Thursday, October 04, 2007
When A Book Offends Your Value System Part I
Last summer some posters at one of my listservs started talking about "anti-woman" aspects of Stephanie Meyer's vampire series. There were also complaints about how boring the main character is. How could this incredibly unexceptional girl attract one guy, forget about two? (Actually, there's a third, but he doesn't matter because he's just a regular teenage boy.) At the time, I thought they needed to lighten up. Yes, Bella's obsessive, over-the-top behavior regarding her vampire love would be ridiculous and self-destructive in an adult woman. But Bella's a teenager. Aren't teenagers supposed to be obsessive and over-the-top? And, yeah, it was true that Bella had absolutely no interests or talents of any kind, but doesn't that give readers who feel that they, themselves, are dull and talentless someone to identify with? Hey, maybe we could attract two cool guys someday, too! (I seem to recall enjoying the torn between two-lovers-scenario when I was a teenager. Now I find the prospect exhausting.)
Then I read Eclipse, the third book in the series. Good heavens.
The first book, Twilight, had a thriller storyline to go along with its very erotic but sexless romance. I keep pounding on the point that books really need to have a story. Well, Twilight had one. Jen Robinson described Twilight as having an Elizabeth Barrett and Mr. Darcy thing going for it. One of the things that makes the Elizabeth Barrett/Mr. Darcy scenario attractive, by the way, is that the characters are on an even footing as far as their personal power is concerned.
New Moon became more of a star-crossed lovers story than a thriller. And Eclipse is almost all romance all the time. There's a threat to Bella from the evil vampires who first appeared in New Moon, but that story doesn't pick up until the middle portion of a very long book. What you get instead, is back story on the werewolves and some of the vampires and lots and lots of discussion of our relationship. No matter how close Bella and Edward are to being overrun by murderous, blood-sucking vamps, they always have time to stop everything and talk about their love for one another.
And a lot of their discussion is very disturbing.