Sweeping the Nation

grayscale photo of person reading book

In 2008, a not so little black book swept the nation. For two years, everyone’s attention shifted to vampires. Just to be clear, we aren’t talking about the orange or pink Halloween fangs that dig into your gums and make you drool. I’m talking about the sparkly vampires that went viral when the Twilight Saga took the world by storm. 

Stephenie Meyer’s first book, Twilight, was published in 2005. Each sequel grew the following and hype even more. When the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, was released, it sold over 1.3 million books on the first day setting the publishing company’s first-day sales performance record. The Twilight books were so popular they swept the first four spots in USA Today’s Bestsellers list 2 years in a row! 

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate. If you click on a link and decide to buy something, I will get pennies for referring you. This in no way changes the price for you. It just helps me make a bit for doing what I love.

The Modern Pioneer

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Stephenie is a pioneer author for teen and young adult novels. Her books were some of the first in a new wave of teen books about werewolves, vampires, and other paranormal creatures. She brought contemporary supernatural books into the young adult genre, making them more mainstream and accessible to everyone, especially girls. 

Before this, the majority of books about monsters like vampires and werewolves were targeted towards teenage boys. Plus, this was an obscure genre at the time and it was hard to find a good one. The Twilight books broke down the genre stereotypes by marketing a book with “monsters” to teenage girls. As a society, we still have work to do breaking down gender stereotyping books. This was a huge step forward, and most people didn’t realize it.

Controversy and Criticism of Twilight

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There is a lot of controversy around her novels. Many critics say Meyer’s writing isn’t polished, and the characters lack depth. Others say that the Twilight books normalize toxic and abusive relationships. Critics also didn’t like the conservative stances taken in the books, like waiting until marriage for sex and anti-abortion. 

I’m not going to poke my head in the sand and say the critics are wrong. A conservative ideology can be found in the Twilight books. Toxic, and failing relationships, are also a part of the Twilight books. However, the relationships aren’t held up as the ideal or fairytale perfect. Bella recognizes how messed up her relationship with Edward is, and they work to fix it. Plus, I think anything can look bad when taken out of context, which clickbait articles love to do.

The Many Versions of Twilight

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On the 10th anniversary of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer released Life and Death, a gender-swapped Twilight showing an alternative ending to the original story. It was kind of cheesy, and it didn’t pull me in as much as the original book did, but I had noticed a significant difference in how it was written. Add an additional five years of writing and honing her craft before the release of Midnight Sun, and Meyers knocked her latest book out of the park. Her more vibrant writing style really brings the fully developed story to life in a way we haven’t seen before.

Meyer has earned some well-earned praise for her latest book Midnight Sun. It is rough to create something new within the constraints of a pre-existing story. Every line of dialogue and scene in the book is the exact same as the original Twilight book. To create something engaging and unique, Stephenie Meyer had to crack open Edward’s mind and unveil his perspective on events. For more about Midnight Sun, head over to my review here.

As much as I like the story of Twilight, I think having a gender-swapped version (Life and Death) and a version from Edward’s perspective (Midnight Sun) is too much. It makes me feel like Stephenie is trying to perfect the story and characters through these various incarnations. Instead, I would love to see her write more of her original story ideas. 

Stand Alone Books

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After finishing the original Twilight series, Meyers wrote two stand-alone adult novels (The Host and The Chemist) with original storylines and engaging action sequences. I like those two books more than the Twilight series and want more!

Alright, it’s time to talk about what happens in these books and whether they are age-appropriate for young readers.

Twilight Saga

Even though the Twilight books have won so many awards, they are not for all age groups. There are quite a few sexual innuendos, making out, and the beginnings of a few adult scenes. In Breaking Dawn (the fourth book), Edward and Bella go on their honeymoon. More about this book is below. There are no explicit sex scenes in any of Stephenie Meyer’s books. However, the Twilight books are better for older teens and young adults. I recommend waiting until 17 or 18 to read them. I appreciate that only biblical profanity is used in these books and is low compared to similar books.

Twilight

When Bella Swan shows up in the small town of Forks, her plan is to endure high school for two years and get out. Instead, she discovers that vampires are real and not a nightmare. One of those vampires craves her blood above all others. 

Twilight Parent Guide

Language: 7 biblical swear words; 1.4% of pages;
Adult Content: PG-13 a couple of heated kisses and allusions to sex; 
Violence: PG-13 for the boss fight at the end, and thematic elements

New Moon

Mortal danger is a daily part of loving a vampire. When an evil vampire threatens all Bella and Edward hold dear, they realize that their troubles are just beginning. 

New Moon Parent Guide 

Language: 24 biblical swear words; 4% of pages have profanity; Jacob is one of the main characters, and he uses a bit of profanity around his buddies.
Adult Content: PG-13 few kisses, and a few make-out sessions;
Violence: PG-13 for a few intense supernatural sequences

Eclipse

Seattle has a mysterious serial killer, and a spiteful vampire is till after her. This means that Bella is surrounded by danger on the outside as a battle rages within. She is forced to choose between Jacob and Edward: life or death.

