Skip Nav
Game of Thrones
36 Emotions That Coursed Through Your Veins During Game of Thrones This Week
Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer Is Totally Cool About Anne Hathaway Replacing Her in the Barbie Movie
Wonder Woman
The Wonder Woman Sequel FINALLY Gets a Release Date, Praise the Gods

Twilight Controversy

Should Young Adult Authors Be Careful With Their Messages?

Now that the Twilight series's popularity has reached a deafening pitch with the release of Breaking Dawn, there is starting to be a bit of blowback, particularly concerning the messages it might be sending to young, female readers. Many have noted Bella's low self-esteem, stating that she may not be the best role model for the young tweens captivated by this tale of vampire love.

But Twilight is not the first young adult series to cause a stir. C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia books were often accused of having heavy religious undertones, while Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (which includes The Golden Compass) has weathered the opposite criticism as a purportedly negative portrayal of organized religion.

Do you think young adult authors have a greater responsibility to their readers when it comes to messages they might be sending? Or is the simple fact that they get kids reading good enough?


Join The Conversation
cinna-c cinna-c 8 years
I think it's sweet
cinna-c cinna-c 8 years
I am a huge fan of these books, did they end the way i wanted, kinda. i do however think that you should take a step back. Tell me what is so bad about this book, that makes the books we have to read the right kind. Wanna talk classics? Hamlet, every bloody person dies. It's all back-stabbing murder plots. The scarlet letter's (Which is an AWFUL book) is all about adultery. Romeo and Juliet (which I do like) is about defying parents to do just what Bella does. Following your heart, and doing what is right. AND they both end up dead! I mean Bella might not be the best character, she bugged me too, but I mean, at least they're reading. Plus since reading those books, I have went through and read things like Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Something else that we're required to read, depending on the class you take, and Heathcliff and Catherine are both COMPLETELY destructive for each other. I do think that it's important for kids to read things that are out of what they normally hear about. And it may not be something you're fond of, and maybe the way it's written is why we like it. I like the details. I like the way she falls in love. Is it realistic? No. And neither was Harry Potter when I read it at 12. The thing is, maybe the relationship is unequal. and minus the pregnancy thing, Edward isn't a bad guy. He tries to protect Bella, Over protective, yea sure. But he cares. He never pressures her, not because he can't or fears rejection. However he does respect her, and that's something that girls need. But the idea that we're gonna find a 100 year old vampire that will want to kill us and end up loving us? fake. It's only good to read because it seems to reconfirm the idea of soul mates. which is something i do happen to believe in. Also. I do think that Stephenie Meyer's religion affected her book. Maybe not something I agree with, but I do think that it makes it unique.
Allytta Allytta 8 years
it's parents' and teachers' job to see what their kids are reading and censor it if they see it fit.
reesiecup reesiecup 8 years
Mmm...obviously literature throughout the ages has had various undertones hidden within it, especially regarding politics and religion. I think that controversial books can open up the door for discussions (ie. Da Vinci Code), which can be good. I can't really say that I am familiar with the current material out for young teens. I personally recommend the "classics" for my 9 year old brother. I think it's a personal choice of what you decide to read. What you take from it varies. I like reading a variety of books just for fun :)
Shadowcat14 Shadowcat14 8 years
The books are no worse than television. And unlike television at least they are practicing a valuable skill, reading.
shalee55 shalee55 8 years
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that there's a level of social responsibility to make sure that the content is 'ok' but on the other hand - with the decline of people reading in general - it's really important to get the book in their hands = so it can really go either way in my opinion.
Shadowcat14 Shadowcat14 8 years
I think it is about getting kids to not only read but to question the world around them. To get them interested in different things and to expose them to different cultures, lifestyles, and thought processes. Books are meant to create dialogue. If a child has questions about something in a book they would ask their parent/guardian (hopefully)about it and they could discuss it. I had a great conversation about the His Dark Materials Trilogy with my Evangelical Uncle.
