Tuesday, July 27, 2010

30 Days of Books, Day Five

Day 05 - A book or series you hate.

Oh, I think you all know what the answer to this one is. Indeed, I'm not even going to use my usual pictures, because I actually want to deny these books exist to the extent that I don't even want the images of their covers on my sites.

Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer.

I am not going to dance around my opinions here.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that I hate these books because they're especially heinous in a way that other books never have been. They're not: I've seen a thousand teen romance books that have incredibly unhealthy 'borderline-abuse-is-love' messages, I've seen a thousand books that redefine vampires until they no longer have any teeth, so to speak, I've seen a thousand books where the author forgot to write a plot until most of the way through the series because it's a lot more fun to write two people gazing longingly at each other.

I've read other books where the heroine is clearly a stand-in for the author (Laurel K. Hamilton is a good example of this) and yet so devoid of personality her only interesting character trait is her love story. I've read other books where the hero was so clearly a fantasy the author had one night and decided should be shared with the world.

The romance in these books could easily be described as  George Lucas romance, at least one George Lucas is allowed to write: everything is told, not shown, the dialogue is wooden and stilted and occasionally completely senseless, and the love story itself appears to have been dreamed up by a pre-adolescent living in a grown person's body.

They're written that way I wrote when I was fourteen, and that is not a compliment. You know the way: the way every fourteen year old girl writes, with flowery prose and too many declarations of love and an incredibly unrealistic vision of what 'true love' is.

To be honest, Stephanie Meyer is actually far from the absolute worst Young Adult author I've ever read as far as base talent goes.

I chose them over other books that have much the same (or, it is possible an even worse) level of awful because of their visibility and because of their incredibly large fan base. Meyer does possess some raw writing talent; however, the books read as if an editor never even looked at them, let alone did any actual editing work.

I've read the story of how the first book got published and frankly, I would believe that the editor who fell all over herself trying to get this book published let a lot slide.

They're just awful, each and every single one of them. They're terrible books. And they are proof that you don't have to be a good writer to find yourself on the top of the New York Times Bestseller's List. I won't say that makes me mad: more power to Meyer, she's set for life if she's careful about this. She got movie options that probably paid a pretty penny and she can keep writing, knowing she has a built-in audience who will eat up anything Twilight.

The books are so awful I used to wonder how they could even become so incredibly famous and well-loved, especially by so many wonderful people. I mean, I have family members, friends, all kinds of people I know who are smart, incredible people who love these books. And for a long time I just didn't get how people who were so wonderful could like such terrible books.

But I guess any reader will like something terrible in their lives. I am not immune. There's a romance novel out there somewhere with time traveling and Scotsmen that one day someone might force me to admit I thought was pretty cool when I was fifteen. Romance novels, I suppose, are a good example: so many of them hit the same awful notes: terrible near-abusive relationships, almost no plot, contrived 'love triangles' that make no sense, badly written sexy-times, terrible purple prose, all that fun stuff. So really, honestly, Twilight and all its problems are not all that special.

I feel like the main draw of the Twilight books is simply that many women (and men too) remember what it was like to be fourteen or fifteen, when your romance was YOU vs. THE WORLD, when it eclipsed (haha, see what I did there?) all other considerations like family, ambition, education, friendship, everything else. When the couple could sequester themselves together and make up wild plans that could never come to fruition, always stopped by The Man, be it their teachers, their parents, or some other Adult Figure come to tell them what to do. But Bella and Edward have remarkably little of that problem. Edward is a vampire; his 'father figure' is acting that way out of choice and Edward makes his own choices. Bella has no personality but whatever focus is currently on her romantic partner- she has a family that is more a sketched-in-doodle than actual parental units. It really is them vs. the world. Their romance really does eclipse anything else that even remotely might begin to think about happening.

And I think that mental place is fun to crawl back into for a lot of people, the place where it is only you and your boyfriend/girlfriend, and no one else.

Sometimes I like to crawl back into those books I loved as a teenager, too, or at least read books that allow me back in that mental space, but my teenage-feelings-mental-space is a little different and I just never got the appeal of these things.

But it is a book series that I hate. Indeed, it is a book series I would use the word loathing to describe my opinions of.

That doesn't mean that I love the people who read it any less.

We all have our literary skeletons in the closet.

I just wish everyone would stop trying to get me to "try again, you'll like it this time"!

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