the damsel in distress, many times over.  She ditches her friends, lies to her dad repeatedly, and lets her boyfriend sleep in her bed.  She deliberately puts herself in danger because she wants to be near Edward.  He warns her over and over again that she shouldn’t be with him, but she doesn’t care.  Her friend and his dad also warn her, but she ignores their advice.  She loves him.  He smells good.  It makes no difference that he’s not human.  The fact that he could kill her, and is in fact constantly fighting that very urge, isn’t a worry for her.  He is beautiful, so so so so so so so so beautiful (did I mention he is beautiful?), with his hot car, cold lips, intense eyes (golden when he’s sated, black when he’s thirsty), smooth voice, and alabaster skin.  Just the kind of guy you’d love your little girl to bring home, right?

So.  My daughter and I have both finished the book.  We both liked it, with reservations.  It opened up the floodgates of an ongoing conversation about growing up, and about boys, and respect, and how a boy should treat a girl, and what kind of relationship is healthy and what is not. Which of course is a good thing.  My daughter thought Bella acted “stupid” and said she’d never let a boy treat her like that.  Hallelujah.  But she’s just 11.  The hormones haven’t kicked in yet.  She also said something like, “Mom, it’s about vampires.  It’s not like anything like this would really happen.  It’s just a book to read for fun.”  What a smart girl I have.

Now to decide if we should see the movie..  thoughts?

28 Responses

  1. Great post Lisa! And yes, you do have a smart girl there. I don’t have any opinion on the film since it hasn’t made it’s way to the base theatres here yet, but I did want to tell you that YOU’VE BEEN TAGGED.

    http://planetbooks.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/tag-im-it/

  2. You brought up some interesting points. I have a daughter too and what you said here really hit home but since my daughter is not of the age to read it, I read it for what it was and actually thought it to be “innocent”. I reviewed it here:

    http://bookchatterandotherstuff.blogspot.com/2009/01/review-twilight.html

    I’ve heard from others that the other books are much more explicit and more “matter of fact” so I would definitely want to read them all before my daughter continued on with them.

    I do want to see the movie now that i finished the book.

  3. I think that was one of the reasons I was so taken in by the series–it took me back to those adolescent days . . .

    I really like how you approached this book with your daughter, reading it with her and discussing some of the major issues of concern. I had those too as I read the book, but not being a parent, it didn’t hold the same significance to me that it would to you.

  4. Even though I am not a fan of this book, I really like your review. It brought up both the good and the bad of this story. And I am happy to see that your daughter recognizes Edwards odd behavior (because I don’t think some teens do).

  5. A wonderful analysis of Twilight and I love your perspective from reading it with your daughter. I’m in the stage of life between you and your daughter. Twilight has lead to similar conversations with my friends about love and relationships, mostly concluding that we want to date vampires named Edward, and that love like Edward and Bella’s could not exist because after two days of Edward’s behavior we would have restraining orders on any normal guy.
    I love that Twilight is so easy for anyone to get sucked into and that it leads to such interesting conversations. Your daughter sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders, as my mom would say.

  6. I didn’t want to read these either, but like you I got totally sucked in. My son is only 6 so he’s not into this stuff yet, and I don’t have any daughters, but I completely recognized that Edward’s behavior was wildly inappropriate (sexy and appealing, but bad, oh so bad). I said more than once to friends that I love the books but I’d smack my (non-existent) daughter if she ever acted that way.

    I HAVE seen the movie (before reading the book) and I’d say that you’re safe watching it. There is nothing in the movie that isn’t in the book, and there is nothing particularly gory or explicit. Even the battle at the end is sort of fuzzy b/c it is told from Bella’s point of view and you already know what’s going on with her.

    I didn’t do traditional reviews of the books and movie, but I DID write my thoughts down. Here’s the link if you’re interested.

  7. I don’t know all too much about seeing the movie with your daughter because there is just one scene and it’s not too bad or anything like that but it’s something I would be a bit concerned about if my daughter was watching it. There is this, what is supposed to be, steamy semi-makeout session type of thing between Bella and Edward in the movie, and she just couldn’t wear any pants in that scene, could she? So she pantyless, making out with Edward.

    And the whole watching her sleep scene? It was much more creepier in the movie.

    Oh, and you should be prepared for disaster if you do plan on watching it. Sadly, it was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

    • I do agree with you about the scene, but it was one of the best movies I’ve seen, and I let my daughter read all 4 books, and get the DVD the first night that it came out. Even though some of you have your diffrent views, it was one of the best movies I have ever watched. I can’t wait for the second one to come out, eighter can my daughter.

  8. That’s a link to the scene. It wasn’t as steamy as I remember it being, but there it is if you want to check it out before you go and see it with your daughter.

  9. I had a lot of the same concerns and responses to this series, and I don’t have kids…but I’m generally concerned that we’re raising a generation of girls who believe in impossibly idealistic romantic standards and who do not/will not understand what real relationships are all about and that they’re not always clean and nice. I think it’s great that you read it with your daughter—that’s what I advise a lot of my customers to do—and I’d recommend that you read Breaking Dawn well before she does. It’s pretty risque.

  10. What a great review! I think it really did bring back those high school days of always wondering “does he like me”? I loved the entire series. I also loved the movie. But I’m 28 not 11. There are some things in the later books that you may want to read first before your daughter gets her hands on it. That way you can decide if it’s right for her!

