Okay, so I already wrote a review on Twilight. I’m rereading the books now and I just had to make a list of all the things I think are fundamentally wrong with this series. Morally, scientifically, emotionally.
And there’s so, so, so much to choose from. But I guess I’ll go in the order of when I sat back and realized that this was yet another “what is wrong with this book” moment.
1. Bella was almost raped.
And yet it didn’t matter.
Like at all.
Edward gave her two cups of soda and she ate some mushroom raviolis… and they moved on just like that. Yeah, he was super mad and wanted to kill them, which I appreciate. But they didn’t even call the cops? Or really talk about it at all?
The only thing that really was said was also pretty close to victim blaming. Both Edward and the novel itself blame Bella for being in the “wrong” part of Port Angeles, by herself, not paying attention to the fact that other people were around her that could potentially do her harm. Ugh.
This was a great moment to give survivors of assault some inspiration. Sure, Bella didn’t actually get attacked, she got saved in time, but she could have done something to give us a little light on the situation.
What is shock actually like? Why wasn’t Edward a little more worried in the days after? What do you actually do when you experience such a horrifying situation?
Meyers brushed over this possibly life-changing scene like it was nothing when it could have been a real moment for the book, and for the book’s readers. Assault isn’t nothing and shouldn’t be treated like nothing, even when it’s just a close call.
And victim-blaming, in any form, is never okay.
2. All vampires are beautiful and… white?
The first thing we find out about vampires is that they’re all beautiful. Bella sees the Cullen family and she is astounded by their sheer beauty.
And, to be honest, that makes perfect sense.
Vampires being attractive to their prey is pretty logical from a hunting standpoint. It’s a lot easier to hunt and kill something that’s distracted by your perfect, sparkly skin and hot body.
But what doesn’t make 100% sense is the whitewashing of the vampires.
There are no vampires of color in the Twilight series and the Twilight world is specifically designed that way. Double ugh.
All forms of skin pigmentation, even for darker-skinned humans that are turned, vanish during the transformation. At best, the vampires are left with barely olive-toned skin.
Requiring that these beautiful, awe-inspiring, beautiful creatures must be white is completely disrespectful to the beauty that is found in all skin tones. Maybe if there was a scientific reason that the vampires magically lost all their melanin, it’d be justifiable to make all the vampires white, but there’s not.
It’s just a weird whitewashing of what could be a diverse population worldwide and there’s literally no purpose for it.
3. Seclusion central
I don’t think I could ever run out of complaints when it comes to the character Bella Swan, but one of my largest is that she prides herself on intentionally secluding herself from the people around her.
When she lives with her mom, all she focuses on is the difference between her and her mother. When she moves in with Charlie, all she focuses on is the fact that they barely speak to each other. When she gets asked out on dates, she says no. She doesn’t relate to her friends or her family or any of the people around her.
The only time she is genuinely interested in connecting with another person is when she meets Edward and, to a degree, that seems like it’s because he was so uninterested in her at first that being with him was like being alone. Only with someone who actively hates you sitting next to you.
And, then, when he decides he’s interested in her too – she starts secluding herself from the friends she’s made. She sits with him alone at lunch. She leaves behind her friends in Port Angeles to spend the rest of the night with him. Her afternoons and her thoughts and every decision, reaction, thought process she has is littered with thoughts of Edward.
She isn’t a separate character and the way Bella Swan acts in Twilight promotes an unhealthy lifestyle where one person is the center of your whole world. Ugh ugh ugh!
4. Stalkers. Aren’t. Cute.
I know I said this in my original review, but I honestly can’t emphasize this enough:
Breaking into someone’s house to watch them sleep isn’t cute. It isn’t romantic. It isn’t even like somewhat okay.
It’s creepy and weird and disturbing. Especially when that same person struggles not to kill you on a daily basis.
Edward is NOT the definition of romance. He’s a creepy weirdo who should be locked up for stalking an 18 year old girl when he’s actually over one hundred years old. Yikes!
And the fact that the only reason he “saved” Bella from attackers in Port Angeles (first book) was because he was literally following her around is also NOT ROMANTIC. It’s creepy. If a man follows you around, you need to be a little more concerned!
And, just to remind everyone, the target audience for this book is preteen and teenage girls. When is it EVER okay to tell young women that stalkers and/or abusive men are okay?
5. Sexuality is bad?
Maybe it’s just me, but the entire Twilight series turns sex into something that is painful, dangerous, depressing, and can even be life-threatening. Especially towards women. Telling young women that their sexuality should be repressed because sex is bad is an outdated way of handling sexual growth.
And it happens time and time again.
Bella is consistently rejected and put down for being attracted to Edward. She is constantly being reminded to control herself and is made to seem like some type of sexual predator trying to lure Edward into bed. Edward is pure and virginal, resisting sexual temptation, and Bella is a lustful siren tempting him with things she shouldn’t be tempting him with.
And, when they do finally have sex after finally getting married, she’s the one covered with bruises. She’s the one that’s left hurt and damaged. He’s just as clean and pure as before.
And she’s the one who magically manages to get pregnant from having sex with a vampire.
On the other hand, the sexual experiences of the side characters in the series aren’t any better.
Rosalie is made into a vampire because she is beaten and raped by a gang of men, including her fiance. Her feminine beauty and sexual appeal is turned into the reason why she dies.
While this may not be unrealistic, it’s not okay to have constant prods at female sexuality.
