Get Lit: Stephenie Meyer’s Teenage Vampires

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Bella Swan loves Edward Cullen in the most desperate way. He’s handsome, mysterious and smart. The catch is, Edward is a vampire – forever frozen at 17 years old. Bella really wants to be a vampire too because what teenage girl wants to be older than her boyfriend? As her birthdays start piling up… well it brings new meaning to the term biological clock.

Add in Bella’s former best friend Jacob who turns out to be Edward’s rival for Bella’s love and as it happens, a werewolf – teenage of course – and you’ve really got a double portion of teenage angst and longing in a tale of suspense and the supernatural.

Eclipse is the third book in the best selling series of teen vampire love by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight and New Moon preceded it) and if you want to know about the books making the rounds in high schools today all three of these are high on the list As much as Meyer has written – and her books are not tiny – fan fiction writers have been out in force as well.

I confess I found the first book almost excruciatingly slow to get to the big moment of reveal about Edward and his family being vampires. This came after page upon page of description of Edward and his brothers and sisters as all white and pale and never eating lunch in the school cafeteria, how they stood apart from the rest of the kids and never seemed to age and the otherworldly beauty they all possessed.

But Meyer has improved in each book. Part of what makes her books work so well is that she takes the usual attraction of vampire lore and goes beyond it. Her vampires can be seen on film. They walk around in the daytime – thanks to placing the book in the grey and rainy small town of Forks near Seattle. Edward and his family are “good” vampires. They’ve taken the pledge to drink only animal blood, although the youngest among them can be easily tempted by a human’s paper cut. Oh and it’s not a case of all the neighborhood’s cats and dogs disappearing; the vampires go out into the woods to fight bears and mountain lions and the like. Just like real human big game hunters, with different weapons.

The “father” of this put together family – vampires can’t procreate – is Carlisle Cullen, the town doctor who has overcome all his unnatural blood drinking tendencies to minister to humans in his search for redemption.

Oh and Edward is a product of his – original – times. He wants to marry Bella, since by this age in his first life he would have been married. And, of course, there’s a complication here because Bella, as the product of divorce by parents who married too young, wants no part of wedlock.

As readers of New Moon know, an uneasy truce exists between the werewolves and the vampires all centered around the town where Bella lives with her father, the chief of police.

When Eclipse starts, Bella is trying to get Jacob to talk with her again. Father Charlie doesn’t think much of Edward, and this is without knowing he’s a vampire. He’s very fond of Jacob, but is equally oblivious to his werewolf vibe.

Bella is in her senior year of high school and starting to think about college, limiting selections to places without a lot of sunshine (Alaska) so that Edward (who’s already done high school and college before) can go with her.

And then a threat appears which casts back to things that went wrong in the first book and brings the werewolves and the vampires together in a united cause.

There’s one more book planned in the series from Bella’s point of view (there may be one from Edward’s) due out in August. Meyer is already working on moving into the adult fiction writer ranks.

But what she’s done here shouldn’t be undervalued. She’s set her main characters in a provocative time of life. They are teenagers — a time of great loves and great hormonal urges. Imagine being trapped at that point in life for centuries? Her series transcends most of the usual young adult literature. – Margaret Downing

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