Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series

Yes, I've read them. I have very mixed feelings about them. Are they appropriate for children? No. Stephenie Meyer writes about seventeen year olds, and thus these books might be intended for seventeen year olds but that doesn't mean that these books are appropriate for young adults. I mean just because Edward and Bella don't do anything but kiss and clutch, they still share the same bed night after night, all the while keeping her father in the dark. Some have told me, "It's completely innocent." How can that be true when Bella herself says she loses control everytime their lips touch?

Let me backtrack...Bella moves to Forks, Washington after living in Phoenix, Arizona most of her life. Her first day at a new school, she notices the beautiful but distant Cullens family. She sits next to Edward Cullens in science and senses that he hates her. She also notices his black irises, (in his eyes, not flowers) and his extremely cold skin. Edward misses the next few days of school. Much of the story is told in the mind of Bella, not much action or dialogue compared to the inner workings of Bella's psyche.

Speeding things up, Bella falls for Edward, who now has topaz irises. She is warned to stay away from him and his family, by Charlie Black who is fifteen year old Jacob's grandfather. Jacob tells Bella about his tribe's legends and why the Cullens aren't allowed on LaPush Reservation land. He refers to the Cullens as the "cold ones" and his own tribe as the protectors. Bella clues in and does some internet research on vampires.

She asks Edward about his "family" and learns that the Cullens are "vegetarian" vampires. They have chosen not to feed on human prey, rather they hunt wild game: grizzlies, mountain lions, elk. Vampires are created, not born (by surviving a vampire bite). Carlisle, the patriarch of this group, or "coven" of vampires was created by an attacking vampire in the 1600s. He has never taken a human life, and rather uses his superior senses to heal, working as a physician in the local hospital. The other vampires, Esme, Edward, Jasper, Alice, Emmet, and Rosalie were either created by Carlisle, because they were on the brink of human death, or created by others, led to Forks and willingly joined the Cullen way of life.

Now there are still plenty of other vampires, who murder innocent humans for food, and sometimes they visit the Cullens. But the Cullens respectfully ask them not to "hunt" in their area, so usually they go out of state. Jacob, and other young male members of his tribe, the Quileute tribe, have spontaneously starting changing into werewolves. They phase back and forth between human and wolf form, and strive to hunt vampires. We find out in the 4th book that they aren't actually werewolves but shape-shifters.

So that's the back story. I have not read the third installment, but the first two books are steeped with what Publishers' Weekly calls "sexual tension." I hate to criticize anyone's writing skill, but when Bella asks Edward in New Moon, "Do you want me for my body or my blood?" I actually laughed out loud. As far as an overall theme of good vs. evil, the plot of the book appears to be keep Bella alive, safe from friends, good vampires and bad ones, so that she and Edward can test their willpower while they fool around with each other's lips and bodies. There is some discussion of souls, heaven and hell and whether or not Edward believes he has a soul, which make these books slightly better than paperback horror/romances. Granted, in Breaking Dawn, Bella and Edward do wait until their wedding night, and she does choose to keep her half vampire baby against everyone's advice. However, her reckless moral behavior prevents her from becoming a true heroine. (I did not read the third book, Eclipse, as I do not want to spend my money on these, and the waiting list at the library is very long.)
Not Recommended.
cross-posted on A Catholic Mom's Guide to Good Books.


Power Up Love said...

the greatest gift...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've read all 4 of them, not just the first 2 which truly tells only 1/2 the story. I was so impressed with the virtues brought out in the first book of the series. Where is that found in literature these days?! It's wonderful to see that in a book directed towards teens. With the fourth book the idea of an unholy trinity is brought forth. This truly is a story of good and evil, and the difference is very clear.

Bella's transformation into a vampire at the last moment before her death is easily seen as a comparison of a resurrected glorified body. The description of her new sight abilities reveals how she can see the light and dark sides of each mote of dust in the air. Her hearing, feeling, awareness and sense of smell and taste are enormously enhanced, as is her realization that she thought she loved Edward before, but now realizes how little her "old" heart could love.

