Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why is everything compared to Twilight?


I've noticed something interesting about entertainment as a whole, particularly YA fiction (though that's my area of expertise, so I notice it more than anything else). When a lot of YA authors tell people what they write, they often get a variation on the same general response: "Oh, so you write stuff like Twilight?"

It's not a response that's generally met with positivity. A lot of writers detest Twilight, for various reasons. Even those of us who enjoyed the series are left scratching our heads, wondering why people would jump to one particular book to generalize an entire category.

Twilight is popular, no question. The franchise even inspired 50 Shades of Grey, a trilogy of fan fiction turned original fiction that outsold Harry Potter on Amazon UK. Edward Cullen and Bella Swan are practically household names (as are Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart). And vampires are now associated with sparkles, of all things.

This is the first thing that came up when I searched "sparkle." (source)

I remember when The Hunger Games movie came out and people compared it to Twilight. Anyone who read so much as the book blurbs on the back of both books would know that the two stories have nothing in common. Yet I heard so many people say they didn't care to see The Hunger Games because they thought it was "the next Twilight."

And that's really sad.

I've talked a lot about how people tend to look down on children's fiction because they look down on children. Teenagers aren't exempted from this stereotype; if anything, they have it worse. The teenage years are seen as years where people act stupid and impulsively without a fleeting thought about anyone or anything but themselves and right now. So any sort of entertainment is assumed to have the same flaws.

But Twilight is sort of perfect for the teen crowd. It's the very definition of wish fulfillment: An awkward wallflower manages to woo a gorgeous, untouchable guy who turns out to be a vampire, making him 10 trillion times more sexy than he already was. No wonder teenage girls ate it up. A lot of adult identify with it too, but that always happens with a good YA novel.

But even thought I acknowledge Twilight's massive popularity and appeal, it's only one series. It's not the first YA novel to get this big, nor will it be the last. It's not Harry Potter, it's not The Hunger Games, it's not Percy Jackson or 50 Shades of Grey or Spider-man or anything else. And if you write YA paranormal romance or vampire fiction, you shouldn't have to defend your book against Twilight comparisons.

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