I kissed a boy and now I’m immortal. Sound familiar, anyone…?
No, I’m not talking from personal experience. There was no fatalistic, mid-semester, high-school romance for me as a teenager. There was no pale, lanky, gormless guy in my life. Okay, don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of gormless guys in my life — but none quite like the boys I’m thinking of. I’m thinking of a very specific type of boy in particular. You know the one, tall, dark and handsome…
Oh and you know, dead.
Yep. I’m talking vampires. Because apparently all teenage girls really dig that trashed-homeless-chic look that almost every YA male protagonist seems to sport. Because, speaking on behalf of all women on planet Earth here, if there’s one thing we females can’t resist, its douchebag seventeen year old boys who always look constipated and sparkle in the sunlight. Now that’s what I call a real man.
Yes, I am talking about the one and only Edward Cullen.
About three things, I was absolutely positive. Firstly, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him — and I didn’t know how dominant that part of him might be — that was a massive tool. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably sick of him after the first page.
Yes, Edward Cullen, the possessive, controlling, whiny (but totally sweet and perfect, apparently…?) leading male protagonist spawned from the dark, miserable, and roach-infested recesses of Stephenie Meyer’s mind — also known as The Twilight Saga.
Am I being too harsh? Good.
Okay, let’s get one things straight. Ladies, you do not want a man like Edward Cullen in your life. You all deserve SO much more than that. The relationship that Bella and Edward has — apart from being creepy, impractical, and downright irritating — is just unhealthy. This boy stalked her, broke into her bedroom to watch her sleep, and tried to kill her on multiple occasions. If this guy had a theme tune, it would probably be Every Step You Take by The Police, because this asshat is way up there with Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen in the crazy charts.
But why doesn’t this relationship work? Why does Bella and Edward’s love story repel so many readers?
I know what you’re all thinking. It’s because it’s stupid. And it IS! But that’s not why this ‘romance’ is a complete shambles.
This partnership shows all the top seven signs of being in an abusive relationship. No really, it does. Edward Cullen is an emotionally and verbally abusive bully. If you think I’m exaggerating, then just let me break it down for you…
- Destructive criticism and verbal abuse (mocking/shouting/name-calling/threatening):
Examples of Edward displaying this behaviour:
“Bella it’s not my fault if you’re exceptionally unobservant.”
“Ordinary people seem to make it through the day without so many catastrophes.”
- Pressure tactics (sulking/threatening/intimidation):
“Don’t be difficult, Bella.”
‘Edward turned on her in fury, his voice a blistering snarl. “There-is–no–other-option!”’
- Disrespect(mocking/putting down/ignoring):
“Don’t be offended, but you seem to be one of those people who just attract accidents like a magnet. So try not to fall into the ocean or get run over or anything, all right?”
“Must I always be the responsible one?”
- Breaking trust(lying/breaking promises/jealousy):
“Your boyfriend seems to think I’m being unpleasant to you—he’s debating whether or not to come break up our fight.”
“I warned you I would be listening.”
- Isolation (blocking & monitoring phone calls/won’t let you see friends or relatives)
[BELLA WANTS TO VISIT JACOB]
“Then I’ll have to stop you.”
- Harassment(following/checking up):
“I followed you back to Port-Angeles.”
“I feel very protective of you.”
- Threats (physical/mental/emotional intimidation):
“I wanted to kill you.”
“Now relax before I call the nurse back to sedate you.”
See what I mean?
The fact that this kind of relationship has been so romanticised and idealised to the point where seventeen year old girls are running around looking for their own Edward Cullen is almost a little bit sickening. Stephanie Meyer has produced the most toxic, harmful, and unrealistic expectations for young girls of what a relationship should be, that it’s very nearly damaging.
Edward Cullen — Official Douchebag of the Decade.
Bella Swan — Official Idiot of the Decade.
Bedward (Is that their OTP name or did I just make that up?) — A car crash waiting to happen.
Stephenie Meyer — Deluded.
Also, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight was the inspiration for Fifty Shades Of Grey, so there’s another strike against her.
Now, let’s move on. We’re going from Cullen to Caelan and his story, or what I like to call: How Twilight Should Have Gone.
Caelan (surname unknown), the pale, lanky, whiny, creepy man-child of a vampire (déjà vu, anyone?) from the Skulduggery Pleasant book series, written by Derek Landy.
Caelan is a vampire of many talents. He has the ability to be a total hottie and complete weirdo at the same time. He has no qualms about professing his undying love to a girl he’s only just met. He can run fast and jump from really high stuff…
Okay, so he’s a little lame. But here’s the thing — he’s supposed to be lame. Unlike Stephanie Meyer, Derek Landy writes his character to be totally unaware of how weird, and eerie, and obnoxious he is. In Caelan’s mind he’s a regular old Romeo when it comes to love and romance, but actually, from an outsider’s perspective, he’s just a giant creep. And he’s meant to be! Whereas Edward Cullen is meant to be all moody, and broody, and irresistible, Caelan is just meant to be an ass. And that’s why it works.
