Essay On Twilight By Stephenie Meyer
Stephenie Meyer has several strikes against her as far as receiving serious critical attention from established academic critics. She is writing young adult fiction that blends horror fiction with romance; all of these genres are traditionally critically neglected. Many of the articles that do examine Meyer and her work focus on a few repeated topics: her place in publishing (cast as the next J.K. Rowling), the fanatical devotion of her fans (who dress up for events), the seeming contradiction of a Mormon writing a book that revolves so intensely around desire and predation, and, finally, Twilight's relationship to its genre context.
For example, James Blasingame's highly positive review discusses how Twilight relates to other vampire fiction, but also to other thrillers, drawing parallels between the vampire hunting Bella and serial killer novels such as Silence of the Lambs. Blasingame also praises the novel as fantastic, a judgment fellow Mormon writer of the fantastic Orson Scott Card would largely echo. Card makes the fine point that Edward Cullen has all the qualities of Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy (and, one might add, some of the emotional character). Instead of the money, though, Edward has extended life and superhuman strength. The review published in the School Library Journal makes strong points about how these other factors (the tension, the supernatural qualities, the threat Edward carries) add new energy to the teen romance novel, giving first kisses particular meaning. It also points out the novel's high level of realism, which creates a tension in itself with the book's "eerie" qualities.
Publishers Weekly praises Twilight for the how well Edward works as a metaphor; he may be a literal vampire, but he stands in for every threatening but attractive male. The review did point out that the plot is weak and the final section rushed. However, Lev Grossman, writing for Time, disagrees; he finds Meyer's control of tension and pace superior. Instead, it is the quality of the prose he finds wanting, and, by implication, the emotions he finds overdone.
Twilight tells the story of Bella Swan and the vampire she falls in love with, Edward Cullen. Bella moves to the small and rainy town of Forks, Washington, to live with her father after her mother remarries. She hates the rain, but at least she fits in better in Forks than she did in her huge high school in Phoenix, Arizona.
On her first day of school she sees Edward Cullen, one of a group of five students, all of whom seem inhumanely beautiful and aloof toward the rest of the school. Bella is hypnotized by Edward’s good looks, but for some reason, his first response to her is incredibly negative, and she even overhears him trying to switch out of the biology class they have together. He slowly begins to become less hostile, although he warns her that it would be better for her to stay away.
One day, when Bella is almost crushed by an out of control minivan, he saves her life. She cannot quite understand how he did it, though. Right before the crash, she saw him across the parking lot from her.
When some of the students take a trip to the beach, Bella meets Jacob Black, the son of her father’s good friend Billy Black and a member of the La Push reservation. She gets Jacob to explain why the Cullens won’t come to La Push, and he tells her it is because of some old legends that his people have that the Cullens are vampires, and while they do not feed on humans, they are still not welcome on the reservation.
Bella suspects that this may actually be true, but she decides that even if it is, she doesn’t care. When she confronts Edward about it, he tells her the truth. He explains that this is why she should stay away from him--even though he chooses not to hunt humans, he is especially drawn by her smell and may not be able to resist her. She cannot stay away, though, because she has fallen in love with him. Likewise, he is too much in love to push her away, even for her own good.
He takes her to watch while he and his family play vampire baseball, and while they are there, another, more violent vampire coven comes by. The leader, a very old, very lethal vampire named James, catches Bella’s scent, and when Edward defends her, he sees a chance to engage in a challenging hunt. Edward knows—because he can read minds—that James won’t give up until he has killed her.
Bella and all of the Cullens come up with a plan to try to get her to safety while also protecting her family—taking her to Phoenix—but James is clever and manages to trick Bella into coming to see him alone (she believes it is to save her mother’s life). There he almost kills her, but the other vampires arrive in time, and Edward saves her. He has bitten her, though, and Edward must use all of his self-control to suck just enough of her blood to get the vampire venom out without killing her. He succeeds, and Bella is left with only a few broken bones and a cut on her forehead.
Bella heals and goes back to Forks, where Edward surprises her by taking her to the prom. She tells him that she wants him to change her into a vampire too so that she can be with him forever, but he is staunchly against it, not wanting to take her life from her while she still has another choice—and while she still has her family.