I could go on and on how the books show what a holy, sacrificial love there is between Bella and Edward, and among the members of Edwards’s family.

These books are funny, with many laugh-out-loud moments, and extremely well written. They are hard to put down, and just as enjoyable the second and third time around!

My recommendation is every parent and every teen read these books and discuss the virtues, values, depth of love and much more contained in them. I firmly believe this is Christian literature.

Warning: Stephanie Meyer's book, The Host, is interesting but objectionable: Early in the book birth control is mentioned as the man of the couple says he wouldn't want to bring a child into this world that has been taken over by aliens who inhabit human bodies. Later on, a dying man in extreme pain is euthanized.

Ronie Kendig said...

I stumbled onto your site after googling to find out about Meyer's new book, The Host. My daughters started reading the Twilight series, and they became absolutely obsessed. Now, I realize that often that is the way of teens, but something niggled at me inside. I finally had to draw the line when my youngest daughter started writing a vampire story about craving human blood. I'm sorry, but that's so far from what I'm wanting my children to focus on. anyway, I really appreciate your candor here. As an author myself, and a reviewer of books, I know it's not easy to post a dissenting post about a book that is taking the reading world by storm.

From one parent to another: thank you. Thsi told me more than I could get from my friends. I normally review what my kids read, but did not have the chance this time. A mistake I won't repeat.

Anonymous said...

I read the last book only. My friend is so obsessed that she talked about the first three so much that i read number 4 and understood it. I belive there is good and eveil in everyday world and these books are just like that. Fnatasy and fictional hapenings make a good plot, and Bella and Edward have not comited sin together, they are only hiding from bellas father because he can not find out bella is in love [its called being judgemental ehllo?]

and saying its about 17 year olds and little kids like 13 and 14 shoudlnt be reading or watching it is bull shizzel, because look at high school musical? Look at hairspray? What about the titanic for crying out loud!

And what about 8 year colds watching Hannah Montanan, she used to be a role model and now she is ah whore. But little girls of age 8 are not taking pictures of themsleves in teh showe rlike her, she isnt a bad example and neither is this book. Miley kisses boys in hannah montanna, she LIP LOCKS but still, little 8 year olds are wathcing it? See what i mean? Just becausse they are 17 doesnt mean we shoudlnt be watching it.

These books and this movie have not and wont make me questions my faith, regualr life makes me question my faith not fictional books or movies. As long as you know what is real and what isnt you should be just fine. There is no blood, there is no cussing,there is no sex or nudity. Therfor twilight=Yes.

Anonymous said...

Okay first off, I am the obsessed friend from the anonymous comment above. Second off, I agree with everything she said. Bella and Edward do not have sex until after they are married in the first book and after that she refuses to have an abortion to get rid of the hybrid baby. The reason Edward stayed with her every night was because they are in love! It isn't like they have sex every night and fornicate. No, they don't. They can't bear to be away from each other so they are together always. They don't fill Charlie in on the whole thing because he would have overreacted, just like an other parent, and assumed the worst. He wouldn't even consider the fact that it was innocent and that they were in love and they just didn't want to be apart for any length of time. On another point, the book is not centered around the bloodthirsty vampires that are not the Cullens'. It is centered around the Cullens, Bella, and Edward. That is all. Oh, and the Quilete Indians. But, anywho, the point is that, for the most part, the evil vampires are not in the story. Also, I think the age makes no difference at all to the readers. For teenagers, it is easier to relate to older couples than to ones our own age. Look at Titanic and all of those older people movies that kids watch all of the time. And you act like it is a bad thing to fall in love. Look at it this way. Look at Edwards vampirism as symbolic for an evil person. Pretend it is an outside feature for evil and sin and all of that stuff. Are you saying that a sinful person doesn't deserve love just as much as everyone else? That is like saying that if you sin, you don't deserve God's love which is way off target, lady. You are wrong on so many different accounts.
And, as my friend said, a fictional book isn't going to make me question my faith. The only thing that can make that happen is me and my surroundings and what happens in the real world. I read books becasue I love to escape from the hatred and evil in my world and go to something beautiful, magical. That is what I view Bella and Edwards love as. Beautiful and magical. It is something to look forward to. Having somebody love you the way they love each other would be amazing. I am not saying that I want to fall in love with a vampire and have him bite me right before I am going to die from birthing a hybrid vampire human baby. I am just saying that their love, however unrealistic it might seem, is inspirational. It is fiction, get over it. If you don't like it, don't read it! It will not effect you and your views if you don't, just like it doesn't effect me and my views while I do. Well, have fun with that!

