Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” Series: Good for Teens? For Anybody?

Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” Series: Good for Teens? For Anybody? July 9, 2008

The books of Stephenie Meyer are appearing on bookshelves everywhere I turn. And her latest, The Host, is on Anne’s nightstand. There’s a movie of Twilight on the way. Vampire sagas are a dime a dozen these days, and it’ll take some serious persuasion to convince me to give this a try. Even Joss Whedon’s bloodsuckers never made a fan of me. But I am getting curious. What do you think of Meyer’s work?

Christ and Pop Culture has a commentary up today.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • holyhydra

    Like fantastyfreak, I am also one of the few boys who read these books, and first I would like to say that I have no children, no students, and I am a devout Christian.

    That being said I love these books, for one reason because I personally prefer her writing style, and I don’t really see where her mind goes to mush (Though I can imagine where it would). Mrs. Meyer really gets her characters to come alive and to seem real, which in my humble opinion is one of the most important things in a story (Notice I said ‘one of’). I really do love, like most other people here, that Mrs. Meyer promotes the ‘no sex before marriage’ rule.

    Another concept I find attracting in these books is that they show how strong love is, for example the reason Edward leaves in New Moon is because he thinks Bella did that thing (trying not to spoil the book for any one that hasn’t read it), and the depression it can cause when love is lost, as well as the joy it brings. Twilight and the others in the series show both sides of the concept of love, which really gives depth and emotion to the characters and story.

  • grdthepoint

    No problem, fantastyfreak (yay, I got it right this time! ;-) ). We all have our moments of getting passionate and excited about the things we love. And by the way, I totally agree with you about Bella. Like you, I wouldn’t like to see Meyer take the character in that direction.

  • fantastyfreak

    Grdthepoint, sorry if I happened to go a bit nuts… and judged you and others a bit too quick. Opinions should be freely expressed in such a country and the thoughts you just posted were written in a much more mature manner than the rant I posted above which after looking at the comment I wished I did not post it especially it sounds nothing like the person I really am. One who tries to see into other people’s reasoning even if vastly different from their own. I hope that my comment did not give you the wrong expression of me.

    Now I really hope Bella does not become a vampire. So like you I am waiting before I say my final opinion on the books since I really do enjoy the series and I am actually starting to like Jacob Black though it seems like no one likes him which is a pity because as I reread New Moon I am starting to notice that Jacob is a lot more human and though many readers misunderstand his motives. He really loves Bella and I feel bad for him because he knows its close to impossible to compete against someone so perfect and god-like as Edward Cullen.

    Most of the reason as to why I hope Stephenie Meyer considers not having Bella become a vampire is that having her become a vampire would be way too predictable and in many ways go against the story’s meaning. Especially when many people in her life including Edward himself warned her of becoming a vampire that its not as sensational from the sounds of it.

    Either way, I’m so excited to meet Stephenie Meyers again Aug.1st again… in Times Square!! Plus I cannot wait to read Breaking Dawn.

  • ardonya

    Ok, so I want to write books after college. So I want to be an author. I try not to read a whole lot of books that are badly written, and Stephenie Meyer’s books are anything but that. The characters are actually real, it’s not gothic at all, it’s the first book to ever actually make me cry. Also, what I like most is like waht Magmapyro said, is that it’s probably the first vampire book written that promotes sex after marriage.
    ***Breaking Dawn is one of the first books that I can’t predict what will happen. Usually I’m good at that. I love that!!!***

  • grdthepoint

    Oops, I got your screen name wrong — my apologies!

  • grdthepoint

    Fantastyfan, you have nothing to fear from me (or, probably, from anyone else here). As you’ll note, I said not one word about banning anything. And I’m not going to criticize, judge, or attack you for the way you feel. I appreciate your contribution to the discussion of what attracts readers to Meyer’s books.

    That said, I just want to point out, respectfully, that it’s possible to criticize a book without running afoul of the First Amendment.

