Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Literate Adult’s Return to the Valley of Twilight, Part Three: The “Bella and Edward are Dicks” Edition

Read Part One here and Part Two here.

When I’ve defended this book in the past, it’s always come back to the characters. I never would have called Stephenie Meyer a master wordsmith, but I remember being quite compelled by Bella and the whole gaggle of Cullens the first time around.

I’m at around the 200-page mark now, and there have been a few moments in which I have felt something resembling “like” for Bella. After Bella has a bad dream, she thinks this:

My subconscious has dredged up exactly the images I’d been trying so desperately to avoid.

What’s that, Bella? Are you actually using the word “subconscious” correctly? I could just kiss you on the mouth. You are getting way more than one point for that.

Bella Swan: 52, Anastasia Steele: still 0.

This happens later on that same page:

I dressed slowly in my most comfy sweats and then made my bed—something I never did.

I think making the bed is totally stupid and pointless too, Bella! High-five! If I could just rip Page 132 out of this book and ignore the rest, my memories of Twilight could remain fond ones.

But instead I have to acknowledge that Bella is a real douchenozzle most of the time.

“You’re not inhumanly beautiful and/or sparkly, so I really don’t give a shit about you or anything you have to say.”

Bella just started out at a brand new school, which is a pretty scary experience. It’s not particularly scary for Bella, though, since she is quickly welcomed into a large group of friends.

I would tell you about these friends, but I can’t since Bella doesn’t take the time to tell us much more than these people’s names and if they are 1) A boy who instantly falls hopelessly in love with Bella or 2) A girl who hates Bella because all the boys keep instantly falling in love with her.  

It makes sense that Bella doesn’t seem to know much more about these friends than I do—she never listens to them!

I couldn’t remember her name, so I smiled and nodded as she prattled on about teachers and classes. I didn’t try to keep up.

Jessica babbled on and on about her dance plans—Lauren and Angela had asked the other boys and they were all going together—completely unaware of my inattention.

I shambled along behind Jessica, not bothering to pretend to listen anymore.

The only one of these friends that Bella actually seems to like is Angela:

It was relaxing to sit with Angela; she was a restful kind of person to be around—she didn’t feel the need to fill every silence with chatter. She left me free to think undisturbed while we ate.

Of course you like Angela, Bella—she doesn’t force to you to pretend that you are capable of thinking about anyone but yourself.

“I am so boring and disgusting that a demigod like Edward would never love me.”

Despite the fact that she’s like some kind of Angelina Jolie in the eyes of every teenaged male in Forks, Bella constantly laments how out of her league Edward is:

Of course he wasn’t interested in me … I wasn’t interesting. And he was. Interesting … and brilliant … and mysterious …and perfect … and beautiful…

Only the first ellipsis is mine, by the way. The others came straight from the book. You've talked to Edward, like, twice at this point, Bella. You have no idea if he is interesting or perfect. You just know that he is beautiful, and you’re allowing that to excuse every creeptastic thing he’s said or done.

Let’s talk about those creeptastic things, shall we? 
Edward still hasn’t been in the book that much. He saved Bella from death-by-van, told her they shouldn’t be friends, and then almost instantly reneged on that statement by inviting her to sit with him at lunch. Pretty much everything Edward has said or done thus far could be divided into two categories: “I am a condescending prick” and “I want to murder you and/or others.”

Let’s bring out the evidence:

“I am a condescending prick.”

“Bella, it’s not my fault if you are exceptionally unobservant.”

He enunciated every syllable, as if he were talking to someone mentally handicapped.

“Bella, you are utterly absurd.”

He actually “apologizes” for that one a few lines later:

“I’m sorry, that was rude … I’m not saying it isn’t true,” he continued, “but it was rude to say it.”

“Only you could get into trouble in a town this small. You would have devastated their crime rate statistics for a decade, you know.”

Edward says this after Bella gets lost in Port Angeles, accidentally wanders onto Rape Boulevard, and is nearly assaulted by four sketchy guys. Isn’t it adorable how Edward makes it seem like that was her fault?

Oh wait; he’s not done blaming Bella for her almost-rape!

"You’re not a magnet for accidents—that’s not a broad enough classification. You are a magnet for trouble."


“I want to murder you and/or others.”

“It would be more … prudent for you not to be my friend,” he explained. “But I’m tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella.”

“You really should stay away from me.”

“I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly.”

“What if I’m not the superhero? What if I’m the bad guy?”

“Where do you think you’re going?” he asked, outraged. He was gripping a fistful of my jacket in one hand.

That one could really fit into both categories—it’s at the center of the Douchery/Murder Venn Diagram.

These last two are especially blunt:

“Your number was up the first time I met you.”

“It was very … hard—you can’t imagine how hard—for me to simply take you away and leave them … alive.”

Bella finishes Chapter 9 by saying the exact same thing she says on the back of the book: that she is “unconditionally and irrevocably” in love with Edward. You sure know to pick ‘em, girl!

Read Part Four here.


  1. ..Now I almost want to reread this book just to make fun of it... But that sounds like too much pain to go through. I love your excerpts, they really go a long ways to point out how silly the book is.

    1. No, no, don't. I'm also reading Dune by Frank Herbert, which I've been calling Book Prison due to its length. But Twilight is the true Book Prison. I can't believe I have 300 more pages. I'm glad you're enjoying the updates though--it means my toils aren't in vain :)

    2. I Love Dune!!! Definitely my favourite book ever! Is this your first time through?

    3. It is! Dandworm has been bugging me to read it for years. I don't have much time for fun reading due to my job, so I'm usually put off by extremely long books. I'm not all that far in but the world-building is INSANE. I kind of wanted to only read the first book so I wouldn't be reading just this series for the next year ... but I don't know if I'll be able to resist reading all the ones Frank Herbert wrote.

  2. Do you ever worry that reading bad writing will hurt your own work? I feel like every groan-worthy line that passes through my eyeballs goes and hides somewhere in my subconscious (probably behind the boxes of preteen crush/rejection trauma), just waiting to insinuate itself into a carefully crafted passage. ("Stay back!" he shouted loudly. ... F%#@KING HELL how'd that get in there?)

    Anyway, thanks for reading "Twilight" for us. You are our literary crash-test dummy. (Whoa. That was pretty brutal. She should read a Volvo next time.)

    1. Reading any kind of writing will help your own: Good writing teaches you what to do while bad writing teaches you what not to do. ...At least that's what I tell myself. I get paid to read books that run the gamut of literary quality so I don't have much of choice in the matter.

      Ha, you are very welcome. And no, I refuse to read a Volvo; it's what Edward Cullen drives!