Harry Potter vs. Twilight

I got into a rather involved conversation with one of my friends recently, though we both got a bit growly with each other, it’s had me thinking. She loves Twilight, and I hate it. Not because it’s cool to hate it, because really, I got over that sort of thing when I got out of high school. I hate it because I’ve read one-too-many feminist readings, because I have a passion for books with round, fleshed-out characters, because I love books with plot. (And when they don’t have plot, I’d rather they admit it, instead of pretending they do.)

I was reminded of this conversation a few minutes ago when I was looking at Time‘s “5 Reasons we Love Harry Potter More than Twilight.” I enjoyed this comparison. I’m very securely in the generation which grew up with Harry. My first memories involve reading an ARC edition which my teacher’s wife thought I would like*. I didn’t think it was a series (oh how wrong I was), but I loved that I was really transported to a new world with a character who learned about it as I did. I went to midnight book and movie releases, I ran a Harry Potter Role-Play Forum for a while, I read and re-read the books, and I spent more time than is probably reasonable reading the Harry Potter Lexicon.

I’ve also read part of Twilight. By part, I mean I read Twilight when it was first released and made a big jump on the best-seller lists. It was alright, but I wasn’t that into it. If New Moon is the one where she goes suicidal and spends all that time with Jacob, then I’ve read that book, too. It didn’t make a strong impression on me, I hardly remember it. When asked, I couldn’t say more about Bella than that she was female, and whiny. I couldn’t say anything about Edward except that he was a sparkly vampire. I mean… sparkles? Is that why Dracula stayed out of the sun? I see how it would ruin his bad-ass image, but really now. It takes all the scare out of Vampires. They’re meant to be terrifying, they’re supposed to be evil, not fluffy sparkly… romantics.

I’ll admit that I read the sort of books where vampires have a “good” side– Karen Chance’s Pythia series, for example. They’re still blood-sucking monsters, but there is a shred of humanity left in some of them. By contrast, the vampires in Harry Potter remain evil, and are relegated to the fringe of magical society. Is Anne Rice the one who opened the door to “good” vampires when she created the rockstar Lestat? OK, so maybe I shouldn’t be calling Lestat good, but he’s not as evil as vampires were supposed to be. The werewolves of Harry Potter are still pretty badass. I would never, ever want to get on Lupin’s bad side. By contrast, Jacob is just awkward. Every time I think of Jacob, I think of that girlfriend, the girl who was horribly disfigured by her were boyfriend. He tries to be special and thoughtful, and then he robs the cradle. Eww.

The biggest selling point for me is that the girls of Harry Potter kick serious ass. Molly Weasley comes to mind immediately. Hermione, too, is both brainy and brave. By contrast, Bella is a spineless wimp. She whines, she cries, she angsts, she passively tries to kill herself with that cliff jumping thing. I like strong female protagonists, or when they have to be weak, I feel like they need a good reason for it.

I stand by the fact that I am too much of a Harry Potter fangirl to ever write an unbiased review**. I dislike Twilight too much to ever bring myself to read it the rest of the way in order to review it. So I doubt you’ll ever see me review either, even if I giggle a little bit every time someone slams Twilight, and I feel satisfied every time someone mentions that Harry Potter was (and is) great.

I’m going to end this one with a few questions, because I intened to discuss instead of whine. Why do you like/dislike Harry Potter, Twilight, or any other “great***” series? Is there one that you consider superior to others? (Why? What makes it better?) Where do you stand on “good” vampires?


* The thing about small towns is that your teachers follow you a bit, advancing from one position to another with your class, and when their wives work at the bookstore, and you spend inordinate amounts of time and money in their shop, they get to know you. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was an early review copy the bookstore got, one they allowed me to read because they thought I’d like it. (Oh man were they right.)

** I still haven’t forgiven her for the combination of Epilogue and news-article releases. Either get it all in the damned book, or get it all in the damned epilogue, but don’t be saying things via news interviews later about crap you couldn’t be bothered to write about in a book that was weeks late anyway. I don’t care that Dumbledore was gay, but if you’re going to resolve Harry and Hermione and Ron, get it in the book and don’t make interviewers ask you about it later.

*** Things like Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings, for example.


Filed under Not a Book Review

15 responses to “Harry Potter vs. Twilight

  1. Love the Time thing – all so true. The list of things we know about the world of Twilight made me laugh out loud.

    I kind of sympathized with JK Rowling when people got mad at her for giving more information in news releases than she gave in the book. It seemed to me that she put everything into the epilogue that she felt was necessary to include (maybe not the exact things I would have chosen, but whatever, it’s not my book), and then she gave more information when people asked for it. She didn’t demand that the information should get out there – she had it in her brain, and then people asked. I think it’s fair.


    • I feel like some of it should have been better anticipated and included though. Of course we’re going to want to know about all the major characters– we’ve read thousands of pages about them, we want to know what happens next, and if we’re not getting a book, a teaser would be nice.

      Mostly, I’m annoyed that there’s no good way to include the crap from the news articles into my book. I printed them, I folded them, and I stuffed them in, but I’d rather they had just been included.

      Aside from that, I really did love the story, and I feel like she grew as a writer from book 1 to book 7.


