Series: Twilight Saga #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on July 18, 2007
FINAL DECISION: TWILIGHT has a story built on numerous tropes that are universal; however, the first-person narrative centered on Bella’s teenage introspection occasionally lacks depth and frankly is annoying (as sometimes teenagers are) yet still encapsulates universal struggles of identity and love.
THE STORY: Bella Swan’s story begins as she relocates to Forks, a rain-soaked and unassuming town in Washington state, to live with her father, Charlie. At her new high school, she finds herself initially out of place and a bit of a loner, but she catches the attention of the mysterious and captivating Edward Cullen, whose pale skin and remarkable features set him apart. Despite Edward’s initial attempts to distance himself from Bella due to the inherent danger his vampire nature poses to her, their connection grows stronger. Bella’s curiosity and Edward’s eventual inability to stay away lead them into a whirlwind romance and, ultimately, danger for Bella.
OPINION: TWILIGHT is the story of an ordinary girl who encounters an extraordinary world. It is essentially the most incredible high school story that we have seen again and again — new awkward girl falls for the high school quarterback. Harkening to those stories gives this a universal essence while everything else is pushed to a new limit with the inclusion of vampires (and werewolves). The unlikely connection between Bella and Edward in an intensely romantic (but not sexual), relationship filled with tension and angst.
Meyer skillfully builds their bond, juxtaposing Bella’s human vulnerability against the peril to her of Edward’s vampire existence. This central romance evolves in an interesting manner despite the first-person narrative focusing solely on Bella’s limited perspective. Bella’s character lacks some depth and complexity, often her feelings are defined by her reactions to Edward’s actions. Just when things seem to working for Bella and Edward, external threats emerge, including vicious vampires without the Cullens’ restraint. The book feels cinematic with big set pieces linked together by pages of description and dialogue and Bella’s internal monologue that I ended up skimming on this re-read.
TWILIGHT explores universally relatable coming-of-age experiences – grappling with identity, the exhilaration of first love, and learning to embrace the unconventional. These themes transcend genres and capture the essence of adolescent adversity and longing. Ultimately the most compelling part of this book is the interweaving the ordinary realism of small-town life with the tantalizing allure of vampire fantasy.
WORTH MENTIONING: I liked the movie more than the book.
CONNECTED BOOKS: TWILIGHT is the first book in the Twilight Saga.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.