Anonymous said...

first of all they dont "fool around with eachothers bodies", they kiss...big whup! second, this series shows very good christian morals such as no premerital sex, no abortion and edward tries to protect bellas soul...he knows hes a monster and that its too late and he wont go to heven(i personnaly think if ur good u will)but that is th reason he will not let her "fool around with his body"

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first one to say, that I am truly disturbed at the utter lack of writing ability that is demonstrated in many of these anonymous comments. Your lack of punctuation and capitalization is a dead give away to your lack of maturity.

I read Catholic Mom's review and she does not mention "Titanic", "Hannah Montana", or "those older people movies." So, we can just drop that silly line of debate right now. What people may or may not let their children watch or read is not at issue. What is at issue is whether these books portray Catholic moral values. They don't. Deal with it.

Parents realize the errors that run through these books. They are errors that lead to unhappiness. So, while you might pine for a love that is "beautiful and magical" like Edward and Bella, that adolescent sentiment does not in anyway justify morally problematic passages in the books.

Newsflash: teens stupidly sleeping in the same bed (occasion of sin anyone?) is not a good idea even if NOTHING happens. Newsflash 2: Reading about such inappropriate behavior is not good.

If you'd like to discuss actual criticisms of the content of the review, you should post them.

Anonymous said...

Dear Patrick,
Literacy does not indicate maturity, stability of argument does. So let us drop THAT silly line of debate right now, shall we?

Why don't we hand our children a book unoffensive and mild, like Sesame Street?
It sounds like a good idea...

but wait... Elmo had his own opinions.

Unknown said...

I stumbled into this blog wondering if there was any sanity in this world since I was already seeing the horrors of adult women, mothers no less, line up in the local bookstore with Meyer's four part book (for now). I personally dislike the book but I don't discourage people from reading it because this is already a topic of preference here, really. However, I would like to comment on Twilight being Christian.

It's not.

No matter the attraction, the innocent touches and gazes of pubescent love, it does not justify the idea of encouraging children to believe in the goodness of creatures that are other worldly. I'm sure if Meyer wrote a love story between normal teenagers who were God Fearing, who waited for their honeymoon, who would talk and have dates together with guardians, it's not exactly going to sell. Sexual tension sells, gothic ideologies sell and that is the sad fact of all teenage and tweenagehood.

A forewarning to parents, before you fall in love with the nicely printed covers, please read the content, think about the moral implications and should you ever let your children read it out of sheer fear of being rejected by them, please, please, please, guide your children to understand that love is not that shallow, love is not all about physical attraction because chances are, even if they say it's innocent and nothing happened, there's no assurance that they know what the word 'innocence' really means.

Anonymous said...

I recently read Twilight and saw the movie (have yet to read the rest).

This is not Christian literature, but it does not strike me as bad literature. I actually laud the key points made that surprisingly resonate with my own deeply held values:

1) True love seeks the good of the beloved and demands personal sacrifice.

Twilight explicitly points out that love and lust are not the same thing. I appreciate the fact that the author does not deny human sexuality - but introduces abstinence as a loving response.

