Friday, June 17, 2011

Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga, by Beth Felker Jones


This is going to sound weird, but I was kind of disappointed that this book wasn't worse. I mean, with a title like Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga, I expected it to be atrocious. Deliciously bad. But apparently the title is the worst part. The rest of the book isn't nearly as bad as you'd expect.

Jones claims in her introduction that she's not out to make your decisions for you, and she seems to stick to that claim. She compares reading to food--there's healthy food, junk food (which isn't bad for you but shouldn't be the only thing you eat), and poisonous food. She maintains that it's up to the reader to determine which category the Twilight Saga falls into, and whether he or she wants to read it. For the most part, she keeps a pretty even hand in discussing Twilight and its themes. (For one thing, it appears that she's actually read the books, which is refreshing--people are often more than willing to share opinions about books they've never read.)

Some of her expectations seem a little unrealistic--for example, she notes that salvation in the Twilight Saga is works-based, rather than grace-based, as in the gospel. But this is not a book about the gospel, nor is it intended to be an allegory for the gospel. And while I agree with Jones that fallen man is powerless to resist sin in his life apart from the grace of God, a book where everyone just sits around being terrible until God comes along and saves them . . . well, I don't know that it would make for much of a read. Still, Jones seems to be willing to acknowledge good where she finds it. And even when she criticizes, it is less an indictment of the books as evil and more an encouragement for parents to discuss with their children how Christian theology differs from the worldview presented in Twilight. Which is completely valid, and a great idea.

Her writing and insights aren't brilliant, and there are themes she misses, but if you want to think about the Twilight Saga and its underlying themes (especially if you have kids who read the books), then it's probably well worth your time to read this little book.

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