Cover of Twilight
|Cover artist||Gail Doobinin (design)
Roger Hagadone (photograph)
|Genre||Young adult, fantasy, romance, vampire|
|October 5, 2005|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Audio Book (CD)
|Followed by||New Moon|
Twilight is a young-adult vampire-romance novel by author Stephenie Meyer. It is the first book of the Twilight series, and introduces seventeen-year-old Isabella "Bella" Swan, who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington and finds her life in danger when she falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen. The novel is followed by New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.
When first published in hardback in 2005, it reached No. 5 on the New York Times Best Seller list within a month of its release and eventually reached No. 1. That same year, Twilight was named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2005. The novel was also the biggest selling book of 2008 and the second biggest selling of 2009, only behind its sequel New Moon. It has been translated into 37 different languages.
When first published, Twilight gained mostly positive reactions. Critics often described it as a "dark romance that seeps into the soul" and praised it for capturing "perfectly the teenage feeling of sexual tension and alienation". On the other hand, in more recent reviews, some critics thought that Bella's appeal to Edward was "based on magic rather than character" and that Bella is a weak female character.
A film adaptation of Twilight was released in 2008. It was a commercial success, grossing more than $392 million worldwide and an additional $157 million from North American DVD sales, as of July 2009.
Bella Swan moves from sunny Phoenix, Arizona to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father, Charlie, while her mother, Renée, travels with her new husband, Phil Dwyer, a minor league baseball player. Bella attracts much attention at her new school and makes friends quickly. Much to her dismay, several boys compete for shy Bella's attention.
When Bella is seated next to Edward Cullen in class on her first day of school, Edward seems utterly repulsed by her. He disappears for a few days, but warms up to Bella upon his return; their newfound relationship reaches a climax when Bella is nearly crushed by Tyler's van in the school parking lot. Edward saves Bella when he comes to her rescue and stops the van with only his hands.
Bella annoys Edward with countless questions because she became almost obsessed with how he saved her life. Bella comes to the belief that Edward and his family are vampires who drink animal blood rather than human after hearing the legends of the local tribe from Jacob Black (a character who becomes more important in the later books in the series). Bella is saved by Edward again in Port Angeles when she is almost attacked, Edward appears in his shiny silver Volvo. He then takes Bella to dinner and then on the drive home she tells him a theory that he is a vampire. Edward tells her that he tried to stay away from her at first because the scent of her blood was too desirable to him. Over time, Edward and Bella fall in love.
Their relationship is affected when a nomadic vampire coven arrives in Forks. James, a tracker vampire who is intrigued by the Cullens' relationship with a human, wants to hunt Bella for sport. The Cullens attempt to distract James by separating Bella and Edward, and send Bella to hide in a hotel in Phoenix. There, Bella receives a phone call from James, who claims to be holding her mother captive (which she later realizes was a trick). When Bella surrenders herself, James attacks her. Before James can kill her, Edward, along with the other Cullens, rescues her and destroy James, but not before James bites Bella's hand and snaps the bone in her leg. Edward successfully sucks the poison from her bloodstream and prevents her from becoming a vampire, after which she is taken to a hospital. Upon returning to Forks, Bella and Edward attend their school prom, and Bella expresses her desire to become a vampire, but Edward refuses.
- Isabella Swan - Isabella, who prefers to be called Bella, is a 17-year-old girl. She leaves Phoenix, Arizona and moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father, Charlie so her mother can move to Florida with her new baseball-playing husband. She meets Edward Cullen in Forks High School and is immediately attracted to him. She later confesses to Edward what she has learned about him, which he admits to; they venture into their forbidden love, with Edward fighting against his thirst for Bella's blood. Bella has a kind and awkward personality that is more mature than most girls her age. She is highly intelligent and observant, noticing and then formulating theories about the Cullens' strange behaviors, physical features, and unusual abilities. At the novel's beginning, Bella finds, "the hardest part is making a decision, but once the decision is made, [she] can easily follow." As the novel progresses, Bella unconsciously learns how to make difficult choices and accept their consequences.
