Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Lacking Depth in All Regards (Ch. 14-15)

Is it read-worth? I kind of feel like I’ve been on vacation from Midnight Sun. Usually it only takes me a couple hours to finish a book this size. Writing blog posts about it has definitely made it slowed, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I honestly don’t know if I would bother to finish this book if I wasn’t writing about it. I was really hoping to enjoy it more than I am. It’s hard to say that Twilight was more interesting, but Midnight Sun is just… eh. The entire concept of Edward and Bella’s love is really getting beaten into the ground. Edward himself is incredibly off-putting and I don’t particularly enjoy reading things from his perspective. He comes across as creepy more than anything else. I can’t relate to him most of the time. After reading the previous chapters and these past few, Midnight Sun comes across as more of a cash grab than a passion project. 

Spoiler Alert

There just isn’t any depth to it. I was expecting more.

Especially when it comes to the development of side characters. Stephanie Meyer did Jessica dirty. All she comes across as is a shallow, mean-spirited, jealous teenage girl. There is nothing more to her, even now. Every thought Edward reads of hers is absolutely riddled with spite. I wish she had been developed more. No one is entirely bad. Why would a random teenage girl be so awful? If we are supposed to extend our courtesies to blood-sucking vampires, why are we so dismissive to teenage girls? She deserved better than that.

Plus, it really would have been nice for Bella to have well-developed friendships with thoughtful human girls. I understand that she is supposed to be capable of keeping a secret for Edward, but she could definitely do that and have friends at the same time. You don’t actually need to tell your friends everything. Every second she isn’t with Edward in the original series and now comes across as painful and awkward. 

And maybe Jessica didn’t have to be her best friend. They have very different personalities after all. But there were other options for Bella. She could have been closer with Angela. Her only real friendships towards the end of the series ends up being with Edward and anyone close to Edward. Jacob may be the shining exception to that, but he’s a romantic interest and that doesn’t really count in my opinion. Loving someone to the exclusion of everyone else isn’t healthy. I know Meyer was trying to show how Bella’s whole world is Edward, but I still would have enjoyed otherwise. Plus, I could use more breaks from Bella-Edward interactions throughout Midnight Sun. I’m so tired of hearing about how he’s a horrible vampire in love with the perfect human girl. 

I did note that Meyer included new information about Bella, however. I didn’t know that she wanted to work with books in her future. I think she always talked about just going off to college without any specifics involved. Of course, I knew she always liked to read, but it was nice to know there was more to it. However, I wonder why this fact wasn’t included in the original Twilight series and instead was included in Midnight Sun as some sort of half-hearted add-on. I thought the whole point of Midnight Sun was to learn more about Edward. I already read four books about Bella. I already gave up on her development as a character.

Plus is Midnight Sun really going to focus more on Bella and Edward than on providing new information? It would make sense, considering their obsession for each other, but I really would like more from this book, even if it’s just getting to know Edward more. Bella bores me. Edward creeps me out. Right now, I’d prefer creeped out over complete and total boredom. At least then I can talk about what a stalker Edward is. How long can I really talk about being bored?

(Apparently a while, but still.)

When Edward begins talking about Carlisle, chapter fourteen does manage to regain part of my mostly lost attention. It is just hilarious that life-threatening, super strong vampires sparkle. I can’t imagine being afraid of someone who looks like they got dumped into a glitter vat. And apparently Edward was! However, that’s not entirely unbelievable. Back in his times, supernatural things had much more of a stigma surrounding them. Small abnormalities were scary. Now? I don’t think they have the same impact. Everyone I know watches so many TV shows and movies that depict images way scarier than a beautiful sparkly man. We are kind of numbed to the unusual more so than the previous generation. And with all of these cool new products available to us, the majority of people would think that vampires sparkle due to a cool new cosmetic that they’re using. We’d want to buy it, not stake the vampire. I have some sprays that make me sparkle, but nothing like vampires do.

I also found myself wondering how much Alice’s visions play a role in shaping the future. Would Edward really have brought Bella to the field so quickly after thinking about it if her vision hadn’t told him he would? I’m not sure. I really just don’t understand how the process works and I want more information. I wonder if her visions can immediately account for the results of her seeing the vision and if she’s constantly bombarded with new information. It would be super similar to how Edward is constantly bombarded with the thoughts of others. Does she just tone it out?

However, can you even imagine a version of the Twilight series where Edward kills Bella in the field? I would definitely read that book and I would probably love it in a really gruesome, sadistic way. I don’t know if many others would enjoy it more than the original story. People feed off of the intense romance. But it would be SO good.

Imagine this: two people meet and fall in love. One is a creepy stalker vampire who follows the girl home. She is obsessed with him and excuses his behavior because of “love.” They both completely revolve around the other person. But her blood smells too good for him and, eventually, he can’t resist it. In a moment of weakness, he kills her and dooms himself to spending the rest of eternity alone. The consequences of her allowing him to behave the way he does is death. Finally a moment worthy of how much Edward hates himself! Some drama! Real emotion! Be still my broken heart.

Trust me, it’d be a great book.

But we know he doesn’t kill her and instead their highly unhealthy relationship continues. All of that suspense was for nothing. I’m not there yet, but we all know and remember their day in the meadow.

As a side note, when Edward hissed at Rosalie for glaring at Bella, I was instantly reminded of the way good writing can impact your perception of a scene. When Rhysand or one of the fae hiss in the Court of Thorns and Roses series (so good), it comes across as super sexy. When Edward does it? Yuck. It just adds to his overall weird vibe. Maybe it’s the complete lack of sex appeal throughout the entire Twilight series that lends itself to a totally different result, but I do wish that Edward had a little bit of an edge to him. 

Other side note, if you haven’t read that series, go read it. A Court of Thorns and Roses is to die for good. Sarah J. Maas is the author. I cannot recommend it enough.

Throughout this book, however, I do keep finding myself trying to get back into Bella’s shoes. How did she even fall for Edward? After reading his internal monologue, I don’t really understand the attraction. He is constantly distracted by his own self-pity and hatred, he constantly avoids her or acts in an aggressive manner, and is, all in all, kind of a garbage, self-centered partner. He is too focused on believing he’s the bad guy to actually act like a good guy. He showed red flags of controlling behavior right from the get-go. How did she fall for him? And why does she pretend that his looks had nothing to do with it?

