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Book Review

This romantic vampire fantasy is the first book in the " Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer and is published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of the Hachette Book Group.

Twilight is written for kids ages 9 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

When 17-year-old Bella Swan moves to her dad's home in perpetually-cloudy Forks, Wash., she has little hope of enjoying her new life. Her father, Charlie, is the small town's police chief. He lives as a resigned bachelor in the same house he owned during his brief marriage to Bella's mom. Bella enrolls in the high school and makes some new acquaintances. While sitting with them in the cafeteria, she spots a group of five strange and incredibly beautiful people and learns that they are the Cullens. Two sets of them (Alice and Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie) are couples, but they're all in the same family, adopted by the town's young doctor. They keep to themselves. Bella later shares a lab table with the fifth member of the group, named Edward. She's taken aback by his hostile behavior toward her. He sits far away from her and casts searing glances in her direction. She later sees him in the office trying to change his schedule to avoid her. She wonders what could make him hate her so much.

When icy weather hits, Bella's truck and another student's car collide in the school parking lot. Edward, whom Bella had seen standing far away, is suddenly at her side and saves her life by holding back the other car. She's perplexed by the deep hand indentions he's left in the vehicle. He's reticent when she asks how he got to her so fast and had the strength to save her. He does, however, begin to act more friendly toward her at school. Through their cryptic banter in class, Bella becomes more and more attracted to the pale, gorgeous boy whose eyes "smolder" and drive her wild.

On a day trip with other school friends, Bella runs into an old acquaintance who lives on the Indian reservation. Jacob Black, a few years younger than Bella, is eager to impress and reveals classified information about the Cullens when Bella prods him. Jacob explains that the ancestors of his tribe have a territorial agreement with the Cullens, as the Cullens and other "cold ones" are their mortal enemies. Back home on the Internet, Bella further investigates Jacob's claims and discovers Edward's chilling secret: He and his family are vampires.

Bella knows she should be more fearful, but Edward's increasing attention, protective nature and passionate gazes have left her entranced. Bella travels to a larger city with two girls from school to help them shop for prom dresses. When she gets separated from her friends, a group of four men surround her in a dark alley. Just in time, Edward appears and saves her. She's stunned by his intense anger and often witnesses it in the days thereafter. He takes her to dinner and calms down before driving her back to Forks.

Edward warns her that he's dangerous and that she should stay away from him. Thoroughly smitten, Bella repeatedly tells him (and herself) she doesn't care what happens to her. No fate could be worse than being separated from him. Edward takes Bella to a remote area in the forest, allowing her to see how his skin glows in the sunlight. The glow is just one of the reasons Edward and his "family" (the others in his vampire coven) must stay in places like Forks where there's significant cloud cover. Edward explains that his family attempts to be civilized, eating only animals and not people (though it is like subsisting on a diet of tofu and soy milk). Bella's scent is so tantalizing to Edward, he says she's like a drug to him. The same urges that cause him to want to devour her (literally) also drive him to protect and love her. He's tormented, knowing he should stay away from her for her own safety but feeling he can't bear to be without her.

Edward takes Bella home to meet his family. Most of the clan welcomes her, though Rosalie feels Bella is a threat to their life in Forks. Alice foresees a thunderstorm, and the vampires make a plan to play baseball high in the forest. When Bella joins them, she understands why loud peals of thunder are necessary to cover up their powerful hits. In mid-game, the family catches the scent of other vampires. There isn't time to get Bella out of the area, so they try their best to cover her scent as they talk to the new vampires Laurent, James and James' mate, Victoria. But James, a tracker, quickly picks up Bella's scent. When the two vampire clans part ways, Edward tells Bella he's read James' thoughts. James will stop at nothing to devour her.

Alice and Jasper go with Bella to her home, where she quickly packs and lies to her dad, telling him she can no longer live in Forks. They drive her to Phoenix while Edward and the others protect her father and track James. Alice, Jasper and Bella hole up in a Phoenix hotel and wait for directions from the others. One morning, Bella receives a call. James is on the other end of the line, telling her he has her mother. He orders her to pretend she's talking to her mom so the vampires won't catch on. James directs Bella to lose Alice and Jasper. She gets away from them in the airport where they're supposed to pick up Edward. James directs her to the dance studio she attended as a child. When she arrives, she realized James has tricked her. Her mother's voice on the phone was from an old videotape. James brutally attacks Bella. When she's nearly lost consciousness, she hears Edward's voice. He and the rest of his family have arrived to kill James. It's up to Edward to suck the poison out of Bella's blood without killing her or turning her into a vampire. Though it takes every ounce of self-control he has, Edward manages to save Bella's life.

