For Love of A Vampire: Twilight & True Blood

July 30th, 2008

O noes!

Twilight’s got all the cooties: romance, girl and YA — no Harry Potter adulation for this series.   Shoot, it’s as bad as Sex and the City, except – it haz shoes? It should haz belly dancing.  Does it?  Myself does not know,  not being a romance fan nor generally a YA reader. (I am a fan of belly dancing, and for long time now.)

Salon dot com analyzes.

[   No wonder the media has heralded Twilight as the next Harry Potter and Meyer as the second coming of J.K. The similarities, however, are largely commercial. It’s hard to see how Twilight could ever approach Harry Potter as a cultural phenomenon for one simple reason: the series’ fan base is almost exclusively female. The gender imbalance is so pronounced that Kaleb Nation, an enterprising 19-year-old radio show host-cum-author, has launched a blog called Twilight Guy, chronicling his experiences reading the books. The project is marked by a spirit that’s equal parts self-promotion and scientific inquiry — “I am trying to find why nearly every girl in the world is obsessed with the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer” — and its premise relies on the fact that, in even attempting this experiment, Nation has made himself an exceptional guy indeed.    ]This is an interesting piece, though, because it attempts to track similarities, if there are any, and contrasts, which there certainly are many, among Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series, and their audiences.


Another quote:

[  If Harry Potter has a vampire-loving, adolescent female counterpart, it’s Buffy Summers. ] 

This article and the others I’ve read concerning the Twilight books do make them sound as if they were written for someone as anti-moi as they could be.  It is pointed out that the author is a Mormon.  The Church of the LDS does believe that women are to be submissive, that men are the head of the family, the home and everything else, and that’s how it should be.

[  Even the most timorous teenage girl couldn’t conceive of Bella as intimidating; it’s hard to imagine a person more insecure, or a situation better set up to magnify her insecurities. Bella’s vampire and werewolf friends are all fantastically strong and fierce as well as nearly indestructible, and she spends the better part of every novel alternately cowering in their protective arms or groveling before their magnificence. “How well I knew that I wasn’t good enough for him” is a typical musing on her part. Despite Edward’s many protestations and demonstrations of his utter devotion, she persists in believing that he doesn’t mean it, and will soon tire of her. In a way, the two are ideally suited to each other: Her insipidity is the counterpart to his flawlessness. Neither of them has much personality to speak of.  ]

Buffy is personality plus! 

This paragraph appears to be the center of the salon piece:

The “underdog strange girl” who gets plucked from obscurity by “the best guy in school” is the 21st century’s version of the humble governess who captures the heart of the lord of the manor. The chief point of this story is that the couple aren’t equals, that his love rescues her from herself by elevating her to a class she could not otherwise join. Unlike Buffy, Bella is no hero. “There are so many girls out there who do not know kung fu, and if a guy jumps in the alley they’re not going to turn around with a roundhouse kick,” Meyer once told a journalist. “There’s a lot of people who are just quieter and aren’t having the Prada lifestyle and going to a special school in New York where everyone’s rich and fabulous. There’s normal people out there and I think that’s one of the reasons Bella has become so popular.”  ]This is diametrically opposed to the stated objectives Whedon had for Buffy.  Whether or not Whedon completely succeeded with his objective to turn the pursued teen blonde girl in the alley from victim into the victor, just the desire to do is what women need.   So now we’ve turned women back into a Dickensian helpless, hapless girl, only to be acted upon, never to act for herself, and that seems really sad.  Give me Hermione any time!

Has anyone read these Twilight books?  Do you agree with this assessment of them?

 

This is x-posted on my Live Journal.  The comments there were so interesting that I wanted to see what other people thought too.

Love, C.

33 Responses to “For Love of A Vampire: Twilight & True Blood”

  1. Kate Elliotton 30 Jul 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Twilight is deeply retrogressive. As far as I can tell, the single and only important thing about Our Heroine is that Boys – and especially the perfect boy – want her. The message being, then, that a girl is measured by the male desire directed at her.

  2. Constance Ashon 30 Jul 2008 at 5:41 pm

    http://andrewrilstone.blogspot.com/2008/07/48-and-49-silence-in-library-and-forest.html

    For contrast with Buffy.

    Love, C.

