Happy anniversary, Twilight.
You turn ten today. That’s a huge achievement for a book, because most people don’t mark the anniversary of books at all. But you changed things, Twilight. You changed the landscape of publishing. You changed how people approached marketing young adult books. But, most importantly, you changed readers.
You made readers.
You made me.
It is no coincidence that Twilight‘s tenth anniversary is only two weeks before my ten-year anniversary as a blogger* and as a young adult reader. I had read YA before Twilight – Eragon was one of my favorite titles to read for years, and one of my favorites to talk to my friends about; and, of course, everybody I knew read the Harry Potter series – but I spent a good chunk of my time reading adult high fantasy novels.
I had no interest in reading Twilight. But one of my friends read it. And then two. And then three. And that was all they were talking about. And, somehow, I had fallen behind. How had I not read something they had?
And then I read Twilight. And it became all I talked about.
I critique it heavily now, of course – I didn’t see, at the time, how problematic Edward’s behavior was, Jacob’s behavior was, how Bella had very little agency for a story that revolved so heavily around her.
But then? It was enchanting. A guy who would do anything for the woman he loved – a woman whose emotions drove the story – the writing, fast-paced, so easy to slip into – it was a delight to read. Again. And again. And again.
And to read the fanfiction. And to wear the merchandise**. And to watch the movies. And to read more fanfiction. And to write some truly awful self-insert fanfiction with my friends.
And to read the books again.
And, of course, to talk about it. Conversations were heated, passionate; my friends and I were ensnared. We knew fandom – we are, after all, the Harry Potter generation – but this felt different. Maybe because we were teenagers, and falling into Bella’s rush of emotions and (budding, repressed) sexuality lined up with our own development. Or maybe because it was so easy to fall into Bella’s head.
We read about Harry. But we felt like we were Bella.
I watched friends who had never read books fall headfirst into Twilight. Who might not have ever picked up a book again if they hadn’t fallen in love with the vampires and werewolves in Forks, WA.
And that’s the kicker: I might never have picked up a YA book if I hadn’t found Twilight.
I refer to Twilight as the start of the YA Renaissance, the book that skyrocketed YA to the huge industry that it is now. There were YA books before then. And Harry Potter began the kidlit renaissance, and without that, Twilight might not have been so successful.
But Twilight created a generation of readers hungry for more. More stories about teenage girls. More stories about teenagers who shaped their own lives. Teenagers whose lives didn’t just revolve around school – though school played a part. Teenage girls whose emotions mattered.
Those readers helped shape YA into what it is now.
I was one of those readers. Thanks to Twilight, I still am – if a bit more educated, a bit more choosy, a bit more feminist than I was then.
I would not be the person I am now if it hadn’t been for Twilight. I wouldn’t be the reader I am now if it hadn’t been for Twilight. It was never a perfect book. But it changed my life.
So thank you, and congratulations on ten years, Twilight.
* For those unaware, I ran a review site as a teenager called WORD for Teens, which I ran from October 2005 until three months before the launch of YA Interrobang. I do not properly remember a time where blogging was not part of my daily routine. I regret nothing.
** This is where I would insert the photo of 13-year-old Nicole in her ‘Mrs. Edward Cullen’ shirt, but it appears I have misplaced the photos in the Great Hard Drive Purge of 2013, where I deleted almost everything in an awful life choice.