A Book with a Bite

Tandis Soltani | Staff Photographer

Tandis Soltani | Staff Photographer
The UCI Bookstore proudly displays all four books of The Twilight Saga.

The word “twilight” no longer pertains to the time of day, but to a phenomenon that has sent a raging wave through the literary world both nationally and internationally. What is this phenomenon that seems to have many enthralled? The answer would be a 500-page novel called “Twilight” by New York Times bestseller Stephenie Meyer.
With “Twilight” being only one of four installments in her young adult series, “The Twilight Saga,” Stephenie Meyer, a 35-year-old housewife from Arizona, has suddenly become the fastest-selling author in the world. As the popularity of this intriguing fiction escalates, more and more readers find themselves joining the league of Meyer fans.
The origins of this hot, sexy vampire story are almost as original as the book itself. One ordinary night, Meyer had a dream about a self-controlled vampire who falls in love with a mortal. The dream was so vivid that she decided to write it down and concoct an ending. While the story was written for entertainment purposes, Meyer’s family encouraged her to publish it. Thus, “Twilight” was born.
Similar to Anne Rice, Meyer redefines the traditional stereotypes of bloodsucking vampires. While “vampires” may have initially put some adult readers off, this novel is not in the same category as the numerous vampire stories out there.
The center of the story’s plot is the forbidden love between Edward, a “dazzling” vampire and Bella, an ordinary, but exceedingly klutzy girl. However, this dark and charming vampire romance is unlike many others in its genre.
Firstly, the story is told solely from the perspective of Bella, whose shyness and sarcastic voice give the reader a more realistic, in-depth look into her experience of “first love.”
Secondly, the vampires themselves are not the customary blood-sucking villains who prey on the innocent. In Meyer’s novel, the Cullens, an unconventional vampire family, try to go against these animalistic tendencies—becoming “vegetarian vampires” as they only consume animals.
In the sunny city of Phoenix, “Twilight” opens with Isabella Swan, the protagonist and the narrator, saying goodbye to her mother, to live with her father, Chief Swan, in Forks, Washington. Even after she settles in, she half expects Forks to be anything but exciting. However, not everything is, as it seems, as Bella meets the beautiful and aloof Cullen family.
Each member of the group captivates Bella’s attention. But, it is the bronze-haired Edward that hypnotically allures her. She soon discovers that she has a class with this mysterious stranger, but as she’s assigned to be his lab partner, Bella senses his hostility towards her. Unable to understand his hostility, Bella tries to stay as far from him as possible.
However, when Edward saves Bella from a swerving car one morning, she becomes aware of several unnatural and impossible traits in Edward, such as his quick speed and super strength. Edward seems to be as surprised as Bella with his act of saving her.
Up until now, he and his family have skillfully kept their true natures hidden from the small community. However, his deep desire and longing for Bella mixed with her potent blood force him to confess what he and his family are.
Edward tries to warn Bella of the inevitable dangers she faces with him, but her deep, almost obsessive love dissuades these futile attempts. Like Romeo and Juliet, Bella and Edward have everything against them, from Edward’s lust for Bella’s blood to the palpable dangers lurking in the shadows. Like star-crossed soul mates, they must fight and conquer all obstacles that come their way, even when visible danger threatens to break their unyielding love.
One of the interesting aspects achieved in “Twilight” is Meyer’s ability to create a fantasy story in a realistic voice. The existence of these beauteous vampires never seems to be out of this world. Nor does the relationship between a vampire and a human create any speculations on how realistic it can be. For many readers, Edward and Bella’s love is as beautiful and true as any other.
For many male readers, the palpable danger at every corner helps to play down the romantic aspect of the book. There is a fast pace that underlines the excitement and imminent dangers that Edward, Bella and the Cullens meet, as they come face to face with the evil villain, James. Soon, the novel reaches climactic proportions as readers shift from the budding romance between Bella and Edward to their frantic race to stay alive.
Many will find themselves drawn to the couple’s complex personality and relationship. On the one hand, Edward attempts to control his animalistic side, while still holding the desire to experience basic human emotions. Bella struggles internally between her own insecurities and the new emotions of being in love with a vampire. Despite the couple’s personal obstacles, they long for the one thing that seems so impossible: each other.
Female readers will undoubtedly be captivated by the alluring Edward. He is the Mr. Darcy of the 21st century. Not only is he a dazzling topaz-eyed Adonis, he’s a true gentlemen. At every step of their relationship, Edward does his best to protect Bella at all costs, even from his own hands.
But despite his oft-perceived image of perfection, he is at times impatient, frustrated, dark and at times exceedingly prudish.
And that’s the brilliance of Meyer’s writing: she makes her characters, even those of mythical backgrounds, so life-like that many find it hard to tell the difference between fiction and reality.
Despite being a young adult book, readers of all ages will not be disappointed by “Twilight.” Many find themselves unable to put down this irresistible and deliciously savory book as they turn each page, submerging further and further into the powerful world Meyer has created.
The only question that now remains is, where are the Bellas and Edwards in our lives?