Raise your hand if you or someone you know is hooked on Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series of books. Chances are there are lots of hands in the air out there.
My twelve-year-old daughter got her copy of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in the series, at a midnight release party last Saturday. She and her friends opted for independent bookstore Bookworks’ gathering, which included costume contests, psychic readings, and book giveaways.
Dee dressed in book cover theme colors of red, white, and black. She wore a red ribbon (from Eclipse, Book Three) on her leg, a red-and-white flower (from New Moon, Book Two) in her hair, and an apple (Twilight, Book One) tied to her belt. Had she found one, she’d have carried a chess piece (Breaking Dawn) too.
Big disclaimer: I haven’t read any of the Twilight series books. However, I did hear all about them last school year on the days when I drove carpool for four mid-school-aged girls.
I learned about Isabella (Bella), the klutzy yet “normal” (which is to say, non-vampire and non-werewolf) girl, and Edward, the “vegetarian” (non-human-blood-sucking) vampire who loves her but also lusts for her blood. I learned there’s also a werewolf in the mix, Jacob, who becomes Bella’s good friend and eventual romantic rival to Edward.
I also found out that one girl in the carpool couldn’t stand the idea of Bella and Jacob together, whereas the other three were at least open to the idea. And I heard about all the funny things you discover when talking about books with friends: how they each envisioned Bella to look, how they all mispronounced certain place names, and just how excited they were about this series and the movie being made of the first book. (Release date: December 12. We’ll buy tickets in advance.)
But there was a lot I didn’t find out, such as the basic plot of the story, what moved it forward, and whether the writing is truly good (I think it must be; these kids are savvy readers). Especially after seeing Dee’s enthusiasm this past weekend, I’m left with an honest-to-goodness curiosity about the books myself.
Funny, Jim’s also cued in (now that he’s clued in) to the phenomenon of Stephenie Meyer. He pointed out this past weekend that her new book for adults, The Host, landed on the New York Times Bestseller list recently. And every other day, it seems, he is showing me yet another article about Meyer and Breaking Dawn.
The last such find, which appeared in the August 11 issue of Business Week, focused on how the series’ word-of-mouth success has come about because of Meyer’s unusual (for a blockbuster author) engagement with readers at book-signings and on social networking sites, her acting upon fan input (such as hosting a Twilight prom after a reader suggested it), and the way she has outwardly encouraged her fans to create related websites. For example, Twilight Lexicon was started with Meyer’s knowledge and blessing as a way to organize the books’ facts. It has since expanded to include a blog and a store, and is now one of the most popular places for kindred spirits to gather and converse.
Other articles highlight equally unusual aspects of the series and/or author: mother-daughter bonding over the series (Newsweek); increased tourism in the town of Forks, WA (Seattle Times), where Bella moves and her odyssey begins; and reactions to Meyer from the Church of Latter Day Saints, as the 34-year-old mother of three happens to be Mormon (Observer).
By now, Dee and her friends know who won over Bella. For some strange reason, I’m rooting for the werewolf. I’ll be in the dark until Saturday, though, when we pick up Dee from summer camp. I have a feeling we’ll hear all about Edward and Jacob and Bella on the drive home.
I also have a feeling that I might be part-way through Book One by then.
-Related to post Book Talk – Do You Let Yourself Read?