Twilight by Stephanie MeyerI’ve been down with a bad sinus infection for the past week or so, limiting my normally busy summer routine. On the plus side, I’ve been able to do a lot of reading. One of my students recommended the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer and I haven’t been able to put it down. In the first of this series, Twilight, we meet Bella, an insecure and clumsy high schooler who has just moved to Forks, Washington, to live with her divorced father, Charlie. Forks is the rainiest town in the United States, and Bella initially resents having to live there while her mother follows the fledgling baseball career of her new boyfriend.

Things change when Bella meets Edward Cullen, a mysterious seventeen-year-old with a big secret: he’s a vampire. Bella is drawn to Edward–and Edward finds Bella irresistible. The good news for Bella, though, is that she is not his next victim. Edward and his vampire family have learned to resist their blood lust by hunting only animals and blending with the human population of Forks. Soon Bella and Edward are deeply in love, resulting in a few raised eyebrows and more than a few real problems.

This novel, Meyer’s debut, is compellingly told and understandably popular. Meyer’s style can be a little overwrought at times, and the book does present a troublesome view of adolescent relationships (Bella seems all too submissive–literally ready to die for Edward), but overall, I recommend Twilight . I’m going to buy New Moon, the second in the series, this afternoon.

I can imagine using Twilight as a centerpiece for an entire unit on vampires/Dracula. You could supplement Twilight with Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Google Books), for example, or even excerpts from Anne Rice.

Update (July 1): A week later, I am finished with the second of the series, New Moon. When Edward and the Cullens leave Forks suddenly, Bella is left to fend for herself. This installment spends about 400 pages detailing the emerging friendship between Bella, who is heartbroken over Edward’s departure, and Jacob Black, a Quileute Indian who also happens to be a werewolf. Bella is a little slow to realize that her newfound friend runs with a pack of wolves (I was guessing this about halfway through the first book), but her relationship with Jacob definitely makes things interesting–particularly when Edward returns to Forks. You see, werewolves and vampires don’t get along so very well. . .

Update (July 8): Okay, so I count myself among the rabid fans of the Twilight series. I just finished the third book in the series–Eclipse. Like the first two installments, this one focuses on the relationship between Bella and Edward, but there’s a twist: Bella may or may not be in love with the werewolf Jacob Black, who befriended her when Edward abandoned her. Much of this book involves Bella trying to reconcile her feelings for Jacob with her desire to become a vampire and immortal companion of Edward. The plot also involves a larger conflict between the Cullen clan and an army of newly converted vampires recruited to kill Bella. Despite some stylistic excesses on Stephenie Meyer’s part (she never met an adverb she didn’t like), I’m absorbed in this compelling world and am looking forward to the August 2 release of the next installment, Breaking Dawn.

In the meantime, I’m on to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.