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The Meyer Effect

October 12, 2009

Here we go! So I’m sure the majority of you have read or at least heard of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I know that many of the teenagers in my area have read and are fanatical about the series. I’m sure many of them are counting down the days until New Moon hits the theaters.

So here’s my first question: Why is the series so popular? (I’m sure plenty of us, whether you’ve read the books or not, are asking the same question.)

Well, part of it may have to do with the vampire aspect (insert collective “Duh!” from the audience). Something about immortality and beauty is appealing, for obvious reasons, and somehow the whole “vegan vampire” thing is appealing because (regretfully, for some people I know) there’s no fear of one of these guys sucking your blood. So maybe Dracula had the wrong idea. But why are theseparticular vampires so fascinating? I think it has something to do with the fact that Stephenie Meyer gave these blood-suckers some personality. They are likeable; readers see them as teenagers who just happen to have a longer life span. None of the Cullens appear to have a bad Eastern European accent, nor do they stalk around in completely black frock coats and capes in the middle of the night. So they aren’t your stereotypical Dracula-esque characters. They also seem to have a certain dgree of sensitivity; apparently, the Cullens don’t “hunt” humans (eww). Add that to the vampire-werewolf prejudice-against-one-another bit and you’ve got a series! Which brings me to part two. The werewolf aspect seems to draw as much appeal as the vampires. (“Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” ringing any bells here?) Here you’ve got two sets of characters that seem to have been yanked right out of a book of fifteenth-century folklore, and they don’t like each other too much. The werewolves in the story are members of a local Native American tribe. And here, again, Meyer has created a cast of characters that are likeable. This may have something to do with the fact that, when Edward leaves at the end of the first book, the character Jacob steps in to become Bella’s best friend. The werewolf characters relate well to one another.

The romance between troubled teenagers has become a theme in a lot of young adult novels, and so it is with Twilight. The Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle (oops, have I said too much?) makes the story that more interesting, it seems. Everybody has their opinion on who Bella should end up with. (Personally, I’m glad thing turned out the way they did, because Edward and Bella continually acting sappy was grating on my nerves.) This makes the story more interesting and drives readers to finish not one, but all four of the books just to see what happens in this particular situation. The fact that it takes place in Forks, WA, an unassuming (rainy) little town rather than somewhere that everyone’s heard of before adds some interest as well, because if it can happen in Forks, WA, it can happen anywhere!

So here’s my second question: How long will the series last?

And by that, I mean, how long will it remain popular? Seems to me that, just like everything else in the entertainment industry (yes, reading is a form of entertainment, for those of you who are skeptical), books go in and out of style. This isn’t to say that EVERY novel that’s hit the shelves has come and gone in a wave of hype, but one has to wonder if this will be the case with Twilight. Once it’s run its course in the theaters, will Twilight lose its momentum? Who knows? The fact is that some books become classics, and some don’t. There does seem to be quite a bit of hype around Twilight. I have spoken to people who love it, and to people who hate it. I also know some people who, like myself, are lukewarm on the series; it’s good, but not the GREATEST thing ever. The fact that “they” have come out with calendars and posters and dolls (yes, I’m serious) and candy (“special edition” Sweethearts) based around the film and the books does get one’s nerves after a while. It seems that Twilight has become a cult classic, but how long can that last?

The same thing happened when Harry Potter first showed up on the scene, and fans nearly rioted when hints were dropped that the title character may have to be killed off in the last book. And you’ve got the four different Hogwarts houses and everyone claims allegiance to one or another ( I haven’t read the stories, so I don’t pretend to be an expert), but the fandom seems to have grown quieter and quieter over the years, to the point where I wasn’t even aware that the last book had hit the shelves until weeks after the fact. In fact, as soon as the last installment in the series hit the shelves, Harry Potter seems to have lost most of its momentum. All that’s left are the film that have yet to hit the big screen. Yes there ARE die-hard HP fans who would disagree, but the fact is that some readers have outgrown series like Harry Potter and Twilight. It’s geared toward a certain demographic of readers that may or may not continue to read and enjoy the series once they reach a certain age.

One can hope that Stephenie Meyer will continue her writing career, because she really is talented. She obviously loves to write. And I’ll congratulate her again on the success of Twilight. Here’s hoping the devoted fans will continue to read her books.


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