Twilight: Why I Can’t Respect it

We all know the plot: Girl moves to rainy town. Falls in love with the”inhumanly” good looking loner at school almost at first sight. He turns out to be a sparkly vampire with masochistic, brooding tendencies. Vampire leaves girl for her own good. Girl cries for months. Werewolf falls in love with her. She tells him she wants to stay friends and jump off a cliff. Vampire thinks she’s killed herself and decides he finally wants to be Romeo to his Juliet., etc.  What am I talking about?

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

I was recently requested to review Twilight.
Twilight…is Twilight. It’s the series that we love to hate.  You might remember the”…still a better love story than Twilight.” and “Edward is Tinkerbell” memes. However, there is no doubt that the series was financially very succesful, with just the films grossing a profit of 2314 million dollars and inspiring the even more profitable 50 shades of grey phenomenon.

But I still don’t like it.

I don’t [openly] judge people who adore the book, but I do think it promotes some very unhealthy relationships. One thing that really disturbs me is that Bella’s life revolves around Edward. As a teenage girl, I feel qualified to say that life doesn’t revolve around one boy. There is school-work and sports practice. There is SAT prep and volunteering. There is the drama that comes with teachers who grade on curves and friends who need emotional support. There is going out for coffee and there is hanging out at the library until your squad gets enough nasty looks you feel compelled to leave. There is gossip about which guys are cute,  which ones are dating who and which ones would be a disaster. At this point (this point being high-school), few people think their love is going to last forever. Nobody dedicates much time to high-school romance. There is so much going on and so much nervous anticipation about the future, you very literally can’t picture being with the same person for the rest of your life. You can barely imagine getting married to them- much less following them into eternal death. You can’t imagine falling into a several-month long depression if/when they break up with you and ditching your friends, extra-curriculars and school-work.
Teenage girls do dream about love and romance. And there’s something inherently compelling about young lovers who are willing to give up their life  for each other. I know it’s not a new theme (Romeo and Juliet) but it’s such a waste of life.

Another thing that freaks me out about Edward and Bella’s relationship is the age-difference. In some case, age is not just a number. Edward has all the power. Not only is he physically stronger, he has also had more life experience (he’s lived for over a century). He’s able to ‘dazzle’ Bella at several points- compelling her to do things she was initially dead-set against. They’re not equals in the relationship because Bella is incapable of saying ‘no’. There’s a term for the type of relationship where someone has so much power over the other and that is rape (statutory rape is a real thing). I can not idealize a book about rape.

Still, I am reluctant to throw every single page of Twilight into the trash. Some of the characters that Stephanie Meyers has created have amazing backstories. Alice, for example, used to be in an asylum. Jasper is an ex-confederate soldier and was pressed into service in a military army. Rosalie was raped and murdered by her fiance. Esme was abused by her ex-husband and thus lost a baby. All of these characters carry so much baggage with them. I think Stephanie Meyers would have had a much healthier (and more compelling) story if she had chosen to focus on one of these characters and their struggle to become (mostly) healthy individuals.

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Pimples and Deep Thinking: A Poem

As long as I can remember,

the fear of being shallow has been the stick

and the hope of clear skin,

the carrot,

driving this donkey forward,

into it’s adoloscent years.

And a part of me hates how easily

manipulated I was

by the lure of wisdom

and the threat of a pimply face.

 

Maybe I’ve consigned myself to

ankle-deep ponds by worrying about

something as frivolous as skin,

And maybe I’ve ensured that it

will remain pimply forever,

by worrying about anything

so deeply at all.

 

Or is it the other way around?

But it doesn’t matter.

because

This is a poem about zealous zits

and how I was one of those girls

who single-handedly

fueled the beauty industry.

 

I put mud packs on my face,

Never mind the fact

that mud should never be put on the face-

Ever.

I felt the burn of lemon juice on my skin,

because apparently it could burn

the pimples right off.

 

I went to the dermatologist

and he told me

that the blocked pores around my face

could be because of dandruff.

Um…Doctor I don’t have dandruff?

But I bought the fucking shampoo anyways.

 

It wasn’t stress.

I let go of all my burdens and pressures

until I was so airy and light,

I was surprised when I looked down

to see that my feet

still touched the ground.

 

I have these dark brown spots,

the scars of pimples dead and gone.

And if I squint long enough,

lie loud enough to the mirror,

I can convince myself

that they look a little bit like

weird freckles.

 

But I have that skin.

The you-know-honey,

its-okay,

you’ll-be-beautiful-when-you-grow-up

kind of skin.

I waited for that ambiguous, intangible date.

Still am, in fact.

 

Just like I’m waiting for the day

I’ll wake up wise and all-knowing.

Deeper than the kiddie-pool.

