I have something spontaneous, (hopefully) thoughtful, and reminiscent for you today! A review of my first reread of Twilight in about 13 years. Buckle up for some hot takes!
If you are a millennial, a millennial’s mom, an avid reader, or just someone living their life with Internet and TV access, you are surely aware of the Twilight Saga book series (and resulting Blockbuster movies) by Stephanie Meyer. Twilight was released in 2005 and its dark, foggy setting in Forks, Washington, and sparkly vampires in love, took the YA world by storm. When I read Twilight in 2006, New Moon had just been released and I was 12 years old. I remember browsing the shelves at a Border’s Bookstore (RIP) inside the mall while my mom shopped for shoes at Payless (RIP x2) across the way. It was a different world back then. There were no Bookstagram feeds or Goodreads pages at the tips of everyone’s fingers to provide recommendations. I got most of mine from eavesdropping on people at bookstores. 😂
Inside my hunter green messenger bag, the flap covered in punk-rock band pins from Hot Topic (looking at you, Boys Like Girls), was my little notebook with the names of books I wanted to check out. I remember hearing two teenage girls, probably around 15 (read – girls way cooler than I could hope to be at 12) talking about their favorite books. One of them insisted her friend grab a copy of Twilight, cause it was so good even her older sister loved it. Said friend picked up the second-to-last copy, and 45 seconds later I scrambled around the bookcase and snagged the last copy as they walked off to live their glamorous lives. They left behind the gift of a budding fandom in my hands.
Just as many girls my age did (plus their moms and even my dad), I devoured the first Twilight book in a couple days. I begged my mom to get me a copy of New Moon. And once I finished that, I began using my mom’s desktop computer to read FanFiction and stalk Stephanie Meyer’s website for news. 😂 I was embarrassingly obsessed. And I lived in that obsessively oblivious world of fandom for years, through midnight book releases at Barnes and Noble (they had a Bella and Edward wedding cake for Breaking Dawn’s release. Bless.), to more merch than I could possibly use, to midnight releases of all 5 movies. It wasn’t until later, through Buzzfeed articles and belated book reviews, that I began to realize all the problematic things in the Twilight saga.
As my world view grew, I began to understand everyone’s complaints. Sure, the romance is dreamy, but Bella isn’t a shining role model. She isn’t interested in anything, she doesn’t have hobbies or goals for her life after high school, and she falls into a deep depression that spans months when a boy breaks up with her. She is a pretty shitty friend to all the humans in her life. She treats her parents pretty bad. She throws away any opportunity to grow into a boss bitch by following Edward like a lost puppy asking for a walk (i.e. to become a sparkly vampire). And she constantly needs saving. Meanwhile, Edward is like 100-years-old. Why is he eyeing teenagers as love interests? Why does he, and all of the Cullens for that matter, waste their lives in high school when they could be curing cancer or something? Plus, Edward is majorly controlling at times all through the series in the name of keeping Bella safe. But he hardly considers her opinions at all *eye roll*.
I was always subtly Team Jacob, but looking back, even he had some issues. Like kissing Bella without her consent. And manipulating her into kissing him even though she told him she still chose Edward. *Sigh* 😔 The tables in my Twi-hard-Heart were topsy-turvy for awhile. I finally settled somewhere between “I just loved Twilight when I was young and dumb, don’t hate me!” and “it’s nostalgic and reading is reading!” – both of which are admittedly defensive and misguided.
So, all of this rambling, heavy scene-setting, and reminiscing leads to right here. In 2020, when the world is a god damn mess. And in the middle of a pandemic, the news drops that Midnight Sun in being released. Finally. My 12-year-old heart is flying. Suddenly, Forks is on everyone’s mind’s again. The articles are flying about its pros and cons, how much the book will sell, if Meyer can still even write these characters 15 years later, etc. But all I could think about was… should I read Twilight again?? I’ll admit, even when I was at my deepest Twi-hate, I still enjoyed the movies as a guilty pleasure (the first 2 are so bad tho lol).
However, I haven’t read the book in full since 2008. So a few days ago, I decided, what the hell – YOLO, as my millennial friends said in 2012. And you know what? I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to.
Sure, it’s definitely cringy at times. Some of the dialogue had me giving a gentle eye roll. Reading Bella again reminded me just how good Kristen Stewart was at playing her awkward ass 😂 But I also see Bella as kind of a relatable teenager. She’s trying to make the best decisions for her parents. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life (hard same) – she’s just trying to make it through the present. She gets her priorities all messed up over a boy, but haven’t we all been there with a boy/girl/nonbinary human we like when we’re new to relationships and feelings are scary? Edward was more charming than I remembered, which reminded me why I also have a Team Edward shirt somewhere in my closet… He’s a good combination of polite and mysterious, which probably fed into the messy-haired-bad-boy fantasy of my teens.
I also forgot how much I enjoy the other Cullens! We should all be demanding books about them! I want origin stories of each Cullen before they become vampires. I’d love slightly historically-accurate tales of their human lives and love interests and I 100% want Jasper’s gruesome newborn days. But the bits I got of them in Twilight were enough to peak my interest and keep me wanting more.
Honestly, if I were reading Twilight for the first time at 26, I’d probably give it 3.5 stars ⭐️ . Which is way more than I expected 😆 I thought reading it might ruin the fond memories I had of these characters that were so important to my love for reading and fandoms. But I think it had the opposite affect. I’ve grown to a place where I can acknowledge the flaws but still love what it was to me, and so many other young people, that are bigger readers because of this series. For better and worse, it has stood the test of time to become a series many of us look to when we think of the books that influenced our youth. So, if you still enjoy Twilight, no matter your age or who you are or what you do, don’t be ashamed of it. It’s a part of me and my childhood. It’s a part of all of us who loved it. Twilight brought us together over a bizarre love story between a vampire and a pale, awkward girl. And I think if we can appreciate the books for what they are, we can still find that bond between us all. We’re the twi-hard generation just as much as we are the Harry Potter generation. We’re just more proud to post one of those in our Twitter bio 😉 And I think that’s okay too.
Thanks for reading this long, somewhat bumbling post! I guess I had a lot of say after being away for a few months. I’m hoping to make another appearance soon 🙂
*all photos present in this post were taken and edited by me*