And even in this highly secular setting, the author highlights real dangers of crossing the line. These include: a) guilt/self-loathing; b) the loss of one's eternal soul; and c) above all, offending the adoptive father who most loves and believes in the adopted child (Edmund feared disappointing his father who was his ideal of goodness and charity and was the one character who believed in him better than he believed in himself).

2) Beyond sexuality, in the way one live his/her live, there is a CHOICE (regardless of perceived limitations/ disadvantages/ weaknesses) - one can choose to be good, to be loving and be one's best self.

3) As for the ongoing deceit/ sneaking around/ hiding from Dad, 2 choices were juxtaposed: Edmund was open with his family, Hence, he received guidance and support at his weakest moments; Bella concealed much from her father and that led to ruin, pain and near death. It's a recurring theme - in this and many other stories such as Romeo and Juliet (that lead to death). At the end of the day, it's about choice. Being open with/ TRUSTING parents is always the better choice.

All told, I think that the days and hours that the youth spent reading Twilight did more to guard their senses than if they had spent the same time in front of the TV that constantly assaults the young (and old) with unchaste images, robbing them of their sense of modesty in speech, conduct and clothing.

I pray for our youth (and the not-so-young). May they find all fulfillment at every stage in life in JESUS, always JESUS, ony JESUS. May their steps and even their mis-steps lead them JESUS, always JEUS, only JESUS. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this thoughtful overview. As a catholic youth, I look at books and think about the possible bad connotations that it could have on the more impressionable of my peers. I know so many who are my age and younger who would take the book and use it to further affirm and reinforce the idea that sleeping with a man prior to marriage is correct. I know this behavior is accepted by so many in society. Kids see two unmarried people living together as do a husband and wife and see that as normal.

I really don't like this book. Most people don't read into the subtleties and "good" messages that Anonymous from Dec. 7th spoke about. They look at the basic plot and see how the main character acts.

The book is marketed heavily as a good new teen fiction, but it contains a lot of mixed messages. The books portrays true love as mainly some sort of sexual satisfaction of the body, rather than the true meaning of love. Teens who are just learning about being adults may see this and use this book to help them understand how they should act, or them may use it to try to understand what is accepted behavior. Most teenagers don't think beyond that. That's the problem I have as a youth myself. We may not think of it in a broader sense-that it's just a book. It is something that can have a powerful influence, since youth are just learning about adulthood.

Anonymous said...

would you jsut shutp already! ok I am christian and catohlic and relgious. I lvoe odf and jeus. I belive jesus s i the only path to ehavne. have you acutalyl read the entire seris. belland Edward do nt have sed until they amrred. they are with each othe most of the tiem b,tu not ecyoner they do soem lvies otuside eahco. they doboth bleive in og and an ftlerife. Edwad used to crave Bela''s blodo but tha changed after the sond. the cullens dirnk animal blodo beucae they don't want to kill people I love the twilight move. ni the book and htem ovie, Edward states idon't wan to a bem oanste.r he says he killsed peopel before adn rgerets it. Edward has limits when he show affection. he dos kiss her alto sometimes ptoh ares on her lips, liek a quick kiss ot her or all over her faceo jaw in the series but he kissed he forhed too. he soemties just holds herh and or holds her amd embraceh, in the theird books, wen belal tires to ask him to sleep with ni a sexual way he flat says kon.w they do psosobily make out, but edward says but enve he does not take her clotehs or his annocunign they wil lnot all the way until they amrriedbeucae he is trying to protect her and his virture (admmtied in hte later part one chapter) I like to prtend that sphenai vmpaire are merley conditons wih supehuam nad sometimes extra blaibltie wo do't age but iwll die evntually but jsut have an extra ende lifespan. anways, later on in the the third book, edward woroieedaobut Bella decides to hae sex before the wedding, but then Bell says no saying she wants to do thigns right. ther's forgivness and remdeptino and overcomign temtpatino throug hte boosk to. isn't osmsetiem overcomign tmeptaion, desptie overcoming not givign ito evne if we start but then come back. anway Belal sin by ksising jacob but Edard forgivesh er. she lvoes him both. inthe foruth book, they are amrried and have sex. Bella gesth urt and edward doesn't ant but later in of tlater chpates of the firstp art of brkeaing, dawn they do ahve sex a few times nad blellas get prgenat. eDward is worried aobut but bella does'nt wan an abortion. entually Edward lvoes thecihld and so does eveybod.y blels does becoem avmap9re but shel iek teh test of cullsn9beisdes wantign to evnetaluy beocme) was about to die ro very neart detath. they do contien to hve sex in teh book as married vmapires. it does git a bit mroe descirtive but it's not epxlcit, it more's peoteic and the metion and how goodlooking he is is dsecbied. of orcue t tiems it's judt implied. but sieoruly,do you think rock music is s in. I lie metla, excpet black metal, and rock enam eo,. there's christ gothicm ela christian , I lieks eucalr ad n christian music. oh by the wyai f you're one of those who belvies mary didn't sin. you're wrong. oh Im' obbsed to but I still try ot pray to god adn j eus,s I fall alssep before i cna finis htah wlasy sucks. i think the actors are well suited.

