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Twilight invokes multiple genres to serve its romance

 

Egan Junior High School seventh-grader Katherine Foley demystifies her demographic’s cultish reaction to a recent book-to-movie hit.

It’s a best-selling series, even more popular than Harry Potter. It’s a young-adult book about vampires, but all ages have read it. It’s romantic, with forbidden lovers, a kiss of death and a mystery for a human girl to solve.

The love surrounding Edward and Bella, two very different characters, carries the book and the movie “Twilight” (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2006), a story about a vampire and girl who have fallen – foolishly – in love.

The “Twilight” craze picked up speed as the online world anticipated the movie, which premiered in November. Soon, everyone was reading the books, excited about this new fad.

Stephenie Meyer’s book serves excellent romance with a side of horror. As movie trailers hit the Web, fans were quite aware of the changes – is Rosalie (supposedly the most beautiful vampire) pretty enough? Is Edward amazing enough, and where, pray tell, is that velvet voice of his that we’ve all fallen in love with?

Both the text and the film drew fervent response, with crowds of people lining up to buy something – T-shirts, tickets for the film or the book itself. “Twilight” book fanatics anticipated the upcoming movie with foaming mouths – would it be enough to meet their expectations?

On a Thursday night in November, close to midnight, a large turnout of screaming girls awaited the premiere. As the movie prepared to start, the entire auditorium was screaming. “Twilight” was even more anticipated than the book “Breaking Dawn,” Meyer’s fourth in the series, released last year.

As the movie progressed, people were more than willing to compare the translation from page to screen. There’s the all-famous glare, as Edward – the main vampire and hottie in every scene – glowers at Bella, a human girl who just wants to fit in, through lunch-time and science on her first day at a new school. His introduction (which felt long-delayed as the movie’s opening minutes ticked by) made some girls swoon. And, of course, there’s rival Jacob Black, Bella’s new friend from the Quileute tribe who appears to have already fallen in love with her. Jacob’s edginess toward Edward is the result of something more than jealousy – a set-up for the sequel, due to premiere later this year?

Why do so many people love “Twilight”? Why did they anticipate the movie so much? Reflecting on the mix of genres in “Twilight,” you can see a hint of horror, some school drama and plenty of romance. We can’t forget the mystery that surrounds the book as we try to figure out who and what Edward is (he isn’t immediately revealed as a vampire), what’s up with his aversion to Bella and why he is so certain that he is putting her in danger. The superhero powers used by Edward and his sister Alice draw on a supernatural mix of mind reading and future telling, and horror appears in the scary chase and conflicts among vampires. The book is stuck in the romance section, causing some to shy away from it, but I would describe it as more of a perfect mix of genres.

It’s true that the book and movie are both very romantic. However, those who have bothered to read the book, then see the movie know that there is action and mystery between every line. Some love seeing the movie’s fight scene between Edward and the hostile vampire James, while others are content merely to hear about it from Edward’s voice in the book.

“The mystery wasn’t really solved until the end,” said Amy Shannon, a Los Altos seventh-grader who was less than ecstatic with the movie. “Also, I thought that parts of the book were missing in the movie. Isn’t Jacob supposed to tell Bella the whole story of the Quileutes and who Edward might be?”

Others, like Savannah Swan, thought that it was just awesome to see “Twilight” on the big screen.

“I was so excited! It was great!” she enthused.

Others just consider the movie another part of the “Twilight” world. New shirts showing the whole Cullen vampire clan, Edward and Bella and quotes, have been created. People are buying collector’s packs with all four books. Meyer is soon to publish a guide to “Twilight.” The world is grabbing hold of “Twilight” and everyone is sinking their teeth into it. It may not be forbidden, but it’s one of the sweetest books out there.

“Twilight” is available at Linden Tree Children’s Recordings & Books, 170 State St., Los Altos.

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