Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Good About Twilight Copy-Cats

For better or for worse, Twilight set the norm for modern YA paranormal romance. And when something becomes popular, imitation is inevitable. A majority of paranormals that I read can seemingly be characterized as "angel Twilight," "werewolf Twilight," "zombie Twilight," etc. A few elements in common are understandable. After all, there are only so many ways one can write a teenage romance. But a lot of books so blatantly draw from Twilight that I can barely get through them without rolling my eyes every ten seconds.

Why do authors persist on rewriting Twilight when any savvy reader can see what she's trying to do? Because it works. Call me uncouth, but there are a lot of Twilighty themes that I fall for every time. Books like Die For Me, Carrier of the Mark, Starcrossed, and others may share one too many themes with Twilight, but I love the books because of them, not in spite of them.

If you're a Twilight fan, what are your favorite elements of the series? What themes capture your heart no matter how many times their copycatted?


*Even the most diehard Twilight lover like me can think of plenty of aspects of the series that are not positive. Let's put those aside for the moment and focus on what we like about Twilight.

My Answers

1) Family: Increasingly, my favorite part of the Twilight series is not the romance between Bella and Edward but the Cullen clan as a whole. I love books featuring big families with diverse characters. It's the world that only children like me dream of.

2) Bad Boy: Like so many girls, I am attracted to Mr. Danger, not Mr. Nice Guy. I like the mystery and the darkness. A lot of YA books break down into a battle between Mr. Like-Edward and Mr. Like-Jacob. I will always go for Mr. Like-Edward.

3) Different Paranormal: One of the best features of Twilight is that it is an entirely new take on vampires. I love books that dare to veer away from the traditional angel, zombie, werewolf, etc.

4) Shy, Smart Girl: Much has been written about Bella as a wilting daisy, but at heart, she is a quiet bookish girl - just like me. I like reading about strong girls who always speak their minds like Rose Hathaway, but I can relate to characters like Bella better.

What about you?

36 comments :

  1. I have to say right off the mark that I'm not a Twilight fan. But I can appreciate what it's done for paranormal YA. Gotta respect it for that. There are so many interesting points in your list Alison and I agree with them for the most part. I come from a big family and the totally agree that it's a point that's not explored enough in YA. I think at heart, many of us bloggers are shy girls too.

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  2. I really love Bella. Because she reminds me so much of me as a teen. (Seriously! People who think Edward and Bella had a toxic relationship clearly never met me and my high school boyfriend...)

    To me? The whole vampire thing was so secondary that I really didn't even care that it was so against the norm.

    I guess? I really love that despite all the technical criticisms? I could really feel for the characters.

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  3. I agree... Many YA books out there have the same elements as Twilight. I do like books like this because of the fact; I am such a huge
    Twilight fan. On the other hand, I love when I come across a book that is totally different. I think the reason I loved Twilight so much was that Meyer was able to bring you into the story.. I was not reading a book, but living a life she created. Not many authors have been able to do that as well as her!
    -Steph

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  4. I don't see how Edward could be classified as "the bad boy" in this series... Twilight had no bad boy, not really. The bad boy would flirt; would kiss; would take, conquer and abandon and he won't think twice about it. He'd make you jealous, he'd tear your heart to pieces and would never tell you his true feelings.
    Edward does none of those things... though there is poor imitation in New Moon.
    Bad boy is Will in TID, and Flynn in Cambion, and Damon in TVD. Those guys could rip your heart out of your chest all the while smiling mischievously at you. :)

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  5. You have been Tagged...

    It would be great if you could join in, but its completely understandable if you prefer not to.
    If you choose to answer and do the tag, do let me know so I can check out your answers.

    You Have Been Tagged at:
    http://b00kr3vi3ws.blogspot.in/2012/02/tagged-again.html

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  6. I'm no fan of Twilight, but your points are valid, Alison. Before Twilight copycatters could copy Twilight, there weren't big families in YA fantasy. That's a good thing about it, and I don't generally find anything wrong with bookish, quiet girls being the heroines of their books. If a good one can be written, then I'm all for her (but, Bella is not that character in my opinion, far from it).

    I can like either the nice boy or the edgy one. I hardly always go for the same type every time. It depends on what they are like. But, I root for one day the nice guy getting the girl in the end because he never does, something Twilight perpetuated.

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  7. I don't mind YA books that have some Twilight comparisons (for example the family in Starcrossed really reminded me of The Cullens) but when they're blatant rip offs (Carrier of the Mark) it's just a turn off for me.

