Sunday 4 July 2010


There is hoopla.

Plenty of hoopla.

Twilight hoopla.

I use the word hoopla because I find it equally as ridiculous as Brit fan girls crying that RPatz didn’t attend the UK Twilight Saga: Eclipse premiere(I feel dirty just typing all of that.) I feel that the attention devoted to Twilight is disproportionate to the book series worth.

Before people start getting all hater-y on me...let me tell my story. I started reading Twilight just before it got crazy popular in Australia. To put it in context, I had to traipse to three separate bookstores to find it and some book store personnel didn’t know what I was talking about. I read what I could and then waited for Eclipse and then waited for Breaking Dawn. I equate it to a sugar high. Once you are eating ... you can’t imagine not eating it. When you are finally done you look down at the wrapper, groan, wonder what the hell you’ve done then crumple to the floor hugging your stomach and hating yourself.

The point is...I enjoyed the books while I was in them. But I was always aware that they were poorly written. The repetition of the simile “...cold as marble” was enough to take me out of the book every single time I came across it. Which was plenty. Reading the abysmal effort that was Breaking Dawn (review here) completely sucked any of my fond memories out of my brain. It was like the publishers didn’t even bother putting it through the editing process. It was deeply, deeply flawed. Meyer is a storyteller; she’s not much of a writer. It was the storytelling that kept me reading.

There is another reason. Rosalie.

I don’t find any of the Twilight characters particularly interesting. Most I hold in complete disdain but Rosalie struck a chord. She’s not much of a player but her surliness was a beacon. It was as if she were the only realist in a world full of people insistent on tip toeing through the tulips. There was no to-ing and fro-ing with Rosalie. She was set in her ways with good reasoning for her opinions; unlike Bella (who is equally stubborn) it was based on knowing rather than feeling. Bella feels it is the right thing to do, to become a vampire and live in vampire splendour with Edward. Rosalie knows what this sacrifice means regardless of feeling. She loves Emmett but I think she would quite happily trade it all in to be human I said, she’s a realist. I also enjoy that she’s the only one that seems to realise that Bella has no freaking clue...but doesn’t hate her.

I am still a little shocked that Meyer created such a brutal human story for Rosalie. To be gang raped and left for dead doesn’t really seem to be in Meyer’s wheelhouse but regardless it is there. She owns who she is. She’s unrelenting in her point of view, even though it is against what her family wants. Voting no to Bella’s prospective turning was I think was ultimately endeared Rosalie to me. Edward had his own jumbled reasons for voting so, but Rosalie her reasons have always been crystal clear.

Rosalie never wanted this life. She might have been shallow and vain but she didn’t deserve what happened to her. She didn’t deserve to have Carlisle bite her. But without it she would not have met Emmett. With it, she will never have children. Rosalie deserves to be bitter. To be honest, I don’t understand why more of the Cullen clan aren’t bitter towards Carlisle...even with his truckloads of compassion.

If any character is the mirror to Bella, it is Rosalie. I like Rosalie, I understand Rosalie. Bella’s a shadow of sexual need camouflaged in the seeking of forever love. But regardless people see Rosalie as the enemy, Bella sees Rosalie as someone to be wary of. It’s easy to hate the pretty girl.

I doubt that Meyer did any of the Rosalie character building deliberately but if she did, then I have to give her some props. I said some. There are still holes in Rosalie’s story. Mainly of which is the circumstances in which Rosalie is raped. Her fiancé courted and proposed to her. Then when drunk and out with his mates raped her and then left her for dead. Does this fall a little flat for anyone else? Why would he do that to someone who is his fiancé? I understand that he might (at a stretch) rape her himself but not all of his mates. Actually I hate talking about this so I am going to stop. There was a disconnect for me. Not that rape EVER makes sense, nor should it.

Even worse is Rosalie effectively choosing Emmett because he looks like Vera’s baby? She takes him to Carlisle to save him. She forces the decision on someone else. This happens two years after her own turning; she’s still pissed about it almost a century later. Because Emmett has dimples...that makes it a-okay?

Lastly....the wedding dress. Wearing it while terrorising her ex-fiancé...can I say Telenovela? (I loved the way the film, aka screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, played this off in the film though.) I have to admit to loving her vengeful spree - it was well earned. She's a prickly sort and I like her for it.

If there is one character in Twilight that would make a worthy protagonist, a more realistic one than Bella, I am totally on board for Rosalie. Fire is always more entertaining than meek lovey-dovey-dom. A snarl is more engaging than a blank stare. Kick ass mechanic skills beat a "shield".


Katy said...

I totally agree with this post. If people read more they would know how badly written the Twilight series is. It is entertaining, and I think hardly anyone loved Breaking Dawn, but Bella is such a lackluster MC. Rosalie stole many scenes for me as well. She had more passion and character than Bella in my opinion.

Alea said...

The revenge scene was awesome! That might have been my favorite part of the movie!

Catherine (On The Nightstand) said...

(Hey look, I can comment now!)

Completely and utterly agree. To me, Rosalie was the most developed character in the series. Even though we barely saw her, we saw a lot of what made her.

Mezzowriter said...

This is a fabulously written critique. I can really appreciate your viewpoints, and think it's tough to explain to people the whole "I always knew they were poorly written" thing.
Popular does NOT necessarily mean well-written.

