I am reposting this in honor of the tenth anniversary of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
I have a confession to make. I love the Twilight Series. I won’t tell you what team I’m on, but I will admit to being a Stephanie Meyer fan. This is not a popular sentiment, especially for a writer straight out of an MFA program, but Twilight is the book I open on my iPad more than any other. (Don’t worry, I read a lot of other books too. Twilight is just my go to e-book. Most of my other reading involves paper books.)
I know that the Twilight series has received a lot criticism. I agree with some of it, specifically how stalker like and controlling Edward becomes. Despite this criticism, I genuinely enjoy the series. I have a few suspicions about why these imperfections don’t stop me from reading.
First, it helped me find common ground with my students. I picked up the book in the first place because I had countless students use the series for outside reading projects. Any such books immediately make my list of books to read.
Second, Stephanie Meyer is simply a good story teller. Someone can be a great writer and never sell a book because they aren’t a good story teller. In contrast to that, a great story teller can sell lots of books even if they aren’t a great writer. Stephanie Meyer is a good writer, but more importantly, she is a great story teller. Her sales record proves that. Her millions of fans prove that. Bella’s story is interesting.
Third, (and this is the reason I think the series shouldn’t be banned) the themes in the novels touch on eternal truths. Yes, you read that right. The Twilight series touches on eternal truths.
I have always believed that truth can be found in fiction, good fiction, fiction that speaks to someone to the point that they will return to a story and it’s characters over and over again. There are several truths that I believe are touched on in Stephanie Meyer’s series.
A: The importance of and the strength required when resisting temptations. Think about it, Bella practically throws herself at Edward, but he refuses to have sex until they are married. If anything else, that should appeal to the religious criticisms aimed at the series. Then, there is the very interesting fact that a pack of vampires are refusing to feed on humans. If that is not a stellar example of resisting a temptation, I don’t know what is.
B: The idea that we shouldn’t be too self critical. Edward believes that he is damned, that his soul is past the point of saving. While this question is never concretely answered (it can’t be since Bella and Edward survive) it does become clear that Edward begins to accept himself and to recognize his good side.
C: The importance of taking responsibility for our decisions. Throughout the series Bella refuses to put her father in danger. She risks her own life and refuses to leave a dangerous situation until he is protected.
D: The importance of stewardship. The Cullen clan and Jacob’s pack put their lives at risk to protect others. They take care of their family in dangerous and difficult situations. That is a lesson more people need to learn.
E: The need for acceptance. Vampires and Werewolves become friends, become family. Enough said.
So, read the Twilight series, or don’t. The choice is yours. But don’t tell me it shouldn’t be read. If you are worried that Bella’s relationship is unhealthy, then talk to your child about what a healthy relationship actually looks like.
Now it’s time for me to issue my own challenge. What is your favorite banned book? Tell me about it, and tell me why it should be read.