AySz88 AySz88 8 years
An add-on: I think there's also a suggestion that "young adults" can't handle deep sorts of material. I don't think so - this is a time in life when I think people are defining themselves, and people most want and need self-inspection and challenges. And even if so, authors shouldn't be on the hook for bad parenting.
AySz88 AySz88 8 years
The *authors* need to be "careful with the messages"? I think it's the readers that should have the messages in mind, thinking about whatever life lessons and viewpoints the book demonstrates. I hope these books are read with some critical thinking in gear - I believe that readers shouldn't try to avoid thoughts or ignore glimpses of insight about the book's lessons, but allow themselves to learn from them and/or be challenged by them. Even though, say, Pullman's His Dark Materials is written firstly for the story, the perils of organized religion are a very important part of how the plot unfolds. The 'message' is a critical part of the story, and I think it's part of what makes the book great. As a reader, it's your own mind that should decide whether you think the "false god" analogy extends to the Catholic Church / Orthodox Synagogue / etc. applies or not. And if a reader approaches a deep book brainlessly, that's not the author's fault.
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
frogandprince - "That being said, my main problem with Twilight is not the character's low self-esteem, but that her life essentially revolves around this teenage boy. There are so many young girls who are going through teenage angst and who think they will never find a boy who likes them, or that they're not good enough for a boyfriend, who read this and get depressed because they expect to find their soulmate by the age of seventeen, and that it's alright for a girl's life to be all about a boy." I TOTALLY agree. You expressed it better than I could. sydneyalias - I think it's great that Edward & Bella waited until marriage to have sex, but honestly Bella was only 18! If she waited until she was 25 or 30, etc. then I would be a little bit more complimentary. And as it was said before by ASpoonfulofSugar, Bella wasn't even the one who wanted to wait. ASpoonfulofSugar - I agree that it has been marketed towards preteens and teens, but I saw a recent interview with Stephenie Meyer that says that it wasn't intended that way. She originally wrote it for herself but I think she attracted a tween audience because of her "style" of writing. Great Sommelier - I agree that the writing sounds like it was done by a freshman in high school. Seriously, the book is not well written at all and even Twilight should've been edited down by a couple hundred pages.
girlnone girlnone 8 years
Teenagers operate in a universe of superlatives; it's not just love, it's the greatest love in the world that will last until the end of time. Young adult books tend to operate with that kind of immediacy, and the stakes are always life-and-death. I don't think there's anything wrong, per se, with an author like Meyer writing from her own perspective and with her own sensibilities. (I do think she needs a good editor, though--700+ is just too much.) I happen to disagree with her Mormon ideology, but I think as long as kids are getting different perspectives from other books, their teachers, and their family, then it's just another way to educate and broaden the mind. There's no reason to sugarcoat anything, certainly, but I do believe that YA authors have a responsibility to write honestly, passionately, and with dedication to the stories that are in their heads and hearts. Something like Gossip Girl may be entertaining, but it's a franchise designed to make money. Whatever faults Meyer's books may have (and they are manifold), she believes in the story and loves the characters she writes about, and to me that's worth a great deal. Preserve us from the day when books have to be approved by committees of "concerned parents" before they can be published.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
And ohbaby, you saying the imprint solved an issue is a classic example of what I am trying to say. Simple solutions. Everything was so cookie cutter and forced.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
And for people who think teens know it's just a book, look at the obsessed fans on the internet. These people are obsessed. It's the awkward lonely types who seem to be the most effected. They think this is what love it. It makes me sad how so many people are saying these books are so fabulous. I've seen people touting it as the best love story ever written. :jawdrop: Story aside, the writing is just so poor in these books. It seems like it could be written by any 9th grade pre-ap english student. And have the people saying these things ever read the classics? Sheesh.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