There’s no way she fell for someone who is such a jerk without it having something to do with his looks or his wallet. I just don’t get it. Midnight Sun makes it more obvious than ever that Edward does not have a personality worth falling for. He is a whiner and a creep. He makes me uncomfortable. He is controlling and abusive. I’m not about it. 

Chapter fifteen was more interesting than chapter fourteen, however. This is probably because the opener was entirely new writing. It wasn’t just a knock off of the first book. I wouldn’t say it was a great chapter though. 

While I really want to love Edward’s interactions with Alice, I just don’t. She seemed like a way more interesting person in the original Twilight book. Now? She’s extremely one dimensional and more than a bit boring. Like everyone else, all she seems to talk about is Bella. She wants to get to know Bella and be near Bella and help Edward with Bella and protect Bella. I want more Alice, not more Bella. All of her focus being spent on one person just isn’t lending itself well to the story.

I mean the point of Midnight Sun was to get to know Edward and the Cullens more, right? Why am I only hearing about Bella? I already spent four books with her!

I did enjoy one of Alice’s statements though when discussing Bella with Edward: “Did it never occur to you that Bella might not be willing to lose you? That one short mortal life might not be long enough for her?” Like YES finally! It shouldn’t be Edward’s call as to whether or not Bella becomes an immortal. It is Bella’s choice! I understand that he thinks he is protecting her soul, but that is HIS religious belief and obviously not hers. I absolutely can’t stand it when people infringe upon the rights of others and use religion and spirituality as an excuse. If Bella wants to become a vampire, she should be able to. It’s her body, her life, and her soul.

And how can no one in the Cullen family see the reason to become a vampire? Edward is constantly talking about how no one would make this choice for themselves, but actually thousands of people would. Immortality, beauty, and impossible strength? Thank you, yes please. It is not a difficult bargain to make, especially if you can drink animal blood instead of human blood in order to survive. While many people may agree with his religious beliefs, for a large amount the soul wouldn’t even be a factor. People probably wouldn’t agree that becoming a vampire is enough to send themselves to hell.

And I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I hate the romanticization of suicide throughout the Twilight series. I probably wouldn’t hate it as much if this series wasn’t pointedly marketed towards teenagers and young adults. This story makes suicide and death feel like a love story and I’m just not about it. Carlisle trying to kill himself was not admirable – it was sad. Imagining different ways to kill yourself if your partner dies is not romantic – it is horrifying.

And for someone who has been practically begging for more outside scenes and background, I was actually really underwhelmed by what we received. Christmas with Carlisle is cute and all, but not entirely what I wanted. The interaction with Sobhan and Maggie needed better writing in order to have the impact Meyer was obviously hoping for. I wanted to feel the primal energy between the two groups of vampires. I wanted a little bit of adrenaline. It makes sense that Edward would feel something the first time he interacts with other vampires. I understand it was just supposed to provide the line that led Edward to killing and drinking human blood, but it wasn’t enough energy for me. I don’t even buy that Siobhan saying drinking human blood was one of the greatest joys of life would really be enough for Edward to change his lifestyle. He seems so much more strict with himself than that and, with his deeply held religious beliefs, it’s hard to think that the promise of pleasure would be enough for him to kill a person – even if they were bad. And I definitely didn’t need to hear that Siobhan was wrong, that the greatest pleasure in Edward’s life was Bella. Excuse you but that is just too much for me.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Endless Boredom (Ch. 10 – 13)

Is it read-worth? I’m going to be candid with you: A lot of what I’m going to say in this review isn’t new information. The past few chapters haven’t been the most interesting for me to discuss. I still feel the same way as I have in previous reviews. There’s just not a lot going on right now in the book itself. It’s kind of boring, if anything.

SPOILERS:

But let’s start from the beginning of the section before I get too far ahead of myself.

In chapter ten, Edward and Bella are right in the middle of Bella asking him questions about being a vampire. I’ve heard the answers before in Twilight so I really didn’t find them all that interesting. Like, yes, I know that Edward’s a mind reading vampire. I know he’s stalking her. I don’t know why he’s so fixated. Yeah, I guess it should be interested, but I don’t know if it actually is. I don’t think it is. I wish Meyer had included a little bit of new information to pique my interest. 

Even the stuff with the waitress was just stupid. Edward knew she was interested in him. She was literally thinking about it. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise a day later.

Although, I’ve got to say: I am confused about a different part of their interaction. When Edward tells Bella he thinks her mind runs on a different frequency, she thinks she’s a freak. Why didn’t Edward tell her that it was an inherited trait? He can’t really understand Charlie to the same extent he understands everyone else either. His thoughts are more off limits than anyone’s except for her’s. Bella isn’t a freak. She has some type of strange genetic trait.

And imagine the places Meyer could have taken that trait! She could have followed the same mindframe as other mythical books and made Bella part fairy. She could have made her part nixie. She could have included some other type of mythical creature. If all myths are true, then why not that one? Or, vice versa, it could have been something that Charlie and Bella’s ancestors had developed over time, as a defense to vampires. The options are unlimited! Anything would have been more interesting than “Bella is just super duper special.”

I also didn’t enjoy most of Edward’s internal dialogue these past few chapters. He always comes across as very condescending, creepy, and just plain old unsettling. I was hoping the development of Midnight Sun would benefit his character development, but everything I’ve read so far is to his detriment. Even when Edward is trying to show that he cares about Bella, it comes off as a parent making the best decisions to protect their child or some other unbalanced relationship. Bella isn’t on the same level footing as Edward is. His behavior is manipulative, constantly trying to keep her calm or incite specific reactions. He makes all the calls – his speeches about her choices notwithstanding.