    When I read Twilight I was just so drawn to Edward - that combination of dangerous and gorgeous. It gets me every time!

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  8. haha COMPLETELY the opposite on that last one. It's funny you mention Rose b/c someone just asked me which book heroine I relate to most and I said her. I'm a NYer raised by a straight-talking Canto mom. Rose is actually the first heroine I've ever been able to see myself in. lol

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  9. What Twilight really does for us is provide a basis of comparison that most YAers can work from. Then we can work outward from there.

    Amy @ www.bookgoonie.com

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  10. One of my favorite things about you is that you don't apologize for your Twilight love :) This series was wildly popular for a reason (or several reasons!). Thanks for highlighting a few of them.

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  11. love the post alison -- great points.

    i roll my eyes every five seconds now after reading hunger games -- because people are trying to copy her too (divergent, matched, etc).

    critics may insult stephanie meyer, but she's totally rich and people got a break from their lives and lived in a fairy tale for a while -- i'd say that is pretty successful in my book.

    the talk of the YA world seems to be centered around The Fault of Our Stars. have you read that yet?

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  12. All Great points I think it broke the mold for the YA ...its like saying its the New Hunger Games book when its nothing like it.

    I don't see a bad boy but boy with some issues and trying to not bite the girl he loves LOL

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  13. Interesting post, Alison. I admired Twilight for those reasons too, but I think what it all boils down to is the book's feel. You get all sorts of emotions with Tw and the world (for the most part) seems to flow and it struck a nerve with a lot of readers. I think a lot of the copycats are trying to force their stories to fit the mold which rings false. As a reader that turns me off. It also turns me off when the book is a blatant copy. As a savy reader, I deserve more.

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  14. I think any book that skyrockets to popularity the way Twilight did becomes the new basis for comparison for people. I just think of the number of books that are clearly based on Pride and Prejudice and it's overlying themes - themes that became popular because people can relate to them and to the characters. I don't think a lot of YA books out there set out to follow in Twilight's footsteps or deliberately "borrow" from Stephenie Meyer (though I'm sure it's the case with some), I think they are their own stories, Twilight just became standard to which everyone compares YA books since it reintroduced reading to a whole new generation of readers (myself included).

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  15. I don't personally think Twilight was all that wonderful, nor do I think it was particularly original. What I do think is that it was in the right place at the right time. It's a little bit like Harry Potter that way. It's the book that made the publishing industry sit up and notice that there was a niche they hadn't explored yet. Whether or not you're a fan of the series, it would be impossible to deny its success--or that we have benefited from same. I don't think we would have nearly as much access to as many awesome books as have without Twilight--merely based on the fact that it spawned a phenomena. Neither would we have as many awful books--but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

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  16. I'm not Twilight's biggest fan or really that much of a fan at all, but I do understand the captivating quality of the world Steph Meyer has created and can (????) respect it. However, I hate Twilight copycats, which SOOOOOOO MANY MANY YA books are. I cannot stand them. I may not love Twilight or even really like it, but Twilight was the original YA book in the sense that it made YA popular and an actual, legit genre. I give big props to Steph Meyer for doing that and I loathe any book that tries to be like Twilight. I'm not saying Twilight is Original, but it did literally change the course of books and the publishing world.

    Books that are not Twilight copycats and deserve MJR fame: Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Hunger Games, The Mortal Instruments, Blood Red Road, Delirium, Wither, Pure, Sisters Red and many more.

    Twilight copycats: Halo, Hush Hush, Fallen, Need, and too many more to even bother listing...

    ~V

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  17. The ones you named are all things I really enjoy about Twilight. I remember when I read the first book that I really liked Bella. She was clumsy, smart, shy and totally like most people.

    I think while certain books do take some themes from Twilight a lot of it has to do with it being the first (or at least the first widely popular) YA paranormal romance. We now compare all YA paranormal romances to Twilight.

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  18. Great post Alison. In theory, Twilight should be an excellent book. But the things that let it down for me (weakness of Bella, bad writing, creepy ending) are kinda unforgiveable in my book. But you're right. The reason people emulate it is because it WORKS. Bad boys, love triangles, drama, angst and paranormal elements WILL always be popular. Like people said above, it's the OBVIOUS rip offs that are the problems, not the books that employ the same literary devices.
    But tbh, I think Jacob is more the 'bad' boy of this series ;)

    The Cait Files

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  19. This is an excellent post! Twilight is definitely what introduced me to paranormal romance and I am sure glad it set the standard for it too. I agree about so much you posted. I also really liked Bella because I related to her so much too. I would like to think if I were a paranormal romance character I would be strong and outspoken, but I know I would really be just like Bella. I also love that you mentioned the family aspect, as that is something that I love in books.

