Okay. I had a day on my own today, and wanted to do something that was in no way related to work or study. So I put down JWC Wand’s “Doctors and Councils”, and Walter Brandmüller’s “Light and Shadows: Church History amid Faith, Fact and Legend” (which is really excellent, BTW), and NT Wright’s “Simply Christian”, and picked up the copy of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” that my wife received for her birthday and has just finished reading.
Okay, okay… “Trashy, horror/fantasy romance”, I hear you say. “Girl novel”, I hear you say. And yes, it is, but I enjoyed it all the same. I saw the film on while on the plane to Rome back in April (and enjoyed the soundtrack too, I might say), and thought, what the heck. I’ll sit back, light my pipe and read the most popular novel since Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code.
Several pipes and coffees and glasses of wine and hours later, and I had finished. Not since the Da Vinci Code have I read a novel so quickly. In the case of the Dan Brown drivel, that was because the book was literary rubbish and could be speed read without losing any of the (very little sense) of the story. But Twilight is okay as a story, and okay in terms of writing (better than JK Rowling’s prose, anyway, which I find has me lost in unintended tongue-twisters as I try to read her books aloud to my children).
What I did find interesting is that for such a sexually charged novel, there is NO SEX in it at all. Not even a little bit. The only time in which the act of intercourse is even mentioned, it is referred to obliquely as “that”. And yet the prose is really quite steamy for all that. Is this what teenage girls really dream about? Tall, dark (or pale in this case), romantic and NO SEX? But it does seem to be about the temptation of forbidden fruit and the resistence to that temptation – as the cover picture and the inclusion of the text of Genesis 2:17 in the preface make quite clear.
The Australian Literary Review had an article on the topic of Vampires in modern literature last week. The writer of that piece suggested that the modern fascination with vampires is because we all want to be one. Certainly, by the end of Twilight, Bella wants to be one. And it seems that Edward is the “perfect guy” precisely because he is one. One writer on Facebook claims that reading Twilight has actually given her unrealistic expectations of men.
That seems to be related to the challenge that one of the commentators to whom I linked above issues to women:
Give Twilight to your teenage sons. Give it to your nephews and husbands and other guy types. Tell them it’s cool. Tell them they’ll like it. Tell them that it’ll help them understand women and therefore help them get dates.
Is that right? Will reading “Twilight” really help us understand what women want? For those readers out there who have read Twilight, what do you think of this advice?