When Edward was discussing how he couldn’t be sure that their vegetarian diet was the perfect alternative to human blood, I did find myself asking new questions about the Twilight Universe that I had never really asked before. Are no vampires scientists? Within the last one hundred to two hundred years, vampires would have had the chance to change at least one person interested in the science behind vampirism. But had it really never happened? Why not? What would they have found if they did? What processes does the body undergo during the change? Can they really subsist off of an animal diet or does it negatively impact them? What do their brains look like? Can you tell when they have gifts? Can we replicate the change in other humans without vampire involvement? Can we replicate immortal strength? Why can’t they process food?

I have so many questions and very few answers.

I would also love it if Stephanie Meyer answered my questions about Edward. I’ve heard rumors that Midnight Sun ends up going into more detail about his past, but I’m thirteen chapters in and there hasn’t been much new information about him and his family. We just barely glazed over anything added. Even the few scenes Meyer added where he interacts with his family, much of them come across rushed and undeveloped. 

Even if she had just added more information about why Edward loves Bella, I would have been happier. His whole spiel about her perfections doesn’t cut it for me. It doesn’t feel real. Of course, neither does their love-at-first-sight complex, but I’ve made it clear previously I don’t enjoy that dynamic either. They barely know each other. Their character traits aren’t well fleshed out. I like watching love and characters grow, not stagnate.

And, similarly to the big battle scene at the end of Breaking Dawn, I found Midnight Sun’s version of justice to be extremely lackluster. What was the point in Edward telling Carlisle about the would-be rapist and asking for help if the author won’t even disclose what Carlisle did to fix the situation? I don’t think Carlisle would kill anyone… But they do mention on CNN that the man is a suspected murderer by the next morning. How did that happen? What did Carlisle do? Why was the reader left in the dark? It’s not like they’ll ever bring this up again so why not delve deeper into what good wholesome vampires do to solve problems? It was utterly underwhelming.

As far as everything else goes during this section of the book? It’s a lot of the same. Edward listening into Bella’s every conversation is extremely invasive. I hate the fact that she thinks it’s romantic. I hate the fact that Stephanie Meyer seems to be encouraging abusive behaviors. I also hate the “not like every other girl” rhetoric that Edward constantly spews when talking to Bella. 

I dislike the fact that Edward justifies his own bad behavior. Manipulating people, even for their benefit, is not a kindness. I wanted to like him helping Cheney, but what’s the limit when you start manipulating people? If you do it once, won’t you justify it again? Apparently, the limit does not exist. Because he uses the same mentality of “it’s for their benefit” to justify sneaking into Bella’s room at night. He does it to “protect her” because he’s a good guy, not a creepy weirdo. And the rest of chapter thirteen was pretty boring, all in all. There was some comedic relief (Emmett’s bet), but not enough for me to feel excited to keep reading.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Port Angeles (Ch. 9)

Is it read-worth? It’s official. You should just throw this book away. I always hate the Port Angeles scene when I reread the Twilight series and I hate it equally as much in Midnight Sun. Stephanie Meyer should be ashamed of herself. Using sexual assault as a plot device and then ignoring all the ramifications of sexual assault is degrading to survivors. It demeans them. If you’re going to write about a sexual assault scene then fully cover the impact that that scene should have. Don’t just completely drop the ball.

Photo: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers sourced on the Den of Geek Blog

SPOILERS: Ah, my least favorite chapter so far. I was not looking forward to this one and I was right to dread it. Chapter nine delves into Bella’s trip to Port Angeles where she is almost sexually assaulted by a gang of men. She is almost gang raped. And, instead of it being processed as a traumatic event, Stephanie Meyer simply uses this event as a plot device to bring Edward and Bella closer together. It is horrifying. It is triggering. It is just deeply, deeply unfortunate.

Stephanie Meyer didn’t use her platform to shine a light on victims of sexual assault, or give advice on how to handle shock and trauma. No, she used the idea of violent rape to bring her two main characters closer together. It is deeply degrading to me, as a survivor of sexual assault, to have this event be handled so poorly. It should not have been included in the book at all, not if Meyer wasn’t willing to start a larger discussion about sexual assault and it’s consequences. Not if she didn’t want to provide survivors with resources to recover with. Not if she didn’t want to follow up with anything related to that scene. She didn’t. She dropped the ball completely.

I just hate it, plain and simple. 

I hate it. 

It’s everything wrong with Twilight summarized in a single chapter. Bad writing, without a doubt. Edward’s internal dialogue is just ridiculous half the time. He is extremely melodramatic. It plays into Bella’s identity as only really being a damsel in distress in need of saving. I hate that. Bella could be so much more than that. And it uses a terrifying life event as a ploy just to completely ignore it and move onto a completely unrelated topic. It’s horrible. The whole chapter is horrible. 

We should not read about an almost sexual assault just to ignore it and talk about how cool Edward is. We should be talking about the almost sexual assault. I cannot emphasize enough how much I hated this chapter.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Edward and Joe (Ch. 6 – 8)

Is it read-worth? I mean these chapters were somewhat better than the previous ones. I wouldn’t dare to call them amazing, but they didn’t make me cringe quite as much. They were bearable. Plus they were slightly less offensive than the previous segway into stalking and obsession were. Dare I say they were read-worth? Maybe for the most die-hard Twilight fans, but even that’s a bit of a stretch. They’re better, but still not good.

Photo: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers sourced on the Den of Geek Blog

SPOILER ALERTS: This contains spoilers for both Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer and You by Caroline Kepnes.

Does anyone else get total You vibes from Midnight Sun? I don’t think I ever realized just how similar Joe and Edward are until I started reading chapter 8. I could almost believe that You started out as a fan-fiction of Twilight, like so many other books about creepy, unhealthy relationships with abusive men do. The parallels between the two are plentiful. Even Joe and Edward’s personalities are, at their core, very similar. They both simultaneously seem to see themselves as heroes and villains. They are monsters in love with the perfect girl who they must protect at all costs, even the cost of hurting them themselves. They’re both obsessive, believe that their thoughts have more intrinsic value than the people around them, and, with the release of Midnight Sun, it is overwhelmingly obvious how similar their internal dialogue is. It’s actually insane to think about. If I squint at them from far away, I might just think they were the same person.

