Twilight 2008

Twilight: A First Read

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t always been curious (Twi-curious, if you will).

By Elias Kotsis


I usually wake up about an hour earlier than my girlfriend. Very rarely do I spend this alone time reading. But after quietly rolling out of our bed one snowy March morning, I was moved to read a seminal text—one my girlfriend loved, one I saw carried around middle school hallways for years, one that, on this snowy March morning, caught a ray of light peeking through the curtains: 


This beloved cultural touchstone has always existed just outside of my periphery. Somehow, I knew almost nothing about it besides the memes that the movies have spawned and the questions I’d asked my girlfriend about those memes. But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t always been curious. (Twi-curious, if you will.) So I grabbed the book and curled up on the chair near the window, angling the first pages towards the early morning light.

The very beginning was fine. No vampires yet, but I knew they should be there soon. I did immediately love Bella almost as much as she immediately hated Forks. And then, less than a chapter in, I was utterly got: one sentence was so incredible that, at that moment, I knew I was going to finish the book. After barely settling down in her new home, Bella contemplates:

“It was nice to be alone, not to have to smile and look pleased; a relief to stare dejectedly out the window at the sheeting rain and let just a few tears escape.”

I read that sentence four times over. It was my favorite thing I had read in a while. Our protagonist is so incredibly, theatrically sad—just nine pages in! How fun! Engaged beyond return, I got cozier and let Bella guide me through her world.

“What are you reading?”


“Shut up,” my girlfriend laughed.

By then, I was on page 45. In sleepy-eyed disbelief, she made her way towards the window. As the snow fell, I proceeded to read her some of my favorite lines so far. We laughed as she reminisced how much this book and those lines had meant to her over 10 years ago.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it. Can I borrow it?”

I thought others might enjoy hearing my first impressions and favorite bits of Twilight. So, without further ado, some scattered thoughts . . .

Before page 1, there’s a Genesis quote about “the tree of knowledge.” Quoting Genesis here implies that Bella is about to eat the tree of knowledge’s fruit, which ultimately implies that the “knowledge” is that vampires exist and there are some really hot ones.

That sentence I gushed about before—”relief to stare dejectedly out the window”—was not the first line like it. A couple of other Bella gems provide a slow burn to that masterpiece: “No need to add that my being happy in Forks is an impossibility.” And, “Now my horrific day tomorrow would be just that much less dreadful.”

What struck me about the beginning was that I had zero clue why Bella moved to Forks, a place she clearly despises. In the first couple of pages, Bella says something about her mom’s living situation and that’s basically it. She simply self-exiled to Forks. How could a decision so consequential not have a highlighted cause? Don’t care. Love it.

Books love to show the new kid on their first day at a new school being treated like a nobody. Then they meet one nerd friend and that’s that. I was expecting that, or worse, for Bella. With hatred of all kinds (of self, of Forks, etc.) brewing deep within her, who would be her friend? Instead, Bella is taken in by a somewhat popular group. I guess high schoolers can be nice to the new kid! (If they’re pretty!)

I get that Edward is fast. (Yes, I’ve skipped to the fact that the Cullens exist and are super hot.) But nobody questions how Bella didn’t get absolutely murked by that car? And then she returns to school later that day? Yes Stephanie, let’s keep the story moving, thank you.

“That was the first night I dreamed of Edward Cullen.”

Bella’s clumsiness verges on absurd.

I love that Edward can’t help himself from asking Bella about her “theories” about him. Even though it’s in his and his family’s best interest that nobody knows they’re vampires, he’s basically like, “Come on! Just tell me one!” It’s so young and fun and irrational, which pleasantly surprised me from Edward.

Jacob somehow manages to basically not be in this book while also playing a crucial role. He tells Bella everything she wants to know... and then does nothing else of consequence. An icon.

The chapter where a group of men on the streets of Port Angeles almost attack Bella before Edward saves her and then takes her to dinner feels particularly off the rails.

I love that Bella is the one who was almost attacked—an obviously harrowing situation—but Edward is like, “No, you have to distract me because if you don’t, I’ll kill them.”

Edward asking, “Do I dazzle you?” Again, chills.
Even though Meyer italicized you. I wish she italicized dazzle.
It’s what my heart wants. I hope that’s how Robert Pattinson delivers it.

We’re in love with vampires and still going to Trig. Vampires exist, Bella! Literally nothing else should matter because this is world-shattering information! But, at the same time, it’s brilliant. Because of course Trig still matters.

“Trust me just this once—you are the opposite of ordinary.” Chills count: 3.

Evolution has made vampires beautiful and smell heavenly. Basically, bigger Venus flytraps. And Bella is seemingly unfazed.

“...his lips would move, so fast it looked like they were trembling. But, when I asked, he told me he was singing to himself; it was too low for me to hear.”
I immediately pictured that priest guy from Dune.

“Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin.”
Negative-one chills.

From memes alone, I assumed that Edward running through the forest with Bella on his back was a very romantic moment. It was a fun surprise to learn that Bella actually hates it and almost passes out.

I wish I could live in Bella and Edward’s young love forever. You know, the kind where your new boyfriend just appears in your bedroom. The whole middle of the book is an out-of-proportion honeymoon phase with no end in sight.

“BASEBAAALL!!!” – Alex Rodriguez

Baseball is my favorite sport. But now that I know it’s the preferred sport of vampires, it’s become something more. Something sacred. Also, they only play during thunderstorms because they hit the ball that hard? Spectacular.

I had no idea what the conflict would be. Bella and Edward are already in love. So there must be some irreconcilable human-vampire difference? What I was not expecting was a pack of random vampires who thought Bella smelled delicious.

Once Bella had to leave Forks, I stopped reading for a few days.
How could I handle Bella coming up with some scary, hurtful excuse for leaving and absolutely shattering Charlie’s heart?
The wait proved necessary.
My heart broke in tandem with Charlie’s. That sweet, precious man.

Alice, Jasper, and Bella in the hotel room together feels like No Exit.

I was fully aware that Bella couldn’t die, but the ending still rocked me. And I was scared for everyone else! I know there’s that one Twilight meme where someone is holding a decapitated blonde head?

James, the masochistic creep vampire, using the “Bella? Bella?” recording to bait Bella down to the studio? Bella managing to flee the airport?
The sicko wanting to film himself killing Bella to bait Edward into a deadly growling fight? The climax is amazing. 

I appreciate Bella trying to run from James.

Apparently, they kill James? But I’m skeptical. I’m just saying, if this were the Star Wars universe, James would be back soon with robotic parts.

Using Bella’s clumsiness as the excuse for her horrifying injuries is a hilarious payoff.

Edward in the hospital with Bella was precious.

Bella wants to be a vampire. She and Edward go to prom together. And somehow, Bella’s world is still not rocked. It’s perfect.

Final Chills Count: 3.

I thoroughly loved Twilight. I’m not sure what I expected, but Stephanie Meyer so often made exciting choices that I didn’t see coming. What did happen was always one or two expectations down the list, which kept the whole read exciting. I’m mainly upset that this book wasn’t marketed toward middle-school me. He missed out. Luckily, my partner has taste. And, more importantly, she owns the other three books.