The Twilight Saga, by Stephanie Meyer, 2005-2008, Series Review

I read this entire saga while I was couchbound a few weeks ago. Then I watched the first four movies. Four books, four movies, all in the same week. Okay, I got a little hooked. It’s not my usual fare, but since the final movie is due out next week, I thought I’d post a review, even though I’m probably the last of ten billion people to do so.

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Tension. That’s what makes book one tick. Tension.

Remember in Finding Nemo when Dory goes to the support group with Bruce the Shark? You know, “fish are our friends.” Then she bumps herself and that little bit of blood turns Bruce into a raving predator? “I’m havin’ fish tonight!” It’s the same sort of danger in Twilight. Bella is a seventeen-year-old human and Edward is a hundred-year-old vampire. Bella smells as good to Edward as Dory does to Bruce. But somehow the two of them fall in love, and the reader is never quite sure if Bella will live or die, never quite sure how much self-control Edward can manage.

That’s basically the plot of the book. But somehow it kept me reading. I enjoyed it. Romance isn’t my usual thing–that’s why I came to the series so late–but I’m a little surprised (appalled?) that I liked it as much as I did. I came to love the characters, the rainy Washington setting, the fantasy. I remember that high emotion from high school. It was a fun read.

Ms. Meyer does several things right. She creates characters that capture the heart and imagination. By forming a love triangle, she tangles up the emotions and makes you keep reading. And each book builds to an exciting conclusion.

But I can name quite a few reasons I’m giving the series a high age recommendation. One, obsession. Bella, like many modern literary teen heroines finds her whole existence in Edward. She’s smart, cute, well-read, and very capable, but “since coming to Forks, it seems as if my life was about him (Edward).” She has absolutely no self-identity.

Two, Bella makes a dangerous relationship look glamorous. Let’s face it, Bella’s choice in men is pretty unwise. A girl should never have to wonder if her man is going to kill her. That kind of relationship is completely unacceptable in the real world.

Third, it makes heroes out of the traditional villains. Don’t vampires and werewolves represent all that is unholy? Yet in this one we’re cheering them on.

And finally, it really is pretty shallow. So I won’t be recommending The Twilight Saga to young readers. There is some mild language, but not much considering the length of the series. Sexual content is restrained, but it is very sensual. In the last book, after Bella and Edward marry, they do live as husband and wife. There are no graphic scenes, but it’s rather candid. If my daughter was in her late teens and old enough to realize how absolutely unrealistic this series really is—not just the supernatural but the romance and the perfect hero as well—I’d probably let it slide. However, I’d recommend age 17 on this one.

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I mentioned the last movie opens next week. I’m so pathetic. I just may have to call up a girlfriend and go.

8 thoughts on “The Twilight Saga, by Stephanie Meyer, 2005-2008, Series Review

    1. You know, I feel the same way. I have no desire to go looking for more werewolf or vampire books, and I hardly every pick up a romance. But a friend told me I should just try them, so I did, and Stephanie Meyer does something that works. The main supernatural characters are really just regular people in very unique circumstances. Maybe that’s it.

  1. Have not read the books, but did enjoy the first movie. Great review of the series and the movies — glad you had something to be hooked on during your recovery. Only problem for me, is what vampires represent — the stealing of power. Don’t like that message romanticized.

  2. I just read the entire series a month or so ago, Michelle. I, too, didn’t get what all the fuss was about until I started reading them and couldn’t put them down! lol If you’re looking for a movie pal, I’m in! 🙂

  3. I haven’t read them, but my wife read the first book (after recommendation from her daughter), and like many YA books with female leads, she had a real problem with Bella for many of the reasons you mention. She gets irritated by the female leads who are supposed to be strong, but are really weak and rather whiny (realistic of high school girls? Possibly. But do I want to read it? Not necessarily.) Much the same issues I had with The Hunger Games. Main character is so savvy and intuitive in so many areas, but so obtuse when it comes to the male lead.

    I’ve also heard the quality of the writing isn’t that good, but I didn’t see you mention it, so it must not have struck you as too terribly bad.

    Hope you’re on the mend.

    -Paul D. Dail

    1. Hiya, Paul. The writing isn’t the best, but I found it “overlookable” when I got to know and like the characters. I could take or leave book one, but I started to get hooked when Bella’s friend Jacob featured more prominently. He was a regular guy, other than that werewolf thing. Bella was a much more likable character around him. But I guess it would have ended the story if she just ditched the vampire and married the werewolf.

      Yeah, I can’t see too many (if any) guys enjoying this read. It’s pretty fluffy romance. Like I said, I’m a little appalled to find myself susceptible, lol.

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