OK, I'm going to lay all my cards on the table here. This book is not what one would call "literature". It is a guilty pleasure, mind candy, and every pubescent girl's dream (yes I was one of those once upon a time!). So sue me! I had heard so much hype on this series of books (I think there are four in total) that I simply felt left out of the fray, and I also suspected that my daughter would be asking to read it soon and I needed to put my seal of approval or disapproval on it.
To me, this is basically a Harry Potter meets Anne Rice that is dripping with romance and hormones. A teenage girl, Bella, moves to the Pacific Northwest to live with her father, after her mother remarries and starts to travel with the new hubby. At her new school, she immediately hits it off with the devestatingly handsome, well-muscled, mysterious Edward Cullen. Who just happens to be a vampire. He's a vampire with a conscience, though, who feeds on animals and lives with his vampire family on the outskirts of town. He and Bella fall madly in love, despite his fear of accidently hurting her with his brute strength or giving into his basic instinct and sucking her blood. Edward saves Bella's life several times...he is fiercly protective of her. (OK ladies, is there anyone out there that didn't fantasize about a creature such as this??? Be honest!) There is alot of dialogue about Edward's habits and lifestyle, his history, and whether or not Bella should be "converted" so they can be together forever. Their physical relationship is quite chaste (I hear this is not the case in later books!) but intense.
This book is about 500 pages, but I read it in...two days? Three days? I was completely sucked into it, pardon the pun. It is an incredibly easy read, and I fear I must read the series now. I have no choice. It will be a nice break in between the heavier stuff I have on my short list. Interestingly, the movie premiers on November 21st, and am intrigued with the choice of Robert Pattinson (our beloved and doomed Cedric in Harry Potter) for the role of Edward. Is it a good thing I knew the face assigned to the role before I read the book? I'm not sure. Apparently the teeny boppers were not pleased with that choice, but in my mind's eye, it works. As for my seal of approval for the book? I whole-heartedly approve as long as you're not looking for Shakespeare, but not for my fifth grader!
Update: Lately it seems that this series of books have taken my daughter's class by storm. It has become the "in" thing to read. Because of this, I thought it might better clarify why exactly I don't think this books is appropriate for a fifth grader so all the parents out there can make a well-informed decision without reading the book. I am not worried about the occult and the risk that my daughter might join a vampire clan. My main concern is over the sexuality and intensity of the relationship between Edward and Bella. They continually claim they would die without each other, they are the only thing that matters in each other's lives, and Bella wants to become a member of the undead to be with Edward forever. Edward regularly stays the night in Bella's bed (he doesn't sleep however, he just watches her) because she can't stand to be away from him. Comments are made by Bella "which is tempting you more...my blood or my body?". There are suggestive comments about whether vampires can have sex. So I guess even there is no sex between the characters (yet), this type of relationship is not one I want my daughter to think is healthy. There is plenty of time later for all that to run amuck!