by Mia Murphy
I had the novel in my possession for two weeks before attempting to read it. One day, I decided to see what all the hype was about. I entered the world of Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. This mesmerizing book captured me and took me into its arms. It did not let me go until I finished reading the last words. Twilight is a young adult book, so for me, a fully grown adult, it would be an easy read. But how could this youthful book be so engrossing, so captivating, so mesmerizing? I didn’t want it to end; I had to have more. As a first time published author, could Stephanie Meyer be a one hit wonder? I hoped, or even prayed that she wasn’t.
I couldn’t stop until I’d finished reading all four books in the Twilight Saga: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. I searched the Internet and even found an unpublished version of Midnight Sun, which is Twilight, but from the point of view of the main character’s love interest, Edward Cullen. Yes, I read that one too. And to my relief and utter surprise, every word in the four book series (five including Midnight Sun), held my interest and helped me fall in love.
I don’t think any vampire chronicle has had such a powerful effect on so many readers since Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. But did Rice create this feeling of love and longing for a story that Stephanie Meyer was able to conjure?
Let me start by explaining that I am not a fan of vampires. I do not go chasing after vampire novels, folklore, or even the occasional vampiress night life. Interview with a Vampire held no charm for me, even with heartthrobs Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in lead roles. These two very delicious actors, who can turn anyone’s heads, male or female, did not garner my attention. To me, the vampire life is not compelling. So what is it about Twilightthat has me and thousands of other females on the edge of their seats, begging for more? For the first time in my life, I can understand how the young female fans of the Beatles felt when they just couldn’t get enough.
What is it about the novel that we love and fantasize about? Quite easily, it is Edward Cullen, the vampire who has won our hearts. Born in the early twentieth century, Edward carries with him etiquette and chivalry from that time. He is a gentleman, representing the dreams of young girls who hope to meet a man such as Edward one day. Most young females wish they could meet him now while others wish that their current mates be more like the dashing Twilight character.
Edward believes that his duty is to be a protector, and he strongly upholds the unwritten law of fighting fair. He is the epitome of the perfect, ideal man that every female of every age swoons for. And it couldn’t hurt that he is physically, gorgeously perfect.
So, if Edward is the perfect gentleman, then who is Bella Swan (the protagonist and first-person narrator)? Bella is the every-woman whom we can all relate to or want to be. She is remotely pretty, but not the cheerleader. She is smart, without exerting much effort. She wears unassuming jeans and t-shirts and doesn’t need make-up, yet can still stir desires in her male counterparts. She is clumsy which lends to the necessity of her knight in shining armor, Edward. She is real, attainable, tangible and human; therefore, if Edward is within her grasp, then Edward is certainly within our grasp.
Twilight is set in the actual small town of Forks, Washington, a safe haven for vampires. It is named for the intersection of the rivers Quillayute, Bogachiel, Calawah, and Sol Duc, at the heart of the Olympic Peninsula. Once a logging town, Forks is now known for the Twilight Saga, transforming this sleepy town into a popular destination for fans and travelers alike. In the fantasy world though, consistently overcast and raining, Forks prevents vampires from exposure when they are out and mingling with their high school cohorts. Upon driving toward Forks on her first day, Bella reflects on the exquisiteness of the Pacific Northwest:
It was beautiful, of course; I couldn’t deny that. Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves.
In reading, and re-reading the book series, I was able to experience a bit of what Bella had experienced. I live in the Northeast, and this past spring gave us more rain than I could remember. With every passing day that rain fell, I felt closer to Bella and the love of her human life, Edward. For almost the whole month of June, it poured. Over 22 days. My surroundings became greener, moss was growing on our oak trees, and the smell of summer rain was somewhat comforting. Is this how Bella felt about Edward? The human girl and her vampire boyfriend, did she feel comforted with him? The answer is undoubtedly yes.
Our east coast comfort in pattering rain reminded me incessantly of living in Forks and seeing Edward. It was not only me who felt this way, but from many others that have read the Twilight Saga. These readers span all ages, generations and even cultures. Is it because we can relate to Bella? Or that we want our own rescuer like Edward? How could any female not want a gallant knight?
Edward remarked to Bella: It makes me anxious to be away from you . .. I wasn’t joking when I asked you to try not to fall in the ocean or get run over . . .
And there is Bella, the Cinderella in the story. She is the young girl who gives up the sunshine and blistering heat of Arizona to move in with her father under a constant cover of rain and clouds. It is the story of a young girl who started with nothing, and ends up with everything. She is the leading lady who gets her prince and his kingdom.
Yes, it is this fantasy of true love that we seek. Who cares if he is a vampire?
When you can live forever, what do you live for?
True love, of course!
So, to answer the question, what is it about the Twilight Saga? It is not a vampire chronicle, but a love story that overcomes time and space, heartache and archenemies. A love story about star-crossed lovers, that brings to mind West Side Story, or even Romeo and Juliet.
After hearing the truth from Edward, Bella remarks:
About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.