    Darlene @ Leather Bound and Lovely

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  20. I don't mind similarities until they don't fit... like, uh, say the author had this cool idea, but also really liked Twilight, and so we're mosying along and suddenly, out of the blue, pops a near-quote or a situation that could have been plucked out of Twilight and it actually doesn't fit. THEN I'm like, rollin' my eyes, flopping the book around in the air, humphing outloud, that sort of thing.

    Generalized things like you've listed don't bother me. I mean, what are we supposed to do, now? Never read about another complicated family? I certainly am not choosing nice guys over bad boys just 'cause Edward worked. You know? I have capacity to enjoy even more.

    So, I agree with your point. I'm cool with big generalities as long as the idea is primarily unique-ish. Too many similarities especially involving scenes or characters or conversations that don't even fit right? Zero tolerance.

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  21. Completely with you on the family aspect and how different and altogether more terrifying the vampires were from anything I had ever seen before. I also love the interweaved mythology of the vampires and werewolves/shapeshifters, how they affect one another. Very cool and original, I thought. And you're right about Bella getting a lot of slack - but I have to say I'm actually quite fond of her too.

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  22. I'll start off with saying I have mixed feelings. I think the characters are fascinating as is the feud with werewolves and vampires and the lives they live. I hated the bad writing, the endings, and the main character. I get what you say about a shy girl rather than a bold one, but I see Bella as a girl who doesn't know her own heart and hurts a lot of people because of it. I think what you said about big families, which reminds me of Starcrossed, which I totally love, and think is one of Twilight's redeeming features. In short, I find Twilight to be a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. If it was truly written well, then it would be worth reading.

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  23. I agree with family. I think that this is why so many people love this family. People want to be a part of the family. They want love, security and loyalty. The Cullens have all those qualities and more.

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  24. Twilight was what got me into serious reading, although since then I've read about boys badder than Edward, he was the first one I fell in love with, first love ought to stick in your mind right? I liked the diverse family too! I think the Cullen family has their own personality, which is what I love.

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  25. I had never really thought about it before but man you nailed it! What a great post!!!

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  26. I will be honest, I dislike Twilight (I did like New Moon and what I've read of Midnight Sun was pretty good), but there are some aspects that I liked which was the whole love triangle thing, though I'm tired of seeing them now and I think I read a lot of love triangles and unrequited love before I read the original. I think I might have liked it more had it been the only story of its kind. The imitations that are really bad are just annoying and the few imitations that are better could have been even more better had they not followed the Twilight themes and plotline.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I accidentally deleted it trying to get my book reviews back.

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  27. It's nice to see someone pointing out the good in Twilight, because it's so popular to bash it now. Either people claim not to be a fan, or they apologize for liking it. But I make no apologies, I love the Cullen clan. I agree, the sense of family makes the series pretty attractive- not only do you have the perfect guy but he has this perfect family that basically welcomes you with open arms. It's fiction, it's romance, it is literary candy. Now I want to go read it again! ;)

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  28. This is post is just fantastic! I always gripe that some books are just Twilight replicas, I never thought to examine what are the good things in Twilight that can make other books great!

    I <3 the thought of being a part of a big family as well! I don't come from one and I know I don't want to have that many kids, so it will just have to stay a dream!

    And SO many books have shy girls and bad boys, lol.

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  29. I Love this post! I am big twilight fan and mostly because of the big family. :D

    Mariska

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  30. I really liked SM's brand of vampires too. They made so much sense to me, I mean the color changes in their eyes and how they need no sleep, and how hard their bodies are. It was all awesome and well developed. Now, I have a constant craving to identify new ways in which supernaturals are developed. The more unique the better. :)

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  31. As you probably know by now, I love me some twilight. Its just amazing. My main reason is Bella. She's me, like exactly. We both love books, I too can barely walk without falling...I feel akward aroung people and would prefer to wander and read than be in the spotlight...i get obsessed with the boyfriend and literally get depressed if they leave me (dont tell anyone I said that)...The list goes on and on.

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  32. I like the big family element in Twilight as well, and I did enjoy Die for me but it was perhaps the closet I've noticed to re-writing twilight.

    Great post and something that I've thought of before but just not managed to put down in words.

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