  3. Madeleine Robinson 30 Jul 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I’ve read them. I think Salon is a little harsh: Bella has a personality, albeit an annoying one. She’s the willful girl who walks down the dark alley to prove she isn’t afraid, even though she 1) isn’t able to protect herself and 2) is afraid. She adores Edward (although the werewolf boy, Jacob, is for my money more interesting and less pretentious) and does every stupid thing she can because she adores him. Certainly she hasn’t a patch on Buffy for gumption. They’re enjoyable enough popcorn reads, but even Whedon-with-flaws is more substantive and interesting.

    Sarcasm Girl, who is a fan of both Buffy and the Twilight books, sez:

    “I agree. To a degree Stephenie Meyer has abandoned feminism. Alice and Rosalie (vampires) are very strong female characters physically and (it seems at first) emotionally, but Alice, however much I do truly adore her, is based solely on the archetypal bubbly shoe-obsessed-girl. Her dark and interesting past is set up, but never used except for a “by the way” note. And Rosalie shows the stereotypical qualities of the popular-mean-girl who is really nice, deep down, despite her having been raped by her fiancé and his friends. We see little to no indication of this past trauma in her actions, other than her not advertising the life of a vampire.
    Bella, I can barely stand. “Oh, I’m so desperately in love, but he won’t make out with me! Oh, he loves me back, but I feel insecure! Oh, Jacob – another hot guy with far more interesting a personality than Edward – adores me too, but I don’t love him! Oh, I DO love Jacob (where the hell did THAT come from?), but… um, I wanna complain some more!” Christ, does this girl EVER. SHUT. UP?!
    And don’t get me started on Edward.
    …..too late. Edward is an arrogant little brat, masquerading as an adult. He says he knows better than Bella – and with all his unlife experience he SHOULD – but doesn’t seem to at all. He ignores his mentor and his family when they tell him not to, ya know, break Bella’s heart and all, still claiming that he knows better. He’s arrogant and rude and generally annoying. Jacob, however is… arrogant and rude and annoying, but he’s a teenage boy, so it’s his job. Besides, he just went through an enormous change (werewolf), whereas Edward’s been doing this for 100+ years! Jacob also listens to people. Some of the time.
    In conclusion…. I have no clue why I like these books. They aren’t spectacularly well written, the characters are either oblivious or despicable, and the leading man is a big old Gary-Stu.
    …I just do. Cause it’s cute. And addictive. And just the sort of mindless fluff people can gush over. It’s fun and sweet
    Joss Whedon’s stuff has far more substance, it’s better written, and EVERY aspect of EACH character’s personality is displayed (i.e., if Willow/Fred/Inara’d been raped by her fiance prior to screentime, we’d find out about it, and things in her personality would be faithful to that).
    Forgive me, father, for I have sinned: I am a teenage girl, and therefore inexplicably love Twilight.”

    There you go.

  4. Madeleine Robinson 30 Jul 2008 at 9:43 pm

    It’s more than just the “the boys want her” thing. This girl is unloved and unadmired at her old school, and the minute she moves to a new town she is transformed–not by any action of her own, really, but just because she’s new in town. Suddenly it’s not just the vampire Coolest Boy In School who wants her–it’s half a dozen of the regular boys, too. Why? The only explanation I was able to come up with was that in her new town (located in coastal Washington State, I believe) the prevailing beauty standard is for paler girls–she doesn’t tan well, see. But for the rest, her black curls, her pale skin, her big eyes–none of that registered with the kids in Phoenix–but they’re eatin’ ‘em up in Forks, WA.

    I think some of the appeal is simply in the teenage wish for an opportunity to reinvent oneself. Bella gets to do that with fabulous results. Again, not by doing anything other than changing zip codes, of course.

  5. Deborah J. Rosson 30 Jul 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I think I caught some passing and vague reference to these books, and am now glad I invested neither time nor dead trees in them. Thanks for the heads-up, all.

  6. Kate Elliotton 31 Jul 2008 at 1:06 am

    Mad, tell Sarcasm Girl many many thanks for her perspective. Excellent comments.

    I guess what gets me — all the boys have crushes on her, reinvention due to zip code — is that these books have the same message one might have read in the 50s, or 60s, or 70s. It’s like the post-Buffy backlash! Wah.

