“Twilight is the #1 cause of obsession worldwide. Tell your friends.”
“Edward Cullen. Chivalry is undead.”
“You haven’t read Twilight? You fail at life.”
“I heart Edward Cullen. Oh, sorry. Does it bother you that I’m in love with a fictional vampire?”
“Twilight. It’s not the book. It’s the guy.”
“OME. Oh my Edward.”
“Sorry, I only date vampires.”
These are all quotes from Facebook flair. (If you don’t know what flair is…well…it’s kind of hard to explain.) I had no idea what the heck they meant, so I started doing a little internet research. Turns out, they’re all related to a series of books written by Stephanie Meyer. It also became increasingly clear that these books have quite a female constituency. A cult following, if you will. I started asking around whenever I was with girls from the youth group and several of them had read the books.
In an effort to be current and knowledgeable of youthful trends, I decided that I would look into this series and see what it was like. At the very least, I’d be able to talk about it with the girls. I obtained a copy of Twilight, the first book in the series, from a high-schooler and opened it up one night to read the first couple pages before I fell asleep.
I put the book down at 7:30 the next morning.
I’m the kind of person who can sleep wherever and whenever the feeling hits me. Curled up in the corner of an airport, head drumming against a car door window, in the middle of deep conversation with a friend. Logan says that he could be doing a crazy dance with a rose in his teeth and it wouldn’t matter to me if I was sleepy. The only times I’ve ever stayed up all night were when it was schoolwork related in college or slumber party related during puberty. And I have never, ever stayed up all night reading a book. Until now…
Since the book itself deals with the subject of obsession, I can’t really decide if Stephanie Meyer is that good of a writer or if she just happened upon the most visceral and powerful yearnings of the female populace. Either way, if any man came to me and asked to know the heart of a woman, I would point to this book. Because if I were the betting type, I would bet that any girl or woman who has ever read Twilight has thought:
Bella Swam is me.
Edward Cullen is the perfect man.
I love reading so much and have been an avid reader for so much of my life, that the feeling of, “I can’t put this book down!” is not new to me. Throughout the Mandy Series, then Frank Peretti and The Cooper Kids Adventure Series, Jane Austen, “The Woman In White”, and Dostoevsky, I’ve been able to pinpoint the symptoms of book lust. A racing heart; fingers grasping the pages until my knuckles turn white; savage annoyance at anyone that intrudes on my reading; an unwillingness to let other thoughts enter my mind. In fact, these feelings have kept me away from novels at many different points in my life as I feared that I would let my love of “story” interfere with my devotion for the Lord. So even during the first surge of my breakneck reading of Twilight, I had my wits about me and kept trying to decide whether or not it was okay to want to keep reading a book this badly.
Here are the reasons why I kept reading:
1. Okay, okay. I’ve got to be honest. I really wanted to get to the part where Edward and Bella declared undying love.
2. Essentially, this is a story about a vampire who thirsts for the blood of a girl but is so in love with her that he won’t consume her and a girl who is so attracted to a vampire that she desires his presence even if it means her death. There is something very profound here about the nature of love. Can you love without consuming? Can you love without being consumed? I wonder if the teenage girls for whom this book was written have been able to see a little more clearly that true love changes you and consists of more than gifts at Valentine’s and someone to sit with you when no one else will. I’m starting to think of Twilight as Til We Have Faces – For Dummies. And I’m a dummy. So I like it.
3. Because of the nature of the relationship, Edward is constantly having to restrain himself and fight temptation in Bella’s presence and Bella is constantly having to keep herself from becoming too attractive of prey. There is an obvious metaphor for lust. The lessons within the scenes of Edward and Bella alone together could be a valuable tool in teaching teenagers to reign in their hormones and to see the necessity of doing so.
4. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bella’s mind is the quintessential mind of a woman. I found comfort is reading my delights detailed, my fears understood, and my blindspots revealed.
5. Edward Cullen is the perfect man. Now, this is the best and worst part of the series. It’s good because it touches upon the most guarded and tender parts of a woman’s heart, parts that are created and sustained by God alone (and shall I say, meant for God alone). It’s bad because there is no such thing as the perfect man. Edward Cullen is a lie. (As a side note, therein lies the beauty of the writing, for Edward Cullen is a vampire, he is damned, he is forbidden, impossible to reach.) The danger here is that this book become some sort of female pornography, causing women and girls to desire something that they can and never will have. It could easily cause a girl to be eternally disappointed once she marries her own Edward Cullen. So…good and bad.
6. It’s some darn good writing. In New Moon, the second book of the series, the author utilizes a writing device that I have never seen and is quite brilliant. While being simple, her writing is also purposeful and there aren’t many thoughtless words or tangents. Kind of like a J.K. Rowling for girls.
7. There’s one part in which Bella makes a realization about love and trusting the love offered you that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
8. Except for a handful of cuss words, it’s clean. I don’t know what I expected from a vampire romance, but clean definitely wasn’t on the list. I wonder why Meyer decided to keep it so tame. With her subject matter, there were loads of opportunities to drop expletives, tinker with the occult, even add sex. But she doesn’t. Perhaps because it’s intended for teenagers. Perhaps because Meyer is a Mormon. Either way, it makes me happy. There are also a couple times when characters actually discuss God, heaven and hell, even creation and evolution. Weird, huh? Like I said, it makes me happy.
I think those are all the reasons why I like these books. It was enough to keep me reading, anyway. All night long. And then the afternoon. And then the next day. And then almost all night long again. And then all day. Oh man…I am so lame.
I’m kind of glad that it’s all over. Even though I know there are two more books out there and a movie soon to hit theaters, I think I’m going to take a little break.
I’m going to go do the dishes. There are a million plates in the sink and a gallon of ice cream melting on the counter. I guess the fifteen seconds it would have taken me to put the ice cream in the freezer was just too long to be away from my book.
I’m going to get some sleep.
I’m going to talk to my friends in the youth group who have read Twilight and see what they think about it. I’m expecting some good conversations. I think this book could be a springboard into a dialogue on love, relationships, lust, and obsession.
I’m going to thank God for good books.