In Defense of Twilight

I’m sure I’ve probably blogged about Twilight before. I read the first two books, got halfway through the third one, then flipped through the pages of the fourth one. I wasn’t interested in actually finishing the series because spoilers around the Internet told me far more than I needed to know about how it ended.

โ€œHarry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.โ€
โ€• Stephen King

Authors like Stephen King think Stephenie Meyer is not a good writer. (I’m sure Harold Bloom would have a lot to say on the subject, but then again, he thinks King and J.K. Rowling are horrible.) There are tons of websites on the Internet that go into detail about why Twilight is no good. Here are 100 Reasons Why Twilight Sucks and Reasoning with Vampires, which takes quotes from Twilight and analyzes how nonsensical they are.

The reason Twilight exists is not to be good literature. It exists as entertainment, pure and simple. It’s not meant to be taken seriously, and anyone who’s smart won’t take it seriously. There’s no deep message. The author isn’t telling young girls to go out and date a guy who’s controlling and overprotective. The books allow teen girls to vicariously place themselves at the heart of a romance and temporarily lose themselves in the fantasy world Meyer has created. The book’s audience realizes that it’s a fantasy and they won’t try to emulate anything the characters do in real life. They’re in love with the book’s romantic premise.

It’s a YA series – and even though I love reading YA, the majority of it tends to be very shallow in terms of character development. You can’t expect it to be brilliant literature. Take it for what it is. It’s meant to be an escape for teen girls – to allow them to envision an alternate world and take them away from the stress of being a teenager. Twilight is important and popular for the same reasons shows like Jersey Shore are popular: a mixture of romance, drama, and unrealistic elements. Read Twilight to be entertained, not to find enlightenment. If you want to be enlightened and have your mind opened, read Dickens or Faulkner or Proust.

19 thoughts on “In Defense of Twilight

  1. Well said Maggie. I actually love Twilight and like you say it’s an fun, entertaining read and strangely addictive, it’s not high brow literature. Sometimes critics just dislike popular things for the sake of it, they need to lighten up!

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  2. You know, I was just thinking about this yesterday. Books like Twilight aren’t meant to inspire thought.

    I don’t usually read books like Twilight on a regular basis but sometimes I do when I want to read something light and lose myself in a magical story. I guess it’s the equivalent of Enid Blyton or junk food–as an occasional treat it’s fine, but too much will make you sick.

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  3. I agree that Twilight is just an entertainment novel, but even the authors of those types of novels should make sure they know what words mean before they write them, something I’ve noticed a total lack of in Twilight.

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    1. That is true, but the novel’s intended audience might not want to sit there and think deeply about the meaning of each word.

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  4. “The reason Twilight exists is not to be good literature. It exists as entertainment, pure and simple.”
    I can agree to that. My wife loved the series but when she told me about it all I seemed to hear was it was a story about a girl that HAD to be with someone otherwise she was incredibly depressed. Which makes me love that Stephen King quote ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. In terms of literature, Twilight is not worthy of being called a book. However there are many things you can learn from it. From a marketing perspective, Meyer did well, either by accident or on purpose. I do not think Meyer was trying to write a good book, I think she did this project with a very focused base in mind and she reached her goal. This book series projects an unimaginitive world to live vicariously through, or just therapy over the one who got away.

    Rowling had different goals in mind, and one of them seems to be a market much more diverse than Meyers. Rowling wrote a character that can relate to most age groups and appealed to both genders. She created a world of her own that drew people in. I also think that while both writers wanted the fame, Rowling was looking to inspire more than a romance fantasy.

    I checked out the ‘Reasoning with Vampires’ Site and it had me laughing quite a bit, thank you.

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    1. I think Meyer wrote Twilight for herself. She didn’t intend on having as much fame as she did; her idea just happened to appeal to so many others.

      I don’t usually compare Rowling and Meyer; the only things they have in common are the popularity of their works and the fact that both works are based in fantasy. It’s just that they’re so commonly compared on the basis of fame.

      Yes, that site is hilarious! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  6. I think you’re right on as to the purpose (and perhaps value) of the Twilight series. For every book that is published, no matter by whom, or how talented, prolific or famous the author, there is always a detractor… often an army of them.

    I’ve never been sure whether the critics are actually qualified to judge the work they read. For one thing, the book they read is never the book written by the author. The author, any author, puts a tremendous amount of work into the writing, and has a relationship with the story that even a fellow-author cannot fully see and embrace.