Of course, there is much more honesty in You than in Midnight Sun. Spoiler alert: You tells the story of an abusive man who stalks and kills his romantic interest. She doesn’t live up to his high expectations. The book is creepy and yet utterly captivating. The author, Caroline Kepnes, does not try to portray Joe as anything other than he is. Even as Joe’s internal dialogue tries to defend his stalking and other actions as romantic and loving, it is obvious that Kepnes believes they’re anything but. I loved it. 

Unfortunately, Meyer does not seem to agree when it comes to her own character. Edward’s stalking and his other abusive behavior are excused as romantic. Even in later books, when Edward refuses to let Bella see her close friend, Jacob Black, that is excused as Edward being overprotecting of the love of his life. It isn’t called out for being abusive behavior. It isn’t labelled unhealthy.

Even as Edward calls himself an obsessive weirdo and a stalker, it’s obvious that Meyer thinks his behavior is okay. No one in the books question it. Even the ones who know about him watching Bella sleep seem to excuse the behavior completely. There’s nothing wrong with him stalking Bella. She’s just a fragile human girl. She needs it. I was expecting at least one person, Rosalie perhaps, to call him out on it, but they never did. They just made comments about him missing fun events to sit in the bedroom of a teenage girl and watch her sleep without her knowledge or consent.

Yuck.

When thinking about the two characters, it is also strange to think that many readers read about this behavior (or watch it on the television screen) and are attracted to Edward and Joe. Many young women absolutely love them. They think they’re sexy. They find their behavior appealing. They wonder if they will ever have a man “love them so much” that they, too, will be stalked and controlled by them. What is it about abusive men that attract young women? Is it the fact that books like Midnight Sun make this behavior out to sound like the ideal relationship instead of the emotional prison that it is?

Personally, I think it is. Young women are being taught to think that this is how men act when they love you. It’s getting better with time, but many women would still rather seek out men who exhibit these unhealthy patterns of behavior than a healthy, stable partner who respects them and their space. Not all women, probably not even most, do this. But some do. And that’s an issue, not an excuse for a romance novel.

I really want books to start being accountable for the ideas they spread, to be honest. Not to the point where legal action should be taken or anything, but just personal responsibility. Disclaimers, possibly. Like it’s one thing to write books like Midnight Sun, it’s another to act like they’re love stories. I want to see ‘THIS ISN’T ROMANTIC. IF YOUR PARTNER ACTS LIKE EDWARD, THEY NEED THERAPY AND YOU NEED A HEALTHIER PARTNER AND RELATIONSHIP. WATCH OUT FOR THE WARNING SIGNS. PROTECT YOURSELF.’ at the end of Midnight Sun. I don’t think I will though. Maybe one day. 

But those are just my thoughts on one tiny itty bitty little scene in the book. There were other scenes in chapters 6 through 8. So maybe I should talk about those too from beginning to end. 

And chapter six did start off relatively okay. I think Edward’s realization that Bella is clumsy was supposed to be a chink in her armor, a way to see past the perfection he described earlier. It didn’t necessarily come across like that all the way. I just think it was supposed to. He still thought her clumsiness was adorable. But it was the beginning of something, maybe? A little bit more realistic than his endless spiel about her selflessness and generosity and maturity? I don’t know. 

Side note: I do wonder when clumsy girls became more attractive than they used to be and if it directly relates to books like Twilight being released. I remember when I was very young that clumsiness was not an attractive trait. People would laugh at you. Now a lot of people, particularly men, seem to find it cute. Fine by me. I trip over everything.

I think in the case of Edward, Bella’s clumsiness plays directly into the hero part of his hero/villain complex. He feeds into feeling like a bad guy most of the time, but I also think he wants to feel like a good guy. Being able to quite literally catch Bella every time she falls would appeal to him. So I get it.  It was just something I found interesting about the beginning of this section of chapters.

During the blood drinking scene, I always find myself wondering if vampires still have a blood type. I always wondered that in the original book and I was hoping Edward’s thoughts would answer my question. Do vampires digest the blood that they drink and use it to produce their own blood? Or is it literally the blood they drink running through their veins? Is their blood venomous as in other vampire series? How does it all work? I want to know more.

I also found myself wondering, later on, about Edward’s understanding of human women. It is very, very, VERY strange that he has such a limited understanding of women considering he can hear all of their thoughts. It came as a surprise to him, when Bella and him were in the nurse’s office, that a speeding heart rate can be more than fear. The idea of her being attracted to him was shocking. Even as he constantly emphasizes how beautiful vampires are, he doesn’t seem to relate that to his own appearance. Edward always seems to believe that women fear him more than anything else.

That may be true, but doesn’t seem to be the case the majority of the time. Almost all the thoughts from the women near him relate to how attractive he is. It’s very strange that Edward can hear their extensive fantasies about him and can hear their thoughts about how attractive he is, but completely fails to recognize it as a pattern. He also fails to understand the outward signs of a woman being attracted to him. Even if he tried to tone most of those thoughts out, Edward should still have somewhat of a better understanding of women and romantic relationships than he does.

He should also have a more defined understanding of women considering the fact that Edward’s trait is mind reading because, in his mortal life, he was so empathetic and considerate of others. He paid attention to the people around him. He understood them. Did mind-reading really make him lose this trait completely? I personally see no evidence that he is empathetic anymore.

And, even if he wasn’t a mind reader, Edward could resort to normal human ways of understanding the people around him. There are countless movies and books on how to court someone. He could’ve read a how-to book for crying out loud. There are thousands. He has unlimited time to do so and seems to have an interest in learning. Why has he never researched human relationships? Why has he never seen a romance movie? If he and his family are so interested in acting human, why do they have absolutely no understanding about humans?

I mean honestly… Why is he so clueless about everything? He wasn’t born yesterday.

I did, however, enjoy the fact that Edward knows he’s clueless. I mean the boy is entirely incapable of reading body language. His social interactions are awkward and creepy. His behavior is unsettling. He cannot pick up on any social cues or hints. Seeing him admit that he had no idea how to court a woman was refreshing. Nothing had ever been more obvious! Stalking someone is not how you court them.