    Here’s why I think we should all bear this in mind. The last time I attempted to discuss “Twilight” on a message board, I got pounced on for advocating “censorship.” When I pointed out that this was untrue, I was accused of advocating not real, government-controlled censorship, but “pressure censorship” (that is, using my opinion to pressure other people not to read the books). Well, frankly, that’s absurd. If “pressure censorship” is a real possibility — that is, if anyone criticizing a book in any way can justly be called out for being a censor — then it’s impossible for anyone to say anything negative about a book without being, you guessed it, censored by other people in the name of free and open discussion. It’s like those annoying Web arguments where people start calling each other Nazis — it promptly shuts down the conversation.

    That’s rather a convoluted train of thought to follow, but I trust you see my point. In order to have perfectly free discussion, it has to be possible for people to say negative as well as positive things about a book.

    I have no children of my own (and no students either). But if I had, I believe I would be within my rights to know what they were reading and to determine which reading material was appropriate for them at certain ages. When you’re a parent, you’ll have that right too, and it is possible that by then you may see things a little differently. We all change and develop our viewpoints over the years. If that’s the case, I’m sure you’ll do what you believe is right for your kids, not because you want to deny them anything, but because you love them.

    A final and mostly unrelated point: From what I’ve seen so far, I think “New Moon” actually the best of the series — mostly because Edward is gone for so much of it and we have far fewer of those conversations that are an endless series of “No, I love YOU more and YOU’RE beautiful and wonderful and I’m not fit to kiss your shoes!” on both sides. With Edward gone, Meyer actually seems almost capable of writing about healthy teen lifestyles and relationships — at least, until he reappears. Then her mind unfortunately seems to go to mush. Take that opinion for what it’s worth — not an attempt to censor, or an attack, but simply one reader’s analysis.

  • magmapyro

    I personally love all of Ms. Meyers stories.

    there are some very good points in the books. I really appreciate how she is putting the ‘no sex until marriage’ theme in her books…..I mean I don’t think I’ve seen any other secular fiction book really doing that….
    ….hmmm……that in and of itself is not the only reason I like the books. I can’t even think of all the reasons why I love her books.
    Ms. Meyer is a very gifted storyteller and I enjoyed her newest book (the host) too

    The Host reminds me of Stargate SG-1….with the symbiotes….except it’s a lot better.
    I mean some of the creatures in the book figure out that what they’re doing to the humans is wrong, and I love Wanda’s plan for how to help the resistence and everything.
    it was a tear-jerker at the end but I loved it.*sniffles*

    *I don’t know about anybody else but I can hardly wait for Midnight Sun*

  • krisras

    Yes, girls do get fixated on boy bands, etc. I did so myself once:-) And your “Phantom” obsession is a common example , actually, as a few girls I used to have loved that show to death. BUT this seems to be different, and yes I think it has to do with the magnitude and diversity of girls fixated. I mean, it started out a few and by spring, when the latest book was out, all of the teachers had to say something to these girls because they just were way over the top in class about discussing the book, dressing up in relation to the book,etc.

    I do understand the arguments in the article Jeffrey linked to. However, I have concerns with where she will eventually take these characters.

  • fantastyfreak

    I am so frightened right now… shaking as I try to write what I think of Twilight. Usually I can express my view freely without being afraid but when you are in the minority in this case and up against people who may think little of you… its truly a frightening experience.

    Sadly I am one of those that many call Twilighters! I absolutely love the first book, semi-dissapointed with New Moon, and only liked Eclipse. Though on a whole I enjoy the series though I would not call them my favorite book series. But unlike many here I do not think Bella and Edward’s relationship is harmful to teens. Slowly this seems to be developing into another Harry Potter where Christian parents control what their children are reading just because of some stuff they heard from some well known press or some televangelist about the books.

    Limiting intelligent dialogue between the kids, parents force their children to accept thir opinion of the books and forbid kids just to escape a sometimes ghastly world by reading. Well enough of my rant, as you can tell my views on Christians banning books and that kind of stuff is very strong since I have seen enough followers turn away from God just because some churches spend too much time treating the congregation as a conformist unit where all must dress and read the same things and hold the same opinions about different things.