  7. Seleneon 31 Jul 2008 at 4:33 am

    I only read the first one before deciding it was not my cup of tea. I have to say though, that I liked that Meyer wanted to write a more regular, non-kick-ass heroine. I lot of books seem to push the idea that physical strength is the same as inner strength, which is a concept I find annoying, as if women can only be strong if they’re martial arts experts.

    Unfortunately, in making this regular girl, Meyer made her very naive and insecure. Had her age not been stated, I would have judged her much younger than she is purported to be. She is, I think, in many ways a Mary Sue–the character that everyone else in the book wants, or at least has a reaction to, the one everyone thinks is special for no discernible reason. Granted, at least Meyer didn’t include any super powers that would have made her even more Special.

    I suppose the appeal of this book is for people who can so identify with Bella, reading the novel becomes a sort of wish fulfillment. Alas (or perhaps fortunately) I am not one of them.

    Selene

  8. Constance Ashon 31 Jul 2008 at 11:31 am

    That’s one of the elements that makes Kate’s latest series so very interesting, in my opinion. She has more than one really strong female character whose strength is not coupled with martial skills, or magical powers either (though there are other strong female characters in the Crossroads books who possess either fighting or supernatural capacity, or both).

    Mad, just from your description of Bella, and Sarcasm Girl’s, I just want to slap her! She’s beyond annoying. She’s the kind that in dangerous situations get you killed. She’s the kind that creates dangerous situations. She belongs in the teen girl victim slasher flix., and you devoutly hope she’s the first one the monster gets.

    Love, C.

  9. Kate Elliotton 31 Jul 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Selene,

    I quite agree with you. If we privilege physical strength over all other strength, and suggest that the best strongest women are best and strongest in so far as they are physically strong and martial, it’s buying into the privileging of a certain kind of stereotypical male warrior agency as the highest role offered by society.

    So I think the idea of a non kick ass ordinary heroine is good. But is Bella actually strong? Mentally? Emotionally? Psychologically?

    Maybe that is the appeal. That she’s not threatening or intimidating even to the readers.

  10. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 31 Jul 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Honestly, from the description, Bella sounds like the Wallflower, and I mean that as the archetype–not best, not the bravest, not the prettiest, the most clever or anything else, but the one the admirers finally come to because they’ve paused to look and come to appreciate her moderate charms.

    There’s a lot of wish-fulfillment fantasy for the Average Jane in the Wallflower, but there are some other virtues for the author as well. Wallflowers make possibly the best Ingenues, and when they do succeed at something out of their depth, it’s actually a triumph, rather than another-day-at-the-office for the more stellar heroines.

    The books don’t sound like my personal cup of tea, but I can understand the appeal.

  11. Constance Ashon 31 Jul 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Here’s a comment an amiga left on my LJ, in response to this discussion. I’m reposting it here, with her permission.

    I’m the author of The Stephenie Meyer Twilight Companion from St. Martin’s Press, Nov 2008. (This is the vampire fan guide I mentioned a few months ago.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Stephenie-Meyer-Twilight-Companion-Complete/dp/0312387059

    It’s weird how they tend to get my bio wrong – I’ve written 19 books rather than 12, as noted on amazon.

    Anyway, I’ve read the first 3 Twilight novels and will purchase and read the 4rth novel on Aug 2, when it’s available.

    The series is extremely popular with teen girls, who can easily identify with Bella and all of her insecurities. Yet Bella is extremely intelligent and resourceful. She’s not a wimp. She takes risks and is quite independent of her parents. (Though she does trip, fall, and get hurt a lot, and sure, Edward has to rescue her a few times from being killed, etc.) She’s pretty but not gorgeous in a standout way. She’s very kind, sensitive, moral, helps others, worries about others – she has a sterling character. She’s also madly in love with Edward Cullen. Female readers want to be someone like Bella and have their own Edward.

    Last summer, I was a mentor for a high school English class. A 14-year-old girl “shadowed” me. When I first met her, she was wearing a Twilight fan t-shirt. We chatted a bit about the series, and when I asked her what appeals to her the most about the books, she blushed; when I suggested it was the allure of Edward, that perhaps she wished that she could be like Bella and have a guy as perfect as Edward, she became quite animated and quickly answered (very excited) that, yes, this is what she loved the most about Twilight.

