If you would like to read a semi-academic discussion of the first Twilight book, please press 1.
If you would like to read a chapter-by-chapter commentary on New Moon, please press 2.
If you would like to read a chapter-by-chapter commentary on Eclipse, please press 3.
If you would like to read a chapter-by-chapter commentary on the first half of Midnight Sun, please press 4.
If you would like a primer on the Twilight phenomenon, please press 5.
If you are sick of hearing about Twilight, please run screaming.
If you would like to begin a three-part commentary on Breaking Dawn, please stay on the line.
Okay, so. Previously on As the Vampire Sparkles, emoteen Bella Swan moves to a tiny little depressing rainy town and won't shut up about it. There she meets a mysterious boy who turns out to be a 100+ year-old vampire who literally sparkles "like diamonds" in direct sunlight and reads minds (but not hers), and after three hundred pages of Bella wondering why he's so mean to her and why he's so weird and why he's not being mean to her anymore and what his deal is and if he likes her and if he actually loves her and how much he loves her and how he could possibly love as someone as
Hand to God, I did not make one word of that up. Twilight means never having to say you're kidding.
So here we are on the fourth and theoretically final book in terms of the actual plot moving forward. The following commentary is split into three parts because the book itself is, and... I was really squicked out by the middle third, so I want to give you the option to skip it if you'd rather. Also, the commentary is based off notes I took while I was reading—unless it’s marked “Note from the future”—so you’re going to see me trying to winkle out exactly where the book’s going next a lot. A lot of times I’m wrong. A lot of times… I’m right.
Formatting note: Only indented quotations are really from the book. Anything else, even if it's in quotes, is just from me. Conversely, yes, everything in blockquotes really came from the book.
Dedication: Stephenie Meyer dedicates the book to the band Muse. Well, at least it wasn’t Linkin Park.
(I… I just realized that—on the basis of which musical artist has "been there" for me the most during my writing "career"—I would probably have to dedicate my next book to... Belinda Carlisle. Oh God, I can’t look y’all in the eye right now.)
Book One: Bella
Preface: "Hi, I'm Bella Swan! Once again, someone wants to kill me. Maybe if I'm vague enough about it, you'll want to kill me, too!"
Chapter 1: "Engaged"
Does what it says on the tin: Bella's engaged, the horror, and whines to us that she doesn't want to marry so young, but she wants to become a vampire before she turns twenty and gets OLD, omg, and her filthy-rich marble-skinned angel-god-Adonis vampire boyfriend has bribed her way into Dartmouth and given her a Black Card and a Mercedes Guardian, the missile-proof choice of drug lords and arms dealers everywhere, because Bella is just so clumsy that her life is on the line every time she walks out the door. Woe, life is SO HARD. Also, she's still moping because Jacob the werewolf is still mad because she broke his heart sixteen times, and also, she has to tell her police chief father Charlie that she's engaged to be married at the age of eighteen, fresh out of high school, instead of going to college. He's really going to be mad because he keeps demanding if she's pregnant, which is particularly galling because Edward refuses to get crazy until after they're married, and her mother Renee is going to be mad because she and Charlie got married too young (and then divorced) and she doesn't want Bella to make the same mistake.
Except then Bella tells them and Renee and Charlie are like, "Oh, okay, whatevs."
Chapter 2: "Long Night"
“No, no. It’s your bachelor party. You have to go.”But not before Bella attempts to get her freak on! Again! Some more! Futile vampire foreplay ensues. And then Vampire Bachelor Party starts up at the drive-in theater, right after Werewolf Beach Bonfire.
God, I hope there’s a hilariously awkward wedding night. Please, Santa, I have been so good.
I thought he would laugh, but he didn’t answer, and his body was motionless with sudden stress. The gold in his eyes seemed to harden from a liquid to a solid.Well, something’s hardening. Also: “I hate that you’ll never have babies, Bella!” *facepalm*
While we're here, let's get into the back story of the Denali clan, because
And then Bella has a dream about a beautiful little boy vampire... sitting on the bodies of her friends and family. OMINOUS.
Chapter 3: "Big Day"
OH THANK YOU JESUS THEY GET MARRIED. I was half-convinced we’d have a dozen crises putting it off until the last chapter. I’m not asking for much out of this book, y’all. I want Bella and Edward to get married, and to have a hilarious wedding night, and to get Bella vampired, and FOR NEITHER OF THEM TO DIE OR MAGICALLY GET RE-HUMAN. I want my goddamn treacly vampire fluff and I want it now. ONE FOR FOUR!
(Man. I am still so surprised that they got married so early in the book. The last time I read a book with a wedding that close to the front, it was crashed by Death Eaters.)
I held my hands out automatically, and the filmy white garter landed in my palms. “That’s mine and I want it back,” Alice told me.
