Book Review: “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer

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This is the first book of The Twilight Saga, which continues in New MoonEclipse, and Breaking Dawn. In my short time as a bookseller I have sold more copies of these books than just about anything else. Owing in part to the hit movie based on this book, everything vampire-related is absolutely flying off the shelves, including Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries, which I haven’t read yet. Vampires are the hottest thing in the YA fantasy world right now; and with a Harry Potter movie around the corner, that’s saying a lot.

To be honest, Twilight has been on my “haven’t read yet” list for quite some time. In spite of the urgent advice of many readers, I simply never got around to it until the movie was about to come out. But at last I finally read it and saw the film, in that order; and now you can rest assured that I will soon devour the rest of the series.

At the beginning, it seems to be little more than a clever teen romance novel, featuring a couple of unusually interesting high-school-age characters. Soon after moving from sunny Arizona to her father’s perpetually rainy town of Forks, Washington, Bella Swan becomes fascinated with a drop-dead gorgeous classmate named Edward. Meanwhile his fascination with her is tinged with hostility.

Soon, however, the fiercely independent, physically clumsy girl and the pale, clammy boy whose eyes change color begin to grow more comfortable with each other. This is to say, they learn to feel increasingly uncomfortable when they’re not together. But they are slow to recognize true love growing up between them. Perhaps this is because, as a vampire, Edward thirsts for human blood… especially Bella’s. Or maybe it’s because, as a mind-reader, Edward is confused and frustrated by his inability to read Bella’s thoughts.

Somehow, figuring out Edward’s chilling secrets doesn’t scare Bella. In fact, the only thing that scares her is losing him. And even though his whole family is a coven of vampires (the nice kind, who only prey on animals if they can help it), they recognize that Bella is Edward’s only chance for true happiness. But how long can they be happy together when she is mortal and he isn’t; when he constantly needs to guard against harming her fragile frame; when a vampire-hating tribe of werewolves is committed to guarding Bella from Edward; and when a truly unstoppable predator – one with no qualms against taking human life – marks Bella as his prey?

As you read this book, be prepared to fall in love with a surprising heroine who little knows how beautiful she is to others. Be prepared for the inevitable shift from a pleasantly chilling love story to a taut chase thriller. Be prepared for swiftly climbing tension levels as Bella’s hunter closes in by instinct and deception, and as the stakes for her survival – as a human or as a vampire – take in the future happiness of families in more than one world.