    She adds, further:

    Yeah, Bella makes choices that put her at great risk. The fact that she’s in love with a vampire and in the midst of some vampire/werewolf wars – well, she’s a blood-filled target. Some of the material is pretty farfetched.

    You have to keep in mind that these are YA vampire romance novels – young teenaged girls are the target audience. Same audience as Gossip Girls, oddly enough, and the two series are radically different on basic levels.

    (I am not a romance novel reader, btw – although I do like vampire stories more than most people.)

    You can find the writer’s LJ here:

    http://sci-o-biscuits.livejournal.com/

    Love, C.

  12. Laurieon 31 Jul 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I suppose the idea that a ‘normal’ girl can be supernaturally desirable would resonate with insecure teenage girls. It doesn’t do much for me, personally, since I am old and busted. As Mary-Sue as Anita Blake is, one of the things that Jean-Claude says about her describes the kind of heroine that I like. To paraphrase: From the first time I heard your voice, I knew that you would never die waiting for me to save you. You would save yourself.

    Damn right.

  13. Constance Ashon 31 Jul 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Where within this spectrum from BTVS to TWILIGHT do you think the September HBO premiering series True Blood will fall?

    It’s from yet another vampire novel series, written by Charlaine Harris, set in a small town in northern Louisiana (gads, visions of where Vaquero grew up — Natchitoches, between Alexandria and Shreveport, older by about 3 years than New Orleans).

    Information here:

    http://www.hbo.com/events/trueblood/

    Has anyone read the Charlaine Harris novels, and what do you think of them?

    In the meantime, my town, which is anything but a small town in northern Louisiana, is plastered with posters and other promo, promoting True Blood, including the vampiric faux beverage,Tru Blood.

    Judging by certain ravings by folks on very hot, humid subway platforms, a lot of people don’t realize this is promotion for a television series, not real political campaign to make vampires equal citizens.

    Love, C.

  14. Ariaon 01 Aug 2008 at 9:41 am

    I personally like the Twilight series. Grant it, I’m not a complete fanatic about them as some people are, but I do like the romance. However, my favorite book is the one that everyone else seems to hate, which would be the second one, because it has the most tension in it between Edward and Bella. I think these books are also easy to read, and they’re very smooth as well.
    And as for how all of the guys seem to fall for Bella? You also must keep in mind that she is the new girl in a town where everyone has grown up with eachother from the very beginning. But I definitiely agree on her attitude…it can be very infuriating. She seems to be constantly fighting with Edward about the smallest things, always upset, always trying to break the rules and then needing to get rescued and never content.
    But I dont really understand how it got the hype it did? For a few years it was nothing. My one friend read it and loved it years before I did, and then I read it when it was still unpopular. And then a few months after that it just seemed to…go crazy? So some of the things critics are saying make sense, but I’d still recommend them to some people.
    However, I’d also like to note, in this insane ramble of mine, that the Twilight series has nothing compared to Stephanie Meyers’ The Host. That book definitely made it pretty high on my selective list of favorites, and it is completely different from Twilight. I guess in some ways Wanderer could be compared to the meek Bella, although she has some fight in her, and repressed Melanie definitely fights to stay alive within her own body. Definitely a good book.

  15. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 01 Aug 2008 at 10:48 am

    There was a ginormous Tru Blood banner hung up in the sails pavilion at Comicon, a preview showing, and on top of that, they officially sponsored the masquerade.

    However, I missed the masquerade and missed the panel so I think I’ll just be waiting for the inevitable “first taste is free” download of the pilot on iTunes.

    In any case, it looks amusing at very least. We need more vampires on television.

  16. Constance Ashon 01 Aug 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Kevin — Was Charlaine Harris herself present at ComiCon? The photos of her present an author that looks so different from what one might stereotypically expect. :) HBO is doing quite a promo job.

    Aria — Could you speak more to the differences between Host and the Twilight books? Or at least the differences between the central protagonists of the books?

    Thanks for the comments!

    Love, C.

