Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Teacher's Defense of Twilight

Let me start this out by saying that I am not, nor have I ever been a Twi-hard. I went into teaching knowing what the Twilight books were and absolutely loathing them. Harry Potter was my magical adolescent escape world. I didn't need these stinking Twilight books! Stupid Twilight doesn't even get vampires right!

And yet, as a teacher, I've found a place in my cold, Twilight hating heart for these books. Why? The old "they get kids to read!" argument stands, but that's not all of it. No, the thing about Twilight is that these books are freaking door stoppers, beginning with the first one. Yes, the Harry Potter books grew in length, but the first one was relatively short and light. You could build a house of Twilight books, that's how thick and sturdy they are. I don't know if your house would sparkle, but it might, at least in sunlight. Suddenly, kids that were not wanting to read would get through the Twilight series and want more. They left Twilight behind with an insatiable thirst that could only be filled by one thing. More vampire books!

Harry Potter is fairly a unique story in comparison to Twilight. Normal girl falls for vampire? Oh, there are shelves upon shelves of books around. If you extend it to any old vampire teen book, you'll never run out of reading material. There are all kinds of vampires and reading levels kids can jump into. Twilight was great, but you want you want something easier? The Cirque du Freak books should be about your speed. Are you a Twi-Mom that wants a more mature read? Try the Sookie Stackhouse books, also called the Southern Vampire Mysteries. And yes, that would be Sookie Stackhouse as in True Blood. The books are much better. If you need something even more mature than Sookie, try the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Vampire Academy, Blue Bloods, House of Night, Vampire Diaries, which is experiencing a revival thanks to Twilight, Vladimir Todd, Peeps (by Scott Westerfield, not the Easter candy), High School Bites, Vampire High, Night World, The Morganville Vampires, Vampire Beach, Vampire Kisses, Vampire Rites, Vampire War, The Last Vampire and many, many more books are available for teens to check out.

I have a love/hate relationship with Twilight. Mostly, I love to hate the books. I finally read them last school year and they are a delightfully fluffy escape that will leave your head full of sparkly clouds and no worries. That is, unless you plan on analyzing them, then you'll have a field day over how self deprecating Bella is and Edward's strange stalker tendencies. Doing a character comparison between Edward and Wuthering Height's Heathcliff is even more fun. I personally prefer to live in the delusion that Stephenie Meyer is a satirical genius who has masterfully crafted a work that is actually a parody of itself. If she's self aware enough to have actually created such a satire, I'm sure she's full of chagrin that no one has caught on. Regardless of whether she's that brilliant, I certainly thank her for hooking thousands of teens into her vampire reading frenzy. Once she set up the genre for its current explosion, kids found there were countless vampire books to sate their bloody need.

Now, if you happen to be on Team Jacob, werewolves don't seem to be as popular as their blood drinking friends. However, you can still find a decent amount of books to read to fill your lunar needs.

A couple years ago, I never imagined I'd be defending Twilight. I still don't think they are great works of literature and question a lot of the stereotypes that Meyer establishes as ideal. However, hopefully reading Twilight books can foster a love of reading that will grow until kids read other books that help them question those issues.

3 comments:

  1. Really in this realm, there are several "young adult" books that I have recently read that I bet your children would really enjoy. There's the Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare: three books that focus on a magical realm that coexists with our human world, full of warlocks, faeries, vampires, werewolves, and the offspring of angels that protect we poor, defenseless and blind humans from the horrible demons that wish to take over our world and enslave us. City of Bones, City of Glass, and City of Ashes are the three books in the original series. Clare recently released the first in a new trilogy, the Infernal Devices, called the Clockwork Angel, which serves as a prequel to the first three books. She will apparently also be releasing a sequel trilogy focusing on some of the characters from the original series.

    The other trilogy I recently finished and loved is the Hunger Games. Akin to novels in the vein of 1984, the books focus on a nearly-post apocalyptic world where the US has become a dictatorship run by a singular city and those that live in it. The other citizens have been broken up into districts that specialize in the production of important resources, and each year must bend to the will of the Capitol and their immoral, deadly games. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay are the three books in the series.

    I suggest both series for anyone wanting a good read. They will suck you in, so be prepared.

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  2. Great article! I am a die-hard Twilight fan BUT I also semi-hate them at the same time for the reasons you have stated.

    I particularly love the part about Stephanie Meyer creating a genius parody as I have often wondered this myself. Has she really just been laughing all along? Laughing as she takes her money to the bank in wheel barrows?

    And the mention of chagrin, LOL I don't think she could have shoved that word one more time onto another page. Priceless.

    I am going to link to this on my own blog! Thanks!

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  3. i didn't really read this as a defense of twilight. what i got from this is, twilight sucks and there are much better vampire books for those who like the genre. and it's so true.
    i'm stopping myself before i even get started because i could go on for DAYS at how much twilight sucks and i'm not even very good at analyzing literature anyway.
    thank you for including the word chagrin. it would have been funnier if you could have included the words "adonis" or "marble" because i think those are the words most used to describe edward.
    i think what most bugs me is that bella/edward is now used as the model for ideal teen relationships. he stalks her. he controls her. she falls into a coma, essentially, when he leaves her. she has no other interests besides being with him forever. i just want to shake teenage girls and yell THIS IS NOT HEALTHY! at them.

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