Twilight Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

Stephenie Meyer has several strikes against her as far as receiving serious critical attention from established academic critics. She is writing young adult fiction that blends horror fiction with romance; all of these genres are traditionally critically neglected. Many of the articles that do examine Meyer and her work focus on a few repeated topics: her place in publishing (cast as the next J.K. Rowling), the fanatical devotion of her fans (who dress up for events), the seeming contradiction of a Mormon writing a book that revolves so intensely around desire and predation, and, finally, Twilight's relationship to its genre context.

For example, James Blasingame's highly positive review discusses how Twilight relates to other vampire fiction, but also to other thrillers, drawing parallels between the vampire hunting Bella and serial killer novels such as Silence of the Lambs. Blasingame also praises the novel as fantastic, a judgment fellow Mormon writer of the fantastic Orson Scott Card would largely echo. Card makes the fine point that Edward Cullen has all the qualities of Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy (and, one might add, some of the emotional character). Instead of the money, though, Edward has extended life and superhuman strength. The review published in the School Library Journal makes strong points about how these other factors (the tension, the supernatural qualities, the threat Edward carries) add new energy to the teen romance novel, giving first kisses particular meaning. It also points out the novel's high level of realism, which creates a tension in itself with the book's "eerie" qualities.

Publishers Weekly praises Twilight for the how well Edward works as a metaphor; he may be a literal vampire, but he stands in for every threatening but attractive male. The review did point out that the plot is weak and the final section rushed. However, Lev Grossman, writing for Time, disagrees; he finds Meyer's control of tension and pace superior. Instead, it is the quality of the prose he finds wanting, and, by implication, the emotions he finds overdone.