First, let me say that I found this to be one of the most compelling pieces of contemporary literature I’ve read. It’s a page-turner, and no mistake. The suspense was enough to make me give up precious hours of sleep and social time because I couldn’t STAND not knowing what would happen to the characters, who are all tragically flawed.
The leading lady, Bella Swan, is by far the most despicable. She is a feminist to the core and a martyr without a cause. She is unable to graciously accept kindness, takes herself far too seriously, and is filled with a strong need for independence which she struggles with in classic teen angst fashion. She is practically overflowing with the kind of pride which curiously manifests itself through self-pity and/or loathing, yet she collapses into child-like temper tantrums when someone wounds her pride.
Edward Cullen, her vampire star-cross’d lover, is a morally beautiful character; charmingly humble and introspective, respectful, kind, loving, gorgeous, a man who stands firm on his convictions – everything a girl could ask for. Except that he is a legalist and at the very least, a creature of questionably demonic descent.
The book’s own doctrine of vampires teaches that they are beautiful, powerful, pale-skinned, immortal, lethal murderers, who must drink the blood of humans to survive. However, Edward’s family of seven vampires (and another clan of five in another settlement) abstain from murdering humans and live off the blood of animals. The members of the Cullen family are united not by blood relation, but their “vegetarian” lifestyle, a choice each has made on moral conviction that they don’t want to be murderers, but instead choose to fight those inherent desires to live upright and ethical lives.
Edward reveals his own beliefs on his origin in chapter 14. He believes that “the same force that created the delicate angelfish and the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together.” Repetitively throughout the book, Bella describes him as angelic, god-like, perfect, more glorious than an angel (ch. 12) – in language one usually only hears Christian Hedonists use when speaking of Christ and the glory of God. These professions of holy attributes to a human, and Bella’s dependence on Edward in the place of Jesus, are disturbing enough apart from the foggy explanations of exactly what these vampires really are. But I will say this, if they are indeed angels, they are fallen angels, and thus demonic and in rebellion against God.
The book also advocates a very man-centered worldview, teaching some form of deism. This presents itself most clearly in regard to Edward’s sister, Alice Cullen, who has visions of the future. According to Alice and all of her visions (which occur throughout all four books), every time people change their minds or “make a new decision, no matter how small – the whole future shifts.” (Ch. 22) Edward affirms this in Ch. 14 when speaking of Alice’s gift- “She sees things – things that might happen, things that are coming. But it’s very subjective. The future isn’t set in stone. Things change.” That is in complete opposition to what the Bible teaches about the sovereignty of God. This idea of God (and the future) reacting to the decisions of all humanity instead of all humanity reacting to the decisions of God, who is indeed sovereign over the future, is not a new heresy, but classic open theism. (Which is also heresy.)
The relationship between Edward and Bella is frustratingly touching, particularly on his part. But their co-dependent need for one another can be highly disturbing. But like so many others, (as I myself have experienced first-hand) they realize how unhealthy their relationship is, yet they are powerless to stop it. In fact, I think that’s the perfect summary for anyone who hasn’t read this book: it’s unhealthy, yet you’ll be powerless to stop reading it.