I also liked the fact that Edward could admit that he was a little bit out of date with those ideas, but I wish he had applied them to other parts of his life as well. Edward’s personal behavior is absolutely littered with outdated ideas of romance, obsessive behavior, and somewhat sexist views of women and female sexuality. He spends half the novel so far coming across as a mix of a stalker and a grumpy old man who refuses to understand or appreciate any modern ideas.

For example, when it comes to Bella, he seems to view her as a complete damsel in distress. He believes she is completely helpless. I don’t personally enjoy books that describe women as weak and helpless, and that perspective on Bella honestly hurts the book so much. I don’t want a weak, boring, hopeless woman that the main man needs to save every two seconds. I want her to be the hero too. His ideas about her and her ability to take care of herself are completely out of place from a modern perspective.

I find this strange from a literary perspective as well as a scientific. His ideas are just so outdated for a teenage boy to have and, physically, Edward is still a teenage boy. He was frozen in time at seventeen years old, not 90+. His brain should still be just as flexible and responsive to new ideas as it has ever been. Would he really have such a hard time seeing women as strong and independent people, fully able to care for themselves? Or would his brain be able to adapt to the traits of more modern women?

His perspective on female sexuality is similarly outdated. Any female sexual interest in him is met with disdain. He may find the idea that Bella finds him attractive appealing, but he seems to look down on anyone else that does the same. He doesn’t understand physical attraction in regards to how Rosalie and Emmett’s relationship works. He dismisses sexual interactions as a sin. He internally mocks those who are hurt by his lack of interest in them. He is supposed to be empathetic, not intentionally cruel and dismissive. I just don’t get it.

I just don’t get him.

I also don’t get why Meyer has such an obsession with her main female character, Bella, being “so different” than other girls. It bothered me in the previous chapters and it’s still bothering me now. Every interaction with Bella is littered with statements about how unlike normal human girls she is.

It particularly bothered me that he emphasized how nice it was that Bella doesn’t wear makeup. While it’s fine that Edward is more attracted to makeup free faces, girls don’t wear makeup just to impress the people around them. Makeup is a personal statement. It reflects who you are or who you want to be. Edward’s commentary on her makeup free face felt like more of an insult towards teenage girls who wear makeup than a compliment towards Bella. I’m probably overreacting, but it still bothered me.

And it bothered me in conjunction with how Edward continues to treat Rosalie throughout these two chapters. I understand that the two characters are supposed to be at odds with each other, but isn’t there a limit? He is so cruel to women that he doesn’t understand. And he never really tries to understand anyone except Bella. So his take on Rosalie just being a jealous, vain, and petty person with no more depth than a shallow pool of water totally grates me. It is a shallow understanding of her. She may enjoy the way she looks, and take pride in it, but that doesn’t make her shallow. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking pride in their looks – even at the extent to which she does. And she may come across as abrasive, but that doesn’t necessarily bother me either. Rosalie wants to protect herself and her family. She isn’t concerned with a human girl that she doesn’t even know. I personally like her as a character and I think her background story shows her inner strength. She is a survivor, not his mother. She doesn’t have to be kind to him.  She can be proud of herself. I’m all for it. 

Although I do still kind of wish Rosalie would call Edward out on being a psycho stalker, but alas. I suppose all characters have their flaws. 

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Edward’s Perception of Bella (Ch. 2 – 5)

Is it read-worth? So far, it’s still a definite no. I have too many problems with Edward and Bella’ relationship and somehow they’re all worse in Midnight Sun than they were in the original series. I’m just really not enjoying it so far. I wish that Meyer had used her platform in a better way, not to promote such unhealthy versions of teenage relationships, romantic and otherwise.

Photo: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers sourced on the Den of Geek Blog

SPOILER ALERT: I find it curious that Edward is so condescending towards Mike’s perception of Bella when his own perception of her is equally as delusional. He spends these few chapters I’ve just read agonizing over his own relationship with Bella, trying to avoid her, and, then, listening in to her interactions with the people around her, primarily people who are romantically interested in her. Is his obsession with her because of Alice’s vision? Perhaps he knows he will love her one day so he can’t help but pay attention. Or is it because he wants to have more material to punish himself with every time the smell of her blood makes him want to kill her?

I feel like I’ve made my own perspective on Edward’s relationship with Bella very apparent these past few blog posts. I’m just not super impressed with as a role model relationship for the young women who read these books. It’s creepy and weird. I think the only real reason that Edward is so deeply attracted to her is because he wants to punish himself for being a vampire. He wants to feel like a monster. He wants to hate himself. He wants to continue this cycle of self pity and self hatred that he has experienced throughout the last century of his existence. He wants to obsess over her, even love her, to the detriment of himself.

If Stephanie Meyer played up on that, I’d probably like these books better. If she played up the storyline of a creepy, obsessive, self-hating vampire stalker that follows a human girl around, it would be an extremely interesting series. It would be a totally different series. But she doesn’t. Instead, she makes it sound like this is the epitome of romance. It’s not. I don’t love it. I don’t want women to enter relationships that look like this and think that their partner’s less than savory behavior is because they’re in love with them. Romance should not involve obsession. It should not involve listening in to every conversation you have. It should not involve stalking.

Anyways, I find Edward’s perspective to be extremely hypocritical throughout these chapters of Midnight Sun. He mocks Mike for not noticing the little things he notices about Bella, such as her going out of her way to avoid confrontation or trying to help people who are experiencing awkward social interactions. He laughs that Mike is trying to make Bella into something she’s not, something more like himself.

Meanwhile, Edward totally misses the point that he’s doing the same exact thing. His view of Bella is through similar rosepainted glasses. Edward wants to see a girl who is so perfect and undeserving of death that he can further perpetuate his cycle of self hate with their image. He wants a girl who smells so good that he wants to kill her, but who is kind and caring and selfless and generous. He wants perfection to accentuate his own imperfections. If he was ever with her, he could continue hating himself for delaying the life of someone so perfect. As he does throughout the original books. He could also never stop hating himself for wanting to kill her. If he changes her, he would never stop hating himself, at least in part, for that. The perfect person for Edward is the one that makes him feel unworthy, like a monster.