  17. Kevin Andrew Murphyon 01 Aug 2008 at 4:19 pm

    According to the boldfacing in the Comicon Events Guide, she was scheduled for the Tru Blood panel that was going on opposite the Superhero Superfiction panel, along with most of the stars and the guy who did the adaptation. But as we all know from cons, just being scheduled for a panel is no guarantee that people show up, and that was the day of the big accident on I-5, so half of Hollywood was late or Sir Not Appearing on This Panel that day.

  18. Kate Elliotton 01 Aug 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Aria, thanks for the comments.

  19. Laurieon 01 Aug 2008 at 7:56 pm

    I’ve read all of the Charlaine Harris books and I like them a lot. They are lighter, sweeter fare than most vampire books I’ve come across, but they aren’t chick-lit like, say, the Queen Betsy books.

    Sookie Stackhouse is a sweet Southern girl from a tiny town in Louisiana. She’s a mind reader, but this is more of a disability than some great power. Sookie is constantly bombarded by an overload of mental noise from everyone around her. She ‘hears’ every stray thought, random impression, or fleeting image from living brains near her. It takes so much mental energy to process and try to block out all this noise that most people think she’s slow or crazy.

    There’s a good discussion on True Blood over at time.come that talks about the show’s ability (or lack thereof) to translate this to the big screen.

    See here:
    http://www.time-blog.com/tuned_in/2008/07/hbo_not_so_in_love_with_tmylm.html

    One of the things I like best about the series is seeing the grim, violent, and often very dark situations unfold through the eyes of gentle, sweet, unworldly Sookie. She’s a nice girl (believably, but not annoyingly, nice) and she handles things with the down-homey manners and grace she learned from her grandmother – an interesting thing when watching her interact with power-hungry vampires or murderous weres. I will be watching to see if they can capture that in the series.

  20. Constance Ashon 02 Aug 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks, Kevin.

    Like we said, you are the best informant on ComiCon evah!

    Love, C.

  21. Constance Ashon 03 Aug 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Laurie — Thank you so much!

    A long-time reader of James Lee Burke’s Louisiana novels, with the Wire‘s team working on a drama series set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and now True Blood on HBO, I’m interested to see how the Sookie Stackhouse series will reflect the location where it takes place. They’ve done location shooting in Shreveport (home of the venerable country music “Louisiana Hayride” that Vaquero listened to on the radio when a tad).

    That a series that seems to be taking an in-the-round look, whether for fun and profit or for additional reasons, at racism through the prism of vampires wanting to be citizens too, in the historic heart of whiteupremacybastionlandia, could be very interesting. Particularly during this era when same sex marriage has several groups outraged that this civil right be extended to previously excluded people.

    Supposedly too, the music for True Blood will be provided by local musicians in the area. I sure do hope so. It could be the making of the show. Some of those who have seen advance screening of episodes have expressed forebodings because the tone is not consistent — comedy? horror? what? But that might be Them and not anything that would bother somebody like me, for instance.

    Ah, a big article about True Blood today in the NY Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/arts/television/03rhod.html

    Love, C.

  22. Constance Ashon 03 Aug 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Aria — On your recommendation I looked into Meyer’s Host. Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:

    The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. But Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves–Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

    As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.”

    Now, that is A Concept! A brilliant twist on the competition / rivalry of the eternal triangle, two women competing for the love of a man – Romance. Not to mention a whole other way of dealing with material that Octavia Butler worked with in her great SF Xenogenesis novels.

    Love, C.

  23. Ariaon 04 Aug 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Alright, so for the Host…sorry it took so long to get back to you guys, but I was trying to think of how to best explain it, and then type it all down. So the first thing you have to understand is kind of explained in the review about it. The protagonist is really two characters in one, Melanie (Mel) and Wanderer (Wanda). Wanda, who is a seasoned traveler as far as the other “souls” go, takes over Mel’s body, but Mel isnt ready to give up yet. So here’s how they’re different than Bella.

    For one thing, Mel is a fighter, through and through. In most cases, the human’s mind will fade away and the “soul” will be in complete control of the body it is residing in. Bella doesnt have any real fight like that, she just always wants to be near Edward and for him to be okay. Anything she does is for him. Mel is trying to make herself known, to be who she was and to express that, even though she had another being sharing the same space of her mind.

