Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Experience with Twilight

Twilight has become one of those things that people love to knock, and sometimes I think they knock the book without knowing why, or at least without having their own reason, without parroting someone else's opinion. I wanted to write a post that would allow you all to feel as if you could discuss Twilight without feeling you're breaking that taboo (i.e. Did you read... Twilight?! *whispered and secretive*). I'm going to talk about my experience with it - how my feelings have changed over time, and maybe the rest of you can comment on your own as well.

I didn't actually know about Twilight until I heard about it from the other girls in my school. I was kind of a misfit - on one hand, I had friends who were social/somewhat normal/etc. (and who told me about Twilight) and on the other, a group of friends who were self-dubbed "the art freaks." They definitely would not see Twilight. Because I worked at a pizza parlor with unpredictable hours, I couldn't go to Twilight with my "socially normal" friends. So reading Twilight became this secretive thing I would have to do on my own.

And I liked Twilight, when I got to it. I reread some scenes. I went to the bookstore as quickly as possible to get the sequels.

When I was in high school, Twilight didn't bother me. In fact, I'm pretty sure I liked the book for the same reason that many other girls did. Because I was somewhat like Bella. I was clumsy and awkward and caring and waiting for someone to see me (though I'm definitely not selfless, let's be honest. I think that made her into more of a heroic figure for me, at the time. Or at least represented an ideal for me to achieve. Because if I was more selfless, I would have let this guy go... *see below for more details*).

(Of course this doesn't mean that being like Bella is the only way to like Twilight. I mostly point this out because Bella and Edward are the reasons why I don't like Twilight as much now.)

For those people who find this strange... No. I didn't care about gender expectations/Edward being a controlling alpha type. I did, but not really. I cared when my father would tell me alone to wash the dishes, and my brothers would watch television while I helped my mother cook, and my mother would ask me to make my brothers sandwiches instead of having them make food on their own. I didn't care when it came to books. I swallowed whatever my family told me, and part of that was what to expect of a man - what he would do for me. I'd come to expect a man sweeping me off my feet etc. etc. As for Bella taking care of her father? I did that. When my mother and brother left for Lebanon two weeks before the rest of us, I cooked food for my father and I, waiting until he got home from his work to do so. It was not anything against the norm for me, and even now I probably wouldn't object to the idea, only to how it's portrayed. That's what makes it key--what maintains or transgresses the line of equality.

I liked Edward. (Let's not get into the Jacob debacle, because this post is going to be long enough as it is.) It was more of what he represented that made me like him than his personality. The idea that a guy would like me no matter what I did. That he loved me for me (at the time: did not think of co-dependency etc.) -- it is romantic, and it stuck with me. I'd had an on/off relationship with a guy for almost my entirety of high school. Maybe a month before I had read Twilight, we got into a huge fight--the type that makes you not want to ever speak with that person again. And in this fight, he more or less had said that no other guy would ever like me.

No, he did not apologize. We both said some seriously ugly things to each other, but neither of us took back our words. Reading this book a month afterwards? It was a balm to those sores. And it was exciting. And it gave me hope again. Because I'd always taken it for granted that this guy who had liked me--maybe even loved me--would always do that. When he didn't, well, it broke my faith in myself. Edward and Bella--the hope of their relationship, that he could see her faults and still love--that got to me and made me hurry to finish each book.


Now that I'm in the college. Now that I've grown so much in four years. Now that I've read so, so many other books. (Before Twilight, I mostly read YA contemporary, or just novels for school. I definitely did not read as much as I do now.)


You can tell how I feel about those gender expectations. And about Edward and Bella. And about high school me, who was a lot less self-confident than I am now. And about the book, in general, as summed by another wise Christina ;). I can recognize that Stephenie Meyer did a good thing by making the stakes high in Twilight, by making their forbidden romance exciting. I can recognize that without her, YA literature wouldn't be what it is today. I can recognize the good of the novel without feeling like it's a novel that I would enjoy 100%. Because I wouldn't read it with the same enthusiasm anymore. But that doesn't mean I don't understand why others might still enjoy it.

Anyways, I wanted to put this post up because I think Twilight sometimes gets a bad rep. I think we're all afraid to discuss it in public - that talking about this book has become taboo! Which is terrible! We're censoring it, and we're bloggers! I don't know how you feel about censorship, but I don't like it. And I don't like what we've done in regards to this book, so please... Feel free to discuss it here.

