A/N: Originally posted 14/03/13 on my now defunct Tumblr.
I would like to start this post with a disclaimer, maybe even an apology. After all, no self-respecting geeky feminist can admit to actually enjoying one of the most hated book series’ in recent pop cultural history, can she? I would like to do that, but then I’d be lying to you I’m afraid.
I first read the Twilight series when I was around 16-17 years old, and for all its flaws, I was totally charmed by it, and I say that as a huge fan of Bram Stoker, Ann Rice, Buffy, and other ‘more legit’ vamp fiction too.
Twilight was a perfect little slice of fantasy escapism for me at that age; the kind of impossible in-love-too-fast romance that’s a musical number short of being Disney-esque; superfluous prose that sometimes resembles a paint palette when Edward’s hair is described, and a frankly baffling female protagonist whose personality fluctuates between a judgmental old woman and a naive, clumsy toddler.
In short, the best word to describe Twilight is ridiculous, and that is precisely the reason to love it. It’s certainly not the best thing ever written, but it’s certainly not the worst either.
The most ridiculous moments are the most famous and thus most parodied (largely thanks to the films) but there are some little gems that you would only discover from reading the book as a fan several times over, so for those of you that can’t be bothered to do that, allow me to list my Top 20 favourites:
1. That bit where Bella calls Chaucer and Shakespeare basic.
“I kept my eyes down on the reading list the teacher had given me. It was fairly basic: Bronte, Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Faulkner. I’d already read everything.” – p.13-14
Bella could easily identify basicness before it was a thing.
2. That bit in which the real tragedy of the book is revealed: No one gets that Bella is the funniest person she knows.
“‘You don’t look very tan.’
‘My mother is part albino.’
He studied my face apprehensively, and I sighed. It looked like clouds and a sense of humour didn’t mix.” – p. 14-15
3. Those confusing days that can be better and worse at the same time.
“The next day was better… And worse.” – p.25
4. That bit where biology becomes sexy. (It helps if you play this while reading.)
“‘Ladies first, partner?’ Edward asked. I looked up to see him smiling a crooked smile so beautiful that I could only stare at him like an idiot. ‘Or I could start, if you wish.’
‘No,’ I said, flushing. ‘I’ll go ahead.’
My assessment was confident. ‘Prophase.’
‘Do you mind if I look?’ He asked as I began to remove the slide. His hand caught mine, to stop me, as he asked. His fingers were ice-cold, like he’d been holding them in a snowdrift before class. But that wasn’t why I jerked my hand away so quickly. When he touched me, it stung my hand as if an electric current had passed through us.
‘Prophase,’ he agreed. He switched out the first slide for the second, and then glanced at it cursorily.
‘Anaphase,’ he murmured, writing it down as he spoke.
I kept my voice indifferent. ‘May I?’
He smirked and pushed the microscope to me.
[…] We were finished before anyone else was even close.” – p.39-40
Hmm. Tell me more about that Prophase, guuurl.
5. That bit where Edward hypnotises Bella into revealing her complicated backstory.
“‘Why did you come here, then?’
No one had asked me that – not straight out like he did, demanding.
‘I think I can keep up,’ he pressed.
I paused for a moment, and then made the mistake of meeting his gaze. His dark gold eyes confused me, and I answered without thinking.
‘My mother got remarried.’ -p.41
Don’t feel stupid if you don’t fully understand it the first time around.
6. Sometimes Bella goes through a range of emotions before the day has even started.
“I threw down a quick bowl of cereal and some orange juice from the carton. I felt excited to get to school, and that scared me… If I was being honest with myself, I knew I was eager to get to school because I would see Edward Cullen… I was suspicious of him; why would he lie about his eyes? I shouldn’t be at all anxious to see him today.
“It took every ounce of concentration to make it down the icy brick driveway alive… Clearly, today was going to be nightmarish.” – p.46
7. Sometimes Bella also sees several things simultaneously.
“I saw several things simultaneously.” – p.47
8. That bit when Edward forcibly abducts Bella in her car, and then pacifies her with classical music.
“‘I am perfectly capable of driving myself home!’ I stood by the car, fuming.
He lowered the automatic window and leaned toward me across the seat. ‘Get in, Bella.’
I didn’t answer. I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren’t good.
‘I’ll just drag you back,’ he threatened, guessing my plan.
I tried to maintain what dignity I could as I got into his car. ‘This is completely unnecessary,’ I said stiffly.
He didn’t answer. He fiddled with the controls, turning the heater up and the music down. As he pulled out of the parking lot, I was preparing to give him the silent treatment… but then I recognised the music playing.
‘Clair de Lune?’ I asked, surprised.
‘You know Debussy?’ He sounded surprised too.
[…] I listened to the music, relaxing against the light grey leather of the seat. It was impossible not to respond to the familiar, soothing melody.” -p.89-90
Bitches love Debussy. Fact.
9. That bit where Jacob ruins his beautiful face by opening his dumb mouth.
“Jacob sauntered over to take her place by my side… His skin was beautiful, silky and russet-coloured; his eyes were dark, set deep above the high planes of his cheekbones… Altogether, a very pretty face. However, my positive opinion of his looks was damaged by the first words out of his mouth.