I wouldn’t mind any of that if not for the fact that it feels like Meyer, the author, doesn’t see the hypocrisy in his behavior. She makes it feel like Edward’s unique perspective of Bella is the real one. I think she genuinely believes that Bella is perfectly selfish, unique, and so much different than other teenage girls. The fact that she isn’t that different from anyone else, and that Edward is so condescending towards others perceptions of her, is really what bothers me about that scenario. The entire book belittles normal people, calling attention to and complimenting people who strive to be different than the average person. Bella is better than her friends because she is so much more mature, quiet, and kind to others. Edward is better than others because he doesn’t have such mundane, teenage thoughts.

And this is neither here nor there, but I’m really getting sick and tired of this whole “I’m not like other girls” perspective that books like Twilight and Midnight Sun spread throughout young female readers. People try to act like it’s a compliment to girls to not be like other girls. When I was young, hearing phrases like these made me feel special. I felt like I was better than the people around me. I am unique because I’m not like them. They’re all the same. I’m not

But I wasn’t better than the people around me and those thoughts I was having, which were being encourage by popular media, were actually extremely destructive for myself and for the women around me. It’s okay, even fantastic, to be like other girls. You should not have to be different from them to be amazing. They’re amazing too.

Having thousands of girls strive to adopt a unique persona that separates them from each other is socially destructive. It’s harder for girls to form real relationships with each other. It’s hard on their self esteem to be constantly questioning what they themselves actually like. It’s hard for them to believe in themselves and others when they’re constantly looking down on their own femininity and trying to avoid being similar to other women. By creating and spreading the idea that women have to be “not like other girls,” you’re impacting their ability to just be themselves. 

You are also creating deeply ingrained ideas of misogyny and internalized hatred towards women and femininity. Essentially, by encouraging this unhealthy mindset throughout almost all of the Twilight series, Meyers is helping create misogynists who don’t even know they’re misogynistic. I wish that she had avoided doing so, particularly when it comes to the characters that surround Bella.

Jessica, as a character, is perhaps the worst example of this. Throughout these chapters and the couple of opening ones, Edward discusses her thoughts only in negative ways. Jessica is only mean, jealous, and selfish. She only has mean, jealous, and selfish thoughts. She is a stereotypical mean girl with no depth of character. It would have been well-received to see someone who is only described as terrible have at least one kind thought. Even the meanest of girls are not always mean. It would have been well-received for one moment where she acted out of character at least to detract from this idea that only girls who are different from the norm have value.

That idea also comes into play throughout Edward’s interactions with Rosalie these past few chapters. Meyer’s description of Rosalie only makes her out to be a callous, self-centered individual with deeply shallow thoughts. Rosalie may be mean to the people around her at times, but she is worth so much more than such a lacking personality. She is a survivor of violent assault. She is deeply wounded by her inability to be a mother. She loves Emmett and her family very much. She is not just a “shallow pool of water.” She is so much more and deserves so much more from Edward and the author.

What also annoyed me about these chapters was that, after rejecting Mike’s perspective of Bella as a person, Edward then went on to feel annoyance at Mike’s own feelings of possessiveness towards Bella. I understand that possessive men are annoying, trust me, but coming from Edward? It’s ridiculous. Mike’s version of possessiveness towards Bella is a hundred times healthier than Edward’s. Edward literally goes on to stalk Bella. He follows her around. He analyses her interactions with people. He sneaks into her bedroom to watch her sleep. He’s a freaking creep. None of this is romantic.

For a book whose target market is young women, I don’t feel like these past few chapters were healthy reads. They spread horribly misogynistic ideas. They describe a relationship characterized by stalking and the dismissal of the people around them. They are cruel to average people, particularly teen girls. I really didn’t enjoy them. But on to the next ones! 

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: First Thoughts (Ch. 1-2.5)

First of all, disclaimer: I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m about two to three chapters in and I think I’m going to end up writing about the book as I go and then doing a final review at the very end. But so far? Not super impressed.

Like I’ve said previously, I don’t hate the original Twilight series. I enjoy reading them sometimes. I do, however, find a lot of the story-line and interactions offensive. I think Edward’s relationship with Bella is abusive. I think Meyer misses the mark on many scenes. I think she misses the opportunity to discuss real world problems that teens may have to face as they grow up.

For example, that scary scene where Bella is almost assaulted by a group of men? That was a great opportunity to discuss the horrible reality of sexual assault in this world and how to move past such an event, even if it is just overcoming a situation in which something almost happens. Instead, it’s just used as a device to bring Bella and Edward closer. Meyers glosses right over any type of recovery process. I could vent about that all day long. What a missed chance to bring some light to a bad situation. She could have used it to give survivors of assault a glimmer of hope. But she didn’t.

Nonetheless, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Even though I could. For paragraphs. I’m here to talk about Midnight Sun and what I think a few chapters in. And, to be honest, to its detriment it’s entirely what I expected so far. Having grown used to Edward’s constant self description as a monster, I wasn’t surprised by the intro. I was expecting an internal monologue of self-hate, admissions of guilt, and constant self questioning. Am I a monster? Is high school purgatory? Is this the punishment for my sins? Please give me a break. It’s just an unnecessarily large amount of dramatics for the beginning of a book. And there’s no comedic relief from it, which would have been well received on my end of things.

I equally disliked Edward’s interactions with Tanya during the beginning of the second chapter. They felt dishonest. How could Edward spend one hundred years as a teenage boy and never feel attracted to another person? Why has he never wanted a romantic relationship prior to Bella? I get that he is the type of person who is more attracted to personality than appearances, but it felt ridiculous that he had never encountered a personality that made him consider a romantic relationship. It’s been decades.

Maybe his refusal to date could be explained by how self-involved he is and that he just never notices anyone outside of his own cycle of self pity, but that feels a little bit shallow. There isn’t much depth to it. I don’t want the main character’s only personality trait in any book to be that he hates himself and loves a girl. His refusal to date anyone, for me, just really cements that that’s all there really is to Edward. Giving him even one ex romantic interest would have helped make him more well-rounded as a character. The one rebuffed would-be lover just isn’t the same.