Chapter 4: "Gesture"
Alice (Edward's psychic vampire not-sister) is in heaven because she's finally gotten to throw the wedding of her dreams, and there are ten thousand flowers (including freesia, of course), and everyone that Bella knows but doesn't actually care about is there.
Note from the future: You (and Bella) will never see any of her human friends or family ever again. Angela? Bye! Mike Newton? Adiós! Her mother? Pssssh. It’s pretty much all vampires and werewolves from here on out.
(CAKE-IN-THE-FACE SMASHING SQUICK. Come at me with wedding cake in your fist and DRAW BACK A NUB, pal. Actually, I’m surprised Alice didn’t leap in front of Bella like a Secret Service agent—the cake must have killed all the makeup we read about her spackling on Bella for, like, six hours.)
Speaking of werewolves, here's Jacob! He's come back from the wilds of Canadistan or wherever he was moping because he just wants to see Bella One Last Time before she gets vampired.
“Now everyone I love is here.”AUGH STAB NOT THIS LOVE TRIANGLE BULLSHIT AGAIN.
[Re: the frilly frou-frou wedding: ] “Alice is an unstoppable force of nature.”CAN’T SLEEP, PSYCHIC VAMPIRE JOKER WILL EAT ME.
[Re: Not vampiring Bella just yet: ] “I just didn’t want to spend my honeymoon writhing in pain.”
I’m… I’m not even gonna touch that.
Oh, lawl, Jacob’s just found out that Mr. and Mrs. Newlywed Cullen are actually going to (gasp) have sex and now he's freaking the hell out. Everybody stand back, he's gonna fursplode! I KNEW some kind of shit was going to go down at the wedding. (But no imprinting on Angela! That was my pet theory! I am so disappointed.) And now, after a vampire-werewolf almost-rumble just barely escapes the notice of the mundanes, Edward is starting to have second thoughts about this whole sex thing, because (in case you're just joining us), vampires are hella strong and ice-cold and hard as marble and he's been worried about possibly crushing Bella. And that's why he doesn't want to have sex with her while she's still human, but that's the one thing she wants to do before she becomes a vampire, but he won't unless she is a vampire or they get married first, because premarital vampiring is bad, but Bella doesn't want to get married because her parents divorced young but she does want to have sex now and she wants to become a vampire before she gets too old and GOD JUST FUCK, SERIOUSLY, I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE.
Chapter 5: "Isle Esme"
Maybe I'll get my wish after THREE BOOKS ALREADY! Off on the honeymoon we go, to... South America? Are… are they going to Antarctica? Like Edward suggested for her first year as a vampire, so no one would get hurt while she was out of control and not herself? Are they honeymooning with the penguins? Will Morgan Freeman be narrating this?
Nope. Just off the coast of Brazil: Isle Esme. As in, Edward's vampire not-mother Esme. Esme has an island. Edward's not-father Carlisle gave it to her! Damn, I wish I was on these people's Christmas list.
Oh my God, there's a giant white bed with filmy white drapery. Should I go get some popcorn for this, or not even bother? We all know it’s going to conveniently fade to black, right? Or be hilariously vague and metaphorical?
(Have I ever told y’all that one of the reasons Edward hunting mountain lions and moving just like them cracks my shit up to hell and back is because it reminds me of the sex scene in The Bridges of Madison County [which I read when I was fourteen, and even then I thought it was hilariously awful] where the guy “moved over her like a leopard”? I read that fifteen years ago and it’s still burnt into my brain.)
Aaaaaand Alice has packed Bella nothing but French lingerie. You know, for Bella’s honeymoon with Alice's not-brother. Alice, I am putting you on notice. You are my favorite character! Be more awesome.
Meanwhile, Bella is having a small pre-sexing breakdown in the bathroom. You know, I actually think this part is kind of well done, because I’m sure a lot of teenage girls reading the book can relate to anxiety about having sex for the first time. I mean, not so much with the marrying a filthy rich dazzling vampire, but then, that just makes the parts they can identify with so much more meaningful, don’t you think? Anyway, Bella finally joins Edward for a sensual midnight swim, and MAN, that was an abrupt fade to black. Also: TWO FOR FOUR! Thank God.
“How badly are you hurt?”GOD, EDWARD. Someone thinks highly of himself. Also: STOP BEING SUCH A BUZZKILL, SPARKLESON. But wait!
“Why am I covered in feathers?” I asked, confused.Bella, honey, there's a reason there's a queen on the cover of this book.
He exhaled impatiently. “I bit a pillow. Or two. That’s not what I’m talking about.”
“You . . . bit a pillow? Why?”
“Look, Bella!” he almost growled. He took my hand—very gingerly—and stretched my arm out. “Look at that.”Okay, that is actually fantastically creepy--waking up and looking down and having no idea that you’ve been all jacked up to hell. I will say sincerely here, well done. Unless… it wasn’t supposed to be creepy. Because it so is.
This time, I saw what he meant.
