Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, (Megan Tingley Books, 2005)

Isabella (Bella) Swan never expected to really make a home for herself in the small Pacific Northwest town of Forks, Washington, where she’d be living with her father, the police chief. After all, she hasn’t stayed with him for years, preferring to live with her scatter-brained, eccentric mother. But times have changed, and now Bella must fit in at a new school all over again. She quickly settles in, making an assortment of new friends and carving out a niche for herself in true high school fashion. And then she goes and does the one thing she really shouldn’t: she makes friends with Edward Cullen, a strange young man whose family, while vaguely respected in town, are social outcasts for no immediately discernable reason. And Bella pursues this friendship, even as her life takes a strange and dangerous turn. The closer she gets to Edward, the more death stalks her, and the more she fall in love with him. And for all of his protestations and warnings, the feelings seem mutual. Then Bella learns the truth: Edward and his entire family are vampires, ones who deny their craving for human blood even as they attempt to live among humans. But there are still vampires out there who stick to the old ways, and they’re about to complicate matters tremendously for Bella and Edward. Will our heroes find love together, or be torn apart (and limb from limb)? If they want to live long enough to go to the prom, they’ll run for their lives and exercise every ounce of cunning they possess to outwit their foes.

Twilight is a thoroughly enjoyable, solidly-plotted YA vampire romance, that introduces a number of believable, sympathetic characters, and offers a thoughtful spin on the vampire mythos. Bella’s practicality and stubbornness makes her the perfect foil for the older-than-he-seems Edward, while their respective friends and families help to flesh out a scenario that borders (but never commits) on becoming tragic. It’s nice to see a vampire that doesn’t mope around, wallow in Gothic excess, or exude sex with every breath. (Although the way Edward describes Bella’s appeal is enough to make a person hungry.) I hope we’ll see a sequel to this book soon, if only to answer the questions raised about Bella’s nature. (Particularly her accident-prone tendencies, extreme clumsiness, and amplified appeal to vampires. You just know there’s something going on here.) I thoroughly enjoyed Twilight, and it’s a wonderful debut from newcomer Stephenie Meyer, proving that the vampire romance genre isn’t bled dry yet.

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