"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest therof thou shalt surely die." ~Genesis 2:17
It was the fact that this verse started out Stephenie Meyer's book "Twilight" that ultimately was responsible for the four books sitting next to me as I type this. It was the philosophical/spiritual question of "can anything be ultimately good or bad- even a vampire? Don't we all have a choice?" that intrigued me enough to pick up the first book and start ruffling through chapter one. It was reviews from other Christains that pointed this out and made me think that, rather than glorifying something that was evil, Meyers was actually taking a much more realistic approach to the subject of vampires than we humans have for the past hundred years.
Let me be clear. I hate the vampire myth. I only got halfway through Dracula and did not sleep well at all that night. But thereine lies the differance. Dracula and his creations have no choice about their evilness. They simply are demonic creatures. And yet, even demons made a choice, long ago, to follow Satan rather than God.
So what possible reason could there be for a young man, by name of Carlisle, to automatically become evil simply because he was bitten by a vampire that he was trying to drive out of London? None. Absolutely none. His physical needs (to drink blood) and looks (pale skin, etc) might change, but ultimately he still has a conscience. He still can choose "what is right over what is easy" (to quote another fantasy sage).
And Carlisle Cullen becomes the head of a vampire family that strives to live as "vegetarians", drinking animal blood rather than human's. Carlisle himself forces himself to become immune to the scent of human blood so that he can use his vampire strengths to save the lives of humans as a doctor. Whew! Talk about sacrifice!
And there are benefits to this lifestyle. Most vampires, because of their bloodlust, are unable to form any kinds of bonds besides those with their "mate." However, the Cullen family not only consists of three pairs of mates, but also of adopted parental and sibling relationships that are just as strong (or stronger) than those in a regular human family. They are unique in the vampire world- but ultimately, I believe they will lead the way for a world-wide conversion. (Nope. This isn't a spoiler, because even in book #4 it doesn't actually happen. But I personally believe that it will.)
All of this is what has been so captivating about this series. I point this out because I'm not the sort of person who would read something because it has vampires in it (quite the contrary) or because it has a wonderful teen romance story (again, the contrary).
But for those of you who might be frightened off by rumors of extreme Romance between Bella and Edward...yes. It's there. But it's not nearly as consuming as I expected. Or at least- as unrealistically consuming, especially once you move beyond book one. Bella and Edward both mature and change and believe me, once you read "Breaking Dawn" you will not have a shred of annoyance left with either of them. Well, perhaps old habits will die hard, but Bella Swan-
Nope. I'm not going to talk about Bella here. I'm going to do more reviews in which I don't have to be spoiler free and I can really go in depth on the character issues.
For now, I'm going to issue a general warning that this is a mature series. Sure, it's morally cleaner than a lot of stuff there (no pre-marital sex, or descriptions of sex, very resistant to murder of the innocents, pro-life, etc) but that doesn't mean that it doesn't deal with some very adult issues. It's a series that starts out fairly light, but, like it's characters, grows, darkens, and matures. While book #1 is appropriete for 16-year-olds, I would highly recommend that Breaking Dawn be reserved for the more mature.