Under the dusting of feathers, large purplish bruises were beginning to blossom across the pale skin of my arm. My eyes followed the trail they made up to my shoulder, and then down across my ribs. I pulled my hand free to poke at a discoloration on my left forearm, watching it fade where I touched and then reappear.
Also: The pillow-biting will never, ever stop cracking my shit up. Ever. OM NOM ROUGH SEX NOM.
Also-also, you know what? I bet half the problem would have been solved here if they hadn’t been in the missionary position. No, this is not actually stated. Whatever, you know they were.
“That,” I snapped. “That right there is why I’m angry. You are killing my buzz, Edward.”AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I swear to you, I am writing this in real time—I had absolutely no idea she was going to say that.
OKAY, LET’S NOW ANGST ABOUT WHO THE SEX WAS BETTER FOR. SURE, LET’S DO THAT.
He touched the frown line between my eyebrows. “I’m making you unhappy now. I don’t want to do that.”How about we all stop being unhappy? Look, you go fir—okay, let’s all stop being unhappy on the count of three, okay? OKAY?
“Then don’t you be unhappy. That’s the only thing that’s wrong here.”
Heeeeeee, Edward learned to cook breakfast from the Food Network.
(So many things have—probably for the best—been left unaddressed here. I mean, was it like fucking a popsicle? These are the questions I find myself asking.)
(Also, I foresee some horrifically awkward fan encounters in Robert Pattinson’s future. “So what positions do you think they did it in, tee hee!” He is probably going to want to upgrade the security system in his hair for that.)
Chapter 6: "Distractions"
So now Edward's determined to wear Bella out with good clean beach fun and tons of food all day long so that she'll be too tired to jump him at night. You know, because the pillow-biter feels guilty. Bella tries every trick in the book to seduce him, but she's an inexperienced eighteen-year-old so the book is pretty small. And okay, initially I thought it was really creepy—okay, pushy, or overbearing, or I don’t even know what—that Alice packed Bella a suitcase full of French lingerie, but now that Bella’s wondering if Alice foresaw that she would need it, it’s hilarious. And I love how Bella refers to “one of the scarier pieces.” In black lace, naturally. This may actually make up for us not getting the wedding night itself.
More Vivid Portentous Dreams. And then Bella wakes up sobbing because she had a hot sex dream and she was so very disappointed to wake up. And then Edward feels bad for her and they have lingerie-shredding, headboard-breaking sex. LULZ.
And now Bella’s decided she’s okay with going to college! Because that means she can be human longer! Because she wants to have more sex!
(Note from the future: Bella does not ever actually go to college.)
And then the superstitious
(Also, Edward speaks Portuguese fluently. Of course he does.)
Chapter 7: "Unexpected"
More super-vivid nightmares about child vampires and the Volturi and the burning. Meanwhile, Edward goes out hunting (the Cullens hunt animals, not people, for blood) on the mainland, leaving Bella to toss and turn and get up in the middle of the night and... make fried chicken? Homemade fried chicken? In the middle of the night. Okay, well... you go on with your bad deep-frying self, then. Except that... something’s wrong with it? But then she’s hungry again? So it's like, fried chicken, fried chicken, barrrrrrrrf, hey... do we have any eggs? Fuck, is she pregnant? She can’t possibly be pregnant, can she?
“No,” I managed to choke out. “No, Edward. I’m trying to tell you that my period is five days late.”YOU ARE FUCKING KIDDING ME.
I had absolutely no experience with pregnancy or babies or any part of that world, but I wasn’t an idiot. I’d seen enough movies and TV shows to know that this wasn’t how it worked. I was only five days late. If I was pregnant, my body wouldn’t even have registered that fact. I would not have morning sickness. I would not have changed my eating or sleeping habits. And I most definitely would not have a small but defined bump sticking out between my hips.YOU. ARE. SHITTING. ME.
So… wait. Basically, it really is going to look like she and Edward got married because she got knocked up.
So, meanwhile, Edward’s phone is ringing and he’s standing there slack-jawed not answering it and Bella finally answers it and it’s Alice (of course it is) and she and Carlisle (Alice and Edward's vampire doctor not-father) are freaking out, because Alice foresaw what would happen, and Edward’s just standing there. Like, in shock. He still hasn’t even responded to “I’m pregnant.” It’s kind of lolarious, I don’t know.
“What did Carlisle say?” I asked impatiently.Well, dammit, that better be his diagnosis if the vampire baby is already kicking!
Edward answered in a lifeless voice. “He thinks you’re pregnant.”
Everyone is horrified by the prospect of Bella somehow conceiving a mutant half-vampire miracle baby, and both Edward and Carlisle are trying to figure out how to "take care of it." Bella, on the other hand, is determined to protect her "pretty baby"--and who is the one person who is obsessed with babies (okay, that doesn't narrow it down in the Twilightverse...) and would stop at nothing to help Bella have one? Rosalie.
(More Twilight recaps.)