Is This A Kissing Book?

Dude, how can you not read a post with that title? Impossible. Also, if you know the movie it comes from, you get two gold stars. If I had some gold stars... Sadly, I don't. What I do have is another fabulous guest blogger! Heather Anastasiu (author of the forthcoming GLITCH) is here to talk romance!


SO, full confession time: I love Twilight. I read it before it got big and I love, love, loved it. It’s the only book I’ve re-read this decade, and I’ve read it about 7 times.

Yes, there are problematic things in it as you examine gender stereotypes and troublesome relationship elements that, if translated to the real world, could be bad (hello creepy stalker boyfriend who follows you everywhere without your knowledge and spends all night outside your bedroom watching you).

But. BUT! There is something about those books that are so compulsively readable, a fantasy so delicious it just makes readers want to relive and relive and relive it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out HOW Twilight does this. In my Master’s in Literature program, I wrote several papers about it, trying to figure it out. I’ve looked at from a psychoanalytical standpoint, looked at it as a hero myth, as lush escapism, as a means of comforting oneself about structure and order in a chaotic world.

But from a writer’s standpoint, looking at Meyer’s engaging style, I wonder if a big part of it isn’t because she just spends so much time letting us peek into this extraordinary relationship. There’s so much talking. The talking and scenarios have tension to be sure—Edward might lose control and drain her dry at any moment—but you know how in movies the camera will zoom out and/or do a montage of different times where the couple is talking and laughing and getting to know each other? Well, Twilight lets you watch it all without much fast forwarding. There’s not a lot of fade-to-black “and then they talked all night” summaries.

And I love it. I love some of those conversations. I go back and re-read them. Books that follow a standard romantic formula tend to skip over this part—the part where the lovers actually get to know each other! It’s all: he was so handsome and muscular and looked at her darkly/hungrily/lustily and the girl’s all: muscles! Love at first sight! Soul mate! Bad boy I can save!

Ahem. Ok, ok, so that’s just a particular type of romance pattern, but the immediate intense eternal love thing without bunches of talking and getting to know each other—I don’t like it. I don’t like it when action in a book eclipses these emotional talking moments either. The parts of my own book that make me happiest are the talking/getting to know each other moments. Thank God for my agent who’s always nudging me: maybe some more action here, oh, and maybe we could make something explode now? *winks at Agent Charlie* (and yes, my dystopian debut Glitch actually DOES have a lot of action too).

Because in the end, Twilight had TOO LITTLE action—or it was weird, forced, inorganic, and in the end (especially in Breaking Dawn), ultimately unsatisfying. I like a little sacrifice to be involved in happy endings, otherwise it doesn’t seem real, not hard-fought enough to be satisfying.

So yes, I like action books, and I like kissing books *shout out to Princess Bride* But I like them best when there’s talking too, where characters seem to genuinely get to know each other and connect.


Wow. I don't know if I'm more awed by Heather reading Twilight 7 times or that she wrote papers on it, or simply the pure fact that she's absolutely right! What do you think?

Thank you, Heather, for being here! And dude, GLITCH is a dystopian you're going to want to keep your eyes on...

About Heather: Heather Anastasiu is the author of GLITCH (St. Martin's Press/Spring 2012) Glitch in three words: Dystopia, Superpowers, & Love :) Check out her website for more info, news, and updates.


Jessica R. Patch said...

I agree all the way. I'm a dialogue girl. I love to read it and write it. I read it more than once, but not 7 times! :)

DJ.J. Jones said...

I fully agree about Twilight. It was a terrible book. But you could not put it down! I think it reminds us all of -ahem- high school when you would absolutely die for the boy you loved and would do anything for him. It's the drama of high school. It sucks you in...

Heather Kelly said...

I love that you analyzed Twilight so. And I think your answer is interesting. The chemistry and charisma of that book is startling. :)

NeuroHormone said...

I can't stop laughing.
Talking/Kissing/Action Book.
That's what we need.
yea !!

Nikki said...

Brave gal, you are, for admitting to love of Twilight. Now me? I would never admit having read it 7 times.
Because it might have been 8.

Laura S. said...

The Princess Bride of course!!! One of my favorite movies, and I love the book too.

I've read the Twilight books once, and it was over the course of about 3 years. I want to re-read them again back-to-back. I didn't like the second one. I got annoyed with Bella. My favorite was the 4th one actually, but I agree with you that the end was a letdown. Bella's power was very cool, but it was too easy. I felt like Meyer was alluding to a fantastic, action-packed ending and didn't deliver.

Heather Anastasiu said...

Lol, I know my public addmission of loving Twilight may shock and awe. I was quite disturbed by the fact that I was so into it at first--hence all my investigation into WHY it was so captivating ;D

And yes, talking/kissing/action books FTW!!!

Veronica Rossi said...

Can we please start a new literary genre? Talking/Kissing/Action Books. Love it. Great post, Heather. I read Twilight but once, however I agree that there's something compulsively readable about it.

Shari Arnold said...

Great post! I have also read Twilight a handful of times and have stayed up late trying to solve the mystery of why it's so compelling and I believe you've nailed it. I love relationship buildup!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

Claire Merle said...

Great post Heather. Interesting look at Twilight--you're so right about the relationship down time. And Twilight was definitely compulsive reading, but I never made it to book 4. Did I miss out?!/ClaireMerle

Unknown said...

Hmm. I had a hard time with the Twilight books because of the relationship with Edward and the gender role stuff, not to mention the whining of the main character. At the same time, the books left you wanting to find out more about the characters, which is why I finished reading the series at all. For that, any author gets super props.

Ishta Mercurio said...

That was Fred Savage's best line in The Princess Bride!

And I loved Twilight, too - I just couldn't put it down. I burned pancakes because I couldn't put it down long enough to make breakfast.

I think your analysis is pretty good. It taps into all the stuff kids in high school feel when they get into their first serious relationship, and we get to see it all happen. YES to more talking in books!

I also think it taps into some of the "guy no girl can get but me" stuff and the "mysterious older man who will make me a woman" stuff, and I get why so many people had issues with that, but it doesn't change the fact that these are fantasies that a lot of girls have (but don't then try to actually live out, thank goodness). That's what was behind the success of songs like George Michael's "Father Figure" and Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon." JMO.

(I could probably write term papers on this, if not for the fact that I am no longer required to write term papers, having left school long, long ago.)

ModificationMan said...

Lowls I'm a guy+ twilight= severe bordism