    Wanda is a little more like Bella. She kind of gives in more often, but you have to keep in mind when you read that she is surrounded by a group of pure humans who hate the souls. She is kind of more meek and scared, and she runs away every now and then, trying to isolate herself because she thinks its best for everyone else. But it’s not like Bella, who causes conflict when, say, she goes to see Jacob against Edward’s wishes or when she throws herself off the cliff. No, she’s not doing what she thinks is best for herself or to rebel, she thinks its best for the people around her. And she makes connections with the humans, and when she fits in, she doesnt run away as much anymore. Also, at the very end, while I guess she’s still acting the same way, those people around her are acting differently towards her, although saying why would be a major spoiler. But I will say this, it also must be kept in mind that in the beginning, everyone thinks that Mel, who some of them have known (like Jared, for example) is gone completely, and that they’re just looking at a parasite who took over her body. It’s hard for them to treat Wanda normally. Although, there is Jamie, who helps with that.

    Okay, that’s the female protagonists. Onto the men. First of all, there’s Uncle Jeb, who is the father-like figure/protector of Wanda and Mel. He gives them the chance that they need to fit in, and there really isnt a character like that in Twilight. Carlisle Cullen comes close, I suppose, if you must compare them, but Jeb is more protecting.

    Then there’s Jared. Jared is nothing like either Edward or Jacob, except for maybe in his temper, but even that doesnt come close. He’s hard to describe, because he’s harsh, and he doesnt want Wanda there because she reminds him of Mel, who he believes he lost. It’s his fault really that Wanda is so skittish in the beginning.

    Ian comes next. Ian also cant compare to either of the two in Twilight. Ian, like Jeb and Jamie (who’s the younger brother of Mel) comes to see Wanda for who she is, and is able to look past Mel’s face and see the “soul” inside. (I would love to add an aside here, just to note that this whole book is a great example of the saying “the eyes are the window to the soul” or however it goes? Because when a “soul” takes over a human host, you can tell by the gleam in their eyes–see the cover of the book for an example). Ian’s brother Kyle is definitely a foil and an antagonist to the plot, and he plays a major role. However it is Ian who, at the end, has a line that is an absolute tearjerker for how pure and simple it is. But I won’t reveal that :P

    Also there’s Doc. Doc isn’t seen much, so I won’t talk about him for long excpet to say that he does play a major role in the book.

    Moving away from the characters of the Host, I’d like to point out some other items that keep it different than Twilight. For one, there’s none of Bella’s whining and there aren’t very many large fight scenes in terms of something like “oh my god, they’re coming for Bella!” although there definitely are, don’t get me wrong, some very tense/action packed scenes. Just not like in Twilight. For another thing, it’s more believable, I suppose, than the wearwolves and vampires, especially in the way that it is told.

    One thing that makes a huge difference is the setting. In the Twilight saga, its set in a few places: Seattle, Forks, Italy, school, the field, First Beach, to name a few. In the Host, the beginning takes place outside, but the whole rest of the book takes place in a network of caves. The setting itself is very intimate, in the sense that everyone depends and rely’s on one another, and it’s not like you get to see new faces every day, as it is a network of humans who have avoided being taken over by the “souls.” This in itself gives Meyer a lot of room to develop relationships and plot, and not have to worry about scenery and such. On the few occasions that they do venture outside? Let me tell you, every moment that they were out on a raid I was sitting on the edge of my seat chewing on my fingernails just waiting for something bad to happen. This is another seller for the book, as a simple thing like going out into society becomes a adreniline filled experience.

    Anyway, I think that’s about all I can say right now. I’m sorry if that wasnt explained very well, I can’t really begin to describe how different they are. Except I will say this before I conclude…with Twilight, when I was reading them, I realized how good they were and I was completely and totally into them. With the Host, it went further. Even right nwo, after not reading in months, I still feel like it’s there in the back of my mind. I can clearly envision each character (most of them without groaning about) and the relationships (none of which seem to be as frustrating as Edward/Bella/Jacob. UGH!). Perhaps when I read Breaking Dawn, I’ll have more to say about the differences. I have yet to do that.

    Let me know if there’s anything that you want me to clarify and I’ll do my best to do so!!
    -Aria

  24. Constance Ashon 04 Aug 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Arua — Thank you so much for taking the time to think about this and type it all out.

    So the network of caves feels more intimate than claustrophobic?

    Love, C.