Plus, sometimes it bothers me that Edward’s a vampire who believes he’s predestined to go to hell and he never really runs with that. Instead, he wastes time trying to prevent himself from sinning in other ways. What’s the point? He’s already damned. It feels like Meyers is trying to cater to a very specific audience that does not believe in premarital sex, but is doing it in the most illogical way. Edward believes he is evil. If he believes that premarital sex is evil, wouldn’t he have tried it at least once? At least in conjunction with the belief that he’s a horrible monster? He loves having ammo to hate on himself with.

Beyond that, I also wasn’t expecting certain scenes to be more annoying than I found them in the original Twilight series. One stands out in particular so far: the scene where Bella and Edward are having their first semi-polite conversation. I can’t entirely explain why, but it drove me nuts that she seemed so weirded out by Edward calling her Bella. She had been enrolled at that school more than a couple days at that point. With such a small school, it wouldn’t be unusual for people you haven’t talked to to learn small new details about your preferences. I went to a small school. You learned new things about people you barely knew all the time. That’s high school.

Plus, it’s perfectly explainable on his side as something that isn’t weird to know. It isn’t mind reading. It isn’t suspicious. He had simply heard more people talking about their interactions with ‘Bella Swan’ instead of their interactions with ‘Isabella Swan.’ She had already corrected half the school probably. It just seems like such a random thing to put a character on edge. In the real world, it’s unlikely she would have actually noticed.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be this annoyed with the book so far. I was annoyed at certain aspects of the overall series before, but not the actual chapter-to-chapter events and conversations taking place. The internal dialogue wasn’t so grating in the original book either. I kind of just breezed through the entire series. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already finished the original series that these first few chapters seem so much more aggravating. I don’t know if I’ll get to the point where I actually enjoy reading Midnight Sun. Right now, I’m more curious than anything else. I guess I’ll find out soon.

Eight Things The Twilight Series Did Wrong

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?

The Good + The Bad: The Twilight Series

Is it read-worth? To be perfectly honest, I don’t know a single person my age (22) who hasn’t read The Twilight Series. Was it worth the acclaim it got? Not really. Was it an okay series? Yeah, probably.

Let’s begin with this: I honestly don’t hate the Twilight series. 

I know a lot of avid readers find the writing to be lacking and the scenarios to be cliche (and they’re not wrong), but I’ve never thought they were the worst books in the world. In fact, I used to read New Moon once every couple of months when I ran out of new books to read. I thought Jacob was one of the few realistic and entertaining characters – no offense Edward fans!

They books are simple, a lot of bit cliche, and they’re all very, very readable. The Twilight series is designed to be a series of page-turners and Stephanie Meyers collects all the features of a good page turner. The books are dramatic, relatable at times, and there’s death, drama, romance, and some pretty interesting side stories going on. 

But, with that being said, I don’t think Bella Swan or her relationship with Edward are examples we should be setting for high school students falling in love. This book targets that age ground between 13 and 20 and, especially for younger girls, they’re not the best example. 

The book may be a good, easy read with a (sometimes) compelling storyline, especially at first glance, but it also has a lot of downsides that I’m not sure can be reconciled.

The Good and the Bad

It’s confusing to say I don’t hate this book, but that I do hate the main characters and the relationship that they have. 

Stephanie Meyers just isn’t a bad writer in my opinion. Her book, The Host, is one of my all-time-favorite books and I like her simplistic style. Many people she over describes at some points, but I don’t mind that either. Sometimes I want a book that over describes things to me.  I particularly enjoy world building.

And there’s a lot of attention-catching scenes in the Twilight series. The things that happen to Bella Swan, the almost deaths and accidents that target her, keep your attention throughout the book and make it easy to read. The only problem with those scenes is that Bella herself is a super boring, lackluster character who is only really defined by her own lack of self esteem and her obsession with Edward. 

Even when she almost dies, like at least once every book, it’s all about Edward. 

I’d honestly cry a river if I could. Anyone who’s so focused on their boyfriend while they’re getting brutally murdered needs to get professional help, not be turned into an eighteen year old vampire who will spend all of eternity obsessing over said boyfriend to the storyline’s detriment. 

But, anyways, back to the good: I do like all the other characters. Unlike Bella and Edward, characters like Alice, Jacob, Jasper, Dr. Cullen, and Rosalie all have interesting stories, attitudes, personalities. They’re realistic human beings who aren’t stuck in a little bubble. Even Jessica, who is a total teenage stereotype, has more personality than the stale piece of toast that is Bella Cullen. 

And I love them for their personalities and, more than that, I love a lot of the characters because they’ve turned themselves into survivors and not victims. 

Dr. Cullen found a way to survive without drinking human blood when he was turned and didn’t spend years whining about what a bad person he is like Edward does constantly. 

Jasper was in a violent vampire war (okay, a little bit of an ugh here) and was one of the most vicious vampires on Earth until he realized he couldn’t handle being a monster and became a better person. He searched out a better life for himself and found it. 

Rosalie Hale survived rape and assault at the hands of her own fiance before being turned into a vampire and, yet, was still capable of finding love. Her personality is abrasive and unforgiving. She feels real.

All of these characters are more intricate and just better written than Bella and Edward. They aren’t as completely self centered and have extremely interesting backgrounds. Maybe they’re just better overall because they aren’t so singularly focused on their own relationship to the exclusion of all else. 

In any case, they’re what makes the story fun to read. These books would be nothing without some interesting characters. 

Unhealthy Relationships

But, like I said before, Bella and Edward aren’t those interesting characters we need or want in a book. 

Bella Swan is a weak girl and, because of her own lack of self esteem, she is absolutely obsessed with being in love with Edward to the exclusion of all other people. She doesn’t maintain great relationships with her friends and, at the end of the series, she’s even okay with letting her parents spend the rest of their lives thinking she died than live without Edward.

In a nutshell, she’s that girl you tried to be friends with in school who always said no when you asked her to hangout because she has plans with her boyfriend.  And, while at times I literally was that girl, I don’t necessarily think that girl should be used as an example of real love.

