Sparkly vampires, crazed book reviews and scary statistics! Oh my!

Okay, so I have these friends and they like to read. It’s nice to have friends who like to read.  One day said friends came up to me and introduced me to on this new series of books about vampires. I’m sure most of you have probably heard about the “Twilight” books by Stephenie Meyer. For those of you who have not, the stories are about a human girl, Bella (main character) who moves to a really rainy part of Washington state, where she falls head over rain boots for a vampire named Edward. Don’t laugh, in these books vampires “sparkle.”

There are currently three books in the series, soon to be four (Breaking Dawn comes out on August 2nd). So after I read these books I started to wonder… where are the fundamentalists? It seems like all popular fantasy books for young people come along with fundamentalist Christian criticisms. Out of curiosity I started to search for opinion pieces done by Christians. Here is what I found:

(WARNING: some of the links contain spoilers if you have not read Twilight. My blog will not)

The first thing I came across was a book review on a site called Teen Lit Review. This is a book review site for Christian teens and their parents. They have a mission statement and everything!

“Our mission is to provide Christian-oriented reviews on pre-teen and teen books from all genres in order to aid parents in choosing the most appropriate books for their children. The reviews are centered around the books’ content and are rated for suitability.”

Their review on twilight was really funny. They review books with the intent of pointing out “positives, spiritual elements, violence, language, and sexual content.” I will quote the language review since it is the only one that does not give away parts of the book.

“Language: H*** and different forms of d*** are mentioned a few times. At one point, Bella “internally curs[es] Jessica to the fiery parts of Hades” for telling another student a secret.”  (Oh my dog!)

The sexual content portion of the review was also quite amusing. They also felt the need to point out Bella’s use of cough medicine to help her fall asleep. After ruining the book for the reader by revealing half the plot, the site has a recommendation portion, which I would also like to share:

“Recommendation: Even though I greatly enjoyed the book, I think that is a bit too intense and that Bella and Edward’s relationship could quickly and easily become very physical. It however does not result in premarital sex although their relationship is extremely passionate. Their behavior towards each other seems to be quite obsessive as well. The electricity between Edward and Bella was very mesmerizing. The book drew me in in such a way that my mind took their relationship way beyond what was actually written. This is a subject that hits very close to home for me. I love to read a good love story, but I would prefer a more God-centered tale that teaches about God’s perfect plan of intimacy within the context of marriage. I want to teach my daughter to have a pure heart and mind. Although the book is extremely well written and engaging, I am not able to recommend it to teens.”

(I would like to mention that Edward will not have sex with Bella until they are married.)

I also found another book review with a Christian that liked the books. And on this site I also found a fun comment about this poor person who got addicted to the series…

“After I read them, I had a very, very hard time. I experienced a lot of mental spiritual warfare and I literally felt like I was locked in the story. I immediately discerned a spirit of witchcraft on these books and it made me angry because I loved them! But I literally had to get them out of my house, that’s how bad it was.

She then seals the deal by quoting God on the matter:

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” -Isaiah 5:20

“The biggest thing that stood out to me was the way vampires are portrayed as “good” in Twilight and witches and wizards are portrayed as “good” in Harry Potter. It is NOT about the content of the books, people. It is about the deceptive spirit behind them. Open your eyes.”

Well, I have opened my eyes and I see a lot better now. Books like Harry Potter and Twilight help create new readers.

“Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from nine percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.”

After looking at statistics like these, we are going to need all the help we can get.

I am happy to see that only a few fundamentalists are taking up arms against Twilight. But why Harry Potter and not Twilight? Is it because the Twilight series is not nearly as popular as Harry Potter? Is it because vampires are not in the Bible, while witchcraft and wizardry is clearly a big no no? Do the Christians need more time to act on this new fictional story? Or is it just because the Harry Potter series is better fiction then the Bible and the Christian community is jealous?  The world may never know…

So here’s my review of the books. The series was cute and I enjoyed them. There was one thing that bothered me. The vampires live forever, and the author attempts to send the message that living forever is not all it’s cracked up to be. One of the vampires, Edward, implies he is bored with his life before he met Bella. The movie Twilight, which will be released in December, claims “When You Can Live Forever, What Do You Live For?” I have a small problem with this. You mean to tell me that these vampires have been living for hundreds of years and don’t feel the need to help the human race? Not only do these vampires live forever, but they never sleep. Come on, educate the vampires put them in a lab 24/7 and figure crap out! Cure some diseases and solve world hunger for goodness sake! 😡 Nothing to live for!?! My posterior!

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  1. w_nightshade
    July 28, 2008 at 4:34 am —

    Cassie, you may have given me the idea for my Great American(-But-Living-In-Scotland-Now) Novel. The idea of an immortal race of vampires who (effectively) EVOLVE altruism to the human race… AWESOME. It might even help me overcome my intense boredom with the whole vampire genre (note: I am an old man – I have ingested a LOT of vampire fiction over the years and much of it is… samey).

  2. Joy Wang
    July 28, 2008 at 8:54 am —

    Twilight…what can I say? I’d just like to point out that Stephanie Meyer is Mormon, so the irony is not lost on me. As far as the books go, I enjoyed them, and they were interesting, but I never really obssessed over them too much (at least not on the scale of some of my friends). I’d like to point out that Carlisle is a doctor. I think it’s because vampires think of humans as prey more than as fellow beings, and thus don’t feel the need to cure cancer and whatnot. Lame excuse, as far as things go, but that’s the best I could think of.

