It has been three years since Stephenie Meyer last graced us with a new installment in her enormously popular ‘Twilight’ saga. Since then, the franchise has grown to include a movie, several soundtrack albums, and countless fan-made t-shirts, hoodies, etc. The last book, ‘Breaking Dawn’, was released in 2011 and the final installment, ‘Eclipse’, hit theaters in 2012.

While the saga was a commercial and critical success, it wasn’t greeted warmly by everyone. Many critics panned Meyer’s work and called it overly sentimental and simplistic. They also argued that the books’ popularity was solely due to the fact that they were written by a woman and inspired by her personal life experiences as a lesbian. Now, as we look back at these books and the films that followed, we’ll take a brief moment to appreciate what the franchise has achieved while also recognizing how much criticism it has received. (WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for those who have not yet read or seen the series.)

The Books Have Matured

Over the past three years, Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ books have been cited by many as examples of’metaphysical porn’ and ‘porn for adults’. While this is generally a negative reaction, it’s important to remember that these are not derogatory terms and, in fact, they might even describe the series accurately. As the books progress, so does the tension. On the surface, it’s a coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old girl named Bella Swan whose parents are forcing her to choose between vampire-hunting Prince Charming and human schoolboy Edward Cullen.

But, as with any great work of art, there is so much more to the saga than what initially meets the eye. Upon deeper inspection, we see an allegory about the struggle for independence, the responsibility that comes with growing up, sexuality, self-identity, and much more. In the process, Bella teaches us something about our own humanity, the fragility of life, and the importance of being true to ourselves.

The Movies Are Beautiful And Important Too

While Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ books are largely responsible for the massive global following that the franchise has achieved, it is clear that the films also helped elevate the series to a whole other level. For those who have yet to see them, here’s a quick description of how the movies stand out from the original novel.

In contrast to the darker vision of the source material, the film adaptations generally feature a lighter tone. Colorful and beautiful, the visuals are sleek and modern, with a clear influence from Japanese anime. Additionally, the soundtracks are some of the most memorable movie soundtracks of all time, featuring the unforgettable songs “Breaking Dawn – Part I” and “Let Me Hold You Till You Can Think Straight”.

Speaking of holding someone, let’s talk about the first part of the ‘Twilight’ trilogy,’Twilight’. Arguably the most popular of the three films, ‘Twilight’ introduced us to Bella, an independent and rebellious young woman who refuses to be defined by her parent’s divorce and chooses to live her own life. Forging her own identity, she chooses to live in Florida where she can be near her father, a prominent and successful doctor. But, even though she is surrounded by sunny beaches and beautiful people, she feels something is missing. That something is Edward, her childhood best friend and secret admirer. While she initially rejects his romantic advances, Bella later reconsiders and they become a couple.

Edward’s ability to see what is hidden from the naked eye and his status as a vampire give him a unique perspective on life. His extraordinary gift makes him an important ally for Bella and, later, her family. Additionally, the film manages to humanize vampirism by showing us that even though vampires are physically stronger and more appealing, they are, at least, as susceptible to pain and emotional damage as the rest of us. Finally, the film is a celebration of true love and the transformative power of friendship. It ends with a beautiful speech by Edward in which he declares his undying love for Bella, admitting that he would do anything for her, including transforming into a wolf to save her from harm. This speech gives the film its bittersweet ending and is a clear reference to Romeo and Juliet, one of the most famous literary depictions of star-crossed lovers forever.

Each Book Is Better Than The Last

While there is no denying that Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ series is a commercial success, it’s important to remember that it is, first and foremost, an artistic achievement. Over the past three years, the popularity of the books has only increased and they continue to find new readers, proving that there is a large and engaged audience that wants to read about vampires, werewolves, and the like.

As we’ve established, the series is a celebration of artistic and commercial flourishing, so it’s fitting that it has found such a large audience and been made into a successful franchise. Each book in the series is better than the last, offering deeper insight into the characters, intriguing plot twists, and memorable scenes. Additionally, the series’ wide appeal shows that there is something for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. This is, in fact, Meyer’s ultimate message to her readers: that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to life and we must each find our own unique way to navigate the world around us.

Even those who have not read the series or seen the films can enjoy it, as the world of Edward Cullen, Bella Swan, and their friends continues to grow in popularity, especially amongst youth. In 2019 alone, there were more than a dozen fan-made t-shirts worn by celebs such as Naomi Campbell and Alexa Chung adorned with images from the series. In 2022, the year after the finale, the search term ‘Twilight’ spiked worldwide and rose by 40% in the U.S. According to Google Trends, the interest in the series is now higher than it has ever been in the United States, with searches hitting an all-time high. (1)

While the world of ‘Twilight’ may not exist in reality, the universe that Stephenie Meyer has created is an unforgettable one, filled with exciting new places, fascinating creatures, and unexpected alliances. As for now, let’s enjoy the fact that we still have new stories to tell about this fascinating world and its various inhabitants. And, hopefully, Meyer will return soon to end this three-year wait and bring us one final installment in what has proven to be one of the most popular series of all time.