‘You’re Isabella Swan, aren’t you?’” – p.102-103
The AU-DA-CI-TY of the boy.
10. She then gets over this, and decides to seduce him by, um, acting like the other guy she’s got a crush on. No, seriously.
“‘Do you want to walk down the beach with me?” I asked, trying to imitate that way Edward had of looking up from underneath his eyelashes.” – p.105
11. Then, to really reel him in, she pulls out the old ‘enthuse-then-smolder’ trick.
“I love them,” I enthused, making an effort to smolder at him. – p.106
Remember ladies – enthuse then smolder at him. You might run into trouble if you do it the other way around.
12. Bella isn’t a fan of the popular music that all the young kids are into these days, but she’ll jolly well try her best to get down with it.
“Once in my room, I locked the door. I dug through my desk until I found my old headphones, and I plugged them into my little CD player. I picked up a CD that Phil had given to me… It was one of his favourite bands, but they used a little too much bass and shrieking for my tastes… I turned up the volume until it hurt my ears. I closed my eyes, but the light still intruded, so I added a pillow over the top half of my face.”
“I concentrated very carefully on the music, trying to understand the lyrics, to unravel the complicated drum patterns… I was surprised to find I really did like the band after all, once I got past the blaring noise.” – p.112-113
13. The ongoing saga of Bella’s Macbeth essay.
It starts off well. Bella is all mellowed out when she starts writing it:
“It didn’t take too much effort to concentrate on my task for the day, a paper on Macbeth that was due on Wednesday. I settled into outlining a rough draft contentedly, more serene than I’d felt since Thursday afternoon.” -p.121
But then things take a bad turn, as she soon realises she’s surrounded by idiots:
“Wednesday?” [Mike] frowned. “That’s not good…What are you writing yours on?”
“Whether Shakespeare’s treatment of the female characters is misogynistic.”
He stared at me like I’d just spoken pig Latin.’ – p.124
It’s not long after that until Bella finds herself spiraling downwards in misery:
‘Angela asked a few quiet questions about the Macbeth paper, which I answered as naturally as I could while spiraling downwards in misery.’ – p.126
Sadly, we never find out how the Macbeth essay saga concludes. Meanwhile, Mike goes to the library to learn what misogyny means so he can ask Bella out for the prom without angering her again.
14. That bit where Bella gets an estrogen rush.
“It had been a while since I’d had a girls’ night out, and the estrogen rush was invigorating.” – p.132
15. Sometimes, saying goodbye before Gym class can be painful.
“I almost groaned. Time for Gym… [Edward] walked me to my next class in silence and paused at the door; I turned to say goodbye. His face startled me – his expression was torn, almost pained, and so fiercely beautiful that the ache to touch him flared as strong as before. My goodbye stuck in my throat.” – p.192-193
I guess there’s about a 50/50 chance Bella will survive Gym class, so this seems appropriate.
16. Also, beauty can be sad sometimes.
“Each time, his beauty pierced me through with sadness.” – p.225
17. That bit where we find out that Edward actually drinks tears instead of blood.
‘I realised there were tears in my eyes. I dabbed at them, embarrassed.
He touched the corner of my eye, trapping one I missed. He lifted his finger, examining the drop of moisture broodingly. Then, so quickly I couldn’t be positive that he really did, he put his finger to his mouth to taste it.
I looked at him questioningly, and he gazed back for a long moment before he finally smiled.
‘Do you want to see the rest of my house?’” – p.287
In case you were wondering, I’ve already started writing ‘The Vampire Who Only Drank Tears,’ and its sequel, ‘The Werewolf Who Only Ate Swans.’
18. That bit where Bella tries to have a casual convo with Edward’s step-mum, and she totally brings the mood down.
“‘You sound like my mum,” I laughed, surprised.
She laughed, too. “Well, I do think of them as my children in most ways. I never could get over my mothering instincts – did Edward tell you I had lost a child?”
“No,” I murmured, stunned.
“Yes, my first baby. He died just a few days after he was born, the poor tiny thing,” she sighed. “It broke my heart – that’s why I jumped off the cliff, you know,” she added matter-of-factly.’ – p.321
19. When all else fails, put your heart in an envelope.
“‘I folded the letter carefully, and sealed it in the envelope. Eventually he would find it. I only hoped he would understand, and listen to me just this once.
And then I carefully sealed away my heart.” – p.377
I wonder how much it costs it mail a living organ.
20. And finally, that glorious and baffling moment when Edward and Bella are wearing the same clothes for some inexplicable reason.
“He wasn’t smiling at first – his face was somber. But then his expression lightened as he looked me over, and he laughed.
‘Good morning,’ he chuckled.
‘What’s wrong?’ I glanced down to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything important, like shoes, or pants.
‘We match.’ He laughed again. I realised he had a long, light tan sweater on, with a white collar showing underneath, and blue jeans. I laughed with him…” – p.221
Why does this happen Stephanie Meyer?
For more on why Twilight might not be the worst thing to happen to literature ever, read this.