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Taking a bite: A look at the vampire love and lore behind the Twilight series

It has become arguably one of the most triumphant young adult series since J.K. Rowling premiered the Harry Potter novels nearly a decade ago. Mothers, daughters and boyfriends alike have fallen victim to the enchantment of a newfound obsession. Welcome to the world of the Twilight series.

To date, Twilight has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. The most recent installment, Breaking Dawn, was published Aug. 2 and marked the return of the type of midnight mayhem only found in bookstores.

Twilight mania has made its mark on the young adult audience, but what — or who — is responsible for the phenomenon of the popular series?

Twilight begins in Forks, Wash., in what appears to be a standard story of a high school girl named Bella who develops a deep infatuation with a seemingly normal, 17-year-old boy named Edward. When Bella discovers that Edward is a vampire, her life is caught in the entanglements of love, danger and the consequences of loyalty.

The author behind the series, Stephenie Meyer, has the rare ability to blend reality and fantasy into literary harmony. Her characters express utter realism in their actions. Bella is clumsily lovable, depicting the imperfections of humanity, while Edward is flawless in nature, cursed to eternity.

Meyer’s writing is accessible and simplistic. Her storytelling is comparable to that of Anne Rice, yet Meyer charms her audience with continuous character development. Readers can relate effortlessly with all her characters, whether through expressing a pungent hatred for the villain or partaking in a fictional love affair with one of the vampires.

Meyer writes her novel in a way that appeals to both science fiction lovers and skeptics. One of the strongest qualities of the novel is its depiction of family and its unbreakable bonds. The Cullens, the vampire clan in the series, hold profound familial values that even Carol Brady would envy. The vampire family encompasses what it means to truly sacrifice and love unconditionally. The Cullens have spent centuries curbing their appetite for human blood, instead settling on a “vegetarian” diet of animal blood. Their perpetual compassion for humans is what keeps Bella immersed in this strange new world of vampires.

An examination of a growing phenomenon would not be complete without the analysis of the male protagonist in Meyer’s series. Only one word is needed to sum up why Twilight has had an everlasting effect on its audience: Edward.

Edward Cullen, the main character, is the ideal man for every girl. He is everything any girl has ever hoped to have by her side. He is a best friend, protector and lover. He isn’t one brand of perfect; he is the exemplification of perfection in the eyes of the reader. He holds true to his family’s values while struggling to come to terms with his love for Bella. Their irrevocable love for each other is painstaking, yet still has the reader blushing.

Meyer has succeeded in setting the tone for the future of young adult novels. The Twilight series’ multi-faceted appeal is undeniable and worth taking a bite out of.

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