NPR: Team Bella or Team Lisbeth

twilight-booksNPR examines the rising role of of the female protagonist driving megafranchises in print and on screen.

“If you look at the most successful pop franchises over the past 50 years — from James Bond to Star Wars to Harry Potter — one thing is obvious: They’re dominated by men. Which makes it all the more remarkable that right now there are two cultural juggernauts centering on women — the Twilight series, created by Stephenie Meyer, and Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, featuring The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Together the novels have sold tens of millions of copies, while the screen adaptations are raking in dollars by the hundreds of millions.

To be honest, neither Meyer nor Larsson is a great writer. But their legions of fans don’t care. That’s because Twilight and Millennium offer something readers often like better than literary merit — primal fantasies. And what’s interesting is that these two fantasies are almost diametrically opposed, not least in their image of women.”

See more on NPR


  1. brittany says:

    as in love with the story as I am, I have always agreed with the lack of writing ability. who can forget ‘veteranarian school’ from eclipse? team carlisle/peter!

  2. I totally disagree, I really get tired of people saying Stephenie isn’t a good writer. Her writing skills are magical. What a creative genius to be able to deliver what you have floating around in your own mind to the page…not just deliver it, but deliver it where its understandable and people love it, and get it. That is genius. Needless to say she could go on and on, and fans would read on and on. That is a brilliant writer. Not many writers can say that. Her success backs her up. Write on Steph, and on and on…..

  3. thefactis says:

    I hate it when people say Stephenie Meyer is a crap writer because she doesn’t use these big sophisticated words blah blah blah. For me, a good writer is a writer who could leave a mark on you, who creates characters who you care for and stories that affect you heavily in any emotional way whether it’s happiness or sadness or maybe even nostalgia. Twilight is one of those books and Stephenie Meyer is a truly great writer.

    • I agree with you… who gets to judge who is a “good” writer. That statement “To be honest…niether is a good writer.” was, I think, very ignorant. If they have people who enjoy their writing, then they are a good writer.

  4. I couldn’t have put it better myself,K. I’m also sick and tired of hearing people say Meyer is either a mediocore writer or a horrible writer. If that was the case,then why are so many people wantin to read the series? Everyone I’ve heard that’s read the books,have all said how hypnotic they are,to the point of not being able to put them down. They’re written in a way that makes you want to know what’s going to happen next. So she must have done something right. Otherwise I doubt the books would have gained this much attention. She’s always ready to answer any question a fan as more people discover the series. That tells me that after everyone has read the books,they want to know more about the characters and the world of Twilight. As long as she keeps writing about this universe,her readers will get to continue to enjoy it.

  5. AliceKikiCullen says:

    I hate it too. I mean come on! You hit it on the nail thefactis. What I love is the Vampire ablities so fantasic! Most of those powers have never been done before! A few yes like Benjaimn and Edward but some of the others are just plain cool I’ve never seen anything quite like them in comic books I’ve read. They can stick the whole “can’t write” stuff in thier ears. If Stephenie wasn’t a good writer I wouldn’t of read Twilight!

  6. I heard this bit on NPR when I was driving to work yesterday and I was like “what???!!!”… I have read both series and don’t know why they decided to compare the two… I know they both have females as the main character but otherwise they are completely different types of books!!! I would never compare them! I liked the Stiegg Larsson books but they are in no way like the Twilight Saga- they don’t affect you the way these books do… and Bella and Lisbeth are so different!!! I guess he brought it home when he said they are similar in that they both give it their all when they decide to do something, but Bella places that into love and Lisbeth places that into torturing bad men… hmmm… not really the same!!! it was an interesting story though and I am always excited to hear about Twilight on NPR!!!

  7. Kimc333 says:

    I agree with the other comments. Critics want to say SM isn’t a great writer bc of the simpleness/plainness of her writing or bc of a few mistakes in the books. Whatever! Writing is more then about style, it’s about the emotion people feel while they are reading the book & I’ve never felt more emotion then I have from the Twilight Saga. SM has connected with millions of people in a way that few writers are able to.

  8. Stars had it’s babe too…. Princess Laia…

  9. Huh? I was shocked when I read this. According to me, a good write isn’t one who writes long sophisticated words in her stories, it’s one who is able to make their readers connect and relate to the stories and characters.All the fans are aLways hungry for more.
    The twilight books are hypnotic,I haven’t read anything like it.I think d best part abt Stephenie is that she makes you truly FEEL for her characters.