An ocean where people

older than five

can wade in.

I can read Proust and Rousseau and Thoreou.

Like a good little citizen,

I can quote them to death.

But it still doesn’t change the fact that I never knew

them or that

we’ve never fucking met.

 

And I’m still a teenager

So I’m still hoping.

Zitty face turned towards the rising sun,

that there’s some truth to the phrase:

Clear waters run deep.

Lady Midnight: A Book Review

Book: Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)

Blurb:

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

My thoughts:

So much controversy around this book. Complaints seem to revolve around the fact that this is  yet another book set in the mortal instrument world. I think this is the fifth series that Ms. Clare has set in this universe (Wow, I can’t even…)

This series, the Dark Artifices, features Julian, Mark and Emma and is set 5 years after the Mortal Instruments concluded.  There’s a brief appearance from Jace and Clary and crew in Lady Midnight.

Lady Midnight is from the perspective of someone who grew up the Shadowhunter way. As a result, there’s a whole lot less disbelief and angel-worship (like hero-worship but angels because the shadowhunters are part angel, geddit?). Instead, we get thrown head-first into the world of the clave and it’s shadowy politics: The law is hard but it is the law. Thank god! As someone who’s read both the Infernal Devices and the Mortal Instruments, I think I would have been bored if I was forced to go over all the world-building again. I love the shadowhunter world. It’s as exotic and on-point as always, very well though out and richly described.  But I wouldn’t recommend Lady Midnight for a first Cassandra Clare book.

Now onto the characters. Personally, I had trouble connecting with Emma. Part of the issue may be that I was expecting a female Jace. While Emma does have fighting skills and a good amount of recklessness, she doesn’t have the confidence that Jace seemed to exude in the Mortal Instruments. Though she has wholeheartedly accepted the Blackthorn’s as family, she is constantly fighting to prove (to herself because no one else ever doubts her place) that she belongs. To me, it seems like she’s trying too hard. At times she seems desperate and childish (especially when her parents are mentioned). I’m keeping an open mind because this is only the first book in the series and I know that character development has to take place. But currently, I would not consider Emma a positive role-model or even interesting.

“In the dark and shadows where secrets lived, that was where Julian survived. It was how he had managed for years.”

It’s hard to say what I think of Julian. Despite reading from his point of view several times, he’s still mysterious to me. I sympathize with him because he’s had the burden of caring for his family placed on his shoulders from a very early age. But he and the phrase “open-book” are direct antonyms.  He keeps everything so shuttered inside, it’s hard for me to know him as a character.But I like him for sure. I predict he’ll become more interesting as the series progresses.

Like always, Lady Midnight has a cast of well-developed and diverse background characters. There’s fierce Livvy, supportive Cristina (who is running from her past), intense and somewhat stalkery Kieran, insane Arthur, “Perfect Diego”….The list goes on.

But my favorite character has to be Mark, the missing Blackthorn sibling.  After 5 years with the Wild Hunt, he is a very different character. Initially, he seems broken and incapable of functioning in the human world. But through the course of the book, he becomes more confident, dangerous and (dare I say it?) seductive. Initially, I shipped him with Cristina. Then I shipped him with Kieran. After that, I put him together with Emma. Finally, I gave up; I just want him to be happy.

Lady Midnight doesn’t disappoint. Cassandra Clare’s writing style and characterization has only improved since she wrote her first series. All the elements and world-building that made TMI successful are present in Lady Midnight too.

Rating 3.5/5

Quotables:

“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins. Their touch stays on your skin and their voice stays in your ears and their thoughts stay in your mind. You know their dreams because their nightmares pierce your heart and their good dreams are your dreams too. And you don’t think they’re perfect, but you know their flaws, the deep-down truth of them, and the shadows of all their secrets, and they don’t frighten you away; in fact you love them more for it, because you don’t want perfect. You want them. You want—”

“When no one you know tells the truth, you learn to see under the surface.”

 

 

Longing: A Poem

I know what longing tastes like.

Like whipped cream and sugar

In a famine with no rain.

It tastes like light and glory

Everything that you can’t have.

 

Like the bardish story­tales

that I heard as a child,

Impotent dragons of old

With useless piles of gold

The shiny hoarded anyways.

 

Of black-teethed witches who lived in

stale­ pastry cottages

while good enough to lure

pimple poxed little children

but crumbled to graham dust

in the mouths of boiled witches.

 

It flickers like the Fool’s Gold

You see in Shamrock Hollows.

A shining illusion that disappears

As soon as a foot step comes near.

But to appear a few steps further.

 

I know what longing feels like.

Paper cuts from denial letters,

Ears watering from disappointment.

I know what longing feels like

And I know that it hurts.