Well, well, well. So here’s a way to tell how old I am, the book Breaking Dawn came out while I was in middle school (my best guess is 7th or 8th grade based on memory, based on released date, I am going to guess that it was probably 7th grade), and I remember this because it was a banned book at my school. But to give you guys an idea of how long I have had these books, my Twilight book (which had to be from middle school since I distinctly remember reading it on the bus) still has the Borders barcode on the back. Yep, ladies, gents, and nonbinary folks, I’m that old.
My plan for this month is to read the original 4 novels (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn), The Life and Death of Bree Tanner, Life and Death, and Midnight Sun. There are works that have come out of these novels (including the Fifty Shades of Grey series), but I will not be focusing on these this month (or really ever).
I have read the original 4, and I have seen the movies, but I have not read any of the other books. Very recently (August of 2020), Stephenie Meyer recently released Midnight Sun, which is the book Twilight, but from Edward’s perspective. It has definitely been awhile, so hopefully these are as good as I remember from when I was a young’un.
Isabella (Bella) Swan is forced to move to Forks, WA to live with her father after her mother’s new husband is working on finding a new job. Having moved from always sunny Pheonix, AZ, Forks is an incredibly depressing landscape. Since this is such a small town, Bella becomes the talk of every conversation, leading to teenage drama galore.
And look, this town has some weird characters. There is this family called the Cullens, and they are incredibly beautiful, they talk to no one, and there is this dude named Edward who is the sulkiest and attractive-est of them all. So, when Bella and Edward meet, obviously things take an interesting turn.
Turns out, Edward has a secret. He survives off the blood of animals. Yes, dear reader, he is a vampire. Dun, dun, dun. Now, to normal people, this probably would be a red flag. But for our dear Bella, this leads to a really toxic and uncomfortable relationship. But when a group of vampires come into town and catch Bella’s scent, we go on a wild ride trying to hide from the tracker.
So after the vampire adventures of the last book, Edward starts to believe that maybe he is putting Bella in too much danger. To make matters worse, Bella got a paper cut at her birthday party and ended up in stitches. Edward goes “oh that’s crazy, maybe I should leave” and he tells her in the middle of the woods and then abandoned her.
Bella went bat-poop. She became catatonic (because that’s a normal reaction), and for months, she essentially becomes unable to function. Her dad gives her an ultimatum, get yourself together, or I’m shipping you back to your mom in Florida.
At this point, Bella starts trying to get her life back in order. She begins to realize that when her life is in danger, she hears Edward’s voice, which is a totally normal thing and not a sign of overdependence. Bella ends up finding a couple of motorcycles, and goes to her childhood friend, Jacob, to rebuild them.
A lot happens and also not a lot happens, but when we break down to the exciting parts, we learn that Jacob turns into a werewolf, and that this is a part of his heritage. Also, Jacob helps pull Bella out of her depression, but their friendship leads to a weird extreme sports competition.
Anyway, Bella jumps off a cliff. Yea, it’s a thing. Anyway, Edward thinks that she died, and now he is headed to Italy to do the only type of suicide that vampires know. And of course, Bella has to save him, because this is a romance saga after all.
There are a lot of deaths in nearby Seattle, and that has Bella’s father, Charlie, on edge. And with Edward back and Bella on essentially house arrest, there is a lot of tension going on. Charlie decides to take Bella off her house arrest as long as she spends time with more people than just Edward and the Cullens. Due to the whole werewolves vs vampires thing, Edward doesn’t want her anywhere near Jacob.
So this becomes a whole thing, and Bella starts sneaking around so that she can get her sweet sweet Jacob fix. Anyway, so we figure out that the stuff that is going on in Seattle is caused by newborn vampires. Someone is trying to form an army in order to hurt the Cullens, the werewolves, but most importantly, Bella.
Now, on top of all of this, we spend the entire book grasping with Bella’s future change, and her upcoming graduation. Add on that a dash of potential werewolf love, and we got ourselves a book about dilemmas and the choices we make during them.
Okay, so Bella and Edward get married. And after people get married, they tend to go on a honeymoon, and that honeymoon includes some adult times. No one thought that a vampire could get a human pregnant, but surprise! Bella gets pregnant.
We spend the first half of the book getting to the point where Bella gives birth to her daughter, Renesmee. We then spend the second half of the book preparing the Cullens and friends for the unfortunate arrival of the Volturi when they find out that there is a child in the mix.
The series as a whole
Okay, I have a lot of opinions on this one. I was 12 when I first read these books, and I was in high school when most of the movies came out. Genuinely, the fandom related to these books is a lot of my childhood. HOWEVER, now that I am looking at these books as an adult, they aren’t as good as I used to remember. I have a lot of problems with these books, which I plan to talk about this month, but I just can’t look past those things in my head.
With all of that being said, let’s talk about what these books do right. Firstly, these are a really good baby step into the YA world. Keep in mind, these books do not have explicit language or sexual content (although there are some scenes in Breaking Dawn that imply sexual situations, Meyer doesn’t describe the actual sex like some other YA books), so they are okay for the younger end of the YA spectrum. There are some things I picked up that have slightly sexual connotations, specifically a scene in Twilight where Edward swipes a tear from Bella’s face and then sucks it off his finger, but I can guarantee that younger young adults probably wouldn’t have picked that up. Secondly, we all need a Charlie. Write this down parents, be the person who your child can’t imagine losing, even if it means that they can’t tell you everything about their choice (or lack thereof). Support your child through their sexuality, their gender identity, and/or their partner choices.
I’m going to be spending the rest of the month trashing these books, so I’m going to leave this here. But, uh…. If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!