    I love a good book. I love books that challenge me, occasionally send me to the dictionary. I like a book that makes me work, makes me think.

    I also like fun reads. Some of my favorite books, Time God, by L.E.Modesitt, Jr., for example, I’ve probably read a dozen times, and I always enjoy it. Modesitt is a good writer, but I don’t find deep, philosophical meaning in his pages. I find a well-crafted story with a character I’d like to be, given the chance.

    One of the old standbys, a major yardstick for success for an author is whether or not he (or she) can sell books. Meyer has not only sold books, but she’s sold movie rights. And that ain’t bad.

    I am neither a fan of these books nor the whole vampire as sexy creature thing, but there is room on the shelf for everybody’s book.

    I wish I had her money.

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    1. That just proves you can’t please everybody. There are people out there who are determined to hate what’s popular and what everyone else likes, whether it’s got merit or not. It’s true that nobody loves the book or its characters as much as the person who created them.

      And I wouldn’t say no to some of Meyer’s money, either! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  7. I tend to agree with King:

    โ€œHarry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.โ€
    โ€• Stephen King

    That said, I’m sure I would have enjoyed the Twilight series . . . many moons ago. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

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  8. I read them all, and I enjoyed them. And I’m okay with that. Like you, I recognize their entertainment value. I’ve liked many a bad movie as well (not the Twilight ones, though).

    Despite some of the poor writing that can be found in the books, Meyer told a story that resounded with millions of people – not all of them young adults. Even the writers who complain about her lack of skill or polish should recognize that, and strive to create stories that do the same thing.

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    1. Nearly every movie I like has been panned by critics. But who cares what critics think, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ If the author truly has passion for their writing, as Meyer definitely does, then that passion will come through and ignite excitement in others.

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  9. I actually love the Twilight books but I don’t like the movies as much. The books are entertaining and strangely addictive just as long as you don’t get too involved. It’s obviously fiction but some people take it too far and think that they’re vampires. I think that’s why the books have gotten so much harsh critique from reviewers. People need to remember that these books are actually originally based on a dream that she had [I think] so that’s why it’s all magical and stuff. It’s not a book that requires you to think hard about the plot, it’s just a book that’s supposed to make people happy :] And it makes me happy, as long as I read it in small doses :]

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    1. By that logic, all books have value, since every book makes at least one person happy. And that’s all that should matter. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. I’ve never read any of the Twilight books, but it’s not out of snobbishness. I’ve just never had the idea that I’d like them. My only objection, not having read them, is just that I think that the “not going out during the day” and “killing people and drinking their blood” things are pretty essential parts of the definition of “vampire.” Oh, and I’ve heard that the boy/girl dynamic is very trad (boy tells girl what to do, boy tries to control girl “for her own good”), but that’s just hearsay.

    Quality of writing (in the sense of how one uses words and so on) is really important to writers, editors, and critics, but mostly not to everybody else. So, Meyer’s not a “good” writer? It has nothing to do with whether she’s a good storyteller, and that’s what people care about.

    And, frankly, Meyer’s a woman and she writes mostly for young women, and that’s always easy for the critics to dismiss. I talked about that here http://u-town.com/collins/?p=2259 (including a link to Kristan Hoffman’s original post about “chick lit”). Steig Larsson had a lot of problems as a novelist, too, but people don’t dismiss his books in the same way.

    Oh, and Maggie, on the subject of critics, I read a piece a while back from Roger Ebert about why 3D would never work in films. It was very technical (based on how the human eye and brain work). And I’d heard all of those same concerns addressed earlier, by Paul W. S. Anderson, the director of the last Resident Evil movie (which was in 3D), but of course Ebert hates the RE movies, so I’m sure he wouldn’t be impressed. I wrote about that here: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=1955

    (And I love the Resident Evil films, critics be damned. It’s the sort of thing that people classify as a “guilty pleasure,” but I don’t see the point of feeling guilty about it.)

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    1. The only reason 3D doesn’t work for me is because I’m unwilling to pay the extra money to see a 3D film. It’s a cool effect, but not worth the price.

      I don’t usually pay attention to critics when choosing books or movies or anything else. If I like it, then I like it – it doesn’t matter what critics say.

      Thank you for the comment!

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