    I think one of the reasons that Twilight captivates so many is its an escape. I love it for its well representation of romance, its combination of some well written characters, humor, and of course a lack of content which pervades many other Young Adult novels. I read these books many times and even read The Host. I think Stephenie Meyer’s writing in The Host is leagues beyond Twilight though…

    So you can call me biased? Twilight combines all the great elements of a classic romance with a nice twist on vampires. I loved the books enough to meet the author and even got filmed for Today Show; I was the boy in the cloak who said I am one of the only few guys who reads these books.

    About age, well that’s in many vampire novels.. so if you hold such a view then bascially you do not like any vampire novel which is ok for not everyone likes the same things and that’s fine with me.

    As you counteract your arguments against me or for me, I really hope you guys can please please refrain from judging my spiritual walk, my intelligence or any other things you believe us Twilight fans to be. I respect everyone’s views and opinions.. but common courtesy is needed and please please no personal attacks!! Thank you!

    Oh btw I am a boy… so I am not one of those girls who scream about Edward Cullen at her signings. (though so of my friends are…)

  • grdthepoint

    It is odd. I wonder if it’s just the romance, or something else. Perhaps the idea of an “older man” — which Edward really is, technical details aside — finding a teenage girl like themselves so attractive appeals to them. (In which case, ewww.)

    Teenage girls do tend to get fixated on things, though, don’t they? As a teacher, you’d know much more about this than I would. But I do remember being pretty fixated on “The Phantom of the Opera.” :-) Perhaps what makes it strange is seeing so many of them fixated on the same thing at once.

  • krisras

    I don’t consider myself a reactionary about pop culture at all, BUT I will say that I feel a little concerned at times about how obsessed my female h,s, studenrs are with her books. I am not into vampire novels at all but I finally had to read Twilight because my juniors wouldn’t let me alone about the subject.

    It was okay. I’ve read worse. but then again, not a vampire novel kind of gal.

    But I am trying to understand the obsession part with my teens. As adults, we can read escapist stuff like this and filter. But there is something in these novels that really creates a fixation – and that includes even with my “good”, “normal” kids.

  • Ouch. I think my nieces are reading this series. Just sent this blog entry to their mom. Why put such drek in one’s head when there are so many good books in the world?

  • grdthepoint

    I’ve just been reading the series for a freelance article I’m working on. No offense to Ms. Smith, but in my opinion, there are major problems with them that she doesn’t seem to notice. I actually have to wonder how far into the series she got, because Edward’s “values” notwithstanding, he has every intention of turning Bella into a vampire in the next book, after she marries him — which she doesn’t really want to do but is going along with just so he’ll work that old black magic on her. (Whether Meyer intends to follow through with this is not yet 100 percent clear, but it appears that’s probably where things are heading.)

    So there’s that. Also, as I hinted above, the level of misogyny is disturbing. Edward and his entire family are always forcing Bella to do things she doesn’t want to do because they, apparently, know what’s best for her, and Bella is always giving in. I know teenage girls have always been capable of falling hard for what’s sometimes called “the caveman stuff” (not to mention narcissism, which is also present in huge amounts) but I dislike the idea of an entire generation of them — or it seems like it — going for this kind of thing. (Not that it really matters what I like or dislike — my cousin is going to use the book card I sent her for her birthday to buy “Breaking Dawn”! Ah well.)

    And then there’s the writing, which is utterly dreadful. (No offense to Anne. We all have our guilty pleasures. And I haven’t read “The Host,” so maybe it’s better written than the Twilight books! :-) )

    I think you can really get the best idea of the maturity and literary level from these two links (profanity alert for both):

    Of course you have to allow for typical LiveJournal levels of sarcasm and mockery — but honestly, in this case, they’re not far off the mark.

  • sapience14

    The Twilight series is so-so. The writing isn’t bad, but the whiny teenagers don’t do much for me–if you couldn’t get into Buffy, I don’t know if its worth it. For me (a huge Buffy fan, and a reader of a lot of other vamp novels), they were an okay way to spend an hour or two–they were quick reads. The Host, however, is fabulous. It takes an idea that has been done before, and puts a good spin on it, and the writing just blew me away.