For months, I've watched my teenage daughter be so obsessed with all the books in this series that it was something akin to a satanic possession - or should I say vampiric possession (is there such a word?). Every moment of her day - waking or sleeping - was immersed in the events and characters of these books. She read the first and was hooked immediately. The second, she purchased while holidaying on the Mornington Peninsula. As well as taking part in the usual activities with the rest of us - going for walks or to the beach - she finished the novel the same day. Which means she virtually devoured the thing.
As the date for release of the fourth book approached, she and a friend pre-ordered copies at a local bookshop. After much anticipation, the blessed day finally arrived. The two girls caught the bus to the bookshop as soon as school finished. It's an easy walk, but the bus would deliver them there faster so they could start reading all the sooner. They'd organised to have a sleepover that night so their reading wouldn't be interrupted. They read from the time they arrived home right through to dinner time, and then afterwards until the early hours of the morning.
The sleepover had turned into a read-a-thon. They gushed about the fourth book, more satisfied than ever with the product of Stephenie Meyer's inventive mind.
Then came the movie... The waiting, the obsessing, the ordering of special preview tickets. The gushing yet again afterwards about how GOOD it was, how they couldn't believe what a good job the film-makers had done, how true to the story, how amazing the special effects, how beautiful Bella, how handsome Edward... on and on and on and on. I won't give you all the details or this could turn into the fifth instalment of the Twilight series. Let's just say that 2008 was a very 'Twilight' sort of year.
And so I felt I had to read it.
In the beginning, I have to say that Edward left me - literally - cold. He is a vampire, after all. And though he's the nicest possible vampire you could meet, with impeccable manners, he still is a vampire. When he touches Bella, he feels cold. He doesn't breathe. His skin looks white. His heart doesn't beat. Not exactly the red-blooded tender Alpha male I go for. Not a Mr Darcy or Hugh Grant in sight.
By the middle of the book I was starting to feel a bit more sympathetic towards him - this is where his sad history is revealed, and by the end of the book I have to admit that I did love him.
What I found most interesting, however, was Stephenie Meyer's clever plotting. Textbook 'Jennifer-Crusie-4-Act-Structure', if you ask me. And it worked beautifully.
FIRST TURNING POINT : Bella realises Edward is a vampire and that she's in love with him (I'm not giving anything away here by quoting from this part of the book, since it was the promotional snippet used on the back cover). 'About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him - and I didn't know how dominant that part might be - that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.'
SECOND TURNING POINT - THE POINT OF NO RETURN: This is where everything changes for Bella and for Edward. He tells her everything about himself and his family, potentially threatening their well-guarded secret. Fully informed, Bella makes a conscious decision to accept Edward and continue the journey.
THIRD TURNING POINT - THE BLACK MOMENT: I won't reveal too much here, but it really is the blackest of moments. This part of the book was breathtaking, fast-paced, suspenseful, if a little predictable. For a teenage read, it would certainly have been exhilarating. I can now understand the frenzy the books have generated.
Now I'm being pestered to read the next books in the series, or to read Meyer's other book 'The Host'. I keep telling my teenager that I don't do fantasy, and that getting 'into' Bella and Edward's world was quite enough for me. I don't really fancy starting again with a different set of monsters.
I think something rather more everyday. A novel about dysfunctional families, suicide, broken marriages and child abuse is on the list. Enter 'The Prince Of Tides', waiting for me on the coffee table.