Derek Landy’s storyline with Caelan falling in love with leading female protagonist Valkyrie Cain is a subplot of beauty. And it works because Valkyrie, unlike Bella, is a take charge, no nonsense, level-headed, stubborn, assertive, independent woman who won’t even let the authorities tell her what to do, let alone a boy she just met and only kind-of likes.
Valkyrie doesn’t take any crap from Caelan. Nope, the moment he starts to irritate her, or get on her nerves, Valkyrie is super-quick to lay down the law, and put him in his place. Whether or not he’s professing his undying (and unwanted) love for her, or if he’s just being generally annoying, Val doesn’t hesitate to knock him down a peg. Caelan actually become so insufferable that she (spoiler alert!) ends up having to kill him off…! Good girl!!
Also, it’s just funny. Unlike Twilight, this storyline will actually bring joy to your life. Every scene with Valkyrie and Caelan is just so funny, and poor Caelan doesn’t even know it. Some of his scenes have produced some of the most quotable lines in the book…
(The following quotes were taken from https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/15121049-death-bringer)
“I swear, talking to you is like talking to a really good-looking and mildly stupid brick wall.” — Valkyrie Cain to Caelan.
“Get away from my ex-girlfriend, you moany little whinge-bag.’
Caelan took a deep breath, like he was in pain, and stood up. His voice was low, guttural. ‘I was hoping I’d get the chance to kill you.’
‘You won’t be killing anyone, you sad little emo git.’
‘You’ve stood in the way of our love for long enough.’
‘Just listening to you makes me want to top myself, you self-pitying Paranormal Romance novel reject.’
Caelan glared. ‘Stop insulting me.’
‘Why? If you cry will your mascara run?” — Fletcher Renn to Caelan.
“He looked at her. “We’re meant to be together…”
“And this is exactly what I mean.”
“Our love is written in the stars.”
“And there you go again.”
“I love you.”
“You bore me.” — Valkyrie Cain to Caelan.
“You say one more thing that sounds like it’s ripped from the pages of a really bad gothic romance and I’m out of here, are we clear?” — Valkyrie Cain to Caelan.
“I love you.’
‘I’m a little stuck for words here,’ she said. ‘I’m just trying to get my head around it, trying to find the right way for… Okay, yeah, I have it now. Caelan, cop on to yourself.’
‘But I love you.’
‘Here we go.’
‘When will you admit that you are in love with me too?’
‘I swear, talking to you is like talking to a really good looking and mildly stupid brick wall. Look, I like you okay? I think you’re cute. You could probably ease up on the brooding self-loathing, though. That stopped being attractive a while ago. But, I mean, on the whole, I like you, and you like me-‘
‘I love you.’
You make my heart want to beat.’
‘That’s nice and creepy. But I’m with Fletcher. Also, these proclamations of your undying love for me are getting kind of… it’s a bit much to be honest. Just hold back a little.’
‘But my love for you is eternal.’
‘That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about.” — Valkyrie Cain to Caelan.
I have honestly never laughed so much as I have reading these scenes. If you’re looking for a good laugh, then get yourself down to your local book store and treat yourself to the Skulduggery Pleasant book series. Fun times guaranteed!
Also, the best part? Their love story isn’t the main focal point of the book. Because unlike Stephenie Meyer, Derek Landy seems to have a realistic grasp on what young adults want to read, what they’ll enjoy, and what they want to get from reading a YA novel.
And the other best part? Girls who read this book will see how Valkyrie Cain responds to being in a relationship with this kind of controlling, obnoxious weirdo, and hopefully grasp the concept that this isn’t a normal relationship, and know they need to stay away from guys like Caelan.
Boys who read this book will see how Caelan behaves, see the utter revulsion from Valkyrie, and realise that this is absolutely no way to treat women, and hopefully understand that you don’t need to be a mysterious, brooding, Heathcliff-like figure in order to win a girl’s heart.
Caelan — so, SO wrong, but in ALL the right ways.
Valkyrie — the perfect role model for girls who find themselves in the arms of an asshat.
Caelkyrie (seriously, is there even an OTP name for this??) — A realistic portrayal of what being in a relationship with an aggressive, dominating, slime-ball is like.
Derek Landy — 100% in touch with his audience and YA readers everywhere.
Both of these boys are nasty pieces of work, but at least Caelan was written that way on purpose. Edward is just an idiot for the sake of being an idiot.
So, Caelan or Cullen? Who is the better Vampire? Who is a better character? Who has more of an impact on the storyline? Who has a better character arc? Who would win in a fight? (Ha, neither, they both suck.) Who actually has a purpose in the story? YOU decide and let me know in the comments.
To be honest, I think everyone should have just tried to hook up with Fletcher. He was a babe.