9:30 am EST, October 5, 2018

Why the ‘Twilight’ books mattered

By Nasim Mansuri | Edited by Karen Rought

It’s been 13 years since Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books came out, setting off a series of events that changed pop culture and the world of literature forever.

Now that 10 years have passed since the first movie came out, and some of the excitement for the saga has naturally died down, it’s interesting to look back on what was one of the most passionate fandoms of the modern age, and see how it changed us.

Society has not been kind to Twilight, which has been torn down repeatedly by critics, endured some rather painful adaptation choices, and was disrespectfully upstaged by Fifty Shades of Grey in later years. But while some of the criticism might be legitimate, a lot of the vitriol thrown at Twilight is unnecessarily harsh.

The fact is, the books were an absolute joy to be immersed in, were gripping and entertaining, and had an original mythology that deserves respect for its creativity. So here’s to Twilight, a saga that should be remembered by all of us for the thrills and friendships it brought us 10 years ago.

A new generation of readers

One of the reasons Twilight was initially mocked is also the main reason for why it was so important. As a YA paranormal romance, the initial demographic that read the books was teenage girls, who immediately embraced it as their new fandom. They were followed by some of their mothers — the famous Twilight moms — but also by their slightly younger counterparts, adolescents who hadn’t yet gotten into books.

For that generation of readers, Harry Potter had come too early. And so, the furious excitement that Twilight created was the wave they rode into “reading for fun.” It definitely helped that Meyer’s books were so easy to understand, and the story so easy to identify with. Young people who hadn’t read more than a few paragraphs at a time, and even then by force, suddenly found themselves reading a 500-page novel.

From Twilight, they went to The Hunger Games, and then they were truly unstoppable. The effect of Twilight on today’s readers shouldn’t be underestimated.

A legitimization of romance

Romance has often been unfairly mocked as a lesser form of literature. But Twilight challenged people’s assumptions when it rose to Harry Potter-level notoriety. Never before in modern memory had a romance series taken the world by storm like that, much less one intended for a younger audience.

With thousands of fans lining up to meet Stephenie Meyer and the actors involved in the movie adaptations, millions upon millions’ worth of merch sold, and wild book release parties all around the world, the Twilight fandom didn’t allow itself to be ignored. It opened the eyes of publishers who previously might have discounted YA romance as a frivolous genre, and instead showed them the value that exists in all genres of writing — especially in those that are traditionally female-driven.

New Twilight movies

A prolific fandom

The best part of Twilight, by far, was the fandom spirit. After each book was released, the best part was to go on the internet and see what people had created. The fan art was beautiful, the fanfiction absolutely inspired, and even the Twilight musicals absolutely hilarious. (My favorite one was taken down from YouTube, unfortunately. If anyone finds it again, let me know!)

The passion surrounding the saga inspired many to develop new skills, create new websites, and go on to start their own independent projects, building on the skills they had acquired. That’s the kind of community Twilight created: a place where everyone could fall in love with a character, create something beautiful, and ultimately have a really great time together.

Dazzling vampires

I don’t care what anyone says. I loved that the vampires sparkled!

What did ‘Twilight’ mean to you?

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