Vampires made real

  • January 6, 2009
{mosimage}The Twilight series of books may not have sold as many copies as the Harry Potter series over the past decade, but it certainly seems to be taking its place as the new literary candy.

Twilight did however, sell more copies in Canada this past year than Harry Potter books sold during 2007 — the year of the final Harry Potter book release — although the growing fame is where the comparison should stop. Twilight is a different kind of story altogether.

Forget about wizards, giants and dragons. The mystical creatures here are vampires and werewolves. But it is a vampire story quite unlike any other. Devoid of the usual barrage of blood, guts and violence, the first of the four novels, made into a $70-million big screen hit released in November, tells the story of a love interest between a 17-year-old girl and one of her classmates who happens to be from a family of vampires living secretly among regular humans in a small American town.

{sa 0316015849}“You read some vampire stories and it doesn’t sound real,” said Lauren Heuvel, a 16-year-old with a passion for the series. “But this is different. I’ve never liked any other books as much as these.”

Heuvel said the author, Stephenie Meyer, does a great job of giving insight into the main character Bella and how she thinks and acts. For her, Bella represents a strong young woman who knows how to take care of herself and the people she loves. At the same time, Heuvel said she loves how protective the vampire Edward is towards Bella.

“There’s some things you don’t like about him, because he thinks so radically, but he is kind of the knight in shining armour and he risks everything to be with her. He portrays everything a high school girl wants.”

Why a teenage vampire-romance thriller would draw so much attention seems to have less to do with the tale of the vampire and more with the human strengths and weaknesses portrayed throughout.

“He’s gentlemanly,” said John Mesman, another 16-year-old Twilight fan and an avid reader. “It’s not that he’s honest all the time. He’s just real. I felt like I was in the same situation as him, I could relate.”

Mesman said the book didn’t really feel like a romance story, which make it interesting to read, even as a guy. Some of the problems Edward experiences — family pressures, fighting desire and trying to blend in — are all things that teens can relate to.

“Everyone would want to be like him. He’s real and believable,” Mesman added.

Not to mention handsome, fast, strong and naturally seductive, Edward could be considered the dangerous superhero trying to do the right thing, but still a menace to society because of his nature.

With this teenage vampire-romance thriller making its way into millions of homes, online bloggers are quick to post their own theories as to why tweens, teens and their mothers are so drawn to this series and whether or not the themes are appropriate for girls under 16. But others say it is just another interesting story, told with enough suspense to successfully keep readers locked.

“We’re drawn to this type of story because it is part of our nature to want to be terrified in a good way,” said Fr. John Pungente, S.J., a media literacy expert who is part of the Jesuit Communication Project in Toronto.

He points out that most classic fairy tales are essentially scary.

“Twilight is a safe kind of terror for us,” he said.

Like the female star in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bella represents an empowering figure for young girls. And although personally not thrilled with the series himself, Pungente said he can understand how the suspense created by the possibility of danger has made the Twilight series a popular obsession.

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