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Somebody remind me why I thought that was a good idea, again? - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
robling_t
robling_t
Somebody remind me why I thought that was a good idea, again?
{several rounds of helping people pack for a move, LJ's political issues with its demographics, the phone service for the ENTIRE BLOCK going out, and the technoparanoia of login quirkiness later...} So, um, the Twilight thing, yes, I've struggled on all the way to the end of the fourth book. I think that the experience can be summed up thusly:



Which, aside from that it wasn't RE sexual content, is more or less the look I could feel settling onto my face as I read. 'Cos, no matter what you've heard about it... these books are actually even weirder in person. Much, much weirder. Towards the end it's as if the writer is looking around for walls that she hasn't yet rammed the story into and backing up for a good running start. I think I can honestly say that I've never seen anything like it that wasn't done on purpose, because, damn, it's hard to squeeze ten pounds of WTF? into a five-pound sack like that.

In the final analysis I think that what I found to be bothering me the most about these books, leaving the issue of basic writing-quality aside as something of a red herring, was the mindset of the writer. It's clear that she's reasoned out her story from first-principles that are different from values that I happen to hold; the impression that I'm also left with is that she is unaware of the boundaries of her box, or indeed that she's in one and it's not necessarily the same box that everyone else is. She presents as givens ideas that should be arguments, and by making no attempt to engage with the implications renders her vision of the world curiously flat even for YA literature, which isn't always the most nuanced storytelling simply because of its intended audience but at its best does at least usually try to present more than one viewpoint.

What I found particularly, well, offensive, I guess, in a philosophical sense, was the constant emphasis on perfection. And that Bella saw herself as lesser because, as a human, she was not perfect. She can only be content once she has died to her human life and ascended into a more desirable state.

I am not even going to freaking get into the message this sends to adolescent girls about body image. (Hopefully, the internet being the internet, that's already been covered elsewhere, because if I'm the only one seeing it then I really do weep for the future.) No, actually, the thing that bugs me is that this is a familiar old theological argument. Humanity is flawed, and fallen, and not to be mourned once one has got shut of it. And... where does that leave the rest of us?

I suppose the bloody Left Behind books would be a logical segue from here, but I'm not nearly that much of a glutton for punishment. So I went ahead and got The Fountainhead out of the library after all, because if this is going to be the summer of reading things that annoy me so I can blog about them, that's at least a contrasting sort of WTF? to have a go at. Pray for me...

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Comments
51stcenturyfox From: 51stcenturyfox Date: July 30th, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Thank you for reading them all so I don't have to! And I really don't want to.

I love vampire stories and they appeal to me in the context of immortality. The idea of being in a group of friends who don't age and don't die is pretty awesome, bar the blood-snacking. (I think the perfect cover would be a bloodmobile, yes? Kind of like being a tenant farmer and taking 5% off the top for personal use.

The Fountainhead has some interesting points about doing what you're drawn to do and not compromising artistic principles, so maybe you won't hate it as much as you think, but maybe!
robling_t From: robling_t Date: July 31st, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
There's certainly an argument to be had for the upsides of the vampire deal. The trouble is, this didn't pose it... :)
From: rabid_chemist Date: July 30th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
"What I found particularly, well, offensive, I guess, in a philosophical sense, was the constant emphasis on perfection. And that Bella saw herself as lesser because, as a human, she was not perfect. She can only be content once she has died to her human life and ascended into a more desirable state."

Wow. Thank you for a fantastic argument against these books in favor of other, better books. I actually wonder if a lot of the teen girls who read and love Twilight do so because the books reaffirm their belief that they (the girls themselves) are crap; isn't that what they're constantly being told by our media?

Yikes, Ayn Rand. Before you get to Atlas Shrugged, I may suggest checking out John Scalzi's take on it. It's a hoot.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: July 31st, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
That's an interesting question; I'd be willing to say that that's certainly one of the buttons this damn thing is pressing, because it then goes on to present a pretty classic Mary-Sue-ish escape from ordinariness-hell. And if that wasn't a common, common button, it wouldn't be such a trope...
ashnistrike From: ashnistrike Date: July 30th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
...Are you then going to try and talk me into deconstructing Ayn Rand? Because ack.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: July 31st, 2011 11:00 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Ah, but we're not needing to come up with counterarguments to keep Ayn Rand out of the hands of teenaged girls... ;)
thinkum From: thinkum Date: July 31st, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
the thing that bugs me is that this is a familiar old theological argument

I saw several interviews with the author, very early on, and my gut impression at the time was that her personal religious beliefs completely controlled her view of the world, rather than simply informing it. Interesting that your impression of her series seems to be consistent with that.

The philosophy behind Rand's writings has its own problems, but at least the quality of the writing should be a major improvement over your recent reading fare. ;-)
robling_t From: robling_t Date: July 31st, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)

Ironic Icon Is Ironic

It's been so glaringly obvious to me throughout that I think I've got at least one more post on just that argument to write, once I've had a bit of time to mull it over sufficiently...
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