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By: Stephenie Meyer

Series: Twilight Saga

Book Number: 1



Isabella Swan recently relocated to live with her father in the tiny town of Forks, Washington, from Phoenix. Bella, who tends to be quiet and reserved, isn't very excited about adjusting to a new school. That first day, she is pleasantly pleased by a few amiable youngsters who introduce themselves to her and treat her kindly, but what really grabs her attention is a tiny cluster of breathtakingly gorgeous kids who are seated by themselves across the cafeteria. The other pupils, Bella's new acquaintances tell her, are the Cullen family, five teens adopted by the village doctor and his wife. They are loners, so there's really no need in attempting to build a friendship with them. Bella is especially enamored by the attractive Edward Cullen and keeps glancing at him during lunch. Edward too finds himself looking at her uncontrollably. Bella is a little uneasy when she finds out that Edward, who is far more gorgeous up close than he was across the room, would be sitting at the same table as her in her biology class later on. However, Edward starts acting quite weirdly. He never says anything to Bella; instead, he sits as far away from her as their table would allow and glares at her with a ferocious intensity. Bella feels deeply offended by Edward's behavior and finds it hard to fathom how she could have offended someone she doesn't even know.

Bella is relieved when Edward vanishes from school for a few days, but she questions why. Edward's previously aloof demeanor has abruptly transformed into one of friendliness and warmth upon his homecoming, leaving Bella even more perplexed and enamored. Bella starts to suspect that Edward is more than just your typical teenager when he saves her from what could have been a deadly parking lot collision. Bella is completely baffled by what transpired, and Edward refuses to provide her with a clear explanation of what happened or how he was able to save her. Bella's imagination runs wild when she learns about an ancient Native American tribal mythology about werewolves and vampires from a new buddy. It appears that every piece of the puzzle points to Edward's vampire status.

However, Bella feels ashamed to even entertain such bizarre ideas. But as Edward pulls off another seemingly miraculous rescue, Bella finds it impossible to deny that he is clearly not "normal." Despite their differences, Bella is certain that she is deeply in love with Edward, even though he openly admits his true nature. Additionally, Edward is aware that Bella is his soul mate, and he would stop at nothing to protect her. He's informed Bella that there are things lurking in the shadows that are far more dangerous than him, but the only issue is that he can't decide if keeping her close or pushing her away is the best way to do that.


Having not read much young adult literature in my adult life, I must admit that I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Twilight. There was also a lot of hype surrounding this book, which can sometimes indicate a really great book or sometimes indicate a big letdown. Having finally finished Twilight, I can say that it definitely lived up to the hype for me; I thoroughly enjoyed this story of adolescent love between a vampire and a human; given the subject matter, this story could have been extremely campy, but instead it was incredibly beautiful, in my opinion, with enough romance and depth to rival the best adult romance novels. Actually, I felt that Twilight never once used overt sexual content while still displaying an unexpected amount of closeness, passion, and even sensuality. I believe that Bella and Edward's extraordinary degree of communication was a major contributing factor to their intimacy. Compared to many adult characters in romance novels, the two teenage protagonists in this story exhibited a starker honesty in their communication, seldom withholding anything from one another. Much sooner than I thought he would be, Edward was even honest about who and what he was. Simple gestures like smiles, kisses, and touches—but most importantly, their lovely conversation—were used to portray the sensuality. Of course, the fact that Edward and Bella were not quite "normal" teenagers made a lot of this conceivable. Without a certain, I would not have liked the major teenage characters had acted in what has come to be perceived as the "typical" teen fashion of severe cattiness, disobedience, and out-of-control hormones, I would not have enjoyed the novel nearly as much as I did. Rather, the narrative evolved into a novel perspective on adolescent conduct, serving as a gentle reminder that not all teenagers exhibit "typical" behavior.

