- Books, Literature, and Writing
The Twilight Craze and The Story Behind the Bestseller
The official Twilight poster
What made Twilight and New Moon movies and books so popular
The Twilight series craze quickly came to rule the world. It all started with a book about impossible love – the love between a vampire and a teenage girl. Many would say that the theme is nothing new. Vampires and fantasy stories have long dominated the world of movies. But the Twilight Saga managed to achieve new popularity heights.
It all started with a woman named Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight books.
Edward Cullen and Bella Swan
Who is Stephenie Meyer
Stephenie Meyer is an American author. She published various books but her popularity came with the appearance of the first Twilight book.
Twilight managed to sell over 85 million copies worldwide and has been till present day translated in 37 languages.
In 2008, Meyer became USA Today’s author of the year.
Meyer was inspired to write the books in a rather unusual way. She had a dream about the love of a vampire and a young girl. What made the romance even more complicated was the vampire’s thirst for the very same girl’s blood.
One interesting fact is that Meyer completed the book based on her dream quite fast but she never intended to publish it.
Three more books followed the immense success of Twilight. Meyer wrote the other parts of the Twilight saga under the names New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. Each one describes the manner in which the love of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen evolved.
The Twilight Series
The first Twilight book was published in 2005. It quickly made its way to the top five of the New York Times Best Seller list.
The Twilight Series books are captivating for many. Though they are said to appeal to the teenage audience, the books entice adults, as well. The manner in which an impossible love is described, the obstacles that Bella Swan and Edward Cullen have to overcome make the books a breath-taking read.
Critics claim that Meyer tried to put a lot of ‘cool elements’ together – appealing to teenagers, putting vampires and werewolves in her stories, describing the romantic involvement of a teenager and a vampire. But the number of copies sold somehow counters this claim.
All four published books tell Bella Swan’s story and her point of view. Meyer started working on yet another novel, Midnight Sun, which was to tell Edward Cullen’s story. Before the book was published, 12 of its chapters appeared online. Meyer stopped working on the project and made the completed chapters officially available at her website.
Meyer is a Mormon and she explained that her books are somehow influenced by her beliefs. She often addresses issues like protecting one’s soul from sin, purity and sexual abstinence.
Many people are wondering about the cover of Twilight – two hands holding an apple. Yes, there is a religious hint there, the apple symbolizing the forbidden fruit.
Most critics gave the book a positive review. According to Hillias J. Martin of School Library Journal, the book is "realistic, subtle, succinct, and easy to follow, Twilight will have readers dying to sink their teeth into it."
Some criticize Meyer’s characters for their, well, lack of character. According to some reviews, Edward Cullen is too immature for a vampire who is more than a century old. Bella Swan is seen as lacking distinctive features. Yet, book reviews were mostly positive.
Twilight movies: success or failure?
The success of the books gave birth to movies. The Twilight movie appeared in 2008 followed by New Moon in 2009.
Kristen Steward was selected for the role of Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson (known for his role in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) took the role of Edward Cullen.
Cullen had to participate in a casting for the role. He beat the competition of nearly 3000 candidates, though he had never read the books.
The Twilight film follows the book plot closely and some adjustments were made to suit the format better. Stephenie Meyer was actively involved in the movie production. Some book chapters had to be cut in the film scenario.
The film experienced the major success of the Twilight books. Its total revenue during the opening day reached 35.7 million dollars. Twilight’s revenue in the US and Canada reached $192.7 million.
Critics remained slightly skeptical. They claimed that the movie will have the power to appeal to the Twilight devoted fans only. RottenTomatoes.com critics gave Twilight a 50 percent rating and some of the comments about the movie were:
“Bella, a fairly unlikable young woman with a glum expression, has "put a smell" on Edward, a ruby red-lipped Nosferatu. It's a tedious stare-down. Bring a thermos of espresso. And an alarm clock.”
“Twilight is pure fantasy, emphasis on the pure... it's a soft-focus reverie for girls who want to be Disney princesses and have their bad boys, too, as long as the bad boys are models of tormented self-restraint.”
Still, sales proved something else and New Moon followed in 2009. RottenTomatoes gave it a rating of modest 28 percent with critics saying that New Moon is “Superficial soup for the teenage soul.” Further, “Bella could go down in literature as one of the dullest, most self-obsessed geeks of all time. Pick a wolf, pick a vampire, pick someone in the animal kingdom, and get on with it.The first film was tolerable. "New Moon" just needs to go away quickly.”
Yet, the number of fans worldwide remains immense, proving that either film critics are wrong or the books have the power to keep devoted followers enjoying the movie. Whichever option is true, The Twilight Saga has set new standards in the sphere of teenage (and probably not only) literature.