Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 8:04 PM

When I was a girl dreaming about what my first (and only) boyfriend would be like, I imagined him larger than life. He was good looking, intelligent, witty and hopelessly and completely in love with me. I'd be endlessly fascinated by him and long to be with him when I wasn't. Not because I didn't have a life or outside interests, but because of something inexplicably more.

This boy I loved was dangerous and unpredictable--someone of mystery. He wasn't evil, just slightly...tormented by the fact that he and I shouldn't be together. The reasons why we shouldn't be together varied: he was an alien from another planet; he was a ghost; he was an assassin sent to kill me; he had a crippled leg and didn't believe he was lovable; his mother killed my older brother in a drunk driving accident and our families were enemies; he was actually from the year 3005; he had cancer and was going to die.

Whatever it was I made up to keep us apart, it was never enough to trump the all-consuming, powerful attraction and passion we felt for each other. (Yes, I know how corny that reads.) I had a lot of fun putting us through hell so the eventual capitulation would be all the more sweet, because that's the key for me. In my fantasies, there had to be an element of hellish danger. I wanted it all. Excitement. Attraction. Mystery. Obsession. And one big gallomping roadblock. Reality didn't make the cut. Who cared about realism? I faced reality just getting out of bed.

Why am I sharing this?

Because a book written by Stephenie Meyer has resurrected those feelings. The book is called Twilight and is about a teen-aged girl, Bella, who falls in love with a vampire, Edward. The story is told in first person narrative, which isn't my favorite point of view, but after the first page or so, I didn't notice.
As I walked down the aisle to introduce myself to the teacher and get my slip signed, I was watching him surreptitiously. Just as I passed, he suddenly went rigid in his seat. He stared at me, meeting my eyes with the strangest expression on his face--it was hostile, furious.
Through Bella's narrative, I feel how emotionally torn Edward is for feeling the way he does about her. He is attracted to her smell--to her blood--and to her personally, and finds the two desires impossible to reconcile.

Their romance, their ill-advised attraction that grows into love, is the driving force of Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse. Sure, she's seventeen and he's 104 years old (but will be seventeen forever), and although they're both aware they can't stay together, they can't not be together. Edward's entire being shrinks from the thought of taking away Bella's mortality, but she can't envision her life without losing it. And thus begins the push-and-pull of a romance that for me is the ultimate escapism.

Danger-fueled obsession. I eat it up and crave thirds.

This isn't Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This isn't Angel, The Black Dagger Brotherhood or Anita Blake. This is Twilight, a different kind of vampire-human romance story that comes with a conscience and sweet, gentle passion, the kind that squeezes my heart and isn't letting go. Bella and Edward's slow-burning love, the danger and torment it creates from all angles, is one of the most compelling stories I've read.

I love Meyer's fast-paced writing, her thorough characterizations, and her well-thought out plots. I love her imagination. This is exactly the fantastical stuff my dreams were, and are again, made of.

How popular is this series? The movie comes out in December, and there are rumors that there is a second movie coming.

The last story, Breaking Dawn, comes out August 2. Guess what I'll be doing that day?

And! Stephenie Meyer is writing a companion book to Twilight told from Edward's point of view. It will be called Midnight Sun.
Her scent hit me like a wrecking ball, like a battering ram. There was no image violent enough to encapsulate the force of what happened to me in that moment.

In that instant, I was nothing close to the human I'd once been; no trace of the shreds of humanity I'd managed to cloak myself in remained. I was a predator. She was my prey. There was nothing else in the world but that truth.
Remember Bella's thoughts about his hostile, violent stare? This is what Edward was thinking at the time. He came thisclose to killing her. Stephenie Meyer knows how to deliver what I, her reader, wants to know.

It's been a long time since I've felt this strongly about a series. Thank you, Stephenie Meyer. Your beautiful characters rock.

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