There isn't a single thing about the two major characters, Edward and Bella, that I can think of that I dislike. Edward is a compassionate, caring, and sympathetic beta hero who also possesses a hint of alpha protectiveness—without which, he probably wouldn't be a very good vampire. He fights a never-ending mental war with himself over whether Bella is the right person for him or whether being around him will just make his cute but reckless danger-seeker more vulnerable. Even in the most trying situations, Edward always acts like the perfect gentleman, even though he constantly reminds Bella of the danger he poses to her life. I really adore how Bella is occasionally given soft jabs by Edward, and in kind return. This back-and-forth was entertaining, and I felt it gave the narrative a little funny edge. Bella was incredibly educated, shy and a little awkward with people, and endearingly clumsy, which made her fully relatable to me. She also had a terrific sense of humor. Edward found Bella to be breathtakingly gorgeous, even though Bella thought she was a very plain, average girl. One could argue that Bella did not have the best upbringing, given that she had to play the role of parent in her relationships with both of her parents, but it did not stop her from becoming the best version of herself and from loving her parents unconditionally. But I believe Bella's greatest quality was her sense of intuition concerning Edward and other things broadly speaking. I adore it when a romance novel's heroine is able to infer details about the guy from his actions without having to ask questions. Although Bella did have one instance where I thought many adult readers would write her off as TSTL (too dumb to live), I was able to overlook that mistake because of her youth and lack of experience in risky situations. All things considered, Edward and Bella were two captivating characters who shone (not literally, but you'll understand when you read the novel) in almost every moment they spent together. They were really enjoyable to read, and I felt they went well together.

Edward's family was an eclectic mix of personalities; there was Emmet, the big, lovable lug of a teddy bear, mysterious and aloof Rosalie, Alice and Jasper with their amazing psychic and empathic gifts, and their "parents," Carlisle (aka Dr. Cullen) and Esme, who all have their own fascinating back-stories. I also found the Native American father and son characters, Billy and Jacob Black, to be intriguing. The secondary cast of characters was a wonderful dichotomous mix of both the supernatural and the human. Bella's high school friends were usually a mix of pretty good kids, the type I wouldn't mind my own kids being friends with There is a controversial past involving the Cullens that isn't fully addressed in this book, so it will be fascinating to watch where this plot point goes in subsequent volumes.

As I indicated before, Twilight is a really innocent and lovely romance without any sexual overtones. There isn't any sexual content, only a few minor swear words, and the violence is kept to a minimal because vampires are the subject matter. This book is, in my opinion, perfectly appropriate for the age range it is meant for. If my kids got a little older and started reading it, I wouldn't have any issues at all. In fact, I thought the book gave teens some uplifting ideas about relationships and families. Edward seems to have very loving "family" ties, and although Bella's relationship with her parents isn't the best, they still love and respect each other. Despite their strong and instantaneous physiological attraction to one another, they take the time to develop a friendship based on respect, trust, and love—more than many adults can say about their friendships. Although Edward and Bella never once, and in very modest words, mention sex throughout the book, I believe that Edward's bloodlust might be interpreted as a metaphor for sexual desire. Whether interpreted in a mythical or metaphorical sense, I felt that Edward's self-control sent a lovely message about his love for Bella being greater than all other desires.

Twilight is now on my keeper shelf since I had such a great time reading it. It's very difficult to believe that this is Stephenie Meyer's first book since it's that fantastic. Because of the deep character and relationship development, the first two thirds of the book flow at a rather slow but steady pace. After that, when Bella's life is in danger, it nearly immediately escalates into a tense thriller. One of those books that was really hard to put down is this one. I was quite curious about what would happen next and what new piece of the puzzle would be revealed, and Ms. Meyer's interpretation of vampire mythology was very interesting.

Despite writing the entire novel in Bella's first person, I felt the author did an excellent job of capturing Edward's feelings and thoughts as well through a lot of dialogue. Aside from that, I thought Forks had a great small-town feel, but being from Phoenix, I couldn't help but love the scenes there. Since Ms. Meyer is also a Phoenician, I can thus confirm that all of the place names are accurate and the city's descriptions are dead on. Reading sequences that are set in locations I have really gone to was both somewhat weird and really fascinating. The Twilight Saga's first book, Twilight, is followed by Breaking Dawn, Eclipse, and New Moon. Even though I usually find my favorite novels made into terrible movies, I am truly looking forward to this interesting series continuing, and I am also excited about the Twilight movie, which is slated for release in theaters this December (2008).