  25. Ariaon 04 Aug 2008 at 8:30 pm

    It really does, which is the weird thing. In the beginning, it’s a little claustrophobic, because you’re viewing it as Wanda is the first time, and she’s insanely freaked out and nervous about it. But it gets bigger and better. There’s a whole community down there, and Jeb created this system to let light in. The tunnels are really from volcano’s I believe, the remains of lava or something? It’s really awesome because it’s almost like they’re living above ground; they have a garden, a kitchen, a bathing room, a play room, a school room, a hospital and living quarters. When she means for it to feel claustrophobic, it can in a heartbeat, no doubt about it, but most of the time it’s homey and intimate. But maybe that was just my view on it. :)

  26. OtterBon 05 Aug 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I read “Twilight” when it first came out because my daughter and her best friend, who were in 7th or 8th grade at the time, adored it. I finished it and enjoyed it, which actually speaks quite well of it since I Do Not Like vampire books. (After trying and not finishing several from authors whose other books I enjoy, I’ve concluded that they are just not my cuppa.) Anyway – I haven’t read the rest, and it’s been several years and I don’t remember details, but I do remember that I was reading it with an eye to the messages being sent teenage girls, and I didn’t find anything that tripped my ick-meter. Bella was a normal kid in a new school, found something that made her intrigued about a guy, and followed her curiosity into trouble. She wasn’t a kick-ass heroine, but if everyone kicked ass all the time, the world would be even more confrontational than it already is. I didn’t get “women should be submissive” vibes from it. I was especially watching for, and didn’t see, “men will override your decisions about intimacy and hey, that’s okay because (a) they can’t help themselves and (b) they’re really hot.” All in all, it’s not the best thing I’ve read, and it’s not as appealing to adults as the best of YA can be, but it’s not total dreck either.

  27. Vivian Francison 07 Aug 2008 at 5:12 am

    Sorry I’m commenting late…I’ve been busy reading the new Twilight book : ) I must, most respectfully, disagree that Bella is a hapless throwback to the Victorian Era.

    Bella is a completely ordinary girl, but she would much prefer to be like Buffy. She wants to be able to kick butt, she wants to be able to protect her friends and town from danger. But, in good story-telling tradition, the odds are stacked against her. Bella’s enemies are a thousand times stronger and faster than she is. As are her friends.

    So Bella’s options in the hero department are limited, even though her nature is heroic. If there is something she can do to help, she will do it no matter how dangerous. She repeatedly puts her life on the line for the sake of her loved ones. In Eclipse, I greatly enjoyed the maneuvering between Bella and her vampire boyfriend, as Bella tried to (secretly) find a way to join the upcoming fight, and Edward schemed to keep her away.

    Bella’s wish to be a hero (or a martyr, according to her BFF Jacob) means that she feels insecure when surrounded by individuals with so much more heroic *ability.* She also feels insecure about her looks, since her boyfriend is supernaturally good-looking. S Meyer does a good job of showing these insecurities. Often, something small will happen to trigger this sadness for Bella, like seeing her old, rebuilt motorcycle next to a new shiny Harley, and imagining this must be what she looks like standing next to Edward.

    Bella often doesn’t see her own heroic qualities because she is focused on the abilities of her supernatural friends. But she can’t just go to the gym and learn a roundhouse kick to become their equal. She is human. Realistically, those physical differences mean Bella is in danger on a regular basis, and needs to be protected. How could she NOT wish to be as strong as them? And yet, that wish also dulls her ability to see her own strengths. It feeds her insecurities. Part of me wishes Bella could learn accept these inequalities and feel content with her human abilities. But given her situation, that would probably require a Buddha-like transcendence. She is only human, after all. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.)

    Bella and Edward’s physical inequalities make them star-crossed lovers. It also sets up the central conflict of the series — whether Bella will remain human or become a vampire. But is doesn’t define one of them as the hero at the other’s expense, they both get their opportunities.

  28. Constance Ashon 07 Aug 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Vivian — These are the “intra-tubes” — what goes up stays up! So you can’t ever be late or too late to comment. :)

    Thank you for sharing your insights.

    Did you think the new Bella novel was as good as the first three? I have the first one on order as a book on cd, so I can listen while working out, so I can be, yanno, better informed. :)

    Love, C.

