Twilight Promotes Teen Reading Frenzy

It's incredible to see teenage girls carrying around the 500 plus page Stephanie Meyer novels and consuming them in a matter of days; over 17 million copies of “Twilight” have sold over the last few years, and I would think teachers probably wish this were the reaction to some of the reading material middle school and high school students are forced to read. Similar to how Ann Rice's vampire series captivated adults a few years ago, this young breed of blood-suckers also work themselves into young readers minds and hearts with gripping ease.

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

The characters in the “Twilight” series are teenagers, and most of the action revolves around high school, an age and place readers can readily relate to. I've asked teenaged readers why these voluminous books are so addictive, and the reply is universal; the writer's descriptions of the characters and settings are so detailed that the images instantly appear vividly in the mind's eye. From the cold, damp weather providing the backdrop for the love story, to the physical characteristics of the protagonists, the four-book saga is the literary phenomenon teens can't get enough of.


The series consists of four books: “Twilight”, “Eclipse”, “New Moon” and “Breaking Dawn”. The first book will be premiering as a movie on November 21st, and the anticipation of seeing this romantic vampire story come to life on the big screen has built-up at a frenetic pace. Edward (played by Robert Pattinson a relatively unknown actor who had a small part in Harry Potter), and Bella (Kristen Stewart, Panic Room and Zathura) are the central figures in the novels, and readers are enraptured by the couple's unlikely liaison.

At the center of the plot is the restraint Edward has to exercise to keep from killing his love interest; Meyers describes in excruciating detail the amount of sheer will power the enamored vampire needs to summon from the depths of his cold soul to save Bella from his own death-inflicting bite. Mind over matter is a message we can all understand, and a lesson young readers can apply at some point in their lives.

Drawing from her Mormon background, the author deliberately avoids describing any explicit scenes – the effects of hand-holding and lingering scents are perfectly spelled out and leave nothing to the imagination — leading to the ultimate moment, a kiss.

“That's the power of the Twilight books: they're squeaky, geeky clean on the surface, but right below it, they are absolutely, deliciously filthy” wrote Lev Grossman for Time EntertainmentSome will argue the scenes described in the books are too steamy for the mostly teen-aged audience, but the popularity of these books is also due to the appeal it has for both young and old, mothers and daughters, and is similar to Harry Potter who was read by a wide range of ages.

How did a mother of three, age 34, come up with this story line that takes up about 2,000 pages? On Meyer’s website, you'll find out how the idea for the story came to her in a dream, and how from then on she couldn't stop writing — a bit reminiscent of J.K. Rowling's epiphany about her Harry Potter plot and writing it on a napkin which resulted in 40 million copies sold worldwide. I won't re-tell the author's complete biography here either because you can read it on her website in full detail. What is worth mentioning about Stephanie Meyer is that before she became a published author, she was an otherwise normal housewife and mother whom any of us could have been selecting produce next to at the supermarket.

The relationship between a vampire and a human has impressionable minds entranced and longing for an encounter of their own. At lunch time at my daughter's middle school, the girls sit in a circle and compare the emotions each felt while reading certain passages in the books: “What did you think when Bella wanted him to kiss her?” Should she do it?” “I wanted to cry when it finally happened!” they comment to each other in shrieking voices. At least for now, the teen-girl set has replaced chasing school boys with following the fictitious lives of vampires as though they truly existed.

The wait is almost over. By this time next week, giddy teens will have real images to go along with the imaginary settings conjured up while reading the Twilight series. For the brave and die-hard fans, the first showing is at 12:01 am on Thursday, and tickets have already sold out in many cities. Pale and sleep-deprived faces will almost certainly roam the hall ways at school the following day and teachers will likely be battling short attention spans in the morning. On the upside, many students often do not comply with the mandatory 30 minute daily reading requirement, but with the time students have expended on the inventive copious publications, it sounds like a win-win situation for all.

Think of it as the Romeo and Juliet of this generation. And it has caused quite a reading frenzy!


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