As a rule, I aim to avoid fads. The world watches them come and go, and their relevance diminishes quickly. A fad by definition is a short-term event, but a fad has the potential to turn into a trend. A trend can remain popular for decades depending on how many industries it can positively affect. Think of Apple’s iPod for instance. It has created a distinct niche for itself in the world of fashion, wireless communication, and music. Portable electronic devices are not a passing fad, bur rather a well-entrenched trend. To survive as a trend one must gain the alliance of the consumer, and if the trend is executed right from the start, it becomes irreplaceable. Good luck trying to tell your friends to get rid of their iPods, they are now part of the skeletal makeup of most runners, commuters, walkers, and drivers alike.
I remember, very clearly, my reaction of defiance when three of my favorite co-workers and friends suggested that I should pick up the Twilight book series. The thought of becoming engrossed in a high school vampire saga sounded simply ridiculous. I made my opinions known, and still, somehow, ended up with my friend Matt’s copy in hand. It was after reading the first few pages that I remembered having picked up a copy a few months earlier, on a trip home to New York. I recall the massive Barnes & Noble windows at Union Square where I sat, drenched in sunlight and not entirely captivated by a rather slow introduction to the book. I believe I initially only read about half of the first chapter, and decidedly did not leave the store with a copy to accompany me home. Twilight was not love at first read for me, but sometimes, life has a way of bringing things back full circle. This would not be the first time I had become deeply engrossed in the adventures of young adults and the supernatural.
I must admit, I faced little trepidation in religiously buying multiple copies of Harry Potter for my brother, sister and anyone else who needed a good read. I was not alone wrapped up in wizardly rapture. The books have sold more than 400 million copies and have been translated into 67 languages. To date J.K Rowling is the only billionaire author and there are rumors that she may be richer than Queen Elizabeth II. The books J.K. Rowling’s publisher wanted to market toward 9-11 year olds, became the modern dark fairytales, firmly gripped in the hands of parents, teenagers, children, professors, doctors, lawyers, and Wall Street analysts alike. The books are all being made into Movies, video games and Universal and Warner Bros. have teamed up to launch a Harry Potter theme park in Orlando Florida in 2009.
Stephanie Meyers, a 34 year old, mother of three, and author of the Twilight series credits J. K Rowling with having paved the way of young adult books reaching pages numbers well into the five hundreds. These thick books read like flowing water, and pass between the hands of all ages.
I devour books. I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in one day, only stopping to occasionally nibble on something, and hydrate. Tears and all, I called New York in the early morning hours to discuss the outcome with my siblings. We had each grown attached to the characters, and the lure associated with great works of writing, capable of maneuvering the feat of speeding up and slowing down the human heart with mere words.
I began reading Twilight on a Monday afternoon, and finished reading Braking Dawn, the last, and in my opinion, the best of the four books in the series, a week later. Filter in work, internship and school, and it may just spell devotion. I was fortunate enough to come down with a throat infection toward the end of my workweek, and in between not being able to eat solid foods for two days, and doping up on antibiotics, I spent a whole Saturday in bed, reading as if my life depended on it.
At work, I snuck in pages every chance I had to be in the office. On the bus, and even walking down the street, if there was enough light still left, my feet moved but my eyes remained glued to the pages. I read during my class breaks. I called my brother to tell him of this addiction that had taken hold of me, and he informed me that I was acting like a thirteen-year-old girl. I didn’t feel the need to defend myself, he may very well be right. I had been wrapped up in these books, in a manner similar to housewives being enslaved by soap operas.
I can’t call the Twilight series a great literary read, but I can tell you that they are engrossing. By the time I had finished the first book and made my way into Borders on my lunch break to acquire the other three books, the first one was already sold out. Everywhere I turn, someone is either reading the books, or trying to figure out exactly why everyone else is reading them. While the idea for the books surfaced in a dream for Meyers, the ease with which the reader is able to attach themselves to the characters is not surreal. Everything inside you, is found willing a happily-ever-after ending with each turn of the page.
To some, the Twilight books are simply horror plots rewritten by Meyers as a love story. Yes, vampires are monstrous and sensual legends found surfacing and resurfacing in many cultures throughout time. The vampire genre has built classical characters like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Anne Rice’s legacy of beautiful immortals. What could seventeen-year-olds add to this already rich tableau? Bella and Edward, the main characters in Twilight, remind us all, young and old, what love feels like. Love in its blinding brilliance, the act of being drawn to someone across space and time, the millions of scattered pieces of what remains of us when love leaves, and the unequaled magnitude in knowing that nothing in this life or beyond, will ever compare.
Meyers’ golden-eyed, supernaturally gifted vampires choose not to take human life, and choice becomes a central theme throughout the books. It is the ability to recognize and reject the enslavement to our natures, to become better than what we imagined we could be, that these books seem to ask of us. This aspect made more sense to me after I read a little about Stephanie Meyers.
In over 2000 pages, Meyers never leads her readers into a full sex scene. Yes, I realize this is a young adult novel but my one frustration with the book lies in its lack of a descriptive sexual encounter. Even a chapter, only to released on line for those select few (perhaps not so few actually, after conferring with friends who all agree) who would like to know the details would fulfill the need to know. There is a great deal of emphasis placed on the erotics of abstinence, and resisting temptation. Here is where Stephanie Meyers’ life begins to illuminate the motives of her characters. Meyers is a Mormon, never drinks, not even coffee, and has never seen an R-rated movie.
I must admit, at times, the main characters fall into the distinctly stereotypical displays of the overprotective male, and a histrionic female. Still, we the masses of readers, bear with them through the sighs, fainting and dizzy spells, and continuous self sacrificing, because while it may makes us feel a little queasy a times, we yearn for something as all encompassing and consuming as this type of love. Genetically we respond to passion, even when reason might make us think twice.
Just so that there are no misunderstandings regarding my current devotion, I have bought seven tickets to watch the Twilight movie Saturday night. One ticket is mine, and the other six are for my own personal army of friends equally enamored with the books. I imagine that we are not the only ones making this into an event.
Around 3pm this afternoon, a friend of mine text me that her boyfriend could not make it to the screening of Twilight tonight. I quickly type back an affirmative response and spend the rest of the day in anticipation. A minute ago, my brother in New York, text to tell me that he’s being “a major looser” because he is going to see Twilight tonight. What a surprise, so is his sister.
At the moment, I am part of the Twilight fad, and only time will tell if Twilight becomes part of world libraries, or a faded monument of 2008. If it becomes a trend, expect it to follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter, billions and all.