  10. Moonbeam says:

    Critics forget that Twilight is written from the point of view of a teenager. If she talks a little too much for Edward for their taste, they blame the writer. If Bella uses teenager words, they blame the writer. But all of us know what it’s like to be in love and be a teenage girl. Twilight is the way they think, the way they feel — the way we all feel deep inside.

    I’ve never seen another writer capture that feeling quite like Stephenie Meyer did. She’s an amazing writer.

  11. I was shocked when the author/speaker said that Jacob didn’t stand a chance because his family has no money while the Cullens are rich. That has nothing to do with anything!!! Jacob makes that same accusation, and Bella clearly states that money and beauty have nothing to do with why she loves Edward. It’s because he’s a good, self-less person.

    It may have something to do with gender beliefs. Notice that it’s the father who is afraid his daughter will look to Bella as a role model. Personally, I would love for my daughter to see that. Not that I believe that every girl should marry right out of high school, or not go to college. But Bella knows what she wants out of life and is willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish those goals. That makes her an excellent role model no matter what your opinion is on gender roles.

  12. Wow I’ve heard people call Stephenie a bad/mediocre writer and while I adore her books I agree with that I mean Fire World, Ice World…yeah. But this is the first time I’ve heard anyone call Stieg a bad writer his books have received mass critical acclaim and have sold millions I mean he won the Galaxy British Book Award and the Anthony Award and I know Meyer has also one awards but if I’m not mistaken the majority of them were voted on by the public so it’s like comparing an MTV Movie Award to an Academy Award. I’m just pissed he called Stieg a bad writer.

    PS. I am a Twilight fan just in case

  13. Who cares whether the literary critics like Stephenie’s work? She didn’t write it for the critics; she wrote it for herself and the fans. As long as she’s happy with what she does, and we like it, why do we care what all the stuff-shirt “experts” thing?

  14. switzy4ever14 says:

    I agree with most of the comments here. Listen, haters. I’m a writer. You may not expect this, but it’s one of the most difficult positions out there. You guys have NO idea how incredibly difficult it is to get your words right on paper. More than that, it takes an incredible amount of courage and trust to put that paper out for the world to see it. And to have millions of people reading it every day? How can anyone say Stephenie is not a good writer?

    Steph, don’t worry about those people. They’re clueless. Keep writing.

  15. Critics look at the technicality of the books. Grammar, form, development etc. They don’t often look at the material from a readers point of view. Can they relate? Does it suck them in? Is it enjoyable? And they don’t take into consideration that the main characters are 17. They are going to sound 17. Even Edward, although 109, is and always will be essentially a 17 year old young man. Another fault critics have in my opinion is that they are looking at it as if we live by what we are reading. It’s fiction. In comparing books to real life Tolkien put it best:”… as for an inner meaning or message, it has in the intention of the author, none.”

  16. First, let me say that I LOVE the Twilight series. And I think Stephenie is a brilliant storyteller. But she is not a technically gifted writer. Her overuse of words like “mumble” and “mutter” in dialogue sequences drives me up the wall. The newspaper article Edward read in Eclipse was terrible. Newspaper articles are simply not written in that style and as an English major, Stephenie should have known better.

    But those are small (albeit annoying) things that don’t effect the big picture that much. Her storytelling skills are outstanding and her imagination is vivid. And I’m thrilled that she chose to share Twilight with us. Yay for Stephenie!

  17. JennieB says:

    It was this kind of prejudice that led me to watch Twilight/read the books in the first place. I like to know why I’m judging something in the first place. As far as I’m concerned Twilight is teflon coated at this point, i.e. critic proof. The marketplace has spoken–people buy what they enjoy reading & people enjoy Twilight. The End.

  18. When I pick up a book to read here’s what I want: tell me a story, make it original – one I haven’t heard before, make me care about your characters, surprise me, make me laugh, make me cry and tie up any loose ends in a creative, yet plausible way. I have been a bookworm my whole life and I am a very demanding reader (think Cathy Bates in Misery). I have thrown books in the trash when they haven’t lived up to my expectations. I almost never read a book more than once. It is a egregious insult to my intelligence to tell me that Stephenie Meyer “isn’t a great writer”. Stephenie Meyer is brilliant, God has blessed her with a gift, a great talent. I always want to know who does the person who wrote this piece think is a “great writer”? Propably some obscure author no one has ever heard of.

  19. Another thing I find fascinating is Stephenie’s imagination. She doesn’t draw on her own personal experiences for her characters emotions. She was asked if she had experienced the loss of her love in the way that Bella did when Edward left, and she said that while she had breakups before she met and married Pancho, it was nothing like what Bella felt. And yet the way she describes the depths of depair, the feeling of being totally bereft, pain so intense at the loss of love that her knees buckled in the meadow, that Bella feels as though someone has punched a whole in her chest and she wraps her arms around her chest to keep herself from falling apart, I know how that feels and I respond viscerally at Bella’s pain, but here’s the kicker – Stephenie imagined that and she was dead on.

