Banned Books Week: Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight"

BlogHer Original Post

In celebration and acknowledgement of Banned Books Week we'll be featuring some of the books that have been banned or challenged across America this week. Some of the titles might surprise you.We'll look at why they were banned and why readers have found them important.

When Stephenie Meyer launched on to the book scene in 2005 no one could have guessed that she'd be launching one of the most successful series of the decade. Not only that, but with Twilight she turned all that we thought we knew about vampires upside down. Suddenly vampires could go out in the sunlight, they just didn't because it made them *sparkle*. They could also be "vegetarians," choosing to live off the blood of animals instead of that of humans. As the series expanded and a love triangle was formed, so were divisions among the series hardcore group of #Twihard fans. Everyone wanted to know if you were #TeamEdward or #TeamJabob.

bella edward robert pattinson kristen stewart breaking dawn chess

Image Credit: Summit Entertainment

Meyer didn't just create a book series, she created a whole industry. There were movies. There were dolls. There was even a particularly scary pair of #TeamEdward underpants. The real-life town of Forks, Washington found itself a hotspot of literary tourism.

Despite it's status as a best-seller Twilight has appeared on the ALA's top ten most frequently challenged books in for the last two years. So why was this best-selling series facing the chopping block? Collectively, for citations of religious viewpoint, violence, sexually explicitness and the suggestion that it's unsuited to age group.

I don't think the Twilight series is perfect. I don't know if I think any book or series is perfect. I do have some personal issues with the series. Before the final book in the series was released I asked the BlogHer community what they thought of the series -- is it terrific or troublesome? The answer I came up with is that they are both. Edward watching Bella sleep? He's a creepy stalker. I spent most of the time wanting to kick Bella's butt and telling her to leave all the boys in Forks and run off to college on her own. (Bella did not listen.) I think there are plenty of things to discuss with the teen in your life if they are reading the series... including the the creepy stalker thing. At the same time they've lit a fire under readers who can't get enough of these lengthy books.

Plenty of people don't like the writing, something I totally understand. The books could use a good editor's hand. BookNAround is with me on the poor writing quality but points that people are using to attempt to ban the books have nothing to do with the quality of the writing.

"I have read reviews by other people who thought that the picture of teenaged obsessive love was disturbing and the fact that Bella is forever a damsel in distress needing her vampire charming to come and save her was a blow to feminism and I appreciate these arguments. I even agree to some extent. But I'd venture a guess that much of this social and political subtext goes right over the heads of many of the intended audience. And those who do catch it are smack in the midst of a time of life where the drama of romance and love reign supreme. Do they care about the whiny, insufficiency of a character like Bella? Do they even notice? Would I have noticed if I had read this back then?"

In terms of sexual explicitness... I have difficulty with that allegation and these books. These are, after all, the same books that Bitch Media called abstinence porn.

"The Twilight series has created a surprising new sub-genre of teen romance: It’s abstinence porn, sensational, erotic, and titillating. And in light of all the recent real-world attention on abstinence-only education, it’s surprising how successful this new genre is. Twilight actually convinces us that self-denial is hot. Fan reaction suggests that in the beginning, Edward and Bella’s chaste but sexually charged relationship was steamy precisely because it was unconsummated -- kind of like Cheers, but with fangs."

We Read To Know gives her top five reasons why Twilight shouldn't be banned.

"4. The Cullens, Carlisle especially, provide a really excellent platform for young people of faith to discuss issues like the soul, the afterlife, and the value of good and evil in the life we currently lead. Instead of fearing these conversations, you’d think that they’d be more encouraged amongst us all (those that want to have them, that is)."

As we ramp up to the November 18 release of Breaking Dawn: Part 1, the fourth of five planned movies, Twilight fever is again starting to burn and the demand for the novels will spike once again.

Have you read the books? What do you think about the attempts to ban them? Will you be going to see Breaking Dawn: Part 1 when it hits the big screen?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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