Eclipse Parent Guide 

Language: 25 biblical swear words, 4% of pages have profanity; 
Adult Content: PG-17 lots of kissing and making out. Charlie attempts to have the sex talk with Bella. Bella tries to seduce Edward, but their clothes stay on.
Violence: PG-13 Bella punches Jake. There is a boss fight at the end with dismembered vampires.

Breaking Dawn

Being in love with a vampire means reality is a mixture of fantasy and nightmare for Bella Swan. Bella has been pulled between Edward and Jacob for the last year. Now she must finally choose between joining the world of the immortals or keeping her human life.

Breaking Dawn Parent Guide 

Language:18 biblical swear words; 2.4% of pages contain profanity; 
Adult Content: PG-17 Bella & Edward go on their honeymoon. No sex is described. However, there are multiple times where we see them go to bed and wake up in the morning. There is nudity, but it is not described.
Violence: PG lots of drama but not a lot of violence, some gore (different from the movie)

Life and Death 

You know Bella and Edward’s story. Now, it’s time to know Beau and Edythe’s. When Beaufort Swan moves to Forks and meets the mysterious Edythe Cullen, his life changes forever. He can’t resist her, but the closer he gets, the more those around him are at risk. This is a gender-swapped version of Twilight. 

Life and Death Parent Guide

Language: 10 biblical swear words; 2.5% of pages contain profanity; 
Adult content: 2 intense kisses and a conversation about vampires and sex. This conversation is more straightforward than the original Twilight book but still the theory of sex and not explicit descriptions.
Violence: PG-13 for the boss fight at the end and situational terror.

Midnight Sun

An iconic loves story was born when Edward and Bella met in Twilight. Until now, we only knew Bella’s side of the story. Now fans can experience Edward’s point-of-view and how his life took a dark turn when Bella Swan fell into his life. It is full of details from Edward’s past, his inner thoughts, and his struggle to define his existence.

Midnight Sun Parent Guide

Language: 22 biblical swear words; 3.3% of pages contain profanity; 
Adult content: PG-13 a couple of heated kisses and allusions to adult relations; (same as the original book)
Violence: PG-13 Edward thinks up many ways to kill her, and then there is the boss fight at the end. However, the boss fight isn’t Edward’s main focus.

Solo Books

I am an enormous fan of these individual books. It is refreshing for a story to be done at the end of a book sometimes. Plus, I think these are both imaginative original stories. One is post-apocalyptic science fiction, and the other is a spy thriller fictional novel. They are both masterfully thought out. I really enjoyed their storylines, and I hope Stephenie Meyer creates more unique works like these in the future.

The Host is clean, and I read it when I was in 6th grade. It does have one scene of intense kissing. However, you aren’t focused on the kiss. Instead, you are focused on other story elements happening at the same time. 

The Chemist, on the other hand, is an adult book (potentially 17+) because of a couple of intense interrogation scenes and plenty of making out.

The Host

Melanie Stryder refuses to be silenced. Earth has been invaded by a type of alien that takes over the mind of a human host while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, a trespassing “soul” in Melanie’s body, didn’t expect the former tenant to still be there and keeping parts of her mind secret. 

Melanie shares her memories of Jared, a human still in hiding. Wanderer starts longing for a man she’s never met. Soon they become allies and search for the man they both love.

The Host Parent Guide 

Language: 22 Biblical swear words; 3.3% of pages contain profanity; 
Adult Content: PG-13 Multiple making out scenes, but no petting or nudity
Violence: PG-13 for multiple threats, multiple murder attempts, some gore

The Chemist 

She used to work for the U. S. government, but few ever knew that. She is an expert in her field and one of the darkest secrets of an agency so covert it doesn’t have a name. When they decided she was a liability, they came after her. 

Now, she changes names as fast as she changes apartments. They’ve killed the only person she trusted, but she still poses a threat from something she knows. When her former boss gives her a way out, it means taking on one last job from her ex-employers. But the job just paints an even larger target on her back. 

The Chemist Parent Guide

Language: 20 Biblical swear words; 4.5% of pages contain profanity;
Adult content: PG-17 Intense make-out session, fall asleep-wake up later sex, and nonsexual nudity during interrogation scenes
Violence: PG-17 or R for kidnapping, shooting to kill but the gore isn’t described, poisoning, multiple interrogation scenes

Where to find these books

These books are everywhere! Especially the main four Twilight books. Public and school libraries should have available copies. Other great places to find them are at thrift stores and online. Amazon is an easy place to find books. Each of these books for Kindle is $10 or under at Amazon as of 7/10/2021. Here are links to buy Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and Midnight Sun. Even The Host and The Chemist are under $10 which I think are a great deal! Even if you aren’t an ebook fan, there are deals for used and new hardbacks for the same price.

My Recommendations

vintage books collection

I really enjoy reading all of these books by Stephanie Meyer. However, I recommend teens waiting until they are later in high school to read most of these books due to mature adult content. Teens can start reading the first Twilight book and maybe The Host. I would wait until you can read the entire series at once because you won’t want to put them down.

What to Read after Twilight?

woman in white top holding book

If you liked this book, here are a few books you should check out next: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, Touched by Corrine Jackson, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, and Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. Each of these has either vampires or other supernatural creatures, and all are trying to find their place in the world.

I’m working on an entire post full of contemporary supernatural books, so stay tuned!

Happy Reading!
Emily