Monday, March 8, 2010


This is the first in a series of posts Christian Children's Book Review is offering, examining the wildly popular and controversial Twilight series of books.

Overview: When 17-year-old Bella Swan moves to Forks, WA to live with her dad, she never dreams she will become a sensation. Never having had a date in Arizona, she is surprised when several of the guys in her class are attracted to her. She is even more surprised by Edward Cullen, a smart, attractive junior who seems to alternate between loathing her and being interested in her. After Edward saves her from a deadly car accident and unwanted pursuers in Seattle, Bella is even more confused. When Bella's friend, Jacob, tells her of an old Indian legend, she begins to guess the truth. The Quiluete are supposedly descended from wolves and exist to protect humans from "the cold ones." An Internet search and a conversation with Edward confirm Bella's suspicions; she realizes he is a vampire. However, she is relieved to learn Edward and his family only hunt wild game. Since none of them wanted to be vampires, they do not believe in eating humans.

The rest of the book centers around Edward's internal struggle to love Bella, despite putting her in danger. Her blood smells even more enticing to him than other humans, and he must employ terrific self-control to be with Bella. Bella, meanwhile, has fallen in love with Edward and will do anything to be with him. After James, an evil vampire, stumbles across a field where Bella and Edward are playing baseball, the hunt is on. James hopes to kill Bella and then hunt Edward to his death as well. Even though Edward's family helps Bella escape, Bella narrowly misses being killed. James bites Bella, but Edward does not want Bella to give up her soul and become a vampire. He saves her by sucking the venom out of her blood. In doing this, he realizes his love for Bella is more powerful than his fallen instincts. Perhaps they can have a future together.

Issue: Edward is a vampire, who thirsts for Bella's blood.

Pro: Edward and his family are "vegetarian" vampires, who live solely on the blood of wild game, despite its bland, unappealing taste. When Bella asks why, Edward responds, ". . . just because we've been dealt . . .a certain hand. . .it doesn't mean we can't choose to rise above--to conquer the boundaries of a destiny none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity we can." His sentiments parallel the human choice to rise above sinful nature.

Con: Vampires (and werewolves) are traditionally linked with demons and evil spirits, and primarily exist by luring their prey and then draining their lifeblood.

Issue: The temptation Edward faces to be with Bella is alluded to in terms of Eve eating the apple. Meyer begins the book by quoting Genesis 2:17, "But of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

Pro: Although Edward gives in to the temptation to be with Bella, he resists the temptation to drink her blood, out of respect and love for her life.

Con: Even though Edward believes it would be safer for he and Bella not to be friends, he chooses to begin a relationship with her. He gives in to temptation, despite the risk to Bella's life, and acknowledges he is acting selfishly.

Issue: Bella is constantly amazed someone as smart and attractive as Edward would be interested in her, despite her clumsiness, awkward social skills, and perceived lack of beauty.

Pro: Edward thinks Bella is wonderful and tells her she doesn't see herself clearly. This provides a parallel for how we feel when we realize God has chosen us, despite our failings.

Con: Bella has very low self-esteem and is constantly putting herself down, while comparing Edward to a "god" and an "angel." However, the Bible tells us even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light.

Issue: Edward and Bella are extraordinarily physically attracted to each other and have various discussions about their physical relationship.

Pro: All dating couples who are physically attracted to each other, but want to remain abstinent until marriage, will eventually have to set boundaries for their physical interactions. Edward and Bella's discussions provide a useful framework for talking to teens about their own dating and sexuality.

Con: There is a strong undercurrent of sexual tension throughout the books.

Issue: As a vampire, Edward is as strong as a living statue, and must be careful not to bruise Bella. He also must master the challenge of kissing her without succumbing to the temptation to drink her blood.

Pro: Edward shows extreme resolve and strength of will in his determination to love Bella without hurting her. He appropriately manages his physical reactions with Bella. When he becomes too physically aroused, he moves away from her and asks for space to cool down.

Con: Some critics, like Chuck Colson and Mark Earley, have compared Bella's relationship with Edward (and, later, Jacob), to abusive relationships, where one person is "walking on eggshells" and afraid to cross a line for fear of getting hurt.

Issue: Bella leaves Forks late at night to drive to Phoenix, AZ, where she meets James, an evil vampire who wants to kill her.

Pro: Bella is willing to forfeit her own life to save her mother and Edward, and lure the vampire away from her dad.

Con: In order to leave, Bella provokes a fight with her dad and terribly hurts his feelings. She also lies to Alice and Jasper and puts them all in danger.

Issue: James, the evil vampire, bites Bella and Edward must suck the venom out of the wound to prevent her becoming a vampire.

Pro: Edward learns he is able to act in Bella's best interest, purely out of the strength of his will, despite the fact everything in his nature urges him to extract her blood until she dies. This parallels sexuality and shows people can resist temptation, regardless of force of desire awakened.

Con: Edward's family must kill James in order to escape.

Issue: Bella would rather become a vampire than live without Edward.

Pro: Bella loves Edward unconditionally and would sacrifice everything she knows to be with him.

Con: Bella wants to become a vampire and be with Edward forever, even though Edward is worried she will lose her soul. When he refuses to change her, she says, "Is this about my soul? Take it. I don't want it."

Age Appeal: Publisher lists young adult (14-21), but I would 16 and up, due to sexual themes.

Publisher Info: Little, Brown and Company, 2005, ISBN: 0-316-01584-9, Paperback, $10.99

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Ticia said...

I can't wait to see the rest of these!

MommyLydia said...

I am VERY surprised not to see any mention of the difference in ages between Edward and Bella. Edward may LOOK 17, but he's actually a very old man (over 100).

This is one of the big things that makes me really dislike vampire romances -- it's inevitably about this really old vampire falling in love with an adolescent girl. If he DIDN'T look like a teenager himself, we certainly wouldn't consider any kind of relationship between a teenage girl and a grown man.

Erin said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies. Good point about Edward's age. When I was reading, I just thought of him as 17, but it is true he has been around over 100 years. That does make him "old!"

Thanks for reading and God Bless.