Illustration by Matthew Cornwall
Illustration by Matthew Cornwall

“Twilight” is almost unanimously considered one of the blandest love stories ever told. Bella, the lip-biting klutz with an affinity for Bronte novels is an uninspiring protagonist whose insufferable narrative voice carries the four-book series to its anticlimactic end, but under the underwhelming tale of a boring girl falling in love with an equally boring vampire is material for a much more interesting story. Here are two ways “Twilight” could have been better.

1. If it was Jacob’s story

Jacob was the only character with any significant depth. He is a 15-year-old boy growing up on a reservation in Washington who has the responsibility of taking care of his wheelchair-bound father. In spite of this, he is still a goofy kid looking to get away and explore. In the absence of a trite love triangle, his character has the potential to carry a narrative. Without Bella, Jacob would be a teenage boy who discovers he is a werewolf destined to protect the reservation from vampires. Inherent in Jacob’s character was conflict between duty and freedom; community and self-identity; and independence and loyalty. Rather than a bland love story with minimal conflict, this could have been the story of a character of color who grappled with complexities of identity and maturation in a supernatural coming-of-age story.

2. If there was a vampire war

The Volturi, the antagonists of the series, were one of the few interesting aspects of the world that Stephenie Meyer built. The vindictive royal family cult was the only catalyst for any significant change in the series. The final showdown in “Breaking Dawn” could have been a significant turning point in the series, but author-ex-machina prevented that. If this conflict would have come sooner because of the Bella and Edward’s vampire/human romance, Bella’s choices would have had more significance. Her choice would have brought a supernatural war to Forks, one that would have killed her adoring vampire family and splintered her idyllic relationship with her vampire boyfriend. With the Volturi conflict at the forefront of the series, Bella’s character could have been fleshed out as she grappled with the consequences of her actions and searched for a way to protect her community, her family and herself.

“Twilight” had the potential to be a multi-faceted urban fantasy story. If Meyers would have ditched the love story, she would have had fully realized characters and a rich world worth exploring.