Book vs. Movie: Twilight

By Russ Bickerstaff

November 24, 2008

Ah, the vampire prom. Such a wonderful night in every girl's life.

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In this corner: the Book. A collection of words that represent ideas when filtered through the lexical systems in a human brain. From clay tablets to bound collections of wood pulp to units of stored data, the book has been around in one format or another for some 3800 years.

And in this corner: the Movie. A 112-year-old kid born in France to a guy named Lumiere and raised primarily in Hollywood by his uncle Charlie "the Tramp" Chaplin. This young upstart has quickly made a huge impact on society, rapidly becoming the most financially lucrative form of storytelling in the modern world.

Both square off in the ring again as Box Office Prophets presents another round of Book vs. Film.


In Stephenie Meyer's hugely successful novel, a teenaged girl from Arizona falls in love with a 100-year-old vampire in the Pacific Northwest. Having sold millions of copies worldwide, Meyer's Twilight has birthed a string of best-selling sequels. With wide-ranging appeal, staggering commercial success and a story with an irrepressibly visual dynamic, it's a natural box office success. Amidst all the recent hype, it may be kind of easy to forget that the novel is only three-years-old. The dream that inspired Meyer to write the novel only happened half a decade ago. Still in their infancy, will film and novel be completely forgotten by the end of the next decade and how exactly do they compare?


The Book

The first novel by Mormon housewife Stephenie Meyer, Twilight was inspired by a dream she had of a woman and a vampire on June 2, 2003. She wrote the dream down and, in spite of very little previous writing experience, promptly turned it into a rather lengthy novel. The novel tells the story of a high school girl named Bella Swan, who is prompted to move away from her native Phoenix, Arizona to live with her father - the chief of police for the tiny town of Forks, Washington.

The very earliest portions of the novel read like traditional juvenile fiction about a new girl in town who has moved from a big, populous, bright and sunny place to a small, rural town perpetually shrouded in rain. This part of the novel carries itself quite well as Meyer's literary voice is not unwelcoming, emanating as it does from Bella's first person perspective. One can tell that Meyer has a love for the language even if everything present here is lacking in the kind of conversational poetry present in the work of a more inspired, more accomplished author.

The novel shifts gears as Bella becomes attracted to Edward Cullen - an eerily beautiful kid in her school who seems to be just a bit more independent and sophisticated than the rest of the students at Forks High School. Her interest in Edward increases as he saves her from certain death in the high school parking lot. It's a long and nuanced romance that builds between Edward and Bella as she slowly comes to understand that he is a 100-year-old vampire who belongs to a family of socially altruistic bloodsuckers who refuse to feast on humans, preferring the blood of wild animals. In Meyer's world, the bright light of direct sunlight doesn't destroy a vampire - it merely makes their skin radiant, thus giving them away as being other than human. It is for this reason that Edward's group of vampires lives in one of the cloudiest places in North America.

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