The Cullens help Bella make up a detailed story to calm her parents. She returns to Forks to recover. Edward tricks her into getting dressed up, leg cast and all, to go with him to the prom. She begs him to change her into a vampire so they can always be together, but he refuses.

Christian Beliefs

Carlisle, head of the Cullen clan, keeps a cross from the 1600s in their home. It was carved by his father and hung on the wall of the vicarage where he (the father) preached. Carlisle's father was intolerant of Roman Catholics and other religions, and he led witch hunts in which many innocent people were burned based on accusations of practicing black magic or being werewolves and vampires. On one such raid, a real vampire attacked Carlisle and changed him.

Edward says it's hard for him to believe that the world could have been created all on its own.

Other Belief Systems

Bella learns about vampire lore on the Internet, though Edward later dispels some misconceptions. In addition to their regular vampire qualities, which include incredible speed and strength, several of the Cullens have unique abilities. Edward can hear people's thoughts, Alice can see the future, and Jasper has the ability to manipulate people's emotional states.

Bella wonders if by saving her from the van, Edward was tampering with her fate. She says good luck avoids her and suggests at another time that luck or good odds were on her side. Edward gives in to his love for Bella because he says he's decided if he's going to hell, he might as well do it thoroughly. James says he has a sixth sense when he's hunting.

Jacob tells Bella about Quileute Indian legends dating back to the time of Noah and the flood. The Indians supposedly survived by tying their canoes to the tops of the tallest trees. Another legend suggests the Quileutes descended from wolves.

When Bella hears Edward's voice after James' violent attack, she says she hears the sound of an angel calling her name, calling her to the only heaven she wants. Later, she says Edward is her life, and he's the only thing it would hurt her to lose.

Authority Roles

Bella's dad, Charlie, is a bachelor who spends most of his time fishing, watching sports or working. Unused to having parental responsibilities, he makes weak efforts to monitor Bella's activities. Bella appears much smarter than her father since her frequent lies keep him thoroughly in the dark. At the outset, she "lets him know" where she's going because she feels asking permission sets a bad precedent. Charlie imposes some rules and curfews after Bella's attack, but he still has no idea what kind of boy his daughter is dating. Before Bella's mom, Renee, remarried, Bella was in charge. She was the one making sure the bills were paid and that she and her "erratic, harebrained" mom had food on the table.


The words d--n, h--- and butt each appears a few times. Bella endures a violent attack by a vampire. He strikes her in the chest, throws her into mirrors and crushes her leg by stepping on it. Glass cuts into her scalp and she begins to bleed profusely before she blacks out.


Edward and Bella engage in a good deal of kissing and sensual (not overtly sexual) caressing, primarily of the face and neck. "Smoldering" glances, passionate whispers and purposeful breathing of one another's scents heighten their emotions. They are careful not to act too intensely on their passion for fear that Edward will lose control and bite Bella.

Though Edward is attracted to Bella physically to some degree, her scent is her most tantalizing attribute to him. His primary desire as a vampire is to devour her and taste her blood. Edward sometimes stays all night in Bella's room to watch her sleep. Edward asks a suggestive question about Bella's sexual history, and she indicates she is a virgin since she's never felt about anyone like she does about him.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Anger: Edward longs to be with Bella, yet he knows his bloodlust puts her in mortal danger. He's tormented and angered by the decisions he must make and by the intensity of effort required to maintain control when he's with her. He never physically hurts Bella, but he often lashes out in ways that frighten her. He sometimes demonstrates "righteous indignation" toward evil people or other vampires. Still, his fierce temper and the magnitude of his fury produce fear and anxiety in Bella.

Lying: Bella frequently lies to her parents about her activities or relationships, even when she knows the lies put her in dangerous situations. She lies to her friends to get out of things. She often lies to Edward, telling him she's not afraid or conflicted. After she is attacked by another vampire, the Cullen family helps her concoct an elaborate lie about why she left Forks and how she got hurt.

Substances: Bella admits to "gratuitously" taking cold medicine on one occasion to help her sleep. Edward compares the scent of blood to a drug or alcohol addiction. He says Bella's scent is like his "exact brand of heroine."

Theft: Edward steals a car in his effort to get to Bella before James devours her.

Suicide: Before her vampire days, Esme lost a baby. She jumped off a cliff in her grief.

PluggedIn.com , an entertainment and media ministry of Focus on the Family, has written an article that offers an overview of the whole "Twilight" series: Darkness Falls After Twilight.

Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie review.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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