- Edward Cullen - Edward is a 104-year-old vampire who was transformed by Carlisle Cullen when he was near death with Spanish Influenza in 1918. He has a supernatural gift for reading people's minds. When he met Bella, he was immediately attracted to her because her thoughts are unreadable to him, and also to her strongly appealing blood scent. Edward tries to avoid Bella for her own safety, but fails. He notices Bella's attraction to him and warns her that he is dangerous. Eventually, he confesses the truth about himself to her. Since Edward's transformation into a vampire, he had never fallen in love nor believed that he needed to. He later realizes that his existence was completely pointless and without an aim. In Bella he finds compassion, love, acceptance and care. In Twilight, Edward has a pessimistic personality influenced by Meyer's naturally pessimistic character. His character was also influenced by Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre who also sees himself as a monster.
- James - James is a vampire with an unusual ability to track people, whether humans or vampires. His competitive character loves a challenge, and Bella's scent appeals to him. When the Cullens react to defend her, James wants to take on the biggest game of his life, knowing that by hunting Bella, the Cullens will oppose him. James tracks Bella to Phoenix, and phones her to say that he has captured her mother and his keeping her in Bella's old ballet school. Bella goes there, unaware that her mother is actually safe in Florida. At the studio James reveals that in the 1920s he hunted a then-human Alice, whose blood smelled even better than Bella's. She was saved by a kindly old vampire who changed her into a vampire. James bites Bella, injecting his venom into her wrist. The Cullens arrive in time to save her and destroy James.
Meyer says that the idea for Twilight came to her in a dream on June 2, 2003. The dream was about a human girl, and a vampire who was in love with her but thirsted for her blood. Based on this dream, Meyer wrote the transcript of what is now Chapter 13 of the book. The first drafts were titled Forks instead of Twilight before the publisher requested to change the title. At first, she didn't use names to refer to Bella and Edward, instead she used 'She' and 'He'. Later on, "Charlotte Brontë's Mr. Rochester" and "Jane Austen's Mr. Ferrars" led her to choose the name Edward for her male character, while she named her female lead Isabella because it would have been the name she would have chosen for her daughter if she had one. Rosalie and Jasper were originally named Carol and Ronald.
Meyer continued writing to the end chronologically, not worrying about the backstory. She lettered the chapters instead of numbering them, Chapter 13 being E. The last chapter of the first draft kept getting longer and longer, so she wrote epilogue after epilogue. However, she realized that she wanted to explore a lot of the events of the backstory and the reasons behind the events of the chapters she wrote, so, planning to write the backstory in five or six chapters, it turned out to be twelve chapters in the end. In a matter of three months she had transformed her dream into a completed novel, though she claims that she never intended to publish Twilight and was writing for her own enjoyment. After a summer of detachment from the world, immersed in writing, she finished the manuscript on August 29, 2003.
Her sister's response towards the book was enthusiastic and she persuaded Meyer to send the manuscript to literary agencies. Of the 15 letters she wrote, five went unanswered, nine brought rejections, and the last was a positive response from Jodi Reamer of Writers House. During the editing process, a chapter that used to be Chapter 20 was cut out of the manuscript along with Emmett's account of his bear attack and some parts of the epilogue.
Stephenie Meyer has stated that the apple on the cover represents the forbidden fruit from the Book of Genesis. It symbolizes Bella and Edward's love, which is forbidden, similar to the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as is implied by the quote from Genesis 2:17 that is quoted at the beginning of the book. It also represents Bella's knowledge of what good and evil are, and the choice that she has in partaking of the "forbidden fruit", Edward, or choosing not to see him. Meyer also says, "It asks if you are going to bite in and discover the frightening possibilities around you or refuse and stay safe in the comfortable world you know." An alternative cover features Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the actors who play the lead characters in the film adaptation.
Awards and honors
- One of Publishers Weekly's "Best Children's Books of 2005"
- One of School Library Journal's "Best Books of 2005"
Twilight was initially rejected by 14 agents, however, eight publishers competed for the rights to publish Twilight in the 2003 auction. Little, Brown and Company originally bid for $300,000, but Meyer's agent asked for $1 million; the publishers finally settled on $750,000 for three books. Twilight was published in 2005 with a print run of 75,000 copies. It debuted at #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list within a month of its release, and later peaked at #1. Foreign rights to the novel were sold to over 26 countries.
