So I had an encounter the other day, an encounter I can only describe as running into an ex. I quite literally bumped into one of those cardboard displays of books at the store and turned around to find a new Twilight book.
Whaaaaaa???? Went my internal narration at that precise moment. Sure, we hadn’t spoken in years, but I thought for sure Twilight would have told me some how that there was a new book out. Why hadn’t they called?
I was frozen, wanting to pick it up and look at this new book but at the same time reluctant to do so. Books aren’t all that observant, So picking up and reading the inside flap would be the equivalent of going up to and greeting an old ex who, up to that point, hadn’t seen me. I caved in though, and picked up this new book called Life and Death.
Turns out, my ex had a sex change. Life and Death is a re-imagining of the first Twilight book, but instead of Bella the lovesick human and Edward the mysterious vampire we have Beaufort the desperate lover and Edythe the aloof supernatural creature. This was no fanfic from Tumblr gone public either, Stephenie Meyer herself wrote this and released it to commemorate Twilight’s tenth anniversary.
This idea intrigued me. Maybe Meyer was looking to address the many accusations of Twilight being sexist and creating bad role models for women. Maybe she was using this chance to go back and improve a work she wrote ten years ago. Maybe she wanted to explore connotations of gender identity in romance. Or, maybe she simply hit “find and replace” on the ol’ Microsoft Word and switched out the names and genders of most of the characters to have something that could capitalize on any Twilight anniversary buzz. I don’t know. I did not read the book beyond a quick glance at the cover and inside flap. In the end, it was just too awkward for me.
Who can blame me, really? You can want to be the bigger person and ask an ex out to coffee just to catch up, answer any itching questions you each might have about the other’s life, (especially if you’ve discovered they had a sex change,) but dammit that is easier said than done, even with an ex who is technically an inanimate object.
Maybe I handled the break up more roughly than I originally thought. I recall feeling that general tiredness with the series towards the end. The story seemed a bit juvenile, and so did my former love for it. It’s a familiar sensation for someone who grows up reading a lot of books, but then there was the fact that I had, for a while, bought into the whole Twi-hard culture, and that made everything worse.
Things didn’t start out bad. Long before the movies came out, before the series was even finished, Someone gave me a copy of Twilight and I ate it up in a matter of days. I was into supernatural YA fiction, and adding vampires and werewolves to a story was an excellent way to get me to care about a teenage romance.
The books had a smaller but passionate following back in those days. I liked that intimacy. I ate up any scrap of info I could waiting for the release of the final book, Breaking Dawn, and went to its midnight release party. It was a whirlwind romance.
I guess things really started going south once the movies became a thing. More and more fans started popping up. Some of my friends converted. It was swell. Then, though, with that increased number of vocal fans, I felt things start to change, and not for the better.
When I first got wind of the Team Edward and Team Jacob stuff, I didn’t get it. Blindly siding with one romantic interest over the other seemed like a stupid simplification of the work. Reading while on someone’s team meant your man was always a shining beacon of sexy righteousness and the other was just plain evil/dumb/a total doo-doo head etc. In reality, both Edward and Jacob could be idiots sometimes, one could be right and the other wrong, or both right but for different reasons. No, Twilight was never a literary tour de force, but I felt it was a more complex exploration of adolescent love and sexual desire, but with vampires, than a bunch of very rabid fans wanted to make it.
Instead of turning away from this though, I let the excitement of the relationship blind and went fully into it. I did some things I wasn’t proud of. I made my dad read the books. I kept nagging my friends who hadn’t read it yet to “join up” with us already. I once tried to claw my cousin’s eye out because he wouldn’t stop calling me “Team Jacob,” and laughing. If I even knew what my bank account number was at that time, I would’ve given mine to Twilight and moved into its compound in the forest, to hunt for proof of werewolves and vampires that wanted to make love to me.
After a couple years, I started to get more and more uncomfortable with how unapologetic Twilight was for being so extreme with its fandom, how I found it so easy to just follow along blindly for so long. I grew tired of werewolf vampire debates, felt the story, (now complete, but with movies still coming out,) start to bore me. Rereading the books, the story seemed hollow, even silly. I left Twilight, bitter and disillusioned, wanting nothing more than to blend into the crowds dissing the book and pretend we’d never even met.
I’ve grown now, and I thought I’d gotten a bit better at dealing with past (book) relationships. I admit to others that I used to be into Twilight, but now I kind of think its silly. I thought I was maybe mature enough to make eye contact with Twilight in a bookstore without blushing, without feeling my heart break again. Life and Death proved, though, that I still feel kind of weird about my Twilight relationship, and we’re still not ready to just hang out over coffee yet. Sorry, you won’t be getting a review of this one from me, not now. Happy anniversary Twilight. Maybe you could use your magic vampire powers to help my cousin grow his eye back. I still feel bad about that one. Don’t pretend you don’t owe me!