Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” – Is this what Real Girls want?

Okay. I had a day on my own today, and wanted to do something that was in no way related to work or study. So I put down JWC Wand’s “Doctors and Councils”, and Walter Brandmüller’s “Light and Shadows: Church History amid Faith, Fact and Legend” (which is really excellent, BTW), and NT Wright’s “Simply Christian”, and picked up the copy of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” that my wife received for her birthday and has just finished reading.

Okay, okay… “Trashy, horror/fantasy romance”, I hear you say. “Girl novel”, I hear you say. And yes, it is, but I enjoyed it all the same. I saw the film on while on the plane to Rome back in April (and enjoyed the soundtrack too, I might say), and thought, what the heck. I’ll sit back, light my pipe and read the most popular novel since Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code.

Several pipes and coffees and glasses of wine and hours later, and I had finished. Not since the Da Vinci Code have I read a novel so quickly. In the case of the Dan Brown drivel, that was because the book was literary rubbish and could be speed read without losing any of the (very little sense) of the story. But Twilight is okay as a story, and okay in terms of writing (better than JK Rowling’s prose, anyway, which I find has me lost in unintended tongue-twisters as I try to read her books aloud to my children).

Is this the kind of novel a guy is supposed to enjoy? There are several comments on the web on this topic (eg. Real Men read (and love) Twilight and Twilight Novel From a Male Perspective ).

What I did find interesting is that for such a sexually charged novel, there is NO SEX in it at all. Not even a little bit. The only time in which the act of intercourse is even mentioned, it is referred to obliquely as “that”. And yet the prose is really quite steamy for all that. Is this what teenage girls really dream about? Tall, dark (or pale in this case), romantic and NO SEX? But it does seem to be about the temptation of forbidden fruit and the resistence to that temptation – as the cover picture and the inclusion of the text of Genesis 2:17 in the preface make quite clear.

The Australian Literary Review had an article on the topic of Vampires in modern literature last week. The writer of that piece suggested that the modern fascination with vampires is because we all want to be one. Certainly, by the end of Twilight, Bella wants to be one. And it seems that Edward is the “perfect guy” precisely because he is one. One writer on Facebook claims that reading Twilight has actually given her unrealistic expectations of men.

That seems to be related to the challenge that one of the commentators to whom I linked above issues to women:

Give Twilight to your teenage sons. Give it to your nephews and husbands and other guy types. Tell them it’s cool. Tell them they’ll like it. Tell them that it’ll help them understand women and therefore help them get dates.

Is that right? Will reading “Twilight” really help us understand what women want? For those readers out there who have read Twilight, what do you think of this advice?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” – Is this what Real Girls want?

  1. Mark

    I found an interesting discussion about Twilight and the changing reception to vampires at pandalous. It’s here: http://www.pandalous.com/nodes/vampires

  2. Never wanted to be a vampire myself. Can’t vouch for anyone else!

  3. I’ve always been fascinated with some of the vampire lore that rang a discordant bell with Christianity. Life, of course, is in the blood, and vampires live on blood. They shun the sun, and running water. They can “turn” someone into a vampire if that someone freely chooses to drink vampire blood, although this last one may be a modernist twist. I actually liked and followed the “Buffy, the vampire slayer” TV series through to its conclusion, as well as its spin-off, “Angel”, both by Joss Whedon. Lots of interesting thoughts in there, but the usual Hollywood twisting of Christian/Catholic truths as well. Another interesting series was “The Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher, but the TV series was axed so quickly. His books are much better anyway, but even the heavily modified stories on TV was pretty enjoyable. He, too, had interesting takes on pagan lore and Christianity, even Catholicism itself. But sometimes I wonder if such stories can taint our theology and view of the world, too. Especially the younger audiences.

  4. matthias

    There is currently a program on ABC 2 called BEING HUMAN which looks at the relationship between a vampire,a werewolf and a ghost. It examines their reactions when they are confronted with their “genetic’ behaviours ie full moons ,the taste for human blood and physical touch. No gory details shown as it concentrates upon the reactions. I have only seen it once and it left me wondering about possible theological implications. The series SUPERNATURAL , leaves out any Christian connections ,has renegade demons in league with humans,and treats angels as being possibly extreme zealots.Being human,could be seen as a analogy of how people deal with the human condition . Can anyone confirm if the author of TWILIGHT is a Mormon,which is what i have picked up from several US blog sites which may account for the lack of sex. Perhaps the vampire will have polygamous marriages

  5. Mrs Doyle

    I think the only real qualities that are appealing in Twilight to girls/women are those which are not special to vampires!
    The attractiveness of Edward is not necessarily that he is a vampire (although his unchanging nature might be appealing – I don’t think he’ll become a grumpy old man!), but all of his qualities are presented as things equally attainable for any man.
    Edward is the one who encourages Bella in maintaining and developing certain virtues and this can only be a good thing.
    The day anyone says that women want a vampire is the day we believe that children reading Harry Potter start to believe in magic.

    • Mrs Doyle! Fancy a gentle lady of your years reading teenage romances! Ah well, goes to show ya, doesn’t it?

      Yes, this was what I was actually getting at, Mrs Doyle, in the original posting. See the new post.