I would like to open this post up for discussion about Twilight. Whether you hate it, like it, love it... what it's done for you or what you wish it had done. What you think of it. etc. etc. Your experiences.


  1. I love this post, and I completely agree with what you have said! :)

    I will always be glad I read Twilight because before it I had completely written off YA, and I never would have found so many other amazing books. Plus, when I first read Twilight I loved it, not so much now, but I still do not hate it.

  2. THANK YOU for addressing this! I've personally also addressed it on my blog, because personally I have been in love with the story of Twilight since I read it my senior year of high school (in August of 2008). I reread them all the time.

    To be honest I get really upset when people absolutely bash it! It bothers me, because a lot of these bashers can't respect those of us who actually really like this story.

    While I don't want a vampire as a boyfriend, Twilight also gave me hope that their could possibly be a nice guy out there who will love me for me, and everything that comes with that.

    I'm sorry to hear that your on/off boyfriend said that! That is just awful! He should honestly apologize for something like that, I think personally!

    But it will happen! We will meet dream men! :)

  3. I've started to read Twilight, because everybody was talking about it. I hated it, but I think that it's because of the fact that I've been reading all my life. Even when I was little I devoured books, so perhaps I was used to books with.. better characters and more story. Most of the times, I hear people saying they love Twilight because it gave them their love for reading. I already had that love for books and YA :)

    I won't judge anyone who likes Twilight, just like I don't want to be judged for the books I like. It's all about personal taste.


  4. I love twilight the first time i read it some many years ago. I love the idea that there is perfect man that love the woman with unconditional love

  5. I try really hard not to be a dick about Twilight, because, much as I have issues with it now, I ATE IT UP when I first read it.

    You have just explained perfectly why Bella appealed to all of us misunderstood teen girls. Surely one day all of the guys will realize that they want this, even if I'm not exceptionally gorgeous, intelligent or approachable. SURELY.

    Thanks for sharing that personal story. What a douche. Ugh.

    Oh wow, thanks for the link! :)

    As for how I feel about Twilight, I guess I'm sort of okay with it. I don't mind that people like it or hate it, though I REALLY hope no one actually thinks it's the BEST BOOK EVER, because it's not well-written. However, you can enjoy books you know aren't that good.

    I also have the utmost respect for Twilight in that it got a lot more people reading. Teens read it when it got popular because it was popular and so did moms, many of whom may not have been readers before but kept up the habit once the series was over.

    What I do NOT like about Twilight is how hard so many other books try to repeat that success with the same formula. I've read several books that were pretty much exactly the same: different paranormal and names, but mostly serving up the same slice of melodrama. Authors need to do their own thing, not copycat successful titles.

  6. My thoughts and experience with Twilight ran a bit long so I made a blog post about this myself. I really hope you don't mind, here's the URL:

  7. @ Zachary - of course I don't mind!! I feel so honored that you wrote an entire post because of this :D.

    And thanks to everyone for commenting and sharing :).

  8. I can completely understand your post. I was an adult (early 30's) when I read the Twilight series. Everyone kept telling me I "had" to read them, and I ignored it until my sister, who is not a big reader, even said it. So, I finally relented and read the first book. At the time I worked 3rd shift and was able to read at work. I read it in about 2 days, and then the others very quickly afterwards. I did enjoy the series, even re-reading them a couple of times. Since then, I have gotten into more adult paranormal series and don't re-read often due to my TBR piles being HUGE, but I can still see the good in it. If nothing else, it has led a lot of people into reading more, which is a great thing.

  9. As a Twilight hater, I loved this post. Yeah, the relationship is mega-unhealthy, but I think it's important to figure out WHY things like this are popular, otherwise how else will we address them?
    As for Twilight improving YA, I have mixed feelings- I definitely appreciate all the supernatural stuff, which is far more abundant, but it also brought in a huge amount of terrible clones :/

  10. @ Kirsten! :) lol I'm not sure I'd necessarily say Twilight improved YA literature - I mostly meant that there's been an explosion of YA lit since Twilight. Also, I think that with any popular book, you're going to get clones of it. I don't think that's a phenomenon reserved for Twilight.

