I’m not certain what makes some stories as popular as they are, while others, of the same caliber, barely make it off the shelves. Certainly Harry Potter was amazing and deserved every bit of the success it got (I myself am the proud owner of the entire set!). But there are other stories of the same genre that should have made it as big as it did, and yet didn’t.
The same goes for Twilight. While the story is enchanting, the characters are lovable and the plot is addictive, I still find it curious how this series made it so big while others didn’t. Because, after all, Twilight isn’t a literary masterpiece; at the end of the day, it remains a teen romance.
Some have even dared suggest that it might be better than – gasp – Harry Potter. This thought is just too much to bear for me, so I shall just carry forward with pursed lips. One day, if ever I have regained enough composure, I will comment further on this. But not today.
I read Twilight under duress; I was promised a lifetime of damnation if I didn’t read it (OK, maybe not THAT bad a threat was made on my life and the threat probably wasn’t THAT serious, but teens can get very defensive and when they do, they are scary!). And I am very glad I did. It was a very relaxing and entertaining read, and I found myself looking forward to the release of the last book in the series, Breaking Dawn, with probably as much anticipation as the book’s real fans.
In short, Twilight is a YA (young adult) vampire romance. Although some people have classified in the horror genre, I wouldn’t quite agree with that; the violence in the book is hardly at the level of prime-time TV shows and surprisingly light for a story about something so, well, bloody as vampires. Classifying it as horror is kind of insulting to books of that genre; I would even dare say that Twilight takes the horror out of vampirism, and makes vampires lovable. As a fellow wordpress blogger put it: “Hey Edward, bite me!” (Edward is the main character’s very charming and gentlemanly love interest and yes, he is a vampire.)
The strength of the series lies in the fact that it really is written for teens. No attempt is made to set the tone of the book as moralizing or patronizing, which might come as a surprise to those who have heard about the author’s strong feelings about religion. When you read Twilight, you really get the impression that a teenager is talking to you, lending it great authenticity that made it such a success amongst teens as well as amongst those who work with them (including yours truly). Interestingly enough, there are some lessons to be learned from the book; however, they are character-driven, in that they are the conclusion of a natural process of self-reflection the main character goes through rather than coming in a rain of miraculous eye-opening wisdom bestowed upon some hapless teenager (something many parents probably hope for).
After the book’s phenomenal success, the obvious happened. Just like anything else that might make them a potential buck (or a couple million of them), movie studios threw themselves at Twilight and, lo and behold, we have a movie coming out. WHAT a surprise.
It all comes down to this. If you are willing to set aside your prejudices about teen romance books and vampires, if you are willing to let go of any expectations, and if you are willing to admit that everyone does wish for something unusual to happen to them, I would strongly recommend you get yourself a copy of Twilight for some great reading. But don’t be expecting high literary reading or anything more than the story of a teenager from a teenager’s point of view – then you’ll be sorely disappointed and it’s a shame because the story is truly amazing.
But please, whatever you do, don’t go around looking for a vampire to bite you. And if you are tempted to do so, you might want to consider seeing a psychologist.
If you aren’t yet convinced, take a look at Stephenie Meyers’ official website for a sneak peak and some more background information.
And for those of you who have read and like Twilight, click here to stroke those embers into a full obsession.
I have yet to click. I like the little sanity that I do have left, thank you very much.