Monday, January 24, 2011

The Stephenie Meyer Effect, Revisited - Strike Two

I want to do a series of blogposts outlining a handful of perspectives on how current YA literature helps and / or harms young people, using specific examples from recent bestsellers. 

If you're interested in contributing, please keep reading.  If not - stay tuned for a (hopefully) roaring debate to come!

So it turns out I did a poor job of explaining what I was doing in the previous post.  Thanks to those of you who stepped up and asked for clarification (and offered to be involved anyway).  Hopefully this is clearer:

Last year I did a blogpost regarding my surprise at the (sometimes) strong negative reactions I received from writers when Stephenie Meyer or the Twilight Saga were raised.  The previous post focused on the writing aspect. 

I understand, on a technical level, why writers are dissatisfied with the Twilight book(s).  In fact, I agree.  However, I found the love-story between the hero and heroine compelling, and continue to enjoy it even when my internal editor is clearing his throat.

The thing that surprised me was some of the strong opinions regarding the content of the books. 

Although many who read the previous post were proponents of Meyer / the books, some were not.  They raised the following concerns:

"...extremely backwards and damaging messages about how teenaged girls should expect (and want!) to be treated by men."

"I don't want my girls ever thinking it's okay for some guy to disable her car or watch her sleep."

"[It preaches]: Sex is bad, everyone should love each other, but not too far."

" If we reverse the gender roles of Twilight, we get a story of the guy who...seduces the teacher."

" [Re: a message received from a friend of the writer] ...His own adult daughter was a victim of an abusive boyfriend who had very similar MO to the male characters in "Twilight" (from what I have heard). The man was eventually arrested and convicted and is serving time..."

Honestly, these comments shocked me a little at the time.  Was that how others saw this story?  It certainly didn't line up with my point of view.

It got me thinking about the ethics of writing for teens, and the difference behind the eyes of a mature 30+ woman writing a fantasy story, and a sixteen-year-old girl, ripe for first love, reading it. 

Are there other bestselling YA works out there that raise these kinds of issues for readers?  What should we do about it? 

So, here's what I want to do: I want to put together a blogpost with several perspectives outlining ways YA literature can help and harm young people, using specific examples from current bestsellers.

If you have a strong opinion about the CONTENT of the Twilight books (or other bestselling YA literature) and would like to write 300-400 words outlining your perspective, please comment here or email me on, noting your interest, along with a summary of your position.

Let's put the debate out on the table.


  1. Great idea, Amiee.

  2. Thank you for these posts...I will email you my 300-400 perspective.

  3. Hi Aimee! I had a friend telling me that Harry Potter was bad for kids as it taught them about a magical world and kept them away from reality. Plus, she felt it was bad because it was too mystical and therefore, anti-Christian. I actually disagree--I love the Harry Pottery books (sorry if that makes me nuts!) and I don't see how the magic in them could ever hurt kids...yes, it's magical and mystical, but they are BOOKS. Stories. No one, including kids, thinks they are real. And I really can't see how Tolkein (who is touted by Christians everywhere as a fabulous author) is much different.

  4. Erin, I totally agree and have had same argument several times. I think is good for kids to use their imagination and creativity. As for Twilight series, I think I will skim over it again tomorrow and write up my thoughts.

  5. I think the way a teenager views a piece of literature like Twilight is very different than the way an adult *perceives* they'll view it. If I'd read Twilight at 13, would I have taken a different message from it than I did at 31? Absolutely. Would it have warped my views on men and sex? Hell, no. Those were warped already.

    I agree with you that the love story in Twilight is compelling. I agree that the writing - and particularly the editing - of the series has some major issues. And I think the characters are, ahem, very real. Is Edward controlling and obsessive? Totally. Is Bella co-dependent? Uh, yeah. Would reading about those characters cause a teenage girl to alter her own worldview, personality or nature? My opinion is no. At least, no more than all the other positive and negative influences out there in pop culture.

    Does it warp their expectations of men and relationships? I guess that depends on whether they're team Edward or team Jacob.... ;)