The Psychology of TwilightThe Psychology of Twilight by E. David Klonsky and Alexis Black (editors)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Initial reaction: While I could see some merits in this respective text as a non-fiction work – this was a very cumbersome read overall.

Full review:

Whenever writers and researchers can take a popular aspect of culture and turn them into educational motives to not only illustrate a particular concept but also get people excited in talking about it, I’m usually more than happy to leap on board. I think that was one of the reasons why I decided to give “The Psychology of Twilight” a go, because it opened up a chance to take a critical eye at certain dimensions of psychology using examples from Twilight and its respective popular standing. Granted, I had my reservations going into the text at first (especially noted by the blurb), because the Twilight series wasn’t really one of my favorite series, but I wanted to try it because I am interested in the field of psychology to degree, and considering it did want to go into examples of the field using dimensions of Twilight to get the conversation going. I figured “Let’s do this” and hoped I could enjoy the experience and at least have some food for thought by the time I was finished.

I don’t think this text completely satiated my appetite for either the respective subject(s) or the Twilight dimensions really, and it’s a shame because there’s actually some very interesting material in this book, at least as food for thought. There were some strong articles in this book mixed in with some very mediocre ones, and ultimately it was the mediocre ones that, to me, somewhat tainted the experience of reading this. First things first, I’m having a hard time determining whom the audience for this narrative is – Teens? Adults? Non-fiction enthusiasts (like yours truly)? It could be all three and then some, but it seems the one common thread is that its written for “Twilight” fans and sought to explore dimensions of relationships, evolutionary and adaptation principles, as well as attraction factors using citations from the collective Twilight series (which include all of the books in the respective series).

The narrative is written by an assortment of professionals who tackle different dimensions of psychology with respect to the topics they’re writing about, whether it’s examining why Bella chose Edward as a mate or making the case for who is really a better pairing for Bella with respect to evolutionary principles and adaptations (There are selections that make the case for both Edward and Jacob – though I think I cringed more than once when the discussion went to pheromones). Whether it’s examining the prejudices that exist between wolves and vampires by examining the basis of prejudice in society (a very interesting article by Dr. Melissa Burkley at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill) or examining Bella’s depression and desperation in her risk taking behaviors (which was an interesting article by Catherine R. Glenn from Stony Brook University – somewhat humorously titled “Motorcycles, Strangers, and Cliff Diving! Oh My!”) It’s a bit of a smorgasbord of topics. The last two articles I specified were ones I really enjoyed the most because it gave some very interesting citations and analysis for their respective topics. I was seriously engaged in both of them and it left me thinking about their respective expansions long after I finished those articles.

Honorable mention goes to Lisa M. Dinella and Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. for crafting an article on the dimensions of familial relations within the Cullen family as well as Bella’s family (her relationship with Charlie and her mother). That I also thought was an interesting article to boot.

The rest? I had more than a few qualms with them because while they make the case for their respective topics using topics that you would likely get a touch upon in general college level Psychology, some of them were either written like they were rather obvious notations (one of the early articles tries to examine what makes Jacob attractive and goes down to the muscle and alpha male characterizations – but I had problems with the phrasing because it felt like it was talking down to the reader) or they don’t aptly delve into how complex an issue it really is (one of the latter articles talks about Twilight and social media markets and how being a part of those groups are healthy forms of expression and relation, but I could argue for hours upon hours on the downside of the Twilight fandom.)

But I get that this is a series of articles that are catering to Twilight fans, and there are genuinely interesting topics touched upon here. I just wish the presentation were a little more even. This gets 3 stars from me for the strength of the articles I specified in this review. The rest is more of a give and take with a grain of salt.

Overall score: 3/5

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher BenBella Books, Inc.

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