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Saturday, April 23, 2011

'The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide'

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

At long last, the pieces come together. . .in this definitive guide to the international bestselling Twilight Saga.

This must-have edition is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in TWILIGHT, NEW MOON, ECLIPSE, and BREAKING DAWN.

Featuring almost 100 colour pages, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide includes exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references and much more, this comprehensive companion guide is essential for every Twilight Saga fan.

This is it. Finite. Finale. Fin. No more need ever be told about Stephenie Meyer’s epic ‘Twilight Saga’ because this guide literally has it all. The origins of the ‘Twilight’ saga, intricate back story about each and every character. Heck, there is even a car’s guide that includes pictures and descriptions of every vehicle from Bella’s rusted pick-up to Alice’s canary Porsche.
Admittedly, there is little mention of the movie adaptations. But that is another illustrated guide altogether . . .

There is no lengthy ‘intro’ from Stephenie Meyer, per say. There is, however, an in-depth conversation between Meyer and an author friend of hers called Shannon Hale. It is during this conversation that Meyer touches on everything from the dream origins of Bella’s story, to the literary influences that shaped the ‘Twilight’ saga (one of the more interesting being Jane Eyre).

The interview took place on August 29th 2008, and it’s interesting timing. Because on August 28th 2008 Stephenie Meyer posted a notice on her website that signalled the crushing defeat of Twihards everywhere. Meyer wrote that she would not be releasing the book ‘Midnight Sun’, which would have told Edward’s side of the ‘Twilight’ story. Meyers’s decision came after a substantial rough draft of ‘Midnight Sun’ was leaked on the internet and spread like wildfire. Meyers was, understandably, disheartened at her private (unfinished) work being illegally distributed, and she was also disappointed in her fans who read the leaked manuscript.

So it’s interesting that in this conversation with Shannon Hale, neither author mention the leak. Hale doesn’t even ask the most coveted question of all; “Will there ever be more ‘Twilight’ books?” Maybe the collapse of ‘Midnight Sun’ was still too raw and painful. Perhaps Meyers didn’t want to say anything that she would regret later, undoubtedly about her lax publishers and greedy fans, both of whom are responsible for denying themselves ‘Midnight Sun’. Still, it would have been interesting to get her thoughts on the matter. Especially since she hasn’t really spoken about the abandoned book since posting that notice on her website back in 2008. I would have liked to get her perspective on the double-edged sword of fandom – on the one hand her fans are, to a fault, fanatically loyal. But that fanaticism was also responsible for the violation of Meyer’s work.

I did find the conversation to be the most interesting aspect of the guide. While I would have liked Hale to ask about the ‘Midnight Sun’ manuscript breach, I was glad she at least touched on the perceived disappointment of ‘Breaking Dawn’. Basically, Hale (very carefully) asks Meyer how she felt about fan reaction to ‘Breaking Dawn’, the final chapter in the Twilight Saga. Keeping in mind there was a general fan consensus that the book, well, sucked. Bella had a vampire birthing that was reminiscent of ‘Aliens’ – in all the stomach-ripping gore. Not to mention the fact that fan favourite, Jacob Black, basically became engaged to a baby. It was awkward all round.

I always suspected that Meyer wrote the book, keeping too much in mind that it would be adapted to film. As though she was writing big in anticipation of how it would come across on screen (there have been rumours, however, that scriptwriters have had to do a drastic over-haul of the ‘Breaking Dawn’ novel to make it watchable). Meyer does confront that negativity, and explain her thinking behind ‘Breaking Dawn’ in a rather intelligent way;
There are only twenty people who are going to get it. [Laughs] I think it’s a weird expectation that if a story is told really well, everybody, therefore, will have to appreciate it. People bring so many of their own expectations to the table that a story can’t really please everyone.
I am, by no means, the biggest ‘Twilight’ fan. I've had up’s and down’s with the series – when I first read the books I was fanatical. As I read more of the paranormal/urban fantasy genre I started to read the cracks. Now I'm at the point of enjoying them for what they are – an interesting story, fairly well told, which has the biggest honour of introducing an entire generation of children to the enjoyment of reading. For what it is, this guide is pretty impressive and definitely a must-read for Twihards everywhere.

4.5/5

2 comments:

  1. Oh wow - I'll definitely be picking this one up.

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  2. The best part of this book is the back story on characters in the Twilight Saga. A lot of the information is old hat to those who have obsessively followed interviews with Stephenie Meyer, Comic Cons, and Twilight message boards, but there is enough new material to make the purchase worthwhile. If you are intrigued by the Twilight world, you will enjoy reading these back stories.

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