Okay, not really. My favorite character is actually Alice, but you’re not going to see t-shirts with I heart Alice all over town…
But considering that I’ve just finished reading Breaking Dawn, the fourth book of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga, which means I’ve read over 3000 pages of a vampire love story this summer, there must be something I really like about this series. That, plus the fact that I’m moping about the house wishing there was a fifth book to the series and that I’ve already put Meyer’s new adult novel, Host, on hold at the library.
I raced through this series with a thumping heart for the same reason I watch The Notebook, read Jane Austen, and snuggle with my husband – it is almost unbearably romantic. For its undeniable allure for teenage girls, I rate this series an A; for a classroom teacher, this series is a must-have-on-the-shelf set. However, for the discriminating adult I give it a lower rating of a B, because crazy charisma is not all that counts in the grownup world.
The underlying appeal is that Meyer’s writes about a true love that transcends time (and species!) Even though Edward has lived for 100 years he has never met anyone that he feels more uncontrollably attracted to than the self-doubting Isabella. At the very molecular level Edward can barely resist her smell – which makes their relationshipÂ fraught with tension. And Bella feels the same way about Edward; how could she not? As an immortal vampire he’s handsome beyond belief, strong and agile.Â Besides which, he and his family have had centuries to accumulate wealth and develop their particular talents for music, languages, art… Furthermore, Edward (named after Bronte’s Mr. Rochester and Austen’s Mr Ferrars) has old-fashioned values.
All the relationships in Meyer’s series are based on unequivocal loyalty and swoon-over-it deep love. We learn that one vampire couple takes decades (and the destruction of many houses) before the sheer physical enjoyment of eachother subsides enough to allow for other distractions. The werewolves, or technically the shape-shifters, “imprint” on their mates, which means that they are physically committed to love at first sight. Once a werewolf imprints, he or she is (happily) bonded for life.
Here is a description of one werewolf seeing the object of his imprinting for the first time. I’ve done some minor editing so that it’s not a spoiler:
“Everything inside me came undone as I stared at …[her]. All the lines that held me to my life were sliced apart in swift cuts, like clipping the strings to a bunch of balloons. Everything that made me who I was – my love for the dead girl upstairs, my love for my father, my loyalty to my new pack, the love for my other brothers, my hatred for my enemies, my home, my name, my self – disconnected from me in that second – snip, snip, snip – and floated up into space.
I was not drifting. A new string held me where I was.
Not one string, but a million. Not strings, but steel cables all tying me to one thing – to the very center of the universe.
I could see that now – how the universe swirled around this one point. I’d never seen the symmetry of the universe before, but now it was plain.
The gravity of the earth no longer tied me to the place where I stood.
It was… [she] that held me here now.”
My complaints are minor and make sense now that I’ve read a bit about how Meyer (a mother of two little ones!) conceived, wrote, and published the first book in six short months. Meyer actually dreamed about a scene that occurred in the middle of the first book, and without thinking of completing an entire novel, began to write chapters and sections based on this pivotal scene in the forest. When she wrote the first book, Twilight, I don’t think Meyer had any idea she was going to write three more books in the series, which explains why there are some crazy swerves in the plot in the second (and weakest) book of the series.
Furthermore, while Meyer is a wonderful storyteller – these are her first books ever, and she is still experimenting with her voice and perspective, sometimes sacrificing clarity for style. There are moments where I honestly can reread a sentence four times and not understand what is going on. Bella, my daughter, not the character, mentioned that she jotted down some page numbers of sections she couldn’t make sense of – and she hates it when I criticize these books!
So, if your heart needs some tugging or if you’re interested in young adult fiction in any way – put these books on your list. But don’t be surprised if you are 144th on the waiting list at the library because the gorgeous and ever-faithful Edward is creating quite a clamor.
Read more about the origins of Twilight, the upcoming movie, or about Stephanie Meyer at her official website here. (Wait, she went to Brigham Young University – is she Mormon? That would explain her tenacious belief in immortal love…)