I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I don’t plan on it happening any time soon. However, curious as to what all the hype was about and with a holiday weekend ahead of me, I decided to borrow my friends copies of the four Twilight novels by Stephenie Meyer and see what the hype was all about.
I think I have it all figured out. Meyer’s novels appeal to their mostly tween audience, intellectually, in about the same way that a Snickers bar appeals to the sweet tooth. Sure, it’s not particularly nourishing, but it’s desirable all the same.
For the three people who’ve managed to avoid the ridiculous amount of hype surrounding the Twilight franchise, the story centers around one Bella Swan, a pale, shy creature whose parents are divorced, who is more intelligent than most of her classmates, and who has an alarming propensity for attracting life-threatening situations. The only reason she manages to stay alive past the first couple of weeks in town is that she has attracted the attention of one Edward Cullen.
Cullen is a member of a family of vampires who have given up feeding on humans because they have consciences, or fluffy nougat centers, or something. I forget which. Meyer’s vampires, however, offer a twist on the traditional mythology: instead of burning up in the sunlight, they simply sparkle. The reason for this is lost to the ravages of time, but I have this theory. There was a stripper, see, and it was prom night…
Anyway, Edward and Bella love the improbable love that has never been loved by any lovers before. Like all Mary Sue characters, Bella falls desperately in love with Edward the very first time she lays eyes on him, and the attraction is mutual. There’s nothing original there – every romance story of all time starts and ends with the heroine in love with the hero.
The appeal of these books, just like the aforementioned candy bar, lies not in their ability to offer anything new. Nothing has changed at all except for perhaps a few insignificant details: the names, the setting, and the bizarre iteration of what it means to be a vampire.
Also like a chocolate bar, these books start out appealing and then, as you work your way through them, they begin to get subtly sweeter and sweeter, until they finish on a note that leaves a strange taste and sensation in your mouth that sticks around until you brush your teeth.
In terms of nourishment, I’d be hard pressed to find something with less value and more empty calories than a Snickers bar, or the Twilight series, but I still love them both – something, in both cases, that I occasionally find myself being a little ashamed of.