When Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in Stephenie Meyer's popular quartet of vampire romance stories was released in August 2008, the last page of the novel proclaimed that Meyer's Official Twilight Guide would be released soon. Nearly three years later, Meyer's much-anticipated comprehensive guide has finally been released.
The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guideis clearly written for fans of books – it has little to no purpose for someone who hasn't read the books, unless they want a primer, or a "Cliff Notes" version of the series. Still, given that Meyer's has sold more than 100 million books, which have been translated into more than 37 languages, she has a built-in audience for the book.
The strength of Meyer's books can be credited to a number of reasons (and there have certainly been enough books and articles that can attest to those reasons), but the seemingly obvious are her reinvention of the vampire myth, and the romance of teen human girl and her vampire boyfriend. In Edward, her vampire teen (he was "turned in 1918 at 17), she offers readers a dreamy perfect guy for Bella, her insecure, clumsy, confused lead character. No one will ever quote Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo the catch phrase of the generation, He's Just Not That Into You. Edward is, as Sandy sang to Danny in 1978's now iconic "Grease," "Hopelessly Devoted" to Bella.
In Twilight, Bella whines to Jessica that she cares more for Edward than he does for her. Edward overhears this and spends the rest of the novels that she's wrong. What teenage girl wouldn't want a boyfriend – one who is insanely good looking, brilliant, musical, and wealthy (and will be, ostensibly, forever) – like Edward.
This latest release from Meyer, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, is comprehensive. There's not a lot that is new for those who have read the books (once, twice, etc) but it's laid out in a clear way that provides a good reference to have on hand for those re-reading the books or, more likely, readers who can't get enough of the stories and characters.
The book begins with a nearly 60-page transcript interview between Meyer and author (and Meyers' BFF) Shannon Hale (The Goose Girl, Princess Academy and Austenland). Granted, the interview is more than a little self-indulgent and self-congratulatory (on both interviewer's and interviewee's parts) and should really have been edited for relevance, but it's fun. Think of it as written transcript of the actual interview of what would've been translated a two-page story in "People" magazine. This section is the least likely to be read more than once.
Included are in-depth biographies (information culled from each book, but organized in timeline, but paragraph form) of all the vampires, werewolves, humans, and even the cars and homes each lives in.
The book's illustrations are hand drawn and there are no images from any of the films, nor are the film's referenced. The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide is wholly loyal and devoted to the novels. For those who read books and subsequently saw the films or plan to see them, that means the book "Laurent," not the dreadlocked "Laurent" of the films. It also means an Alice who is 4"11, not 5"6, and a Jacob who is 6"7. That also means that Lauren and Ben (who were not in the film) are clearly described or that Harry Clearwater, Billy Black and Charlie Swan are peers who grew up together. Harry dies not at the hand of mercenary Victoria, but from a heart attack precipitated by seeing his daughter Leah "phase."
The bottom line is that dedicated fans will want and enjoy this book.