Twilight is a romance/horror/suspense book that can be found in the Teen or Young Adult sections of bookstores. Many books that are aimed at teenagers are a mixture of genres, and this one is no exception.
Bella is a seventeen-year-old girl who moves from living with her mom (someplace warm and sunny) to living with her dad in Washington. It’s cold, rainy, and sometimes snowy, much to Bella’s disappointment.
Her dad, Charlie, is the police chief in the small town of Forks, where everyone knows everyone else. Bella becomes something like a minor celebrity when she starts her new school. Many boys have obvious crushes on her, but Bella isn’t the least bit interested in any of them.
Sitting separately from all of the other students in the lunch room are a small group of beautiful people. Amazingly, they are not the popular crowd. Quite the opposite. These are the adopted children of the doctor in town, and most of the teens think they are just plain strange. They want nothing to do with them.
Among this group is Edward, a boy with a beautiful face, golden eyes, and a crooked smile. Bella instantly becomes fascinated with him.
Then, of course, comes the whole “Does he like me, or does he hate me, or what?” scenario, as Edward runs hot and cold. Some days, he glares at Bella and refuses to talk to her. Other days, he smiles and is friendly. But mostly, Edward is a mystery (and this makes him very intriguing to Bella – as well as super fans of the book.)
Edward doesn’t seem to eat anything. He is absent from school on sunny days. His hands are always cold. Readers who are aware that Twilight is a story that has characters who are vampires can put all of these clues together very quickly. It takes Bella a lot longer to figure that out.
Bella has a friend that she knew before she moved to Forks, who goes to a different school. Jacob lives with his father, Billy, on a nearby Native American Reservation. Bella’s dad and Jacob’s dad have been friends forever, and Bella and Jacob spent a lot of time hanging out together when they were little kids.
In this book, Jacob is mostly a minor character, who relays some tribal stories to Bella that he only half believes in. Later on, this particular conversation between Jacob and Bella turns out to hold more meaning that it originally appeared to.
Eventually, Edward and Bella start talking to each other. One day, he invites her to sit with him at lunch – so she does. The two quickly become enamored with each other, in the intense and amazingly fast way that high-school aged people do.
After Edward saves Bella from an accident that could have killed her, it becomes impossible for him to hide his true self from Bella. She says she knows that he is a vampire – and he confirms her suspicion. Bella decides that this does not scare her – which scares Edward.
In a lot of ways, the emotions that Bella and Edward feel for each other are exactly what most people feel when they date their first “real” boyfriend/girlfriend. I was impressed by how well Meyer captured the essence of what it is like to be that young, and in love for the first time.
Edward says it may be “too dangerous” for Bella to be around him. This is not an exaggeration. The scent of Bella’s blood intoxicates Edward, so much that he is terrified that he will lose control, drink Bella’s blood, and kill her. Even Edward’s “sister”, Alice (who is a fascinating, quirky, pint sized vampire) notes how great Bella smells. Big foreshadowing here, of danger to come.
Meyer has created in Edward a combination of what many teens (who like boys) might identify as the perfect boyfriend. He is an impossibly beautiful boy, who only has eyes for one girl, and is hopelessly devoted. Edward, like a knight in shining armor, has already saved Bella’s life. Edward is patient, and a perfect gentleman who will never go farther than kissing with closed lips (for fear of accidentally turning Bella into a vampire.)
At the same time, Meyer has created in Edward the worst boyfriend, ever. Edward is, technically, a high school student – but he is much older than Bella. Humans are not allowed to know that vampires exist, and Bella’s knowledge of this puts her in danger. She doesn’t understand the danger she is in, though.
Bella must now keep Edward’s secret from her father, her friends at school, and her friend Jacob. This, of course, causes tension in all of her relationships. There are times when Edward comes into Bella’s bedroom at night so he can watch her sleep. Bella appears to find this comforting, but many would see that as very creepy behavior.
The most obvious problem in the relationship between Edward and Bella is that he is a killer. The vampires in Meyer’s story hunt and kill humans and drink their blood. Edward and his “siblings” stopped doing that a long time before Bella moved to Forks. They switched to drinking animal blood instead.
In short, Bella has been told – by Edward – that being in a relationship with him is dangerous. She ignores his warnings. Bella wants Edward to turn her into a vampire, but he refuses to do so. She is basically asking him to do something that he wants to do, but that will cause her great harm, because she has romanticized the idea of it.
Towards the end of the book, there is a chase scene. Other vampires, who are not Edward’s family, learned that a human has discovered that vampires exist. There is an intense chase scene, where Bella finally realizes that Edward was serious when he tried to warn her about their relationship being dangerous. Tons of action, very suspenseful ending, and all the loose ends get tied up by the time the book ends.