By Bob Chrisman
Yesterday evening as I sat in my favorite coffee shop and drank my French press of Irish Breakfast tea, I finished Twilight, Book One of the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer.
In August when I decided to read the series as a result of the red Ravine post My Kid Got Bit By Stephenie Meyer, the library waiting lists for each book spanned anywhere from 18 days to over three months. I placed reserves on all of them, including her new book for adults, and waited.
Fate ordained that I would read Books Two through Four first and then receive Book One. (Not as bad as my experience with Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, where I read the series in reverse order—kind of like a life review of the characters.) In the case of the Twilight Series, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t known how the tale began because each book told a complete and fascinating story.
Sometimes I read long into the night, well past my bedtime. After I finished New Moon (Book Two and the first book that arrived from the library) Meyer had transformed this 56-year-old, full-figured white guy from Missouri, not into a vampire but into a fan. (I still laugh thinking that ybonesy advised me when I told her I was going to read the series, “…just remember it’s written for young adults.” Maybe I should listen to the people who tell me to grow up.)
The stories are classic vampire/werewolf tales, but with enough differences and twists to make them new and refreshing. These vampires can be out in the sun (sort of). They live in the Pacific Northwest, where the sun rarely shines (something I knew to be true for years despite my friends in Washington and Oregon who insist, “But the sun was shining yesterday before you arrived”).
Some of the vampires don’t kill humans to drink their blood—for ethical reasons. The werewolves aren’t really werewolves (but I can’t tell you what they are, since that information doesn’t come out until the final book, Breaking Dawn). They don’t morph into hot-blooded killers only during the full moon and you can’t kill them with silver bullets.
Most impressive, these books are not small. Breaking Dawn is almost 800 pages long. The fact that Ms. Meyer has written books that require an attention span of greater than 15 minutes and that teenagers have read them impresses me beyond words. This woman has lit a fire under her readers, which is now spreading to adults who typically won’t read “young adult” fiction. (My name, by the way, has inched close to the top of the reserved list at my local library for her book targeted to adults, The Host.)
I would have moved blissfully through the world without the knowledge of Stephenie Meyer or the main characters in the Twilight Series books—Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and Isabella (Bella) Swan—had I ignored the post on red Ravine, but my life would lack a certain richness that these books brought to me. A good story offers more rewards than I can sometimes imagine, and these are good stories. Not once did I feel like I was reading young adult fiction.
If you love vampire stories, read these books. Try to read them in order—Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn—but if that’s not possible, just know that you can start anywhere in the series and not be lost (slightly confused for a short time, maybe, but not lost). You will not be sorry.
Once you’re done, tell me, Are you an Edward or a Jacob fan? You can only pick one.
Bob Chrisman is a Kansas City, Missouri writer whose pieces Hands, Growing Older, and Goat Ranch have all appeared in red Ravine.