Initially, I deeply mistrusted the source of the first recommendation, knowing full well that I had a lot of issues with her reading choices. But I got so desperate for books that I started reading the Harry Potter books (again) while taking brief stints into Historical books like The Battle of Salamis written by a Cornell University History professor and The Eight Wives of Henry VIII.
Finally, one more person suggested I read it - and the source was one I felt I could trust. So...I've read the first two books.
They are addicting. Woefully so. Frustratingly so. And if I were a member of the target audience, these books would be so incredibly unhealthy.
Luckily, I'm older and wiser and am in a healthy relationship, so I recognize this girl's obsession as being unhealthy. I'm wise enough to recognize how wrong the dynamics are playing out and it bothers me that these books were written for young adults that don't know better.
Its such an oxymoronic relationship - on one hand you have a girl in a relationship with a guy who is a gentleman - but her obsession with him would make you think it was an emotionally abusive relationship. Her dependence on him is excruciatingly painful to witness. And then the male half of the relationship - he has the wisdom and maturity to know that this relationship isn't a good one but acts as a selfish child in fulfilling his selfish desires to be with her.
All in all, I wouldn't mind that part so much if the girl was more capable of healthy, emotional boundaries - alas, she's not.
And in the 2nd book it gets even worse when Edward leaves Bella and she's convinced he doesn't love her anymore...and in her attempts to recover over her loss of him, she becomes attached to another boy who loves her - and she loves him, just not as much as she loved Edward - who, by the end of the book when Edward comes back because he can't live without Bella, this boy is ultimately crushed.
Its hard to watch and it makes me uneasy with how careless the author treats her characters and how irresponsible she is towards her target audience - an audience who doesn't know better when it comes to developing healthy emotional boundaries in relationships.
The author likes to say she is influenced by L.M. Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables, but while I was reading these books, I didn't see it - Bella may be learning what is unhealthy and self-destructive, but she does nothing to put a stop to her self-destructive behavior - unlike Anne Shirley, who, upon recognizing a poor choice, does her best to avoid such trouble in the future. And Anne maintains proper boundaries to a well-enough extent that you don't feel hurt for a rejected suitor...he's left with enough of his heart to more easily move on.
However, i did come across one quote from the author that I find is a good thing and her books to a good job of illustrating it -
Other major themes of the series include choice and free will. Meyer says that the books are centered around Bella's choice to choose her life on her own, and the Cullens' choices to abstain from killing rather than follow their temptations: "I really think that's the underlying metaphor of my vampires. It doesn't matter where you're stuck in life or what you think you have to do; you can always choose something else. There's always a different path."
Unfortunately, this theme is really subtle and would require discussion on the books with an older/wiser for a younger audience to really pick up on it.
And to be quite frank, as I stated in another blog post on this subject, I think parents nowadays are too lazy to engage with their children on this stuff.