How 'Twilight' Lost Me

The series captured the thrill of young love, but then refused to let its characters grow up

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Summit Entertainment

I'm breaking up with Twilight. I've read three of the four books and seen all the movies. I have a T-shirt with Edward's face on it, which I bought on my way into the theater the day the third film came out. I've defended the series against friends and critics who call it poorly written or dismiss its protagonist, Bella, as a bad role model for girls. But after seeing Breaking Dawn Part I—the fourth and most recent film based on Stephenie Meyers' best-selling books, and the most popular movie in America for the past two weeks—I'm finished. When the final film comes out next year, I'm staying home.

Saying goodbye to Twilight isn't easy for me. I saw the first movie when it came out in the theaters three years ago and emerged from the multiplex converted. Sure, the vampire bits were cool (I especially loved the scene where the Cullens play a super-powered game of baseball), but what won me over was the aching humanity of it all. The way Bella gazes at Edward during science class, delighted at the mere opportunity to touch his hand. The moments of charged, awkward silence during the pair's first meal together. Bella's insistence that they spend every waking—and sleeping—moment together. I'd been there: I'd felt that intense longing for a handsome, mysterious classmate; that exciting discomfort of a first date with someone I really, really liked; that desire to be with a person all the time, for fear that even a brief period of separation would lead to a cooling of affections. I'd felt all those things—and felt a bit embarrassed about it. Twilight was the first movie I'd seen that portrayed a young woman in the throes of first love, in all its messy glory, and didn't make her seem crazy or desperate. Twilight took her feelings seriously. What a revelation!

I sent this breathless email to two friends who were fans of the series:

What girl doesn't think of herself as a Bella-esque character: quietly intelligent, about to be noticed by a dark, brooding handsome stranger with a past?? Plus, it takes place in the Pacific Northwest, the home of all that great alterna-music that was popular in our early teenage days. I love it.

I immediately devoured the first three books, which all faithfully depicted familiar elements of young-adult romance: the excitement of a serious crush and the thrill of realizing it's reciprocated, the devastation of a breakup, the agony of choosing between a dangerous, unreliable guy who makes your blood boil with passion and a safe, dependable guy whom you love like a brother—but not more.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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