Stephenie Meyer sold 26.5 million books in 2009. Following in J.K. Rowling’s footsteps she is the latest huge success in what is commonly termed ‘cross-over’ fiction. Cross- over fiction transcends the usual categories of ‘adult’ and ‘teenage’ writing. If someone is spotted reading a Stephenie Meyer book on the tube or at the bus stop the person engrossed in their copy of Twilight is almost as likely to be a middle aged woman as an adolescent girl.
What is Stephenie Meyer’s the Twilight Phenomenon?
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga is made up of the books Twilight, Eclipse, New Moon and Breaking Dawn. The popularity of Meyer’s Twilight has resulted in vampire mania with a whole new generation of vampire books appearing on bookshop shelves and flooding supermarket book sections.
The Twilight books follow the romance between clumsy new-to-town Bella Swan and the beautiful Edward Cullen. There is just one major problem facing the relationship – the fact that Edward just happens to be a vampire. And as if that isn’t enough the relationship is also put under further stress by the close affinity between Bella and Edward’s love rival Jacob. Jacob’s and Edward’s families don’t get on. The reason? Jacob is a werewolf.
Controversies around Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight books
There have been a number of controversies about Stephenie Meyer’s books
* Disputes about the quality of her writing
* The influence of her religious beliefs
* The leaking of a fifth novel before its completion
Disputes about the Quality of Stephenie Meyer’s Writing
The author’s writing style has been heavily criticised by some while others view her as a highly talented and sklilful writer. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between. The Twilight books may not be great literary masterpieces in the tradition of English classics but her writing style is effective. Like J.K. Rowling she tells an absorbing story and her style of writing doesn’t jar in a way that obstructs the unfolding of the tale.
The Influence of Meyer’s Religious Beliefs
Stephenie Meyer belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. As a Mormon she has professed and strict religious beliefs. She has been criticised by some as pushing her ideologies through the content of her fiction. Since her books were released Meyer has featured strongly on the list of books that users have asked to be banned from US libraries.
It’s true that sex does not really appear in Stephanie Meyer’s novels and that the belief that a vampire does not have a soul is a major reason why Edward does not want Bella to sacrifice her humanity. While Meyer herself accepts that her writing is inevitably coloured by her beliefs she disputes any motivation to consciously preach or peddle religious ideology through her fiction.
J.K. Rowling’s books in the past have also had complaints. In Rowlings case this has been with regard to the representation of magic in the novels as well as the depiction of dysfunctional families. Perhaps the very volume of success inevitably generates much negative as well as positive response.
The Leaking of Meyer’s Fifth Novel
Stephenie Meyer was in the process of writing a fifth novel in the Twilight series. However this book was put on hold with no current intentions by the author to finish the tale off. The title of the leaked book was Midnight Sun. This was not a sequel to the already existing books but, interestingly it was to be the retelling of the events in Twilight told from the perspective of Edward Cullen. The twelve existing chapters now appear on the author’s web site.
What is the attraction of the Twilight saga?
The success of all fiction in some ways depends on a delicate balance of ‘familiarity’ and ‘uniqueness’. The reader must be able to empathise with situations and characters but also discover something new or see things from a slightly different perspective. Regardless of controversies over the quality of writing and her personal religious beliefs, Stephenie Meyer’s addictive tales of vampires and werewolves allow us to explore or re-discover the thrills and trials of young (or even older) love in a totally different setting.
this article was published here