  29. Vivian Francison 07 Aug 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Hi C,

    I listened to them all on audio, and really enjoyed them that way.

    The last book is different from the first three. I honestly don’t think many authors would have concluded the series with this book. I’ve read that Stephenie Meyer had to push really hard to get it published. It isn’t what I expected. I don’t think it was conventional.

    (Mild spoiler ahead) I thought it would be about a last challenge to Bella and Edward ending up together. Instead she gives us what comes *after* the “romance” plot has been answered. There are a lot of strong feelings about it out there — like and dislike. I’d say it was my second favorite, after New Moon : )

    I’d love to hear what you think of Twilight after having read it.

    Something about SM continually lulls me into thinking that her books are going to pretty conventional. But then I notice all the ways they’re not. The Time reviewer said “Meyer floods the page like a severed artery.” And numerous people pick out this flowery, gushing with emotion, language as a sign of bad writing. I don’t see it that way. It fits the feel of her story, it’s filled with life, and enthusiasm and humor. But by writing in a way that fits her voice, she’s letting herself in for a bashing on her writing style. It’s got to be tough to buck convention like that.

  30. Constance Ashon 08 Aug 2008 at 1:06 pm

    It’s going to be a while before I have the time to get to the SM thing, but when I do, no doubt I’ll post about it! I’m like that, wanting everyone to know what I think (as if that matters, but there you are!), and wanting to know what everyone else thinks. :)

    Love, C.

  31. aishia belloon 13 Nov 2008 at 1:19 pm

    To say that Bella is stupid is something that a lot of people don’t understand. She isn;t stupid and doesn;t do these things on purpose. Bella already knows that if she could fight, and protect herself, and possibly can walk on a flat surface without falling. He wouldn’t have the need to always worry about her. In Breaking Dawn, he gave her a car that is bullet proof and impossible to destroy, because he know she might get hurt. And Bella hates it. Yes she loves Edward, but the their whole relationship isn’t about saving each other. Its about how far their love stretches for each other that they would risk their lives for. I mean Bella has Edward wrapped around her finger, so if she’s hurt physically then he is hurt emotionally. and she doesn’t want to cause anymore pain that he has benn through for a century- about who he is.

  32. Sengei Tawnon 30 Aug 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Just watched the first True Blood episode (last years). It was awful and I don’t think I’ll be watching any more of them. The characters are ridiculous, improbable and infantile. The plot is stretched so thin it’s about to snap. The sex is gratuitous and has little to do with the characters other than to suggest that all good looking people in the south (really? there’s that many?) have wild sex. Like they have the time.

    Now Twilight is good. At least for the age group it’s aimed at. The characters are believable and smart. Yes, a little extreme, but hey, that’s the target group.

    Just saying. I’m one that’s not deluded by True Blood.

  33. Alice Bulmeron 15 Oct 2009 at 7:47 pm

    The Host was my first encounter with SM’s writing, and I enjoyed it a lot. As Constance says, it’s a fabulous Concept. But there’s more! Beyond the relationship triangle The Host is also about colonisation and how we have a choice about the way we react to a situation of disempowerment: Melanie refuses to leave when Wanda invades her head. Fascinating theme for a writer with a background in the LDS church, where gender politics are notoriously conservative. Anyway, after The Host I suspected that the Twilight books would also have some interesting themes simmering in their pages. Having been a fan of Buffy, I approached Twilight with trepidation, after reading some strongly worded feminist critiques, eg Lucy Mangan of The Guardian (UK). But I was utterly curious to know what was enthralling my friends’ daughters! (My teenage sons tell me that Twilight just isn’t their thing.) The first book does superficially resemble a conventional romance, as Bella the heroine meets Edward the vampire and swoons over him, endlessly and annoyingly. But by the final instalment Bella has acquired supernatural powers stronger than the fabulous Edward – and he has the emotional maturity to be pleased about it! That’s better than the arguably feminist icon Buffy gets – she loses boyfriends because they can’t cope with her superpowers.
    Over the four books Bella finds her voice, her strength, her talents and her place in the world, and she learns to trust her own wisdom, even when everyone around her (including Edward) is telling her otherwise. Sounds like a tale of female empowerment to me, even if it comes from a writer who probably wouldn’t identify as a feminist.

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