Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Vulpes Libris’ All Time Greats -The Top Ten: Number 5

 

At Number 5 on our All Time Greats list is this storming piece from Eve.  Published on  March the 7th 2009, it attracted a massive 169 comments, many with capital letters well to the fore (and YES THEY WERE SHOUTING).  If you want to check out the original post – with comments – you’ll find it HERE.)

Without further ado, we bring you the one, the only, the magnificent Eve Harvey on:

WHY I HATE TWILIGHT

twilight

… let me count the ways…

Okay, this was always going to be a contentious idea, to write a piece about why I hate a book.  I mean, it’s all subjective isn’t it? One man’s meat and all that. And I just don’t go round willy nilly hating books, and I certainly don’t talk about them here if I do. But there are certain things about Twilight which are downright wrong and I think these things should be talked about if only to get other people talking about them.  And Stephen King started it…

So, first off I’ll give you my position on the whole Twilight saga phenomenon.  I have read the first book, Twilight, in fact I read it in about two days, flat out, couldn’t put the bloody thing down.  (I think there are drugs impregnated in the paper.)  All the way through I was groaning and moaning, slamming the thing down only to pick it up again five minutes later, then getting so annoyed I’d shut it away in a cupboard and then hear it singing to me… “Eve, Eve, come read me… you know you want to… (honestly, drugs I tell you!).

What is the book about?  Erm… vampires and romance, I guess – but no sex, definitely no sex.  Bella goes to stay with her dad, she meets beautiful Edward in Biology, then Edward isn’t in Biology, then he’s back in Biology again, they play baseball and he glitters, there’s a big fight (during which Bella is unconscious – more on that later), she’s rescued, the end.

So, let me count the ways…

1) It’s very strangely written, almost like an accountant’s dissertation on the difference between gross and net…

I stared at the deep-voiced boy, taken aback, but he was looking away towards the dark forest behind us. He’d said that the Cullens didn’t come here, but his tone implied something more – that they weren’t allowed; they were prohibited.  His manner left a strange impression on me, and I tried to ignore it without success.

… the girl is supposed to be 17 years old for gawds sake, she sounds like an old man smoking a pipe and wearing a cardigan with leather elbow patches.

But that’s not why I hate Twilight.

2) Nothing happens!  Abso-bloody-lutely nothing.  I kept waiting for the excitement and tension and the fulfilment of the promises given in the first line of the Preface…

I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few moths – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

… would you not have expected something wild and terrorising after this?  It is a book about Vampires after all.  But no… pages and pages of touching and looking and angsting and Edward not being in Biology, and then him being there, and then not… and nothing momentous at all.  And then, when there is an opportunity for a big fight and loads of action Bella passes out and we miss it! WTF??? I threw the book at the wall at that point (only to retrieve it 10 minutes later and start reading again… really it was the drugs!).

But this isn’t why I hate Twilight.

3)  Everyone is beautiful and the way they’re described is almost nauseating. I got to the stage where I wondered if I could survive reading any more about alabaster skin and billowing caramel hair and perfect lips.  Ack!

The thing about all of this though, is that Bella is supposed to be totally unremarkable.  She’s goofy, accident prone (to the point of being almost a clown, unable to walk in a straight line without falling over!), she isn’t sporty, she isn’t pretty and she doesn’t relate well to other people… then she comes to this town and tah-dah everyone is in love with her.  Not just the gorgeous, alabaster, billowing perfect Edward… but everybody!  How did that happen?

This is not why I hate Twilight but it does lead me on to…

4)  It is the most obvious Mary Sue story in the history of literature.  It has to be.  All the things that happen are just far too good to be anything but total wish fulfilment for Stephenie Meyer.  I know writers all put some of themselves into their books but jeeeez, there’s a limit to how far they should go.  There’s a fabulous piece on Cracked which illustrates my point far better than I can.

But this isn’t why I hate it.

