With the impending release of the first part of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn signalling the end of the wildly successful book and movie series, USA Today interviewed the creator of the incredibly divisive pop culture phenomenon (to say the least) for some on-set gossip and to ask what else she’s up to. She mentioned the sequels to her sci-fi book for people who hate sci-fi (and love casual sexism in their Animorphs rip-offs) “The Host” as well as the long rumored mermaid book which is “going to be 1000 pages” and a possible fantasy novel, described as thus:
"It's a fantasy that takes place in another world where people are using bows and arrows and swords. There's a little bit of magic, but it's a very limited form of magic. The characters are human, and some have the ability to use magic and some don't. It's pretty dark. People die. The main character is a 17-year-old girl, and she's kind of cool."
Meyer and Twilight mocking has turned into a professional art form over the past few years and I of all people am especially guilty of doing it. I maintain that, while Meyer is not the worst author ever and certainly not the worst writer of the sexist messages about teen relationships and a woman’s place in them in YA (many worse have followed in her footsteps), she is not a great writer and her messages are awful, even if she maintains that she doesn’t write messages in her books. But this isn’t a post about her skills, or lack of them, because that’s been done to death and there’s nothing new I can add to that discussion. Meyer’s work appeals to a huge amount of people so even if I find it distasteful and dull, she’s clearly got an appeal to a wide audience. But what fascinates me most, and raises the most questions, is whether or not she can continue this success post-Twilight.
J.K. Rowling published the final Harry Potter book in 2007 and, almost 4 years later, has announced nothing new or even hinted at what she is writing for the future, although she has stated that she’s still writing. Her place in the pop culture and literary pantheon is assured, no doubt about it, and there’s no way she, or Meyer, will ever replicate that phenomenon, but can they both continue it in some manner?
Meyer has published another book that, while not being all that dissimilar to the Twilight series in terms of structure, characters and relationships (and sexism, oh the sexism), was categorized as a sci-fi novel and shelved in the adult section of most bookshops, at least it was in UK. It sold and it sold well but nowhere near to the same level of success as Twilight. It was also released in between two Twilight books so much of that success could be seen as the fans gobbling up what she offered in anticipation for more Bella and Edward.
A lot of this is generalization, of course. It’s tough to completely dissect the phenomenon. But things are different now: the Twilight series is finished, the movies will be done soon (side note: two parts? Really? There was barely enough plot for one. Got to milk that cash cow somehow, I guess) and a lot of the teenage fans will be growing up and out of their love for the books. A lot of people did the same for Harry Potter but that’s a much wider established series with a more general appeal so it sticks around more. Personally, and I understand how completely biased my thoughts are on this subject, I don’t think Twilight has much staying power in terms of pop culture history. It’s just not good enough, although it is pretty representative of a more female driven entertainment that’s easy to condone and condemn.
Mental rambling aside, it’s difficult to judge whether or not Meyer has any staying power once Twilight is over, same for Rowling. It’s really easy to lump the two series together even though they have almost nothing in common but in this case I think it’s justified; two authors who came out of nowhere and gathered a huge fanbase, made millions and secured their place in the pop culture landscape. I think a lot of their future successes will have to do with displaying their talent. Both will need to show that they can move outside their box, although I think Meyer has a lot more work to do because, let’s be honest here, Twilight is just not as good, interesting or complex as Harry Potter. I grew up with Harry Potter and the books grew up with me, becoming more complex as I became a more complex reader.
Twilight’s success happened much more quickly and played to its core teenage audience, although it also had success within older age groups. At the end of the day, it’s tough to gauge how successful both women will be, but in the case of Ms Meyer, I don’t think she’s going to be as big a bestseller in the future. Of course she’ll never sell books like she did with Twilight again, few writers can do that, but she’ll have her niche. It won’t be as influential as her most famous/infamous series was and I don’t think it’ll be as feverishly anticipated as those books but if nothing else, I’m interested to see how the phenomenon evolves, especially after the uterus gets ripped open by the vampire teeth and Roger Ebert writes his review for that! Of course, Meyer also hints that she may return to the Twilight world with the story of Jacob and Renesmee, and if that happens you’d better prepare for blog post after blog post on why that’s a big heap of wrong!