Over the years, Twilight and its stars have achieved a monumental status, transcending decades, cultural differences, and even language barriers. The phenomenon not only inspired countless imitations but also spawned a genre of its own: a mash-up of speculative fiction and chick-lit, known as “Twilight-esque”, which emerged throughout the 2010s.
The books and films that inspired this trend were ahead of their time, but now that our culture has shifted to focus more on wellness, mental satisfaction, and individualism, the “Twilight craze” feels even more alien. Gone are the days when fans would queue up for hours in order to catch a glimpse of Bella Swan; nowadays, she can appear in the most unexpected places, like on social media, where her almost 3.7 million Instagram followers can often be found doing whatever it is they do – seemingly, having fun.
It’s been over a year since the final Twilight movie was released, and while many fans were initially devastated that the saga had come to such an end, the end results are largely positive. With the exception of the divisive New Moon, every movie in the Twilight series holds an almost unanimous critical acclaim, and according to several sources, the final installment, Twilight Saga: Ecliptic Storm, is widely considered to be among the greatest space operas of all time.
If you’re curious about the state of modern-day fandom, or if you’re simply an enthusiastic reader who wants to learn more about the impact this series has had on popular culture, this article will examine some of the changes that have occurred since Twilight soared in popularity, as well as the factors that contributed to its unparalleled success.
A Revolution In Reading Material
What’s fascinating about Bella Swan and her band of makeshift vampire slayers is how far back they go, stepping over the decades, breaking down barriers, and inspiring cultural shifts. The books that the young Bella read growing up – including Treasure Island, which was made into a 1996 movie starring Angela Lansbury – were ordinary children’s classics that almost no one had ever heard of, and yet, many feel that they unlocked something special in her, inspiring her to change the world. Similarly, the films inspired by Philip K. Dick’s works introduced him to a much larger audience, resulting in increased sales and widespread praise, as well as a number of successful television adaptations (such as The Man in the High Castle).
But even beyond this, the sheer volume of books that were inspired by Bella’s saga was unprecedented. In 2019 alone, there were over 50 novels and novellas that were named after the famous saga, several of which were adapted into successful movies, while others remained relatively unknown before suddenly becoming bestsellers, making the 2019 list of the American Booksellers Association’s Top 100 bestselling novels, all of which are directly or indirectly tied to the Twilight phenomenon. Here are the 10 bestselling novels that were inspired by the Twilight series, in order of publication date:
- Twilight (2008)
- New Moon (2009)
- Eclipse (2010)
- Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)
- Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)
- Carry On (2012)
- Beyond the Pillars (2014)
- Fire with Fire (2015)
- Into the Wild (2019)
- The Midnight Disease (2019)
A New Generation Of Fangirls
One of the most interesting aspects of the Twilight phenomenon is how it has encouraged a new generation of fans – not just young women but also young men, who may not have traditionally been associated with the genre – to branch out of their comfort zones and embrace books and reading that they might not have picked up if it hadn’t been for the allure of Bella Swan. The sheer volume of books inspired by Twilight is a testimony to how much of a cultural phenomenon this series has been, encouraging new fans to discover books that they might not have previously given a glance, let alone a credit to the genre.
In 2019 alone, the American Booksellers Association’s Top 100 bestselling novels were a veritable who’s who of pop culture, with movie and game tie-ins, references to actual people and places, and a host of other in-jokes and inside jokes relating to fandom. Here are the 10 bestselling novels of 2019, according to the American Booksellers Association:
- The House of Gucci (2019)
- The Sun is Also a Star (2019)
- An Officer and a Gentleman (2020)
- A Dance With Wilde (2020)
- The Beach House (2020)
- The Goldfinch (2020)
- Ecozone (2020)
- The Nomad (2020)
- The Catcher in the Rye (2020)
- Little Fires Everywhere (2020)
An Unexpected Twist
Another interesting development related to the Twilight phenomenon is how author Stephenie Meyer has taken a backseat to her creations, with considerable creative input and guidance being given by the other authors. Several of the Twilight books were co-written by others, with Stephenie serving as a sort of creative consultant, and many of the subsequent novels and novellas have continued in this vein, with several of the new authors being inspired by the works of Stephenie and her collaborators. Here are the 20 bestselling novels and novellas that were directly or indirectly inspired by the Twilight series, in order of publication date:
- The Host (2007)
- Sleeping Beauty (2007)
- The Thorn Queen (2008)
- The Host: Part 2 (2008)
- The Darkest Day (2009)
- The Twilight Saga: Season One (2011)
- The Twilight Saga: Season Two (2012)
- The Twilight Saga: Season Three (2013)
- The Twilight Saga: Season Four (2014)
- The Twilight Saga: Season Five (2015)
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)
- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
- The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
- The Twilight Saga: Fire and Ice (2014)
- The Darkest Beauty (2019)
- The Tiger’s Wife (2019)
- The Midnight Beast (2019)
- Bloody Mama (2019)
- The Ravenous (2019)
- A Cruelty-free Love (2019)
A Shift In Focus
What’s interesting about the Twilight craze is how far back it goes, reaching all the way back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, when female fans were among the first to embrace the concept of “ship wars”, famously clashing in real life over the most minute details of the saga. While the fights may have been largely verbal, the intensity of these wars was made evident in several duels, spanning from coast to coast, between devoted Twilight followers who would camp out for days in order to secure the DVD of the latest blockbuster adaptation.
These days, the culture of fandom largely revolves around social media and online communities, with countless individuals across the globe falling into groups and communities devoted to supporting the franchises and characters that they love. Through memes and ironic reboots, the influence of Philip K. Dick’s works, and in particular, his 1968 novel The Man in the High Castle, can still be felt across pop culture, influencing everything from fashion to film.
While many fans were initially devastated that the Twilight saga had come to such a dramatic end, overall, the ending was seen as a positive turning point, prompting the fans to reflect on the series as a whole, as well as to establish new forums, such as the official Twilight subreddit, for discussing and cataloguing every aspect of the saga.
As the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Twilight book approaches, it’s interesting to think about how much the fandom has changed, and how much more it will continue to evolve in the future. In the meantime, let’s celebrate the legacy of this incredible series by reading some of the greatest books that were inspired by it.