I think I’ve finally found a theme that I really like. I’m going to try and stop flip-flopping between them. This whole week I’m out at day camp (started yesterday). I’m already sunburned, which sucks pretty hardcore. I guess I’m bad at putting sunscreen on the back of my neck. I think the interaction with people is helping me get into better moods, even though it’s frustrating, hot, and humid.
Down to Business
I’m a huge nerd. I love anime, video games, web comics, and reading. Eventually, I’ll talk about all of them because I’ve found some amazingly well written animes, games, comics, and, of course, books. For now, I’m going to focus in on a book that I really can’t get into. As the title says, I’m going to be talking about the dreaded Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
Since I’ve been out at camp surrounded by a ton of girls aged 5-18, I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot about Twilight. When I first heard about Twilight, which was sometime right before I started college (holy crap that was a long time ago…), I’ll admit that the idea was interesting. I’ve never finished the first book, but we’ll get to that in a bit. I like when writers try to take the old and make it their own. The sparkling vampires gave a new twist on the “vampires can’t go in sunlight” idea. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even finish the first book. I couldn’t make it out of the first chapter and there are two huge reasons that I couldn’t.
Point Numero Uno: Bella Swan is a Mary Sue
For a little bit of background, the term Mary Sue originated back in old Star Trek fanfiction. This first Mary Sue was a lieutenant at the age of 15, nursed Spock and Kirk back to health, ran the ship while they were sick, and died saving the universe. The basic definition is a character who is far too something, yet still has no flaws, or her flaws really aren’t flaws at all. So how does Bella Swan fit into this? Even after the first chapter I could tell that she did not and would not have any flaws. Before people start yelling that “she’s really clumsy!”, clumsiness is not a flaw for a normal human being. Maybe if the character is a gymnast, or a warrior, or something of those natures, clumsiness would be considered a flaw. Within the first chapter, Bella tells us that she has read everything on her English class reading list (which includes Brontë, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Faulkner). By the way, I’m a college grad and have read all four of those authors, seeing them on a reading list would likely make me nervous rather than comforted, its not entirely believable to me that a high school student would have read and understood the underlying meanings (those who protest read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner and tell me how easy it is to understand). She also tells us that she is a freak and that she is not attractive. By the end of the chapter, there are several boys interested in her. Futhermore, Bella has a really indistinct personality. She is just like any teenage girl. There is nothing really standing out in her personality that sets her apart from the crowd. Between her lack of personality, her “flaw” of clumsiness, and several boys showing interest so quickly, she clearly has some very Sue-ish tendencies.
Point Numero Dos: Writing Style
I have a few issues with Stephenie Meyer’s writing style. When doing a first person narrative, a writer has to make sure the narrator (Bella) has an interesting voice. Because Bella is a little scant in personality, her narrative comes off very blah.
The big point is the adverbial writing style. What this means is that Meyer is relying on adverbs too much. A verb should be able to stand on its own without the modifying adverb. The only word that doesn’t fall under this is “said”. When you’re doing dialogue, the word “said” is the default, no whispering, yelling, screaming, etc. However, there are a bunch of adverbs throughout the first chapter, far more than there should be. If you took all the adverbs out of the first chapter, it would be even more bland.
The final point I’m going to go into is where the story starts . My writing professors drilled it into our heads that it was very important to start a story where it starts. So my question is, where does the story of Twilight start? Do we really need to see Bella talking to her mom? Or should we just start with Bella in Forks and get the conversation with her mom and the plane trip in narrated backstory? I know, this is a little thing to nitpick at, but starting at a different point can really strengthen a story.
Remember, these are my opinions. If your opinions are different, I’m not telling you that you are wrong. I’m just saying that the writing in Twilight could be a lot better.
Thanks for reading!