Especially when the reason why Jasper is made into a vampire can also be blamed on women having sex. He’s seduced by a trio of beautiful women, unable to defend himself from their desires, and turned. This nonstop narrative of female sexual desire being a dangerous experience is ridiculous.
Sex is healthy. And wonderful. And great. And is also a topic that should be treated with respect.
A woman’s sexuality should never be repressed. Instead, it should be cultivated. Women should be taught to practice sex safely, choose the right partners, and fully enjoy themselves.
Books like Twilight that make sex seem terrible, even sex that occurs within a marital relationship, is just flat out wrong. I understand expressing the need for caution with sexual desires. Disease and pregnancy are real risks and waiting to have sex because that’s what you want to do is completely acceptable. I’m not saying that caution is wrong.
What’s wrong is the fact that female sexuality shouldn’t be demonized. It should be encouraged. Women have every right to enjoy and appreciate good sex, just like men do, and to express that women having sex will ruin their lives, leave them damaged, or cause others harm is obscene.
6. Stop. Romanticizing. Suicide.
“He made a disgusted sound. ‘I don’t envy [Romeo] the girl – just the ease of suicide,’ he clarified in a teasing tone. ‘You humans have it so easy! All you have to do is throw down one tiny vial of plant extracts…’”
Excuse me. But this isn’t okay.
Edward being cheerful about contemplating suicide, listing off his ideas on how he was going to do it, and acting like his desire to die if Bella did was something he should tease her over is INSANE!
Suicide. Isn’t. Romantic.
It’s not okay to look your significant other in the eyes and say you’d kill yourself if something happened to your relationship.
It’s not okay to say if they died, you’d have to kill yourself.
Why? Because that’s emotional abuse plain and simple. And, while that does happen in real life, Twilight shouldn’t be romanticizing even the idea of killing yourself.
Suicide. Isn’t. Romantic.
It’s a tragedy and it’s not something to be taken lightly. This series takes serious, hard to discuss topics and makes them trivial. Sure, you can include a scene where Edward discusses the fact that he felt suicidal. That is an AMAZING idea because it’s a great way to start a discussion on a teenage suicide.
But making his statements come off as romantic isn’t okay. Making this into a scene where he shows his “true love” for Bella and making it seem like anything but unhealthy isn’t okay. Encouraging suicide over losing someone you love is just the same as encouraging suicide to begin with.
We have a nationwide suicide epidemic to be handling and trivializing a serious issue (like the mental illness of our youth) is just crude. It’s inappropriate. It’s kind of close to disgusting.
And, yet again, this could have been a pivotal moment for the series. Instead of romanticizing suicide, Meyers could have opened up a door to discussing how to tackle those hard feelings and work through tough times. She could have shown how talking to someone else can really help. She could have done SOMETHING more to show how suicide isn’t the best answer to problems like these. But she didn’t.
Instead, she just implied that it was the height of romance. Romeo & Juliet style love. Ugh.
And then she somehow makes it worse. She plunges Bella into a constant spiral of self despair and essentially what are suicide attempts. Meyers even has Bella jump off the edge of a cliff to try to “be with Edward” and “hear Edward’s voice.” And she makes it seem like Bella’s doing it for love when she’s actually doing this because she’s having a mental breakdown and needs help.
Having Edward return and fix everything glosses over the actual issue that Bella needed mental help. She was depressed and needed help. Plain and simple.
She needed to find a way to develop a better support system outside of Edward (which she was getting so close to!) and thrive as an independent person. We never got to see her grow without him and realize that her actions were desperate mistakes, not romantic solutions to him leaving her.
The constant romanticization of suicide and depression IS depressing throughout this series.
7. Bella’s choices should be BELLA’S choice
One of the common themes in the Twilight series is that it’s never really Bella who gets to make the decisions and, even when it is, she has to be sneaky about it.
In Port Angeles when Edward stalks her (saves her, whatever) – he decides he’s taking her out to dinner. Although she agrees, he’s the one who decides in the end what is happening.
In New Moon, when he makes a decision to leave her for both of their benefits he does it without discussing it with her. He makes the choice to leave her and, in the end, he makes the ultimate choice on whether they get back together. Her opinion doesn’t matter.
In Breaking Dawn, he decides they’re getting married. When she’s reluctant, he makes the decision for both of them. They are getting married. She is having this human experience.
And, in every single book, Edward is the one who gets to decide whether or not she’s made into a vampire. Whether or not he thinks she will lose her soul if she is turned, this is something that should be her decision. It is her body. It is her call. But, in Twilight, Edward’s opinion is the only one that matters.
In every book, Edward’s choices are the ones that matter.
8. Edward is a HYPOCRITE. And abusive, as mentioned before.
So imagine this: you’re dating this wonderful guy. He means everything to you and you’d just love to give him the world. But every time he’s out of town he forbids you from seeing your best friend and essentially gets his sister to hold you hostage so you can’t escape.
Romantic or just abusive, controlling behavior? If you’re going to say romantic, please stop reading this article.
Edward basically forbade Bella from seeing her best friend, the one person in the world who kept her together when he left her behind, and then used his sister as paid labor to keep Bella from escaping or breaking the rule.
His excuse? Jacob was too dangerous for Bella to go see.
Coming from a vampire who barely managed to not brutally murder her the first day he met her… yeah, okay. Whatever.
The entire premise is ridiculous and the fact that he can’t allow Bella to make her own decisions is just insane. Who accepts that type of behavior?
And, worse, who encourages it?