In my on-going quest to understand the human psyche, particularly in our culture where I serve, I downloaded to my Sony Reader from the library a copy of Twilight. In the past few years, the Twilight series has sold like hotcakes. I can count at least twenty youth in larger church that I know who carried a copy of the novel at one time.
But, for me, kind of like professional wrestling, reality television shows, and zombie based movies – I have been rather perplexed at the fascination with vampires. I am old enough to remember Dark Shadows on TV and the controversy that ensued. But I was never interested enough to watch it. But as a pastor in 2010, and as a father of a daughter, I decided to go to the source and read Stephanie Meyer’s bestseller myself.
It is easy reading and not boring. She writes it from the female teenage protagonist’s point of view and I honestly think at 48, it’s my first fiction novel read from that perspective. She appears to be someone many teenage women would identify with. She’s intelligent, aware of the personalities and relationships going on around her, attractive (but doesn’t think of herself in this way), is adept at picking up clues, and (as always) wiser than either of her parents (the teenage boy novels always contain that element as well).
The vampire is no Bela Lugosi type villain. He’s a ‘good’ vampire in that he satisfies his thirst for blood by hunting animals. He is described as looking like someone right off a fashion runway, even godlike. And instead of turning to smoke if the sun hits him, he sparkles like diamonds (so he avoids sunlight so as not to attract attention).
The bothersome aspect of the novel (at least at this point, I am about 70% through) is that he is nothing what I would imagine a love interest to be for modern young women. He is controlling. He follows the protagonists. He sneaks in her home. He listens in on all of her conversations. He appears very obsessive. Instead of empowering Bella (the lead’s name) he appears to make her more and more dependent upon him. In the last chapter I read she thinks, “I will be in physical pain if I am not with him.” Hmmm. Not what I would call a healthy relationship.
Vampires traditionally have subsisted on the blood of a human. Perhaps in this re-working, he is subsisting on her essence. I’ll be interested to hear where they go with it. Allegories with modern society abound.
In the end though, eternal life (which the vampires to some degree have) is untenable as it is described there. Who would want to live so long in this world to see everyone they love, their spouse, to see even their children and grandchildren die? There is an eternal life for us but far better than the earthly way these un-dead dudes exist.
I’ve always liked sci-fi/fantasy novels so reading Twilight is not too far removed from that. And I can see the appeal and see why it got so far so fast. But I hope its target audience looks for something more in real life than the fantasy vampire Meyer’s develops.