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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Twilight is the first book of a series that brought the vampire-romance genre back from the undead in 2005. Movies starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, fan groups (Twihards), and a whole lot of merchandise followed. The forbidden, obsessive romance in Twilight attracted many fans and worried more than a few parents of teen girls -- still does. Edward the vampire is possessive, angers easily, and stalks Bella, his human love interest. He even sneaks into her house to watch her sleep before they start dating. After one date he says to her, "You are my life now." By the end of Twilight, Bella professes that she's sick of being the weak one who always needs to be saved, and would like the relationship to be more equal, but Edward still has power over her because of what he is. For a romance, the sexual content is mild -- just kissing. And for all the talk of the killer instinct of vampires, there are only a few harrowing scenes with injuries including blood loss, broken bones, and a cracked skull.
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What's the story?
In TWILIGHT, Bella thinks she made a huge mistake when she moves back in with her dad in Forks, Washington. She misses her mom and sunny Phoenix, her dad can't cook, and she has a rough time on her first few days in a much smaller high school. Most of the kids are nice, sure, but her new lab partner in biology, Edward, looks like he wants to kill her. In the school office she even overhears him try to switch out of her class. This makes his actions even stranger in the school parking lot on an icy morning. When a car swerves toward Bella, Edward rushes over with impossible speed, puts a dent in the oncoming car with his bare hand, and saves her life. At the hospital, Edward tries to keep her quiet about the superhuman details of the accident. Bella says nothing, but can't quell her curiosity about him now. What exactly is he? And why can't she stop thinking about him?
Is it any good?
Fans of obsessive and impossible romances swoon over this hot-vampire story despite its length and some excessive moony-ness. Moony-ness as in the million ways love-struck Bella describes Edward as perfect. Here's one: "I couldn't imagine how an angel could be any more glorious. There was nothing about him that could be improved upon." Really, Bella? He gets angry awfully easily and he watches you sleep. Still, with the world of teen romance so hard to navigate, there's something about having your love life all figured out in one date. And author Stephenie Meyer may not write with economy or brilliant turns of phrase, but she builds up the romantic tension successfully.
Meyer is also successful at building her curious world of vampires. It's clear she's carefully considered each of her minor characters. Their origin stories of how each turned and joined the coven add an extra layer to this fantasy world. The setting in small-town Washington also adds appeal. The rain-soaked green and aliveness of Forks make the presence of deathly pale vampires in the town even more surreal. But readers will mostly sink their fangs into Twilight for the dramatic romance, and there's plenty of that here and in the rest of the series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Bella and Edward's relationship in Twilight. Is it a healthy one? If Edward were a regular guy and not a vampire and he snuck into your house to watch you sleep, what would you think?
What books that you've read depict a healthier relationship than Bella and Edward's? Are they as fun to read?
How into the series are you? Will you read all the books? Watch all the movies? Demand a family trip to Washington state for a Twilight-themed tour of Forks? What do you think turns a reader into a mega-fan?
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