I have read 1 and 1/2 of the Stephanie Meyer books. I am struggling to get through the second. I have not read reviews or commentary or spoilers. (Though, after this post, I will read spoilers happily. I’m sure I won’t finish the series.)
About halfway through Book One, it became profoundly clear that these books represent the very best of Fundamentalist Girl Wet Dream Lit. Here is how:
1) The protag, Isabella Swan (Yes, I kid you not. Isabella Swan.) is a typical self-absorbed teen. She’s a terrible friend—can’t be bothered to listen when her amigas talk to her, doesn’t care about their lives, doesn’t share anything real about her own. So, how do we know she’s a good person?
We know it because a) she’s so damned
female domestic. She cooks and cleans. Her daddy needs her; b) because she’s a good student; and c) because like all good fundie girls, sure, she can be selfish and self-absorbed, but when it comes down to it, she would give her effing LIFE for the people she shares a dysfunctional co-dependent relationship with. She’s a glorious martyr. Greater love hath no fundie girl than this.
2) She doesn't have sex. She doesn’t say “sex.” And in spite of the fact that she’s a 17-year old girl who thinks at us so much about her hots for a guy that we get 500 pages of book and 150 pages of plot, she doesn’t even think about sex.
But the entire book, her entire world, is--very obviously--about sex. SEX SEX SEX. (But no, she didn’t say that! She didn’t even imply it! It’s not her fault if you and millions of other readers have misinterpreted everything to be about sex! (This is what I call the Passive-Aggressive, Sexually-Repressed Fundie Problem.))
3) Her boyfriend instructs her on a lot of things. He tells her what to do and how to act. He gives information to her only as he sees fit. He rescues her, especially from herself. He is 100 years older than she is. OMG, did I just say “boyfriend?” I meant “Daddy.”
4) Her daddy-boyfriend is a very powerful, very dangerous dude. Like God, he's not someone you want to make angry. He could kill you in an instant. He's on the verge of killing you every instant. You should see what he does to your enemies. Yet, just like God, he loves you and all of humanity with incredible, self-sacrificial love.
5) Predictions for the future: They will not have sex until they are married. There will be a child (because true adulthood and self-actualization only come with Holy Motherhood.)
On a slightly more positive note, I do see why these books are so popular. The author uncannily captures teenaged-girl-angst. In particular, I am awed at how the protag can be so unpleasant, and yet so unmaliciously so. Just like a real teenager.