Yet, it would still be fine with me if her relationship with Edward was anything to be impressed by.

Which it’s obviously not. 

Why? Because their relationship, to me, doesn’t come off as beautiful.  It’s not amazing. It’s not something to envy at all.

And it didn’t deserve to be made into a movie that made millions of girls go “wow I wish that was me.” 

I know for some people Edward and Bella have some beautiful star crossed lover/Romeo & Juliet appeal, but for me their relationship just seems unhealthy, sad, pathetic, abusive, dismal. 

Even weak obsessive Bella Swan is unhealthy for Edward, a guy who seems to get off on hating himself for being a vampire. She is clingy, obsessive, and he literally wants to kill her 24/7. 

For a man who is hell bent on hating himself for being a vampire, she is the perfect punishment for being one.

He doesn’t want to kill humans, she puts him a situation where it’s almost impossible to resist and where he can’t even tell how she’s reacting to him, he decides to fall in love with her, and he is in pain almost every second he manages not to kill her. 

Does he really love her or does he just love having another excuse to think he’s a monster? 

Honestly I’m really not sure because even in the end, when she became a vampire, he didn’t genuinely want her to become one. He thought it would take her soul away and destroy her chances of going to Heaven – one of the main reasons he hates himself so much. For over one hundred years, Edward thought this and Bella seems to think a quick redirection on her side will change a belief system he’s held for more than most humans are alive. 

Does Edward change Bella into a vampire because he genuinely loves her (lacking) personality or is he just coming up with a more long-term reason to continue with the self-hate and brooding his personality is defined by?

Romance at its finest or just messed up? I think my opinion is pretty obvious. 

And, then, we look at the other side and why Edward shouldn’t be what girls go looking for. 

His “love” for Bella is just as obsessive as her love for him, but is a million times creepier and more abusive.  He’s a stalker.

Message to all girls: an over-controlling guy who has to actively keep himself from murdering you probably isn’t the best boyfriend material. Neither is someone who thinks he’s always right and acts super condescending towards you.

And he does this on multiple occasions. He secludes her from her father and friends, forbids her from seeing Jacob, and at one point he even wrecks her car so she can’t be around other people. He even mentally checks in on the people she talks to so, when she’s not around him directly, he stills knows exactly what she’s doing, exactly who she’s with, and exactly what they think about her. 

Other than that controlling behavior he shows directly, you may also want to consider leaving someone who causes you to be attacked and almost die multiple times.

Dying isn’t romantic. 

Murder shouldn’t be romanticized. 

Abusive relationships where a man tries to control your every action is NOT romantic. 

Bella is delusional to think that dying because of love, especially recent love where you’ve known your boyfriend for less than a year, is something that is desirable and telling other young girls that this is a good option for them is crazy. 

Plus, sneaking into someone’s house to watch them sleep is also NOT romantic. 

It’s creepy and weird. If someone sneaks into your house and watches you sleep, you should not end up marrying them. You should probably break up with them, call the cops, and maybe even move out of the area. (All jokes aside, make police officers aware of a situation similar to this. Their hands are usually tied, but you want situations similar to Edward’s relationship with Bella on public record.)

And, beyond all of the mental abuse, Edward is physically abusive. 

He hauls Bella around when he think she can’t handle something, shoves her so hard in a scene with Jasper to the point where she needs stitches, and breaks a headboard and seriously injures every inch of Bella’s body during sex. 

Edward is incapable of controlling his actions and physically wounds Bella during multiple scenes and yet… it’s all justified… as him being a vampire? 

That sounds like an excuse from someone who is in an abusive relationship, not like a real reason. And, even if that is the real reason, that vampires genuinely can’t control their own violence, why would Bella blindly accept that? 

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you should allow them to hurt you. Even if someone can’t help but hurt you, they are still hurting you, you are still at risk, and you should still leave them. Your life has value. Your pain has value. Do not let someone devalue you because you love them. That is not healthy.

Stalkerish, abusive behavior should NOT be romanticized throughout this book. There’s no character that completely calls out this behavior and Bella never stops a second to think about what she’s doing with her life. Jacob tries to, but even his reasons are more grounded in being in love with Bella than calling her and Edward out on their weird-as-hell In fact, at eighteen years old, she even decides to die for the chance to be with Edward.

How It Should Have Ended…

Reading the book is one thing, but idolizing it is another. Stephanie Meyer should have made it more clear that behavior like this in real life isn’t cute. Or maybe the movies based on this book shouldn’t have continued the romanticization of unhealthy relationships. 

In my opinion, this series should have ended when Edward realized he was unhealthy for Bella and left her. This was probably the only moment where he was doing the right thing. 

We could have focused on Bella getting better by herself and becoming a stronger person as a result. This series could have been a metaphor for how hard it can be to get out of unhealthy relationships, but how rewarding the final results can be for you. We need books that tell us that, even if we love someone, sometimes we just have to move on because it’s better for us.  No matter how romantic the story may have seemed, it needed to draw a line for its primarily young readers about the types of behavior and attitudes they should accept in their own relationships.

Instead it’s just a sad story where a lonely high school student decides she’d rather die than live without Edward, would rather ruin the rest of her parents lives than live without Edward, and would rather continue to be spineless than grow a backbone that allows her to be her own independent person instead of a shadow of Edward’s self-hate. 

Maybe if the author had called out how inappropriate, abusive, and almost pathetic this relationship is even once, I’d be able to say that the storyline isn’t so completely absurd and, instead of just liking this book as an easy read with compelling side characters, I’d actually say this a truly good book.  Her only attempts at doing so were Jacob’s negative comments and all of them were dismissed as jealousy.

That being said, the books are what they are and I still enjoy reading them. I just don’t think they should have been made into what they are. Young girls shouldn’t be left thinking that this is what love should look like. 

Love is being with someone who makes you want to be better than yourself. Edward and Bella’s unhealthy, abusive, creepy, interdependent relationship isn’t a good example of that. It isn’t healthy. It isn’t something that should be encouraged. 

And, in large part, it hurt the series. 

Plus what was up with the fact that the big battle of Breaking Dawn never actually happened? Lame.