Book Review: How To Analyze The Works Of Stephenie Meyer

How To Analyze The Works Of Stephenie Meyer, by Marcela Kostihova

Stephenie Meyer is best known as the author of the Twilight series, and the books and movies made from them are not generally taken very seriously.  This is the second book in the series that I have read [1], and this book takes a similar approach to its contents.  In both cases the works being analyzed are the sort that are not obvious choices for literary criticism–the writings of a politician and romance fiction that is viewed as being beneath contempt by many people.  That said, though, there is a certain logic in having writings that are viewed as very popular but may struggle to be considered as high literature serve as introductory material for budding literary critics that these books seek to encourage.  As someone who is extremely fond of literary criticism [2] and a frequent practitioner of it, I happen to appreciate this book’s approach and found it a worthwhile one.  If this book is certainly not a challenging read, it is one whose efforts to take others and their works seriously is one that I can wholeheartedly endorse, even if I do not find the Twilight series to be particularly excellent.

This book is aimed at young readers and its contents are well-structured to appeal to high school and college age readers who are just becoming familiar with textual criticism and wish to gain insights to use on popular literature that they may come across.  The author begins with a straightforward introduction to critical theory.  After that the author discusses Stephenie Meyer’s background, including the fact that she had written and published little before Twilight and that she came from a Mormon background and was a housewife and mother before becoming a famous author.  After this come four pairs of chapters, the first of which gives an overview of one of the Twilight novels that is followed by a straightforward essay chapter that gives an example of a type of criticism applied to that novel.  So Twilight is paired with structuralism, New Moon is paired with psychoanalytic criticism, Eclipse is paired with queer theory, and Breaking Dawn is paired with gender criticism.  After this the author encourages the reader to apply criticism and then has the usual timeline, glossary, bibliography, resources, source notes, index, and notes about the author.

Whatever my thoughts on the specific critical approaches applied to these particular books, in general I find this book to be immensely worthwhile for its intended audience.  It is too easy for people to be dismissive of works and not to take them as seriously as they deserve, in the same way that some people are often thought to be unworthy of serious attention or respect.  To be sure, there are some immensely troubling aspects of the series and the way it is put together, and the essays bring out at least some of them:  the unappealing nature of human beings in Twilight, the emotional manipulation that Edward uses with Bella and her serving as a pawn between men who seek to control her, the view that love is a matter of destiny and not free will and responsibility, and the contrast between different models of society between egalitarian and rigidly hierarchical ones.  The book succeeds wonderfully in its purpose of demonstrating the depth of material for critical analysis that can be found in any worthwhile text, and even some texts that are not very good.  One wonders if this book will age well, and if the Twilight series will endure within the popular consciousness for any length of time.  If not, though, the authors of this series will likely simply turn their critical thinking to whatever series of novels is popular at the time for the same purposes.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/11/30/book-review-how-to-analyze-the-works-of-abraham-lincoln/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/29/book-review-understanding-the-great-gatsby/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/29/book-review-understanding-to-kill-a-mockingbird/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/05/31/book-review-shermans-march-in-myth-and-memory/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/04/book-review-daniel-in-the-critics-den/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/13/book-review-planet-narnia/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/12/25/book-review-misquoting-truth/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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