Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Twilight Effect - Marilee's Rant

Oh I love a good rant - especially when I agree. Today I'm handing the post over to an author's champion and a friend of mine, Marilee Brothers . Marilee, who has written the acclaimed Unbidden Magic Series, is not a stranger, I interviewed her here when her romance Castle Ladyslipper came out. 
You probably know by now, YA is not normally my reading genre but Eclectic is my middle name and I made an exception with Moonstone, the first in the series and which rightly has been described as "Cross Twilight with a Stephanie Plum book and you get Moonstone." If you like YA literature - this is definitely for you.

However, now she's well into the series, Marilee believes that the Twilight series has had a detrimental effect on YA writing in general. Take a look at what she has to say and I'd love to hear what you think...

At the beginning of the Unbidden Magic Series, Allie Emerson is fifteen. In book five, Midnight Moon, Allie is seventeen. In the first book, Moonstone, she acquires her first sort of boyfriend, Junior Martinez. Nothing heavy. A few chaste kisses. In the second book, Moon Rise, Junior is among the missing. Allie is still fifteen and suffering from paralyzing guilt because she had to kill a bad guy in the first book. Her healer is a hot, half-demon teenager named Beck Bradford. Beck definitely wants more than a few chaste kisses. Allie does not. However they transition into a couple. In book three, Moon Spun, sixteen-year-old Allie is disgusted with the entire male gender, more specifically, Junior and Beck. Enter Ryker Matheson, bad boy biker/ faery prince. Let me make this perfectly clear. Allie does not consider Ryker to be boyfriend material even though he insists she is to become his bride in Boundless, aka faeryland. She is put into a position where she has to trust Ryker, but feels nothing for him but friendship.

Allow me to share some of the comments made by reviewers regarding Allie’s alliances. Bear in mind, we are talking about a teenage girl.

“My first thought on this novel is that Allie must have pheromones that smell like Godiva chocolate to boys. Brothers could be a billionaire if she bottled it up and sold it as perfume.”

“I didn't like that Allie was with a different guy in this book.”

“Another boyfriend? Oh, please! Is Allie turning into a skank?”

Okay, call me crazy, but I blame it on Bella and Edward. It’s the Twilight Effect. From the moment Bella first caught sight of Edward’s marble brow, it was true love. Forever love. Vampire-wedding-in-the-rain-forest-love. Consequently, we now have a bajillion readers of young adult fantasy who think teenage girl protagonists are supposed to fall in forever love with the first boy they meet and never look back.

My turn to say, “Oh, please!” Have teenage girls changed that much since I was fifteen? I don’t think so. I tried to portray Allie as a typical teenage girl with typical teenage angst. After spending many years as a high school teacher and counselor, it’s been my observation that most teenage girls change boyfriends regularly. There’s always the exception, of course, but if we’re going to keep it real, most girls aren’t labeled “skanks” if they don’t pick one guy and stay with him until Gabriel blows his horn. So, let’s give Allie a break and let her grow up before she picks a mate for life.

A former teacher, coach and school counselor, Marilee lives in Washington State
and writes full time.
Her books include Castle Ladyslipper, a medieval romance, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam,
winner of the 2010 Booksellers Best award for romantic suspense, Moonstone, Moon Rise,
Moon Spun and Shadow Moon, the first four books in the young adult paranormal Unbidden
Magic series. Marilee is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Pacific Northwest
Writers Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Visit her website at http://www.marileebrothers, her blog at
http://bookblatherblog.blogspot.com and
follow her on Twitter @marileeb
and Facebook, www.facebook.com/marilee.author.


  1. LOL- I agree with you that Allie should be allowed to date. And how can they call her a "skank" if she barely kisses the guys?

    But I don't agree it's just the Twilight effect. I think it's more of a novel thing that's been going on for a while - Nancy Drew only ever dated Ned Nickerson, remember. And how many books did that last through? 30 0r so? I think the Hardy Boys may have had more than one steady girlfriend thru their series, but "boys will be boys." Boy characters are allowed to date around. Girls get called names when they do the same (or less.)

