Warning: Major spoilers for Twilight and some spoilers for New Moon.
It’s no secret that I love(d) Twilight. It’s not one of my finest moments, but I was right at the target age when I first read it (14 or 15…I was a freshman in high school) and man, it captivated me.
I have since reread it a few times, and Deacon and I rewatched all the movies last month because it still gives me September vibes. For the record: it is nowhere near as delightful now that I’m an adult. There are so many things that bother me…mainly how everyone feels like they can make Bella’s choices for her. But I’m not here to get into everything wrong with Twilight.
I’m here to tell you how I would have written the ending to the first book.
It has always bothered me that Twilight is a series. Granted, I’m heavily biased towards standalones, but I really think it would have been stronger had it been self-contained. I like learning about the Volturi and wolves in later books, but I think it makes everything too complicated. I like my books to be neatly wrapped in a package.
So I was thinking the other day about the near car crash at the beginning of the first book. You know the one.
The movie plays this part a little tame, but Bella actually does hit her head in the book:
Just before I heard the shattering crunch of the van folding around the truck bed, something hit me, hard, but not from the direction I was expecting. My head cracked against the icy blacktop, and I felt something solid and cold pinning me to the ground.
Bella had had suspicions about Edward before the crash, but it’s only afterwards that she starts digging up the truth about the Cullens being vampires.
So I thought to myself: You know, there are probably fan theories that she suffered mental trauma in the crash and the vampires are just her own hallucinations while she’s in a coma or something.
Seemed like an intriguing thought, especially since she wakes up in the hospital bed at the end of the book after James is killed. My next thought: What if the book made Bella’s sanity ambiguous? What if Bella had actually been in the hospital the entire time?
Okay, so obviously to make this happen, we’d have to change a few things in the plot. Twilight doesn’t take place over a few days. The first book opens in January. The near car crash happens on January 25th. James is killed on March 16th. In that time, Bella and the Cullens would have clearly influenced others. For it to be ambiguous, everyone in Forks would have to believe that Bella had been in the hospital that entire time, or at the very least has been suffering from mental illness that entire time.
But Twilight exists in a universe with gifted vampires. What if one of Bella’s beloved vampires had the ability to alter memory?
Change #1: Give Carlisle the ability to alter memories.
It wouldn’t work on Bella, because she’s shielded from abilities that affect the mind, but it could work on everyone else in Forks (plus Renee and anyone that would have remembered her from her tirp to Seattle). Granted, the ability would have to be powerful. One that belonged to a vampire with years of experience, which Carlisle has. He could have spent the last few centuries getting better and better with it. Not to mention that this ability will be invaluable in helping his family move around without seeming suspicious, which I think would clear up some issues with the original plot.
Change #2: Make Bella’s wounds consistent with car crash when she wakes up at the end.
When Bella gets hurt by James in Phoenix at the end of the book, the Cullens claimed that she fell down a few flights of stairs and went through a window. All we have to do is change Bella’s cover story and wounds to be more consistent with what happens to her in the car accident. And change the whole Phoenix scene to take place in Forks. That might take some working around, but I think it’s doable. Maybe everything with James could still take place in Phoenix, as long as Bella still wakes up back in Forks and Renee’s memory is modified.
Change #3: Remove Cullens from Forks by the time Bella wakes up.
I don’t think this is much of a stretch. Edward wants to leave the moment after he sees what James did to Bella, and it’s only a few months until the entire family disappears in New Moon. What if to protect Bella, Edward and the Cullens decided to wipe everyone’s memories and skip town before she wakes up? Bella would still remember them, but nobody else would. And with time, she would probably start doubting if her memories of them were real at all.
Okay so obviously this plot change would have severe effects on Bella, but I actually think it would be better than what she goes through in New Moon. She had only known the Cullens for less than three months. (Fifty days between car crash and James’ death.) There would be no evidence that her relationship with them ever existed. I think it would be easier for her to move on than when they leave in September. Yeah, it’s not that much of a time difference, but a 50-day romance is little different than a 7-month romance.
And yeah, there are still things to clear up, like text messages or other written evidence. But I think for the most part, it would be possible. The Cullens don’t have to erase all evidence of their existence, only that they left sometime while Bella was in a coma and that Bella was in the hospital the entire time.
Granted, this ending might be a little heavy-handed. Instead of blatantly telling the reader that Carlisle has the ability to manipulate memories, the book could just imply that every Cullen has a special ability, but not disclose what all of them are. The readers can work out the rest for themselves.
So, what you might be thinking: this is great, Emily, but what’s the point? Does it make a better story? It depends on what kind of story you like. I like a romance every now and then, but I love a good plot twist. I’ve tried to come up with a way that this change could add a more substantial theme to the story (which Twilight is really, really lacking), but honestly it really doesn’t. I just like it when some things are left to the reader to decide.
What would YOU have changed about Twilight?
Do you think a plot-twist would have been a better ending?
Is there anything you would add to my reimagining?