Anonymous said...

look im a 13 year old and iv read them all . yes maybe twilight is ment to be for older kids. im catholic and twilight hasnt changed. That i dont think that a stupid book will change how i think about god . :)

Monica Crumley said...

Your post and the comments are extremely helpful to me. The book is all over our Catholic school, kids and parents, so I want to be aware of the issues. Great blog!

Unknown said...

I'm 14, and my friend's Twilight biggest fan. I used to be Catholic, but I'm not anymore. I don't really see what's wrong with writing about vampires, I think it's pretty cool. I've written a few myself. I usually read vampire and gay teen books, so I guess I'm not the best person in the Catholic point of view to post a comment about Twilight. Stephenie is an extremely talented and creative writer, and there's no huge sexual details. :3

Anonymous said...

Personally, after re-reading all of these books, I find them unrealistic, but moral. (And it's not just because I LOVE these books.) They're a Romeo and Juliet theme of pure innocent love that is repeatedly having those trying to tear it apart. The fact that the author of this post said they played with each other's bodies shocked me. Not once in the books did they ever do such things. They could only kiss, and Edward would never let Bella do anything else because it was unsafe and he didn't want to condemn her soul. (Sounds silly, but you know.) There was no inappropriate kissing, even. For 17, these two were EXTREMELY moral. Expecting the youth to be as moral as Bella and Edward were is, sadly, unrealistic. But hopefully it will get some readers thinking twice.
What's funny is that the youth don't even realize they're being taught morals!
The posts here have all been extremely helpful, and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Anonymous said...

I am a traditional catholic and have read all the books sereral times, I am letting my daughter read them because I feel they are about real love and the challenges that young people face. Yes, there is alot of sexual tention in the books, don't fool yourselves into thinking "oh my child would never act like that". We were there age once too and the homones do have a tendence to get out of control. At least Edwards got them under control. The books have a great story line and intitute morals.

Missy said...

I have read all four books, and Im on my second round. Im a traditional catholic who believes that the books should be read by mature and stable in thier faith readers wether thats young or old. The books are good and evil. They are fictinal. I think there is a reason why soo many women become so involved in them... I think its the longing to have a man protect you and love you as Edward loves Bella. Its just not possible...but it sure is a nice little escape from reality!

Mariel said...

I have read all of the Twilight books and I am a devoted Catholic and was happy to see such a well written review from our point of view. However, most of you are missing one important point; one so relevant that makes me not want children and young women to read this book: Bella gives up EVERYTHING for Edward.

Bella gives up her family, she gives up her friends, she becomes completely obsessed with this young man and cares about nothing more than him; pleasing him and making him happy. I found terrible when in New Moon Bella fell into depression and how that hurt her family. I was apalled when Edward returned and she forgave him so entirely, so completely, that it wasn't until nearly the middle of Eclipse that he stops running her life for her and making decisions for her.

