Sunday, August 24, 2008

In Defense of Stephenie

This post is a bit late since Little and Brown released Breaking Dawn nearly a month ago. Like the girls in prom dresses and the emo, fanged boys, I gathered for the local midnight release party on August 2nd. I actually stayed up until 3:00 A.M. to read about Edward and Bella's nuptials. When I went to bed that night, I had the vague, unsettling sense that this book was headed in a bad direction, but that there still might be hope. 600 pages later, I discovered that my first insticts were correct. The series that I dearly loved and had followed ardently had boarded a flight into the Bermuda triangle. The crash was of staggering proportions; its remains unrecognizable after the resulting conflagration. No, I didn't burn the book. I wasn't THAT into it, however I did find my faith in The Twilight Saga entirely decimated.

From out of those ashes, one can hear the collective moans of the disappointed fans. As a result, a new and grisly fandom has emerged: those who are equally obsessed with all of the miserable reviews. Those of us who, on the fansites and message boards, have assembled ourselves to stand back and watch it burn with a new found, morbid facination. What Breaking Dawn itself never established in visceral conflict, the reviews have compensated for. I have to admit I am rather like a morose spectator who can't take my eyes off the morbid spectacle in front of me. I am, admitedly, more taken with the bad reviews than I ever was the much anticipated novel. In short, it is a breathtaking failure.


In the wake of failure, there have been various attacks of against Stephenie herself. She has been accused of everything from being a racist/sexist to penning overly graphic sex scenes. I do not agree with this criticism from her once adoring fans. Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse, the books embraced by millions, had [nearly]as much over-protective Edward, insecure Bella, and their unapologetic sexual tension as ever. So what made the difference with Breaking Dawn? Why is Stephenie now under fire for creating a bad role model for teen girls? Simply because Breaking Dawn was so poorly written. Honestly, Stephenie's writing is not any more sexy or sexist than it ever was. It's just that Breaking Dawn side stepped the entire series and came into existance as a concentrated accumulation of the stumbling tripe that would occassionally crop up in its companions. The only difference was that we were compelled by the plot and empathetic with the characters in the first three books so we were willing to overlook all the cliche and the poorly used adverbial clauses.


I will not join the legion of Steph haters. I agree that she was full of herself to think that the publication of Breaking Dawn would recieve the same acclaim as her other books. It is well known that her publishers tried to warn her about some of its egregious flaws prior to publication and that she thought her judgement was so infallible she couldn't possibly go wrong. So why should I, a stay-at-home mom struggling to make ends meet by working three jobs, defend Stephenie in all her prosperity? Because, I, like many LDS moms relate to her plight. Her personal story is one of epic success. Because of Stephenie and the Twilight Saga, I started doing something miraculous: I took time for myself to sit down and read, something I had not done in nearly five years. I loved her for her sometimes awkward prose. As an aspiring writer myself, it was great to read a book that I wanted to edit myself. It gave me hope that someday, maybe I too, could sit down and write a New York Times bestselling novel. She gave me something to wish for and think about in the days numbering the count down to Breaking Dawn. So the outcome of the great rise and the epic defeat: we have The Host which had the ending The Twilight Saga should have and, for that, I will always love Stephenie Meyer.

6 comments:

A said...

I read the reviews and saw the signs too. I have found Steph to be a great storyteller but at best an okay writer. I was disappointed as well by Breaking Dawn. But, strangely enough, my 15 year old thought the book was amazing. She was so happy that Edward and Bella rode off into the sunset together. So while the critics and probably most of the adults that read it felt it crash and burn, her target audience was happy with the end result. It did inspire me to dust off the computer and get writing again. Someday maybe I'll be the one on the best sellers list!

Marie said...

I hope that happens for you!

I think I set my hopes too high, perhaps if I had taken a different approach. I have to concede that I am not the target audience.

Anonymous said...

I found the same things through the Twilight saga. I started reading again and taking time for myself. Although I've been disapointed by Breaking Dawn, I don't hate Stephenie Meyer for it. Great post!

CarpElgin said...

Well... guess I'll have to go read the d*mn thing! I just sent my mom a link to your review because it was that darn wonderful!

concentrated accumulation of the stumbling tripe

You just made my week -- and it's only Monday.

Marie said...

Thank you! Wouldn't you know, the BAD review is what sucks you in? A girl after my own heart. Be prepared for some laughs when you go in to read.

A said...

As far as your own writing goes, I think you need to pursue that, you definitely have a talent for making your blog interesting to read. Good luck!