  3. vreify
    July 28, 2008 at 10:48 am —

    I never read Twilight, but several people have felt the need to tell me about it. What I find weirdest is a) that the author is Mormon and b) she thinks it’s endearing that a vampire sneaks into her room and watches her while she sleeps.

  4. Pato2747
    July 28, 2008 at 11:38 am —

    Yes, the first two books are already in Argentina and it was quite a hit amongst my classmates.

    20 bucks here say that SOMEWHERE, a fundie will go ballistic when the movie comes out.

  5. July 28, 2008 at 7:30 pm —

    Vampires… ew. Creepy stalkers with a mild kink. No good for romance or horror, really. Well, the modern style, anyway. Old-school vamps make for some decent horror. I blame Stoker the change, well Stoker’s fans, really. Stoker didn’t make Dracula romantic, his readers did. Stoker painted woman as idiots, and women had to pretend Vlad was charming and romantic if they wanted to like the story without calling themselves idiots. Anne Rice was the last nail in that coffin.

    Werewolves, though – that’s some good horror, and if you leave enough of the human intact in your version, a damned interesting romance, too.

  6. Cassie
    July 28, 2008 at 7:45 pm —

    Glad I could help! 😉 And may I remind you that these vampires are not just any blood sucker, theses vampires sparkle! 😛

    I know how you feel, I have friends that obsess over Twilight to the point where it is getting a bit silly. I might need to set up a intervention soon (Steph and T :roll:).

    I am not taking that bet. 😆

  7. July 29, 2008 at 3:10 pm —

    Well… I sparkle in the sunlight… What’s wrong with sparkly vampires?

  8. Sadez01
    July 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm —

    Ha! Cassie, it’s so funny because as soon as I left a post on your Facebook about how Steph obsesses over Twilight, I came here and saw that you wrote it, too!

    Anyway, my view on Twilight: I kept thinking that if Edward was so bored with life…death…whatever-ya-call-it, why couldn’t he just find something to do? I mean, I’m sure Marvel Comics is looking for the next superhero who is even faster than the fastest speeding bullet. Just imagine…”Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane! Nope, it’s just Edward Cullen on his way to save Bella from doing something stupid…yet again!”

    …Okay, so that may not completely make sense, but you get the idea. Being a vampire doesn’t have to be boring. (If anyone saw Moonlight before it was cancelled, they’ll understand).

  9. Cassie
    July 30, 2008 at 12:33 pm —

    Merrrr! I have to tell you that I am not over exaggerating Steph’s condition. This is code red! She has read all three books at least five times now! I think we may have lost her… 😥

  10. Joy Wang
    July 30, 2008 at 12:56 pm —

    Elles: *collapses on floor in worshipful manner*

    Cassie: Only five times? Pffffft. Piffle my friends start looking lost if their books (all of them signed, btw) are out of their sight for, say, a minute or so. Some of them are probably going to the Breaking Dawn midmight release at the local B&N. They’ll probably be camped out on the curb tomorrow morning, too, just so they can be the first in line to get the book. It’s definitely not healthy.

  11. Joy Wang
    July 30, 2008 at 12:57 pm —

    that would be “midnight. Must learn to proofread before posting. And there should be a period after Piffle too.

  12. July 31, 2008 at 2:15 am —

    Patience, you will see, the fundies will flip out. (I think?) They always have the need to be offended. Anyways, are the books any good?

  13. Joy Wang
    July 31, 2008 at 9:01 am —

    Fundies *always* need something to worry about: Little kids turning into pagan sorcerers from reading Harry Potter, the demise of the family from allowing homosexuals rights (gasp-they’re people???), PZ desecrating a consecrated host (because it violates the 1st amendment, y’know /snark), kids learning about (gasp!) a slightly physical relationship between two characters in a vampire romance… The books are okay, pretty much the typical teen/supernatural romance with some action/adventure thrown in for good measure–though I don’t suggest going in the next few days to your local bookstore or library to look for them since the latest book is coming out, and there’s gonna be a rash of rabid Twilight fans. Stephanie Meyer was on Good Morning America today, btw.

  14. Dread Polack
    July 31, 2008 at 11:25 am —

    I just read something about these books in the news this morning. I think it’s the first time I’ve heard of them. I doubt it’s a terribly original story, however. My bet is that it’s simply the popularity that separates it from the Potter books. Sell as many of these books to teenagers, and you’ll have your outrage.

  15. August 4, 2008 at 2:35 pm —

    Hmmm… clearly I’m a late commenter, but I’ll put my $.02 in just the same. 😉

    I haven’t read any of Meyer’s novels, partly because I love more classic novels and partly because I tend to dislike novels specifically targeting teens (too much plot, not enough symbolism, less precise wording, etc). But, I picked it up because I read classic vampire stories obsessively and therefore kind-of HAD to read the Twilight series. But, I digress.

    I think that few people are concerned about Twilight because it hasn’t reached the level of Harry Potter yet. I can’t really say much about the books’ contents because I haven’t read them (I bought a copy of Twilight today at Borders, but I haven’t started it), but they also seem less anti-Christian than Harry Potter. I mean, the last HP book was all about dark witchcraft, controlling corpses, etc., so I think that vampirism seems pretty tame in comparison… not that both books aren’t age-appropriate.

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