  11. I couldn’t get through the books, but I understand the appeal. Yeah, take the kids to the movie. It’s not great, but it’s entertaining. Older daughter and I enjoyed it.

  12. I have to say, I’m glad you finally gave in to temptation and read the books, and that your daughter enjoyed them, too! My mother actually read them first and then begged me to read them so she’d have someone to discuss them with! I will say that I was more than aware of the flaws you pointed out within the novel – Bella’s neediness, Edward’s overwhelming presence, Bella’s not-always-truthful relationship with her father – but I think as long as those who read the novels keep in mind that they’re “just for fun”, as your brilliant daughter pointed out, that the books are worthy of almost everyones reading!

  13. Lisa — You articulated my reservations beautifully — thank you! It was certainly hard to put down, but left me a bit unsettled, too — especially since it has become such a phenomenon. I couldn’t help but wonder what the current obsession says about our society and how we view “love” and gender roles. Great review!

  14. I have so many issues with this series! I just don’t get the obsession, in addition to the fact that they’re poorly written and completely cheesy! The books are so unrealistic and Bella is no heroine to look up to, nor is her relationship with Edward anywhere near normal.

    I thought your review was terrific though. You nailed some of my own reservations. I think that the fact that the book provoked some good conversations with your daughter is fantastic. Those are exactly the kinds of things we need to talk to our kids about.

  15. I too resisted and finally got sucked in. I think it’s great you were able to talk about all the weird stuff with your daughter. Although me & my middle aged friends appreciate Edward’s restraint and self-control which is sadly lacking in most male characters (real & on paper)😉

  16. I have to admit that I fell hook, line, and sinker for the Twilight series. (The fourth and final in the series is the most risqué, imo, for the tweens).

    I think it’s interesting that you brought up the change in Bella’s character, from independence to dependence upon meeting Edward. I teach and have discussed the book at length with many of my girl students. They play the game of Team Edward or Team Jacob (which of the two boys do you fancy the most). Surprisingly, many of the girls are “Team Jacob” (who’s character develops more in book two). When I asked why, I generally got, “well miss Edward is controlling. He never lets Bella do what she wants to do. With Jacob she can be herself and they talk.” Over all I was pretty impressed with their assessment.

    (*smile* I of course fell under the Team Edward camp, but that’s because I’m a sucker for the dark mysterious bad boys. Um Hello, I’ve been crushing on Johnny Depp since I was about 12).

    Cheers!

  17. Welcome to the dark side. 😀 The books are definitely entertaining, even with all of the things we don’t like about Bella.

    I have no interest in the movie…I prefer to live with my own vision of the book.

  18. I concur with your assessment of the book completely–Bella’s immaturity, Edward’s stalking, and the complete over-description of Edward’s physical appearance in every single paragraph.

    I also really disliked the way Bella and Edwards aren’t even friends and suddenly they are inseparable–no conversation, nothing, and nothing else matters–not school or parents (and their feelings) or friends. Yuck. Exactly the kind of relationship you do not want your 15 or 16 year old daughter getting in ot. Creepy.

    I have a friend my age (I’m 40) who loved the series. I barely got through Twilight. My girls read it (11, 12 and 18), but the 11 yo put down Breaking Dawn on her own. If your daughter continues with the series, Breaking Dawn is not really appropriate (consummation of the relationship between Bella and Edward and other big stuff).

    The movie was entertaining–my whole family went including my 7 yo son and my husband.

    As long as your baby girl knows better, I think it is okay.

  19. You said it all! I have nothing to add. lol I saw the movie and liked it (mostly for the soundtrack).

  20. I, like you avoided the craze for many months. It wasn’t until I saw a friend that does not read whatsoever, totally engrossed in the book that I had to go pick it up. I read all 4 books in a matter of 1 month period and saw the movie twice. I liked the movie but felt that it did not truely capture Bella’s thoughts enough. But I enjoyed it enough that I am (im)patiently waiting for the moving New Moon to come out later this year or ealy next!

  21. Great review! I loved that you sat down with your daughter and had an open conversation about the book once you both had read it. I hope to do the same one day when I have kids of my own🙂

  22. I resisted too… until the week before the movie came out and I sat down and read all four- one a day lol. I really enjoyed the movie alot too.

  23. I would skip the movie – Edwards obsession with Bella seemed way more creepy on the big screen and the book was just so much better.

  24. I read them all, and I’m glad you and your daughter discussed how unhealthy Bella and Edward’s relationship. That’s one of my main dislikes with the series.

    Her obsession with Edward is more disturbing in New Moon, although as a teenager I can see where she’s coming from. I hated Eclipse and Breaking Dawn was too much for many of my 17/18 year-old friends. It’s pretty graphic.

    As for the movie, I saw it before I read Twilight and Edward is definitely much creeper in the movie than in book. I kept leaning over and telling my mom that if a boy did what Edward does in the movie, I would be seriously weird-ed out. The book actually downplays Edward’s obsession with her compared to the movie.

  25. I can’t decide!!! Read the book….or see the movie??? which first??? arggh….If you read the book, then you are looking for the movie to follow it…If you see the movie..then you are trying to get the book to follow the movie!!! I am probably going to get to the book and read it first..and see the movie on dvd later…The book is almost always better! more detail…

  26. […] Lisa at Books on the Brain […]

  27. You have brought up some interesting points but I feel that if you continue reading the series and then midnight sun (edwards pov) you will look at everything differently

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