I've had huge issues with Twilight since the first book. First off, there is no ONE LOVE for anyone. No love worth dying for, especially as a teen. Laying down in the woods? Getting permission to do things. Having to be protected by her boyfriend. :oy: Sheesh. And the last one, well I won't comment in case people haven't finished or had a chance to read it and want to. The writing isn't good to top it off. UGh.
ohbaby7 ohbaby7 8 years
As far as the "pedophilia", it is a unique situation that solved a major issue, and this solution satisfied the diehard fans (including me). The pregnancy brought an amazing character as well as giving her a child she would never have otherwise. Two very unique, complicated situations
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 8 years
..the way we do. NOT about sugarcoating anything...if anything at all Bella is a ONE DIMENSIONAL character with little development, THAT is THE sugarcoated part.
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 8 years
I think some people commenting are missing the point. It's not about banning or censorship. IF you read the Salon article, the journalist is careful and's just a call to be reflective and look at how and why we connect to certain stories.
ohbaby7 ohbaby7 8 years
Twilight is a book for teenagers, and and teenagers can certainly related to Bella's awkwardness, which is part of what makes it such a great book. The lack of cookie cutter characters is a GOOD thing, and lets kids know that not everyone is perfect, and amazing people can have their flaws.
hil34 hil34 8 years
@ sydneyalias I'm considered a young adult and I read the gossip girl books. I know the teenagers in the books aren't doing the best things, but some of that stuff happens in real life. Also, in the books,there are consequences to most of the stuff that they do. I know that I just read the books for fun, and I would never do any of that stuff. It's just fun to read a trashy book every once in a while :) But on the Twilight books, the only reason I read book 1 and 1/2 of the second one is because all of the hype. I knew they were bad books when I started reading them, but they were sorta fun in the beginning. THe last book, from what I've read, is taking it too far w. the pedophilia and the gory details on top of horrible writing. I'm just going to finish the 2 one, and read the third, but there's no way I'm reading the last one.
ASpoonfulofSugar ASpoonfulofSugar 8 years
I don't mind books with messages. Every book has some kind of message. But I do have some bones to pick about what has been said about Twilight: 1. It's Edward who wants to wait for marriage, NOT Bella. She totally wants to do it and tries to seduce him several times! It's his "old fashioned" ideal from being born in the early 1900s that shapes this decision. So, saying Bella is sending a message to girls to wait is completely misplaced. 2. This book should not have been young adult. It deals with marriage, sex, an extremely gory pregnancy/birth, weird fetus imprinting, etc. It is not a children's book. I was exposed to adult themes at an early age because I read a lot/was a movie addict...but I knew and my parents knew that it was adult (Rated R or the book cussed, etc.). This book is completely marketed toward tweens and teens. They should have been warned what was in it. I know I wouldn't want my 12-year-old cousin to read it.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
If a kid is into reading, sooner or later they will encounter (even seek out) ideas which counter their parents. Heck, I read Jean M. Auel from my mom's bookshelf when I was 8 and was totally scandalized. If it's readable, and your kid's a reader, they will find it and read it. Your job as a parent is to explain why your values are important and trust your child to make the right life decision based on that.
rivrchild rivrchild 8 years
As far as Breaking Dawn glamorizing teen pregnancy - actually, that part of the book really freaked me out even as a 24 year old. And I'm sure if I'd read it at 13 or 16 I would have been completely scared of getting pregnant! Now, post-pregnancy I could see where her life was glamorized, but it's also complete mythical fantasy. At that point, Bella has completely entered the world of the vampires of course it's going to be glamorized, the same as any fairy tale. I don't think we give children and young adults enough credit to be able to see that for themselves. Still, I agree that parents should know what their children are reading and be there to talk to them about it (and by that I mean, they should actually READ the books themselves, not listen to what other people say the book is about).
Books For Introverts
Best Urban Fantasy Books and TV Shows
Robert Pattinson in Twilight Pictures
Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner in LA June 2017
From Our Partners
Latest Entertainment
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds