Ok, so I know Twilight has been ripped to shreds by critics during its lifetime. I promise I’m not here to complain about sparkly vampires. I actually thought that was kinda cool, even if it did ruin the scare factor a little.
The books themselves, as a whole, are not terrible. But one of the worst things about them is the main character — Bella Swan. First off, I don’t recall reading about anything she wanted to do besides be with Edward. College? Psh, she’s got a sparkly boyfriend. Job? Please, his family’s rich! They’ll take care of her.
Which, ok, might be believable for some girls at around 12. But an 18-year-old? She has no real goals besides staying with him, which worries me.
It worries me because I was one of the girls who was affected by it. I first read New Moon when I was… maybe 12 or 13. Short version: Edward has a vampire freak-out and breaks up with his human squeeze, running off to… I don’t remember where. Bella is left to pick up the pieces.
Ok. Breakups happen.
But then, Bella completely falls apart for the remainder of the book, to the point where she was having horrific night terrors and shambling around in a zombie mode, like the worst case of depression imaginable turned up to 11. It’s understandable that she’d be upset, but she absolutely never gets over it! Like she’s nothing without her boyfriend to complete her.
See, this would be just an example of poor writing, except I know firsthand what poor writing can mean to an impressionable young girl reading this book.
When I read this book, a close friend of mine was in what I now know is an abusive relationship. I’m not gonna go into details to protect her privacy, but basically, her boyfriend was a real a**hole. He used her, lied to her, and made her cry. The only thing he didn’t do was physically hit her, but I think he would have eventually started. I’m still convinced he was a sociopath.
I despised this guy. I would have given anything to see the two of them break up. And she nearly did break it off with him a few times. Every time, I would do a little dance inside my head, thinking, “This time! This time she won’t take him back.”
Except, every time she asked my opinion of him, I would defend him. That jackass should have hired me to be his defense lawyer, I argued his side of the situation so well! I hated him, but I wanted them to stay together. Wonder why?
Because I, at 12 or 13 and not knowing any better, had read New Moon and believed that was the proper way to react to a break up. That it was normal to completely fall apart and lose control of your life after your guy left you. And I defended the abusive boyfriend because I didn’t want to see my friend go through it. And every single time I convinced her to take him back, I hated myself inside.
It took me years to figure out that New Moon is most definitely NOT a guidebook to a healthy relationship, and my friend eventually wised up and dumped Mr. Abuse. But I’ve never forgotten that.
I was just a bystander; a concerned friend. What if it had been me, in the nasty relationship? What if it were a worse situation? And I wonder how many other girls at the impressionable age were affected by this sort of characterization.