Roaming the school hallways, the corridors are always filled with people engrossed in the glossy paperback with the signature red apple on the cover—Twilight. A few months ago no-one had even heard of Twilight. Now it’s the new craze.
From the point of view of a critical writer, it’s easy to see why. Star-crossed lovers, forbidden romance, a dangerous bad-boy and a sweet vulnerable girl—it’s all been done before and it’ll be done again. It’s simply a formula writing, catering to the needs of the teenagers of today. Glittery vampires. Passionate love. Werewolves. Shape-shifters. Gorgeous characters. It’s all absolutely unoriginal, the work of an enterprising businesswoman instead of a truly talented writer.
The characters themselves are flat, two-dimensional, ostentatious, molded on the eager expectations of the teenage crowd. Edward Cullen is dark, angst-filled, tortured and in need of Bella’s love to straighten out his twisted emotions. Bella Swan is your typical Cinderella-syndrome damsel-in-distress, innocent and helpless, led around on a string by the love of her life, who faints dramatically into Edward’s strong arms on several occasions. A really good writer is able to endear their characters to the reader without lowering themselves to such levels.
In fact, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight has received a large amount of criticism, unknown to the adoring fans. Kirkus Reviews stated that Bella’s character is ‘flat and obsessive’. Stephen King said that ‘The real difference between Meyer and Rowling is that J.K Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephanie Meyer can’t write anything worth a darn. She’s not very good.’ Laura Miller wrote that ‘The characters, such as they are, are stripped down to a minimum, lacking the texture and idiosyncrasies of actual people.’ and that ‘Twilight would be a lot more persuasive as an argument that an 'amazing heart' counts for more than appearances if it didn't harp so incessantly on Edward's superficial splendors.’
Another reason why teenage girls are attracted to Twilight is the liberal use of sexual tension. A real writer feels no need to resort to cheap techniques such as sexual tension to turn their book into a page-turner. Unfortunately, Stephanie Meyer lacks the talent to do it any other way. Just like what she does with her characters, her book requires excessive sexual tension; otherwise Twilight will fail to appeal to even the most diehard Twilight fanatic.
Although Twilight is called a vampire story, Meyer has been criticized for ignoring traditional vampire lore. That is, in fact, exactly what she has done. Stephanie Meyer has twisted the whole 'vampire' concept into something weak and unoriginal. Instead of dying when exposed to sunlight, they sparkle like diamonds. How farcical is that! Meyer has taken the essence of the original vampires and reshaped it into a weak imitation of itself.
All in all, Twilight might be a popular page-turner, but it is not a critical success. It is lacking in plot, has poor characterization, and will almost certainly never become a classic. It is a modern Sweet Valley High, with fangs—nice for a lazy afternoon read, but a far call from a literary classic. Any wonder why Twilight has not won any literary awards?
Megan Chee is a cub reporter
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