Daily Archives: November 17, 2009

Twilight Week: The Appeal and The Obsession

Today: The Appeal and The Obsession

Tomorrow: The Truth

The next day: The (My) Opinion

Everyone knows the tale. Once upon a time, a writer had a dream about a vampire and a young woman. Like all good writers, she wrote down her dream — and then wrote it into a novel. Got an agent. Got a publisher. The first print run was 75,000 copies.

Now she’s sold 45 million copies in the U.S. and 40 million copies outside of it. How does a random first-time author leap from 75,000 copies to 235 weeks on the NYT Bestseller list?

It’s controversial. No one seems to agree — while hordes of preteens swoon at Meyer’s god-like vampire hero, hordes of writer-types puke at her descriptions of him. But as I have both been a preteen and read all four Twilight books, I’m going to take a shot at figuring out why these books are such huge hits. Because (face it) we all want to be huge hits, too.

The Appeal in Three Simple Sentences:

  • Edward is hot. So we all know that maybe RP doesn’t necessarily live up to the average girl’s mental image of EC. At least — he doesn’t live up to mine. But all that aside, Edward is hot. HOT. HO-OO-OOOT. The hottest guy alive. Skin: perfect. Muscles: like chiseled rock. Face: blindingly beautiful. Eyes: entrancing (when they’re not creepy and reddish/dark/hungry). Mouth: well, Bella thinks about his mouth a lot. Who can resist all this hot-ness?
  • Bella is anyone. When you think of Bella, what major character traits jump into your head? I can think of clutzy. Clutzy and… clutzy. Maybe kind of obsessive, too, but definitely clutzy. Point is, Bella has no characteristics. She is anyone. She is you, she is me, she is your crazy preteen neighbor who walks the dog with books in hand. While some authors might say this is bad, it actually can be good. Because:
  • Edward likes Bella, so he likes anyone, aka The Reader. When you think about it, Bella’s lack of characteristics make it easy for The Reader to inhabit her. If she had an anger problem, most of us wouldn’t be able to relate as much. If she had specific personal baggage, we’d be able to relate even less. But we are all clutzy and obsessive, all attracted to hot people… Therefore (at least according to my theory) we are all Bella when we read Twilight. Which is good. Because if we are Bella, then Edward is in love with us. And Edward wants to kiss us/suck our blood/marry us/be with us for all eternity/etc. The story is that much more powerful — because what girl doesn’t want a sizzling-hot bad-boy with a mysterious past chasing after her?

The Obsession (fun facts):

  • Amazon reviews: +/- 10,000 reviews for all four books
  • Google hits (Edward Cullen): 8,510,000
  • Google hits (Bella Swan): 3,910,000
  • Stories on fanfiction.net: 116,637

A couple questions for you:

  • What (if anything) in Twilight appealed to you?
  • What else makes the books so addicting?
  • Could repeating (or attempting to repeat) SM’s successful techniques boost any book to stardom — or is this a one-time phenomenon?

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