In October 2008, Twilight was ranked #26 in USA Today's list of "Bestselling Books of Last 15 Years". Later, the book went on to become the best-selling book of 2008. and the second biggest selling of 2009, only behind its sequel New Moon.
Initial reviews for Twilight were generally positive, with Publishers Weekly called Meyer one of the most "promising new authors of 2005". The Times praised the book for capturing "perfectly the teenage feeling of sexual tension and alienation", and Amazon.com hailed the book as "[d]eeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful". Hillias J. Martin of School Library Journal stated, "Realistic, subtle, succinct, and easy to follow, Twilight will have readers dying to sink their teeth into it", and Norah Piehl of TeenReads wrote, "Twilight is a gripping blend of romance and horror". Publishers Weekly's starred review described Bella's "infatuation with outsider Edward", their risky relationship, and "Edward's inner struggle" as a metaphor for sexual frustration accompanying adolescence. Booklist wrote, "There are some flaws here–a plot that could have been tightened, an over reliance on adjectives and adverbs to bolster dialogue–but this dark romance seeps into the soul." Christopher Middleton of The Daily Telegraph called the book a "high school drama with a bloody twist ... no secret, of course, at whom this book is aimed, and no doubt, either, that it has hit its mark. Jennifer Hawes of The Post and Courier said, "Twilight, the first book in Stephenie Meyer's series, gripped me so fiercely that I called the nearest teenager I know and begged for her copy after I misplaced my own." Roberta Goli of Suite101.com gave the novel a positive review, saying that while "the first half of the novel lacks action", the writing is "fluid" and the story "interesting". She also praised the depth of emotion shown between the main characters for pinpointing "the angst of teenage love."
Kirkus gave a more mixed review, noting that, "[Twilight] is far from perfect: Edward's portrayal as monstrous tragic hero is overly Byronic, and Bella's appeal is based on magic rather than character. Nonetheless, the portrayal of dangerous lovers hits the spot; fans of dark romance will find it hard to resist." The New York Times review stated, "The premise of Twilight is attractive and compelling — who hasn't fantasized about unearthly love with a beautiful stranger? — but the book suffers at times from overearnest, amateurish writing. A little more "showing" and a lot less "telling" might have been a good thing, especially some pruning to eliminate the constant references to Edward's shattering beauty and Bella's undying love."  Although the Daily Telegraph later listed Twilight at number 32 on its list of "100 books that defined the noughties", it said that the novel was "Astonishing, mainly for the ineptitude of [Meyer's] prose". Elizabeth Hand said in a review for the Washington Post, "Meyer's prose seldom rises above the serviceable, and the plotting is leaden".
Twilight was on the American Library Association's (ALA) Top Ten List of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010, for containing a "religious viewpoint" and "violence". The Twilight series was on the same list in 2009 for being "sexually explicit", "unsuited to age group", and having a "religious viewpoint".
Twilight was adapted into a film by Summit Entertainment. The film was directed by Catherine Hardwicke and stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as protagonists Isabella Swan and Edward Cullen, respectively. The screenplay was adapted by Melissa Rosenberg. The movie was released in theaters in the United States on November 21, 2008, and on DVD on March 21, 2009. The DVD was released in Australia on April 22, 2009.
On July 15, 2009, Entertainment Weekly confirmed rumors that a graphic novel adaptation of Twilight was in the works. The book will be drawn by Korean artist Young Kim and published by Yen Press. Stephenie Meyer reviews every panel herself. According to EW, "it doesn't look simply like an artist's rendering of Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson. In fact, the characters seem to be an amalgam of Meyer's literary imagination and the actors' actual looks." EW magazine published finished illustrations of Edward, Bella, and Jacob in their July 17, 2009 issue. The first part of the graphic novel was released on March 16, 2010.
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Quotations related to Twilight (novel) at Wikiquote