Prepared by J.Tosic
TWILIGHT SAGA: Twilight; New Moon; Eclipse; Breaking Dawn
The following article borrowed from: Children’s Literature Review. Ed. Tom Burns. Vol. 142. Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2009, p 1-2
Despite only starting her career as a published novelist in 2005, Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series of young adult’s novels – which dramatically portray the teenaged love affair between a vampire boy and a human girl – have catapulted to the top of best seller lists. With over 17 million copies sold worldwide in the Twilight series, many critics compare her swift rise and sustained success to that of Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling. With translation rights sold to more than 30 nations and successful movie adaptations of the first two novels, Meyer remains poised to be a publishing phenomenon despite her announcement that 2008’s Breaking Down will be last book in the Twilight series.
Meyer describes her books as being heavily influenced by Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, with its gothic plotting and central romance serving as the core for all the other events in the series. Set in remote and dusky town of Forks, Washington, whose near-permanent twilight makes it a natural heaven for vampires, the four books of the series relate the slow developing and passionate romance between Edward and Bella amidst the uneasy relationship between vampiric Cullens and the Quileute werewolf tribe…In the first three books Bella’s and Edward’s love is mostly chaste, with only occasional physical contact and strong bouts of existential angst serving to indicate the mutual physical interest surrounding their relationship. Edward’s conflicting interests of wanting to protect Bella from the dangers of the world battles with his own strong instinctual and pseudo-sexual desire to bite her and drink from her body – a symbolic suggestion of normal teenage hormones. Popular primarily with young teens, the stories offer a paranormal version of their own desires, needs that are finally consummated and happily resolved with the complete contentment of Bella by series’ end.
MYTHS AND ADAPTADIONS
While the stories are in many ways a reflection of recognized vampire and werewolf lore, Stephenie Meyer does inject some fresh aspects into the myths. Perhaps most creatively among these adaptations, Meyer’s vampires have the traditional desire to avoid sunlight, albeit for entirely different reasons: the sun, rather than destroying them, instead shows their true aspects. Meyers also imbues each vampire with a unique power that is related in some way to the most distinct aspect of their human personalities before their respective conversions. Her werewolves, too, are distinctive. All members of the Quileute tribe of Native Americans, their initial transformation into supernatural beasts happens only in response to the presence of nearby vampires – their mortal enemies.
LOVE, DANGER, STRUGLE
Although the critical response to the Twilight saga has been mixed, the books have remained enormously popular, and not only among teenagers. Publishers Weekly equated the series’ appeal to its faithful presentations of adolescent angst, remarking of Twilight that the “main draw here is Bella’s infatuation with outsider Edward, the sense of danger inherent in their love, and Edward’s inner struggle – a perfect metaphor for the sexual tension that accompanies adolescence”. Or, as Michele Windship noted, "Meyer's description of the lovers' emotions are palpable, and the readers will be drawn into the couple's spiraling dance, feeling the intense longing that comes from being a hair's bredth away from the thing you want most in the world".