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When I think "instalove", I think "No thank you." Love stories where the guy and the girl feel a deep and intense connection minutes after meeting each other just feels unbelievable and narratively lazy to me. This is because as the reader, it's fine if they want to love each other until death - but I need to love those characters too. And it's hard to when you don't really understand why they're acting so crazy in love. But there is one book that fits into the instalove category that I hold very dear. And this does disturb me. So for Instalove 101 I wanted to examine the qualities that made the love story work for me.
And to illustrate my post, I'm including some icons/images I made back then (for my livejournal blog!) with my preferred dreamcast (it was also the most popular dreamcast at the time I think) - Emily Browning as Bella and French actor Gaspard Ulliel as Edward. (sigh)
"About three things I was absolutely positive."There isn't quite a love at first sight situation between Bella and Edward - more curiosity and attraction. As well as overwhelming thirst for Edward. But their relationship definitely escalates to the can't-live-without-you stage very quickly. I normally find that very annoying, but with Twilight, Stephenie Meyer really sold me on their connection. There are three factors of their relationship I think that helped make their all-consuming love believable for me:
- They are obsessed with the other's 'otherness'
Edward has never met someone whose thoughts he couldn't read, and also whose scent is so alluring to him. Bella also reacts in ways that are unexpected to him. Bella of course is intrigued by his beauty, his aloofness, and his mysterious manner. And having their relationship start so uniquely (saving her life in a suspiciously inhuman way) throws them together and forces them to confront their feelings about each other. It also helps that Stephenie Meyer maintains this atmosphere throughout the book that Bella is so out of place with other kids her age. Bella's wry comments on the people of Forks are hilarious but also serves to distance herself from them and only when she is with Edward does she seem truly happy.
Because Twilight is from Bella's point of view, the reader has a stronger empathetic connection to Bella and what happens to her. That feeling of first love is so perfectly captured in this book, the romance so full of a captivating joy, that it's hard to not fall under the spell of their love story. I also think that because there are so many conversations in this book of light and deeper topics between Edward and Bella that it helps make their insta-obsession even more believable. And helps the reader know the characters as well as they are getting to know each other. I feel like many books that feature instalove also have a lot of action or plot to get across, but in Twilight, Meyer isn't afraid to really dwell on the relationship and the characters and that helps to capture the reader's imagination.
- The Main Characters
Like I touched on above, these characters are really fleshed out, and the main focus for most of the book. I think that was the number one reason why I was so obsessed with these books - the characters felt real enough to inhabit this world. In my opinion, Stephenie Meyer's forte is writing characters because she somehow knows how to include little details that just make them come alive. From how they talk, to what they wear, and how they move, all of these characters feel real and believable. And like all good characters they all have their flaws - even if Bella keeps thinking that Edward is perfect. And with the focus on the two main characters this is such an intimately revealing story because Edward and Bella open up to each other so much and it is easy to understand why they need to be together. I think I noted more in my recent re-read just how their senses of humor match as well which is really important to any relationship. And it added strength to their connection if they could laugh and joke about sometimes unexpected things.
"Twilight, again. Another ending."Okay, final thoughts time!
I still love this story. I feel like the book just pulls you into it's world and has this unrelenting atmosphere of peculiarly impassioned yet restrained drama. Maybe the reason why I believe in the instalove is because I felt a little of it too for this book. If I used Twilight as my prime example, then I would believe that any author can sell me on an instalove story as long as the focus is on the romance, the characters truly need and depend on each other and there is a fascination about these characters where they are unique yet real which means they also need to be very well written. I think that sounds deceptively simple though, because ultimately there must be some very elusive magic that makes it work. And in the end it's probably just better to write a story where two characters really get to know each other and then fall in love.
But Twilight is an enchanting book.
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