By Stephanie Meyer
I resisted this series for a long time. I'd seen it around, it kept popping up when I was doing my young adult fiction class, but it hadn't really been recommended to me by anyone I knew, so I didn't bother with it. The third book in the series, Eclipse, came out recently, so I kept seeing it promoted in book stores.
Finally, I gave in. What is it that all these teenagers are finding so interesting? I admit that I gave in shortly after re-reading Sunshine and found myself craving more vampire fiction. Haha.
Yes, these are more vampire books. This series is, however, much more in the romance genre than the horror genre (which isn't to say that there aren't scary parts, however).
Basically, the story involves shy, awkward Bella moving in with her father, Charlie, in Forks, Washington when her mother remarries. She is surprisingly popular at her new high school, and makes friends, and is pursued by boys, none of which were things that happened at her last school in Phoenix, Arizona. One boy in particular, Edward, is particularly attractive to her, but he tries to remain aloof from her. Finally though, he gives in, even though every moment they spend together puts her in danger, since he's a vampire. He's a vegetarian vampire -- he doesn't eat humans -- but her particularly alluring scent tempts him to lose control. Also, of course, there's more danger you can get into when you associate with vampires.
I can completely see why these books are so popular, especially among teens. The emotions of young love are so well described and so intense that I found myself quite wrapped up in Edward and Bella's blooming relationship. I also found myself frustrated that they never even so much as take off their shirts; it's all very proper. They have heated and passionate kisses... and that's it. *sigh*
I eagerly devoured the following two books in the series: New Moon and Eclipse. In New Moon, Bella finds herself without Edward for some time, causing her to be a complete wreck. In Eclipse, she is in a bit of a love triangle and gets into a big hubbub with other vampires and some werewolves. Throughout these books, she continues her blind devotion to Edward and her desire to be turned into a vampire as well.
While I really enjoyed reading them, I'm left with a bit of a sour aftertaste. They are a little like literary junk food. The first book draws on ideas from Genesis in the Bible, the whole knowledge of good and evil thing. The second book steals not too subtly from Romeo and Juliet, the third from Wuthering Heights. Not only are the allusions not-too-subtle, but Bella is actually reading Romeo and Juliet, and Wuthering Heights at the beginning of each novel. When the fourth book comes out, I'll just check out what Bella is reading as the story opens, and I'll know how it turns out. Considering the lack of actual sex so far in the novels, hopefully she'll be reading a Playboy magazine or something. Just get it over with already! Sheesh!
This brings me to my main concern about this book. I'm suspicious that the values of the author lean to saving your soul by avoiding pre-marital sex, and mindless devotion to your husband. Indeed, Meyer did attend Brigham Young University, which is where many young Mormons go to college. While there's nothing wrong with promoting your beliefs, I am worried that all this abstinence-only stuff is getting out of hand. According to how things work out in the Twilight series (so far) it's fine for you to be so in love that you practically die when your love goes away, just as long as you don't actually ever have sex. I don't know; I guess all the tension of not having sex does help the book out. Without that tension they would probably lose a lot of the teenage fans. I'm not sure that loads of teenagers getting married at 18 just so they can finally have sex is really the best thing though.
I'll end this luke-warm review by admitting that I am eagerly awaiting the fourth book, due out in August, and the movie of the first book, due out in December. Even though it does pain me a bit to admit it. (Hey, it's better than when my generation was devouring Flowers in the Attic.)