I remember the first time I saw Twilight. My older sister had checked it out from the library and I remember reading the cover flap. I don’t remember what my immediate thoughts were, but it was during the period of the time that I read many of my sister’s library books without her knowing in the middle of the night. Regardless of when I ended up reading it, I loved it. I loved the entire series though I was never Team Edward or Team Jacob (I was Team Jasper). Since then, a lot of criticism has come out regarding the Bella/Edward relationship. I was too young at the time to recognize any potential abusive situations so I was really curious how the books might read as an adult.
So here I am rereading the books over 10 years, a husband, two degrees, and a kid later. I am in as different a stage of life as I could possibly be from when I first read these books. First, I just want to talk about the writing. I found the first person narrative to be really grating. I’ve read other books that were narrated in the first person that didn’t seem so self-absorbed. I didn’t particularly enjoy being in Bella’s head that much. It was also clear to me that Meyer was trying to write in this really lush and descriptive way, but it doesn’t come off smoothly. Her descriptions end up bogging down the entire story. Honestly, I would love to take a red pen to these books because I think that we could cut out about 200 pages from EACH BOOK (probably 300 from the last one). Especially in the last book, I just noticed that it took FOREVER to get through the story. There were so many pages and chapters where nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. We get this huge internal monologue about nothing and when the character comes back to the present, five seconds have passed. It was just so infuriating, especially in the last book when I just wanted to be done.
The plot itself isn’t bad. It’s not a bad story by any means (despite the love triangle). I actually do find this entire community of vampires to be interesting. In the later books it gets more into vampire history and I thought that part was different and perhaps could have been expanded on. It just didn’t need to take as much time as it did.
Characters…this is ultimately where I feel the books really suffer. As a kid, I think I remember liking both Jacob and Edward fine. Bella was just okay for me, even back then. With this reread though, I realize that all of these characters are AWFUL. Bella is extremely codependent. She goes from an over-reliance on Edward to an over-reliance on Jacob. She also has this recurring problem of underestimating the paranormal creatures in her life. Or perhaps it’s less an underestimation of their skill, but an overestimation of their willingness to die for her? Anytime one of the groups (vampires or werewolves) decides to go fight someone, she has this freakout because she thinks everyone is going to die and it’ll be her fault. It’s such a complete overreaction and she does it time and time again. It’s infuriating. Obviously, they’re going because they think they can win–maybe give the paranormal creatures (who you really know nothing about) a little more credit, Bella.
This time around, I can definitely see that Edward is super controlling. In Eclipse, he literally is trying to tell Bella who she can be friends with. She has to ask his permission to do anything and it drove me crazy. It’s also super creepy that he crept into Bella’s room to watch her sleep. That will never not be creepy. He doesn’t start treating Bella as any sort of an equal partner until like…the end of Eclipse. He’s also terrible at communicating with her (as in, he doesn’t).
Jacob is hotheaded and not at all respectful of any of the choices that Bella makes unless he completely agrees with it. My jaw was literally on the floor when Jacob sexually assaults Bella not once, but TWICE. And he thinks he did nothing wrong! He sort of apologizes? But in a way that’s clear that he would definitely do it over again.
And now…the relationships. Bella and Edward quickly jump into being “in love” when “in lust” is more like it. What is their relationship based off of? Nothing of substance, that’s for sure. Bella can’t control herself when they kiss and if that’s not the definition of “in lust”, then I don’t know what is. Even as a kid, I remember being really confused by Bella’s physical overreactions. Later on in the series, Bella finds that she’s actually in love with BOTH Edward and Jacob. I know she’s supposed to be really mature for her age (even though she doesn’t act like it), but I just have a hard time seeing how a teenager could be truly in love with both Edward and Jacob to the extent that she seems to be. It’s just too much.
Lastly, let’s talk about Renesmee. Now, this part of the plot was a tad more of a stretch for me. Why does Renesmee grow and develop so fast? No one knows. On a side note, let’s talk about her name. Renesmee Carlie–the ultimate name mashup. So cringe. The cringiest of the cringe names. So bad. But back on topic, because of her quick development, I had a really hard time keeping an image of her in my head. Does she look like a toddler but act like a ten-year-old? Or is she just like…a mini ten-year-old? On another note, I didn’t love her interactions with Bella. Or rather…I didn’t love Bella’s interactions with Renesmee. I remember this from before as well–Bella never reads like a mom to me. Especially now that I AM a mom, I feel like Bella reads more like an older sister or something. There’s so much internal monologuing about literally everything else, but I just don’t feel from Bella what it’s actually like to be someone’s mom.
Overall, this was a very interesting experience and I’m glad to be done with it. I can safely say that I will not be rereading these books ever again and I have no interest in picking up Midnight Sun. Twos across the board.