  2. Twilight is written for 14 year old girls. There is so much sexual tension; the entire first book is all build-up and no pay-off. I actually thought it might lead to rape in the second book! It’s main character has to be rescued a million times. Blah blah blah.

    Harry Potter transported readers to a parallel universe where things were similar yet so different. Male and female characters could be strong and weak. And, as you said, it is just so much better written.

    I actually laughed aloud when I read Twilight – but then, I am an English teacher. And, sadly, this is very much the “Twilight” generation. Many students don’t want to work very hard to decipher meaning, so there isn’t a deeper level to be found.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today!

    Lessons For Teachers and Twits


    • Just because students don’t want to look deeper doesn’t mean it’s not good for them to. In high school, I was convinced that I would never take extra English classes because while I’ve always read a lot, I was “done” with academic reading. How little I knew!

      I can’t help wanting to know more, and dig deeper. I want developed characters, worlds that are different from our own in significant ways, and plot that actually progresses.

      (And no rape. Eww.)


  3. Hermione! Oh Hermione! I don’t think we can compare really, Harry Potter is so much better than Twilight.
    I tried to read the first Twilight but I could not finish it because I was really bored, I can cope with pretty much everything: a wimp heroine, stalking, obnoxious hero, vampires, …sometimes a bad mix works well but this is not how I feel about Twilight.
    On the bright side Harry Potter is a perfect combination of great characters, adventures, magic.


    • I really do love Harry. Ginny was always my favorite; the lone girl surrounded by brothers. Hermione the book nerd with the ever-raised hand and the know-it-all attitude really matched me a bit better. (I was the kid with the perpetually raised hand in class, always volunteering the answers)

      Twilight had an awful lot of bad and so very little “good”.


  4. Excellent post.

    Of course, in an ideal world, there would be no need for a post like this. The Harry Potter series is so superior to Twilight that it barely merits a comparison. I feel sorry for Harry Potter, having to constantly swat at the irritating fly that is Twilight – a literary misnoma that’s become too big for its boots. And don’t get me started on Bella – a “character” who has no identity whatsoever outside of the men who doggedly persue her. Sickening, insulting, degrading tripe.

    I don’t mind little girls with undeveloped literary taste saying they enjoy Twilight…what really grinds me gears is grown women who openly praise the novel..without embarrassment. They should know better…

    rant, rant, rant… 🙂


    • So who first compared Twilight and Harry Potter? I would like to know who to blame for that oh-so-frequent comparison. Do we blame Robert Pattionson? Is it his fault that as the only shared actor he’s created a parallel?

      As far as the adult readers of Twilight, I hold them only as responsible as I hold the girls. We all need our escapist trash once in a while. Well, maybe not all, but a lot of us want or need it.

      You’re right; the people who praise it do drive me crazy.


  5. I read the first two Twilight books because of airport delays; I couldn’t bear to read any more after that. The complete lack of character development is really objectionable, but my slash-loving friend tells me that’s exactly the attraction because Bella’s the ultimate Mary Sue. (She also adds that it needs a Snapey character.)

    And the feminist issue — why can’t Bella want to have sex? Why is she always doing the dishes for her dad? If you’re gonna do sex = violence/good-vampire-bad-vampire thing, you may as well do Buffy. (Now Spike’s a proper freaking monster, hurrah.)

    So yeah, Harry Potter by a long shot. Better writing, better character development, more creative use of mythology, and JK Rowling is at least trying for some equality for Pete’s sake.


    • Slash, huh? So does she enjoy Edward/Jacob fanfics? I have several friends who swear that if you were to remove Bella and have it be about forbidden vampire/werewolf love, it would be a much better book.

      I really do love that Rowling doesn’t hesitate to have evil women (something I’ve noticed is lacking in a lot of worlds.) That everyone stands for something, and that there’s so damned much significance and meaning and character growth and I’m starting to ramble like the silly fangirl I am.


      • I think she’s more into Harry/Draco, but I bet she’d agree about removing Bella.

        Re: the comparison, I think it’s just because they happen to be the next mythologically-based big thing. It’s also a generational touchstone, so it kind of makes sense that people would compare. Last year was the first year I taught college students who grew up reading Twilight. Before that, it was HP, so there was some organic, uh…discussion between the two groups in class.


  6. Oy vey… Twilight. What can I say? I should probably admit up front that I did inhale all four books within a very short period of time. Unfortunately, the novelty wore of very quickly as soon as I finished Breaking Dawn, which was probably one of the most demented stories of all time. I enjoyed Twilight, was bored out of my mind by New Moon (which was depressing and masochistic), loved Eclipse (it had the best chemistry) but was then totally mortified by Breaking Dawn. Vampire babies? What? The feminist in me was crying out for justice. I couldn’t believe Bella was going down that road. In the end, she should have dumped both Edward and Jacob, and cut her losses. 🙂


  7. ela21

    I’ve read so many reviews of ‘Twilight’ and its sequels, but even before its massive popularity it didn’t appeal to me. Mind you, I’m not a massive Harry Potter fan, either – though I’ve read all the books and some of them more than once. After ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’, there was just way too much detail in the remaining books, bogging down the plot. You just have to read Robin McKinley’s ‘Sunshine’ to see how world-building is done without having to explain _everything_ in it.

    Still, I might try reading ‘Twilight’, if only to see what the fuss is about!


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