'86 Rabbit

A FANGirl's Forkstress of Solitude

Twilight: Not Just For Tweens

**Moved from original blog**
Twilight: Not Just For Tweens
Merry Christmas, Twilighters! Here’s a little something for you. As you know Ms. Meyer doesn’t agree with the label Young Adult Fiction or Teen Fiction. Neither do I. I agree with her that a good story is a good story, and should be enjoyed by anyone. I’ll go a step further and explain why these specific books should not be considered Tween books. I’ll grant you that the majority of the fans seem to be screaming tweens and young teens, but have you ever talked to any of them about the books? I have.

Recently I got a 13-year-old family member to join my coven. She read Twilight obsessively, but is plodding through New Moon. She’s mad at Edward for leaving. She hates Jacob for putting the moves on Bella. She’s bored with the rebuilding of motorcycles. She carries the book around with her but is too bummed to read it. I told her that life is never going to get any better for her or Bella unless she reads through the rough times. I’ve even marked the page where Alice comes back, but she still can’t make herself move on.

She asks a lot of questions that tell me that she simply does not have the life experience to relate to a lot of what happens in New Moon. She is, I hope, several years away from getting her heart ripped out for the first time. She has bearly had a boyfriend at this point. That being the case, she can’t relate to that sort of love. She can’t possibly empathize with Bella and Edward who would do anything for each other, including leave each other if it’s what’s best. She can’t possibly know what it feels like to be in a relationship in which your heart and your head are so at odds.

The way I look at Bella and Edward is that neither of them are typical teenagers, so this isn’t a typical teen romance. Bella is very adult for her age in terms of responsibility. She’s had a tremendous amount of life experience in her 17 years. She’s been doing the shopping, cooking, housekeeping, and finances for years. She’s been taking care of her Mom, then she takes care of her Dad in much the same way. Essentially, she’s an adult in all but the dating/relationship aspect. Edward was frozen at 17, but 17 was much more adult in his time, and he’s had roughly a century to learn. He can also learn by reading other people’s minds. The only thing he hasn’t experienced is dating and relationships, just like Bella. From the moment they first laid eyes on each other, they feel a pull that in my mind is as supernatural as werewolf imprinting. Even though their heads tell them it’s too dangerous, their hearts won’t let them just walk away and move on.

It’s hard to describe a love anywhere near this to a 13-year-old without saying something like, “You’ll understand when you’re older.” She just doesn’t have the life experience to truly understand the motivations of the characters. Sure she knows what love is. Sure she has seen people fall in love in countless movies and TV shows. Sure she has been brain washed about True Love just like any other girl has. But she just doesn’t KNOW.

I’ll give you a very personal example. I was lucky enough to find true love. We were blissfully happy for a time. Then suddenly things happened and it was beyond repair. Leaving was the hardest thing I ever did. I did it for both of our own good. I learned that Meant To Be doesn’t necessarily mean Meant To Be Forever. I learned to never take a moment for granted. When Bella’s heart was ripped out, mine was ripped out all over again. I remembered that hole-in-my-chest feeling. I remembered the months of going through the motions. I remembered finding someone, my own personal sun.

To someone who doesn’t have any of this sort of experience to draw upon, a large portion of New Moon might just be unfathomable. You can understand, and comprehend, but you can’t really relate, and that could definitely contribute to boredom.

I also talked to my cousin just today about the saga. She is a few years older than my other family member at 18. She read Twilight as obsessively as you might expect. She got through New Moon more slowly, but she got through. She was a little upset by it and bored at times. She is now reading Eclipse and having trouble getting through it. Even though she is Bella’s age, she still doesn’t have the life experience needed to relate to what Bella is feeling. I don’t for a moment pretend that younger people can’t have any kind of emotional response to these books. The SQUEE heard ’round the world definitely tells us otherwise. What I am saying is that adults are in a much better position to truly understand these books. The themes are quite adult.

What are the adult themes?

War – Two huge battles are fought later in the saga. There is the threat of losing loved ones to violence. Strategies are devised. Alliances are formed.

Sex – Yes, I’m well aware that teens have sex. I was a teen once about 100 years ago. Bella and Edward approach sex very responsibly (aside from not using a condom, but then who knew?). They talk about it and what it means to them. They discuss their values openly, and they negotiate a path that is best for both of them as a couple. There is a lot of give and take. I never knew any teens that did that, now or when I was one or at any time in between. I’m sure they are out there. I’m also sure they are few and far between. Bella and Edward are approaching sex with more maturity than many adults, in my humble opinion.

I’m sure there are more. I’m toying with Control, Choices and Consequences, and Feminism, but I’m too tired all of the sudden to go into those topics, and my headache is coming back. I’ll try to wrap this up.

My point is that my 13-year-old only got so far before she was sort of lost. My 18-year-old got a bit further but even though she is Bella’s age is still a little lost. The many adults I know who have read the books completely understand and empathize all through the books. So, my theory, my opinion, is that while tweens and teens can read the Twilight Saga and love it, and get a lot out of it, they will understand and relate to it so much better when they re-read it as adults.

  • You’re so right on- this is not young adult reading at all! I would have responded to these books SO differently had I read them at 13 years old.

    Although I am in love and getting married, my love story didn’t playout like a fairytale and it certainly didn’t unfold immediatly. This is precisely because love (despite all of it’s appeal and magic) is really, really complicated. It’s not always black and white. There are light years of gray matter to consider.

    Also…best line ever: I was a teen once about 100 years ago. Love it!!!

     

  • Thanks for the comment on my page, I will check out Midnight Sun chapters. You are right, it has grabbed me in a way but that’s mainly to do with my anticipation for seeing the film. Since films and books should never be compared (I often come to blows with Harry-haters who think they are correct to judge the books by the films) as they are two very different mediums I’m still hopeful that the whole Twilight saga will grab hold of me. After all there’s nothing like a new obsession to make ya feel alive, eh?

     

  • i like your latest ramble (can i call it that)

    you’re right- i was in some cave for the past 3 years where i didn’t even hear about twilight until i was looking for a book to read on vaca this august. i blew through the series in 4 days then skipped the beach for the rest of the trip to obsessively read all and everything online related to twilight. when i found stephenie’s site, it was the first time i had heard the books referred to as “young adult” and i was shocked!

    no way! it’s not some smutty teen series and i want people to stop saying it is! (HUSBAND.. are you READING THIS!???!!)
    :)

     

  • My friend Random calls it my Vampire Porn. I can’t dispute that, so I certainly can’t abide by it being called Young Adult, now can I?

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    March 17, 2009 - Posted by | Bella Swan, Eclipse, Edward Cullen, Essays, New Moon, Stephenie Meyer, Twilight, Twilighters | , , , , , , , , , ,

    4 Comments »

    1. Interesting blog, I’ll try and spread the word.

      Comment by wonker | March 17, 2009 | Reply

    2. Thanks, Wonker!

      Comment by '86 Rabbit | March 17, 2009 | Reply

    3. Very well put! I agree with you as well.

      Is this a story about teens? Yes. But that doesn’t make it a teen book.

      Honestly, I think New Moon was my favorite because it made me remember those kinds of feelings of having your heart broken… or breaking someone else’s heart. I felt my chest constrict when I flipped through the chapters that were just months and nothing else.

      Comment by Jenny | March 17, 2009 | Reply

    4. I know! I had a few months in my life like that. My heart really went out to Bella. It’s amazing how a page that has nothing but the word ‘November’ on it can affect you so profoundly.

      Comment by '86 Rabbit | March 18, 2009 | Reply


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