  11. I have to agree with a lot of what you said. I read Twilight in high school and didn't see anything wrong with it. Now that I'm a little more mature and wise, I definitely see some problems with it. I'm not ashamed that I read it and I'm glad to see it's effects on the YA market but I have to say that I will probably never re-read the books. Once was enough for me. =P

    Great post!

  12. I haven't read the book but I've seen the movie, the first, second and the last (I'm not sure about the movie titles, I just know it's Twilight).

    I think it's so popular that people are reacting strongly to it. They either love or hate it and they care enough to let other people know it.

  13. Funny... My experience was similar. When I read it the first time I was 13 and I loved it. I was completely taken with it. Then later on, I read other books and got a bit older, and I saw that not all was great with Twilight. nd the more popular it got, the more it was discussed and argued about and I got an aversion to it. Kinda similar to 50 shades, which I liked even less than Twilight, but when it gets so in your face, you can't avoid it.

  14. Well said! It's funny how some people are almost embarrassed to say they have read Twilight, while I have students willing to announce it from the roof tops. I will not knock anything that has high interest and is a good pull for reluctant readers.

    I first heard about the series when I worked at a library during my college years. I was and still am always looking for YA books to pair with the classics. One of my coworkers suggested Twilight to go with Rom+Jules.

    Is the Twilight series "classic literature?" Of course not, but it does hold value in being a book(s) that keep readers reading, and let's be honest we're still talking and analyzing it. Therefore it does hold lot's of value if it hasn't yet left the spotlight.

    I personally am not as hooked to the movies as others, and honestly feel the movies gave the books a bad rep. I will say though that for tweens/teens the movie did create hype and interest in the novels and I will not speak negatively about something that encourages my students to pick up a books and read.

  15. I also read this back in highschool. I was fully into it. And now, I'm a bit more mature and can understand that there are issues with the story. Thanks for being so open-minded about it:)

  16. Thank you for such a beautiful and honest post. When I read Twilight, I did like it. I was focused on the not knowing what happened. When I finished Breaking Dawn and knew how the series ended, it was a big disappointment. After that, I was able to look at the series more critically, and I discovered and was upset by what you mention regarding the gender roles. Bella is a flat heroine in this sense and I'm not sure we ever know who Edward really is...

    Regardless, thank you for this discussion!!

  17. I've to say that I loved Twilight when I read it (like 4 years ago). I dreamed about Edward Cullen and the beautiful relationship he had with Bella, and also this books were the ones that encourage me to discover my love for books. As you say, eventually I read more books, appreciate other stories and I became less and less inlove with the series. I grew up and I started questioning a lot of Bella's decisions.

  18. I really should refer your blog to my sister. She had quite the same experience as you. She just got off a painful relationship before she read Twilight, and the promise of a love story and a happy ending with prince charming was what got her hooked to the series. But she did mature and she’d say she still likes the series, though she doesn’t buy all the ideologies presented in it anymore. Anyway, at least the series got you reading more! Just continue it – reading can indeed be a balm to our wounds and an escape from our uneventful daily lives.

  19. First of all, this is a really good post. You have basically summed up my feelings on the book as well. I read it at the 'appropriate' age where it was possible for me to be sucked into this ideal romance and to ignore the gender issues presented in the entire novel. I openly admit that I began disliking it once it become more 'mainstream'. It put me off. Suddenly all of these people which once mocked reading, especially reading fantasy/ paranormal/ anything that isn't 'normal', were now swallowing up these books. Following from this, I hated the first film. I absolutely hated it. The characters were nothing like how I imagined them, and by the time the first film came out, I had slowly began to see through the fiction to the real issues within the text.
    Now at Postgraduate level in my studies, I am hyper aware of how bad a message this text is sending out to young girls. Despite this, I was unaware of such issues at the time of my reading it at 14/15 (?)and have certainly not morphed into a man worshipping, all obeying woman. In fact, I am the absolute opposite haha. Although, I will admit, the older I'm getting the more I want to analyse the book. I think it'd make quite an interesting study!

  20. I actually didn't mind the films at first... and then I feel like either they became gradually worse or as my perception of the book/series changed more, I also grew more aware and couldn't watch the movies without laughing. (Why weren't the characters like what you imagined? Their looks or did you think the acting them or?)

    Also, what do you study?

    And yes, it would make an interesting study. I am currently in a children's literature course, which I find fascinating because all the things that you might not think about are there... even in middle grade novels!


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