Is this what we want to teach our girls? To fall in love with a brooding, handsome, rich man and let him run her life in every sense? To give up her life, her family, her entire being to be with him? To risk her life over and over again (much to the pain of others) just to satisfy her insatiable need to be joined at the hip with him?

I've read the books. I told you that at the beginning. And I've read them more than once, trying to figure out WHY these two fell in love. WHAT was it about Edward, aside from his good looks and mysterious nature that made her fall in love with him? What is it about Bella, aside from her lack of makeup and angsty nature that made him fall for her? They just did? Really?

The way the book was written was mildly appropriate but it relied heavily on metaphors about how "godlike" and "beautiful" Edward is (and in the final book, Bella thinks of vampire self as a "carving of a goddess) which made them repetitive. If you read one description of Edward you've read them ALL. The fact that Edward and Bella slept in the same bed was a bit troublesome for me because in this fantasy fandom it was innocent; but if a girl and a guy in real life decide to sleep together will it be so innocent? WE live in a real world in which some guys just don't take NO for an answer so girls should be wary not to fall into these situations and Stephenie was not very good about this.

So, there is a lot more to criticize about "Twilight" than the "love" between a brooding, handsome, rich vampire and an angsty, quivering, constantly needing to be saved from her own clumsiness young teen.

You be the judge.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church does not approve of twilight? What a load of nonsense! The world is not flat, we are not the centre of the universe, and yet the cosmos continues. Amazing! I am a Catholic and I look to my Church to support the needs of and to promote the progressive and challenged growth of its young people. Banning and attacking the Twilight series is not the way to do that! An intelligent approach to reality is always a good place to start. The Church is sadly in need of a modern and clear direction - sadly, we do not yet have that. next time around I am hoping we will!

joey said...

so here i am, reading this, and i cant believe how many people are such a big fan. im a male who hasnt read the books, but my ex girlfriend dragged me to the theatres to watch some of the twilight movies. i could not believe the bland acting and horrendous filming that was put into this movie. i am a film student and i think i could have done a better job using a cellphone camera, a bottle of sparkles, and a can of white paint. this movie actually disturbed me though. edward sits outside her room and watches her sleep. in real life this is predatorial activity (which is illegal) but in the movie it is considered to be romantic? c'mon kids whats with that? it puts a completely false image into the minds of girls who read it. it makes them think that this is what true love is. but true love is far from that. true love is not about losing control, its about having control. true love is not selfish and manipulative (as edward shows on many occasions) it is unselfish and completely giving. twilight is a great way to warp your mind and view, and i would highly encourage people to stay away from it unless they were to watch it for the comedic purpose of the poor acting.

Leticia said...

Joey, you are too funny! I wrote a post about you today, Nov 16.

Anonymous said...

Edward is around 100 years old. No, the books are not up to par with Dickins, but the love story is commendable. Still, realistically, no girl will find a man close to Edward because he has had decades to mature, but he wasn't left with all of the horrors of old age. His wisdom is the only thing that saves their relationship from turning from purity. I was addicted while reading the books and could not put them down. I talked about them for months. Then, I realized that my relationship with my husband was not as easy. He was not as perfect as that god-like Edward. So really, the books led me to more of an unhappy feeling because I began to covet the selflessness that humans have so much trouble obtaining. No man we come across will be as perfect as Christ- women and girls should not expect them to be. It is impossible and unfair because no woman would be that perfect for a man either. These books have great intent, but I agree with the unfullfilling, unrealistic fantasy that I have read about above. I would probably let my son read this more than a daughter because it would teach him the way to treat a girl (complete self-lessness). Anyways, my thoughts may not be coming out perfectly, so please don't angrily judge my words. Correct me with love so that I can learn, but not hate people and do my best to avoid them because they just can't be as nice as Jesus was...