    Readers want their teen heroines to know their own hearts and not have doubts, especially since real teen girls often don't know what they want.

  2. I applaud you for this post! The idea that girls are being labelled "skanks" for having more than one boyfriend is ridiculous!

    To be fair to Twilight, (and you won't hear me say that very often!!) fairy tales have been giving the impression that there is only one true love that lasts forever, for many, many years. But I certainly agree that Twilight hasn't helped change that opinion. :D

  3. Yes it's the old trope, isn't it? One love for ever and ever. But it's not all that realistic. Thanks for commenting (let's hear what Marilee has to say)

  4. Good points, Katie and Kyra. So true about fairy tales and Nancy Drew. Twilight was uppermost in my mind. I guess we women are romantics at heart. Thanks so much for your comments.

  5. Love this post, agree with the rant.

  6. I agree that Twilight has had a very deleterious effect on YA fiction. It's not just my opion either. I asked a 20yr old who still reads a lot of YA and she reckons that the overall standard has dropped - ie you can get away with writing a lot of dross as long as the situation is sufficiently angsty/romantic.

    But romance novels are like that overall - including M/M romance. I've seen many criticisms of books where after their first meeting the protagonists had relationships with people other than each other. This is considered by some to be 'cheating' and the books are bashed for it. Ridiculous, obviously, but the simple boy meets girl [or boy or girl/girl] storyline and falls in love at first sight seems to be what some readers demand.

  7. I agree. C'mon, I know we grown-ups dated around in our teen years. There was no one true love, at least not right away. Maybe others did find theirs and went on to marry their high school sweethearts, but for the majority of us, we had to keep on looking. I mean, I didn't find my husband until I was in college.

  8. Thanks MJ x
    Elin, it's such a shame that the type of books you mention can't reflect reality.
    Cherie, true enough. Love at first sight, one true love...nah, don't believe in it.

  9. I don't feel qualified to comment on this post, although it was very well articulated! I tend to have my female protags kill off their first loves, and second... I think I am transfering relationship issues to my characters :-)

  10. Too true. Twilight has many crimes to answer for in the world of YA fiction, and this is certainly one of them!

  11. At least I haven't killed anyone off yet-LOL!

  12. "There’s always the exception, of course, but if we’re going to keep it real, most girls aren’t labeled “skanks” if they don’t pick one guy and stay with him until Gabriel blows his horn. "

    I want to live in this world!

    If I started ranting about how "Twilight" has negatively affected the writing and book-consuming world in general, I would be here all day.

  13. Go ahead, Hildred, dish the dirt!

  14. I like your take on it, and it would be great to see more 'real' stories out there, but on the other hand... as per the comment above, I like things to be better than life in general.

    Roadtrip: On my way from A all the way to Z!
    English Speaking Zone

  15. Yeah, she has a point. Part of me thinks that's just how stories are and we read to escape reality, but also, I know a lot of impressionable young girls that read these books as if they are true. Thanks for sharing. This post made me think.

  16. I don't know if it's just a Twilight thing - I think that young women long for forever-love-romance, even if their behavior indicates otherwise. Haven't we all had a boyfriend we thought was our "forever" one, and then it turned out that we were really wrong?
    I think that it's great that you are trying to be realistic, and I don't think she's a skank, but my daughters haven't read Twilight and yet they still expect "forever" romance out of books. Recently, my oldest became very frustrated with Little Women because Joe says no to Laurie . . . and she's usually not into romance at all. (BTW Little Women was a required book for her and not a "fun" choice book)

  17. Thanks for all your comments. I love hearing other points of view.

  18. It's interesting how people have a need for the relationship to continue. It's rather like the way that the readers wouldn't let Conan Doyle kill off Sherlock Holmes. There's a security in the continuity and it seems to have nothing to do with realism.


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