'Twilight' time: Fans will party till the 'Breaking Dawn'

By Jeanné McCartin
July 27, 2008 6:00 AM

It's the hottest book series you've probably never heard of. That is, unless your life puts you in close proximity to a tween, teen or 20-something female. But it's bound to penetrate the world of the unacquainted soon.

The "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer will release the fourth and final installment Aug. 2, with midnight release parties nationally — including on the Seacoast. And if that doesn't burst through, the "Twilight" movie in late '08 likely will.

"Twilight," the film, hits in December. The current standing on Yahoo Movies has "Twilight" teaser No. 2 at 411,902 views, the original at 121,284. Coming in at number 3 is "The Dark Knight: You Wanna Play" at 115,689 clicks. Get the picture now?

So what is "Twilight" and why the incredible loyalty? First an explanation, then the fans.
The book's core is a romance between everyday teen Bella and her classmate Edward — a vampire. Then there's Jacob her best friend who also loves her, a Native American — oh yeah, and a werewolf, the vampire's natural enemy. It's romance and paranormal fiction with tension galore; from early Bella and Edward encounters, to the later ones with some very bad vampires.
So what grabs the reader? "It's because every girl can relate to Bella," says Bridget Swift, 18, of Stratham and a mega fan. "Also because it gives normal girls that hope of the one true love that's been lost in fairy tales over the years. ...; Now everyone dies, or cheats. ...; You can't find a real good happy ending. I haven't found a good one since 'Jane Austen' and that was a couple of centuries ago."

Swift tracks info on the movie daily "sometimes hourly," and sends alerts out to a dozen equally interested friends. She stays abreast of news as a member of a fan Web site. She's also helping to arrange the Exeter's Water Street Bookstore release party.

Till a friend gave Swift a copy of "Twilight" in February '08, when she was a high school senior, she'd never heard of it. "As soon as I read it I started seeing other people carrying around the book everywhere I went. I'd stumbled into the underground movement."
Maybe not everyone. But a check with a few bookstores, fans, and fan sites verifies some adult women and boys are fans.

Swift's hopes for the conclusion? "A happy ending for everyone. ...; The way it's written you want every one to be happy, you care for them, feel like you know them on a personal level," she says.

The best possible outcome is Bella and Edward marry and she becomes a vampire. "She wants to go with him wherever he goes." Note: vampires never die or age.

As for Jacob, "I want him to imprint on somebody other than Bella." If you don't know the term, we won't ruin your read by explaining.

And of course there must be tension — as with the previous three. All those asked, starting with Swift, believe the struggle will be with the Voltari, a very nasty lot of Italian vampires.
And what are her thoughts on the movie? Swift likes the casting. "I think they're perfect. In my head I first put Bella's voice as naive, almost too girly. But when I heard Kristen Stewart talk, it really fit the voice of the character, not girly — smart and extremely strong."

Edward is played by Robert Pattinson. "From the beginning I loved him, ever since I saw him in Harry Potter, (as Cedric Diggory). I think they really got the Greek god, hard jaw, classical looking." She thinks Taylor Lautner as Jacob should work as well.

Emily Braile, 18, Durham, is another series latecomer. Today her circle of friends, which includes Swift, is hooked.

Her book expectations? The same as the above, Edward and Bella together and both vampires. Jacob happy with someone else. "All my friends are for Edward, probably because he's impossibly perfect," says Braile. "He's what every girl hopes they can end up with."
And the movie? She's not following it too closely. She wants to be surprised. But she's fine with the casting. "I don't know any of them ...; but the one playing Edward," says Braile. "I'm excited to see if they can actually act."

Braile weighs in on the recent Entertainment Weekly photo "controversy." The cover shot depicts Edward and Bella in romance novel style and dress — open shirt and all. Related Web sites were stormed with pro and con comments. Braile liked the photo. "I thought it looked like them, the characters. They made him look really pale and her normal tone. ...; It's like the Hollywood version, it's what they do. They could do a lot worse."

Kristen Ladua, 20, of North Hampton attends the University of New Hampshire. While college isn't the target audience, she knows quite a few classmates who have read the series.
"I feel like a lot of people are turned off to the whole plot of it. ...; You think it's going to be a creepy vampire book. But once you get into it and once you get to know the characters you get totally absorbed. ...; It's like Harry (Potter). He's a wizard 'get over it.' In this Edward's a vampire, 'so move on.' It's more about his personality and less of what he is."

And oddly enough he is relatable, as is Bella. And there lies the draw. "Even though it's mythical creatures it feels like it's something that could happen. And it's so romantic and funny and nice you wish it could."

Book four wishes? "I don't want her to lose who she is as a human when she becomes a vampire and the biggest part of that is Jacob. I do feel it's inevitable she's with Edward, but I hope Stephenie (Meyer) is more imaginative and finds a way to make her part of everyone's world."
Macy Howarth, 14, Portsmouth, resisted reading "Twilight." That vampire thing was a bit much. "But my friend said 'you have to read it.' ...; I've read it six times now probably," she says. "I thought it would be on the horror side. It was more in the romantic; not gory."

She preferred books one and three, a common theme with fans. She didn't like the morose Bella, or her reference to Jacob as her sun. "It bugged me." But the series works overall because it's fast-paced, has numerous twists and strong characters. "You know them."

The series' publisher recently released a special edition of "Eclipse," which included the first chapter of "Breaking Dawn." Nice marketing ploy. Howarth's friend bought it and passed it around. "We were fighting over it," she says laughing. "It sounds like they're getting married, but (Meyer) might throw a twist into the plot. ...; I kind of want them to get married. I really hope she doesn't go for Jacob. I think Edward has picked his love."

As for the movie, the cast isn't her dream team. Edward is OK, she says. But she's not wild about Stewart as Bella and she's no fan of the teaser trailers either; "Too dramatic." Furthermore it shows Edward flying; "Doesn't happen." "I don't think they're going to get it right. I think when you go to the movie you have to forget the book. If you compare it, it will be an awful movie."
That said, she wouldn't miss it for anything.