In 2003 Stephanie Meyer had a dream. The dream was about a human girl, and a vampire who was in love with her but thirsted for her blood. Despite having very little writing experience, in a matter of three months she had transformed that vivid dream into a completed novel. After writing and editing the novel, she signed a three-book deal with Little, Brown and Company for $750,000. The book was released in 2005. It was called Twilight. Twilight quickly gained recognition and won numerous honors selling more than 25 million copies worldwide, with translations into 37 different languages around the globe. A film adaptation was released domestically in late 2008.
I just finished reading the book and truth be told I was hooked till the last page. The book isn’t a literary gem, the language oversimplified (but who are we to complain coming from the nation of Chetan Bhagat) and romance is least of my favorite genres unless it’s a certain lady called Jane Austin who has authored the book. But the forbidden romance between the besotted protagonist and the vampire torn between his natural instincts and a feeling he has never known before in his century old existence brings back an innocence and freshness that are missing in cynical, grown up literature.
On the face of it the whole story is obviously ridiculous but we bought the teenage wizard catching a train from platform 9-3/4 at King’s Cross then why not a vegetarian vampires who walk amongst us.
Despite its phenomenal success the book and more so its sequels have generated a lot of controversy for its very sexist nature. The existence Bella Swan, the girl protagonist has only one purpose- Edward Cullen’s love. She suffers willingly for him, throwing away her normal life and in the sequel her very existence to be with him. Her life is bereft of any layer except her obsession for Cullen. As a book targeted at young adults, commentators have questioned if the message being given out is the absolute necessity of a boyfriend in your life and if he leaves you, your life should fall apart and you mourn the loss for months on end.
My take? Yes, the book is sexist to the extent that the real world is. Do you remember the guy you were fixated on when you were 16? Didn’t he consume your thoughts when he was around? And did you really think about your parents or societal approval if he asked you out.
I think Meyer has got her priorities right. She gives what her audience wants- a dark romance of paranormal. And she has avoided gratuitous sex.
The writing, the pace maybe average but the story extraordinary.
And that is what makes bestsellers despite critics trashing some.
As for me I am off to buy “New Moon”.
PS: Twilight is written from Bella’s perspective. Meyer started “Midnight Sun”-a companion novel told from Edwards perspective. However an online leak of a rough draft led to infinite delay in the project. You can read the draft here, but suggest you go through Twilight first to understand and appreciate the incidents mentioned.
*All data and figures from Wiki.