5) There are many, many, many other annoying things – the plot holes the size of the grand canyon, the deus ex machina, the creepy 100 year age gap between the main characters, the sparklyness, the fact that Bella’s smell turns Edward on – not her witty conversation, not her intelligence, or her kindness …

… we’re getting to the reason why I hate Twilight…

6)  I had always felt deeply uncomfortable about the way this book portrayed Bella.  At the start of the book she seemed pretty clued up, a normal teenage girl.  By the end she was a lying, pathetic, characterless stooge and all thorough the actions of one man… the hundred and odd year old Edward Cullen.

Her smell turned him on so much that she had to try to stop smelling so he wouldn’t kill her.  She had to keep herself chastened, for fear of sending him into a feeding frenzy.  She apologised all the time for being herself.  She trailed around after him like a lovesick puppy and eventually she could barely stand up without his help.

“Get in,” a furious voice commanded.

It was amazing how instantaneously the choking fear vanished, amazing how suddenly the feeling of security washed over me – even before I was off the street  as soon as I heard his voice.

He commands her, he’s livid with her, he gives her instructions and she follows every single thing he tells her to do.  She surrenders her mind, body and spirit to this guy without a second thought.  She lies to her father to cover up what this boy is and tries desperately to keep him and his family a secret…

… this is why I hate Twilight!

The girls reading this stuff are as young as eight or nine years old, I know, I’ve seen them buy it and I’ve seen their parents buying it for them… and their parents have never read the book themselves.  At that young age girls have not yet formed opinions or attitudes and they’re ripe for influence.  An article in the Guardian gives a brilliant account of exactly the way I feel about this.  I won’t go into the fact that the author is a Mormon and has admitted that she has used her real-life attitudes in her writing (read my point 4. for back-up about this!), but I will stress that there are some questionable motivations and opinions in this book which could be influencing a generation.

So yes Twilight does appear to be addictive, it does have some totally cheesy writing, some wooden characters, some gawdawful plot points – but all of these are totally forgivable (hell I read Flowers in the Attic about a million times when I was twelve!).  But the thing I won’t forgive is the portrayal of women as weak-without-a-man creatures who need told what to do and who should follow exactly what their men tell them without question… that’s a dangerous message to give our children.

About Eve Harvey

Eve Harvey is a bookaholic. She is forever to be found with her nose in a book. If there are none around then newspapers, magazines, the back of cereal packets, road signs or the tiny washing labels found on the seams of jumpers will do. Eve has a full time job as a children's bookseller. She was, in fact, the very first Waterstone's Children's Expert Bookseller in Scotland. Her first love then really has to be literature for children and teens, although she has been known to read grown-up books (not very often though - they didn't put in enough hours when they invented days). She especially loves to find brand new authors and is always on the lookout for a stunning début... Eve lives in a field just outside Edinburgh in Scotland with her daughter and son and two dogs and two rabbits. She also has some tanks of tropical fish and vows one day to start up a marine aquarium. And the day she signs her very first publishing deal she is going to celebrate by buying a pair of Horsefields tortoises. You can find Eve through her Agent, Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency. She's also on Twitter or on her website : EveHarvey.com

5 comments on “Vulpes Libris’ All Time Greats -The Top Ten: Number 5

  1. Christine Harding
    August 27, 2012

    One of my daughters bought this, so I looked at it, but didn’t fancy reading it, and I notice The Daughter didn’t take it with her when she moved out, which speaks volumes about her views on Twilight. I shouldn’t really comment on a book I haven’t read, but you’ve written a wonderful review, and I totally agree with your final sentence.

  2. Jane Steen (@janesteen)
    August 27, 2012

    Love this post. I read the first book to find out what the fuss was about, and noted the same drug-like effect; there’s a powerful, hormone-laden eroticism about it that pulls you back to the days when you were 15 and afraid of getting pregnant and, well, let’s draw a veil over that long-ago part of my life. My daughters (both young adults) have read the series more than once, so it’s obviously just as addictive for them.

    Once I’d put the novel down, though, it left a very nasty taste in my mouth, like a bad hangover (my misspent youth seems to be resurfacing in this comment). I never wanted to read the other books.

  3. Pingback: Twilight, or, ‘Is this it?’ | ThePageBoy

  4. Jackie
    August 27, 2012

    I’ve enjoyed reading this review again just as much as I did the first time. It’s hilarious!

  5. sshaver
    August 28, 2012

    Like that Ack.

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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