  20. I love both book series a lot. I have just seen the 3rd Lisbeth movie last week. (And Eclipse again today) Of course the books are much better….
    About the writing: I have no idea if they are written well. But: who cares? Both stories are extremly fascinating and obsorbing.
    I can truly say, that I have never been as crazy about a book as about all Twilight books. The movies are fine and I like them, but they are still nothing against the emotions in the book!
    And Lisbeth: I just love how strong she is and that she goes her own way (just as Bella) even though it means a lot of danger and that she is just herself. A bit strange, but what to expect from a person who is not used to be able to trust anybody!

  21. I believe that Nathaniel Hawthorne (“The Scarlet Letter,” “The House of the Seven Gables,” etc.) — who was also criticized for his writing, yet is now revered more than many of his outspoken critics — once said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

  22. I love Stepheine’s writing. She makes you feel like your in the story as Bella. I really love when books do that. I want to feel like I’m that character and Stephenie does that. Stephenie is an amazing person and author. I can’t wait for more of her stories. I know That any other books she will be writing in the near future will be awesome. 🙂

  23. In truth, writing style – verbage, isn’t the only thing these “critics” look at when they judge the craftsmanship of an author. You don’t need to write long sophisticated proes to be a great author. C.S. Lewis is a prime example. All of the Narnia books are relatively short and simply written.

    These types look at things like character development, story structure, narrative structure, and the list goes on and on and on. They add points or detract points based on an author’s ability to successfully tell the story… By success I’m not referring to the fanbase or monetary value of the author’s product, but the actual process itself. This is why an author, like Stephenie Meyer, can have an amazingly successful franchise, but still get low marks as an author.

    Stephenie excells at creating memorable characters, but she starts taking water with story structure issues involving the narrative (over all package with consideration of all books present). The largest flaws begin to show their head in Breaking Dawn.

    Having said that folks, it really doesn’t matter what book critics say, because to the larger majority of the audiance in question, story structure, plot progession, ect ect ect ect… don’t mean a thing, as long as your enjoying it. So in short, none of this hoopla is important to you, as long as you are having fun.

    Where it SHOULD matter, is to Stephenie herself, as they certainly can help her as a writer, or ANY writer, better develop their learning skills. As a long time writer, I can certainly relate. As writers it is beyond ignorant to shun criticism out right. Examine it, compare notes, and learn.

    Remember success doesn’t equal ability. We see this in Hollywood all the time, where movies ergo Transformers and most anything Michael Bay creates, while almost always highly successful are unquestionably bad. Michael still hasn’t learned how to tell a good story.

    Stephenie, as a young author, certainly has the capacity to perfect her skills beyond what even we, can concieve.

  24. Meredith cullen says:

    Um, excuse me? Sm not a good writer?? Thats ridiculous, there is not such thing as a good or bad writer it just depends on how they story appeals to the reader. Stephenie Meyer would’nt have MILLIONS of fans if she was’nt a good writer. Her writing is truly magic to me, being able to paint a picture in my mind whenever I read. Heres to reading Twilight again!

    • noah brighten says:

      Whoa… Whoa… You couldn’t be more wrong. There is a such thing as a good writer vs. a bad writer. As I’ve said just because a franchise is very popular doesn’t necessarily = quality of material. Remember the folks that grade the material are A. Aren’t Twilight haters… B. Aren’t trying to tear down Stephenie Meyer. C. Don’t judge material based upon financial success. These folks judge material based upon the author’s over all capability to tell a story. In truth, they might enjoy the stories very much, but they aren’t letting their bias (pro) (con) to get in the way of judgment. Most people don’t go out of their way to look at things like story structure, narrative flow… ect ect ect… You’re not trained to. However to “Readers”, literary critics, and their alike, they can pick out bad writing like a soar thumb. These folks have spent years studying the craft and so, unlike the untrained reader, is going to be a bit more critical, than the somebody else.

      Here’s the deal… if YOU enjoyed it, then Stephenie Meyer did her job.

      As a writer, criticism isn’t a bad thing. If somebody took time to actual read something I wrote. They found issues with it… it is my duty to pay attention and take notes… Most new writers make a lot of mistakes, but we learn from them… HOPEFULLY. However, if I writer takes objection to every tiny criticism made about their work, then they are doing themselves a great injustice.


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