Blogging by the seat of my pants this morning, as I kind of forgot and have about twenty minutes to actually get something posted.
I missed Twilight. I was not buying books at the time, and I hadn’t really discovered the YA section as an adult yet anyway. It was college, and I was poor and busy, and it wasn’t until after I finished my MSc that I washed up on the shores of ChaptersIndigo as a bookseller who hadn’t read one of the most popular series ever written.
I put off reading it for about four months, rightly assuming that it wouldn’t be my thing, but after Christmas, when my contract was extended, I decided that if I was going to continue in the bookselling business, I should read at least the first one, so that when I steered people towards Tamora Pierce instead, I did it knowing what I was doing.
So I read Twilight. And then I thought to myself “I know people who like this without irony. She must get better.”
Then I read New Moon. On about page five, I started yelling at everyone about the treaty, and by the time Jacob’s dad showed up at the end all “SURPRISE!”, I was all “OH GOD, HOW DUMB ARE YOU PEOPLE?”
(Admittedly, I have been in training to read the fine print since I was in single digits, but MAN. DETAILS. *sigh*)
Anyway, I put it out of my mind. I didn’t really think about Twilight again until I got the job at the Toy Cabal in 2009. We had TOYS for Twilight. Barbie dolls that sparkled and t-shirts that said “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob”. This was the first time I encountered the “team” phenomenon, and I grossly misunderstood it.
For weeks, I told people I was on Team Jacob. Jacob, after all, was not half as creepy as Edward. If I had to pick one of them, Jacob would be the one. What I failed to understand is that by picking a Team, I wasn’t picking which character was my favourite. I was picking the character I thought Bella should hook up with.
To me, this is the crux of the problem with Twilight. It’s been said before, but my biggest issue with the series is that there is no Team Bella. It just does not happen.
I like my girls with futures. Theirown futures. When it comes to Alanna the Lioness for example, I am technically on Team George, but the truth is that I am on Team Alanna. She makes choices. She makes LOTS of choices. Some of them are bad. Most of them, though, are about her own destiny, outside of the three men she falls in love with, and I ADORE that about her.
After I read The Hunger Games, someone asked me if I was on Team Peeta or Team Gale. I looked at them blankly and said “I’m on Team Katniss”, and the person said “How can she hook up with herself?” I managed not to smash my head against the table, and replied “I wasn’t really reading this book for the romance.”
I understand that there is nothing like a good love triangle (or quadrangle) to get the fans involved. It’s pretty much the best thing since star-crossed lovers. But if I’m reading a book, and I can’t pick Team Main Character, I get frustrated. I avoid romance in the first pass of my own writing specifically to make sure that everyone is their own person. On the second draft, I open them up a little bit. I guess it’s the writing equivalent of not kissing on the first date. I certainly don’t think romance should be left out of books (and seriously, I love romance), I just think that if you have a main character, specifically a female main character, who cannot be defined outside of her boyfriend (or unboyfriend, as the case may be), something is wrong.
I wish there was a Team Bella like there is a Team Alanna or Team Katniss. Twilight did a lot of things right, in that it hit the magical formula for being excessively popular, opening up the doors of YA for readers and writers alike. It has other problems beyond the lack of Bella’s agency, but I’m going to be late if I start talking about how much I hated the “I take drugs to forget you” subplot, so I think I’ll leave it for now.
How do you feel about teams? What makes you pick them? Why are they exclusively pairing related? Do you have tricks for writing them? Inquiring minds want to know!