Lovely lovely stance you have on this. Smart and logical and rational. :)
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post Adele! The sugar binge analogy also perfectly fits my reading relationship to the series (and two years later I am still recovering from the cavaties haha).

I also really appreciate your perspective on Rosalie - something I hadn't really thought much about before (though I always liked that she was one of the few characters who didn't completely fawn over Mary-Sue ... I mean Bella)

nicole said...

i totally remember when tye got an ARC of twilight... with the old 'emo' cover. that old cover still makes me giggle. it's no wonder no one picked it up.

we call it 'black magic'. the spell twilight casts as you read it. you know it's not good, that you're rooting for a stalker, and that sparkles should be laughed at, but you can't put it down.

and then you step back and wonder why why why.

Pens said...

Very well said-junk food analogy is right one!

Beth S. said...

OMG, your comparison to a sugar high was perfect! I felt the exact same way about the books. They kept me turning the pages, but when I was done I was like, "Ewww... now I feel gross." LOL!

Lynn M said...

I agree with your assessment that the craziness over these movies is completely out of proportion to the quality of the books. It's almost like people read the books and said "these are good" and after a bit of time, with the movies coming out, they think back on their reading and mistakenly remember "that was the best book ever!!!!" I personally experienced the downward curve of enjoyment when reading the books - loved Twilight, liked New Moon, barely tolerated Eclipse, and couldn't even finish Breaking Dawn.

As for Rosalie, I too had a big problem with her backstory. That her fiance was the one who lead the horrible attack on her just never made any sense to me. I agree with you - if he'd been the sole rapist then maybe, but to have it be a group thing just went over the top, almost as if Meyer tried to think of the most horrible thing ever for a woman to experience and didn't think through the logistics of the whole attack.

But I never managed to find any kind of appeal in any of the characters because even upon learning backstories, I just never was made to care about them that much through the story in the books. Just like in the movies, the Cullens other than Edward are kind of like bit players to me, there to help the plot along but with nothing about them that makes me care for them.

Lara said...

I enjoyed reading this a lot, I never thought about Rosalie that way. The way you have described reading the series (like junk food)is exactly the way I described it once! I'm glad it wasn't just me :)

Donna Gambale said...

I also loved that Rosalie was the only one with true attitude in the books, and this movie finally gave her a chance to be more than a pretty face. Love your analysis of the appeal of her character / the books!

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Emily Cross said...

Your description of your relationship with Twilight is exact same as mine. I read the books back in 2007 (went to book stores - no one knew anything about sequels etc.) I even meet the author and got autographs when she stopped in Ireland for the day (no one outside the 100 or so fans knew who she was). I liked twilight, it was fun and escapist fantasy. I held out for new moon and eclipse but with each book I guess i grew less fond.

Then Breaking dawn. . .

well that ended it for me. I still have the books and maybe i'll reread them (probably just TW), but i agree with your assessment of Rosalie - although the whole baby thing was a tad strange. . .

Tales of Whimsy said...

Rosalie struck a chord with me too.

Regarding the holes: I didn't see it as a hole. In those time men often married for money, prestige, etc. To me it showed he didn't love her - he just wanted her. One night he decided, to hell with convention, right-and-wrong, he was going to do it. It was different time. I thought Rosalie's story reflected that.

As for her picking him because he reminded her of the a woman who hasn't been able to have kids, I can relate to that too. He was bleeding, her hunger was in play, but seeing his hair brought out the human (and that very human need to be a mother) in her.

Great post :)

Mari - Escape In A Book said...

I never disliked Rosalie but this wonderful post made me think about her a bit different. I loved reading this post and I agree that Rosalie would have been a worthy protagonist.

I enjoyed the Twilight saga(well. NOT Breaking Dawn), but Bella was just so annoying.

Unknown said...

I hated Rose up until Breaking Dawn, but you're right, she has ever right to be bitter. My husband's favorite part in Eclipse (besides the training scene and the fight scene) is Rose's flashback. And in the film, they pulled it off extremely well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Adele,
I've been reading Persnickety Snark for a while now, but keeping silent, mostly because I'm somewhat in awe of your insights and afraid anything i make a comment on will be somewhat inadequate... but, when I read this post on Rosalie, I felt the need to let you know that you've opened up my own thoughts about Twilight.

I, too, suffered from the "sugar high" you mentioned (and think it the best analogy). I first picked up Twilight while I was living in Mansfield and so was a bit of touch (working on Mt Buller during winter, so you can imagine what my days were filled with and it definitely wasn't vampires!), and pretty much read the first 3 books in a week (Breaking Dawn hadn't quite been released then).

I must admit that while reading them I enjoyed them, although there was always this little voice at the back of my head that was saying "this is really quite appalling - stop reading!"

And all of my comments towards the series since having read them have been to bag the hell out of Bella and her innocuous ways, but I didn't really give much thought to the other characters. I always kinda had some empathy towards Alice, and I think I'd have to say she's my favourite, but I became so un-enamoured with Bella and Edward that everyone else just seemed to cease to exist.

What I really wanted to say, was that reading your post on Rosalie brought back that initial enjoyment I found in reading Twilight, and managed to help me see beyond the insipidness of those characters who didn't really make the books what they would have been without the hype.

Keep up the good job, Adele.