Stephenie Meyer’s New Vampire Book Comes Out in Two Days – And I’m Gonna Get It
Stephenie Meyer, if you have not visited a bookstore recently (or if you are not related to a teenage girl), is the author of Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse, all about the same high school girl and the vampire she loves. In Forks, Washington. Which has gotten a big boost in revenue recently because of Meyer.
Why is it that I, a non-teenage girl, am expressing such excitement over this? (When I read the first book I snuck it off my roommate’s shelf and read it in secret. When she discovered this she teased me – in front of other people! – and now I’m posting it on the Melon…) Meyer’s books are certainly not high literature, but they are solidly entertaining. And she seems to have made some significant waves, not only because of the content of her books, but because of who she is.
With J.K. Rowling taking a break from writing (who are we kidding? She’s going to come back to Harry Potter sometime), publishers are looking for the next big break. Book sales are never really that great, what with the quick gratification of television, so any true popularity is a windfall. Most of Meyer’s readers grew up with Harry Potter, so there’s an expectation of – and patience with – a good story to last for several books. Well, perhaps that is going a bit far. But there’s no denying that Rowling made children read who did not before, and Meyer is tearing the teenagers away from magazines to real books – expensive hardcover ones.
Her success has of course launched a mass reaction in teen publishing. Just last night I walked by the teen section in the bookstore; many black and red book covers contained stories about vampires and associated magic creatures, more than I remember from when I was younger. The Romance section seemed to take on a bit of that as well, though the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section had no more than its usual proportion of vampire novels.
Meyer’s clear influence seems amazing to most reviewers, since in every single article I’ve read about her it is always mentioned that she is a Mormon housewife. First of all, housewives aren’t supposed to have imaginations – that’s how they can stand doing nothing, duh! I personally am impressed by this detail because it means that she wrote five books with three little kids running around. Second of all, that a Mormon would have anything to do with vampire mythology, or anything else bordering on popular culture, also seems weird. Her Mormonism also seems to make her popularity even more mystifying, as though the Church of Latter Day Saints precludes anyone from having a connection with the rest of the nation. But Bella, Edward, and Meyer’s other characters are real and relatable. They are boring people, sure, but I and apparently a lot of other folks connect with them.
Meyer also pushes some boundaries with the genre regarding sex, and this may be why so many reviewers have trouble reconciling her religion and her books. Bella and Edward are going to have sex. They have some make-out sessions that are fairly hot. They almost did in the third book, but then remembered that it’s a Young Adult book and just promised to do it soon. Meyer finagled it so that they get married before sex, but that has less to do with the “sin” of sex before marriage and more with something else. She also included a discussion of how getting married while young is irresponsible, which goes against the social conservatism of Mormonism. Overall the sexual attitude of the books are far more in line with popular young adult conceptions of sexual conventions, and readers respond to that.
Meyer’s writing style is unique, like Rowling’s. She began to write the first book for her own entertainment, and it refuses to solidly fit into any particular category. In the first book, Twilight, There’s a lot of teenage whining, and also pining. The love story proceeds in a strangely logical way, more so than most love stories, and then all of a sudden the book morphs into an action-suspense thriller out of nowhere. It works beautifully, and if you haven’t read it yet I’d recommend getting through the first fifty pages or so just for that. (Don’t watch the movie trailer, though – that will spoil it.) This style of teenage whining (this is sometimes not as bad as it sounds), romance, and action thriller prevails in the two sequels, and it’s why I’m so excited about Stephenie Meyer. It’s engaging, and I’m all about rewarding a job well done with some money for a hardcover.