It is not the vampire issue that bothers me about Twilight. It is the fact that at 17, Bella finds the love of her life, and he is unrealistically too good to be true.
The thing that women in general (not just high school girls) like about these books, is that both Edward and Jacob are like sacrificial lambs for the woman they love, willing to give up anything and everything to serve and protect her. The book plays into at least one of every woman's top five needs. It ignores the reality of give-and-take relationships. It makes relationships look too easy and puts a lot of unrealistic pressure on the men.
I fear most of my students (who swoon over these books) are only setting themselves up for dissappointment with the real world. I also think these books are teaching girls that the boy they are in "love" with as sophomores and juniors in high school can be (and likely is) the ONE... which is both an unrealistic message and for some, could be a little dangerous.
I think to label a book, especially ones from a popular teen series, as dangerous is quite extreme and hints of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. While the Twilight series is very popular, it will fade just as other trends have. Students often get overly involved in video game characters or movies, but most of them outgrow those "obsessions." Like the previous posts mentioned, I've seen students who hated reading get into the Twilight books and become readers from that experience--that's a positive.
If we're honest, young girls often create fantasy worlds for themselves in which they want to be the heroine or meet their Prince Charming. Believe it or not, for me it was the Anne of Green Gables series that put me in a fantasy world as a "tween." I wanted to find my "Gilbert." But, of course, I outgrew that, and most of the Twilight readers will too--I just hope that they don't lose their new found desire to read.
I agree that books in themselves cannot be harmful or dangerous. If a teenage girl is affected in a damaging way through the text, there's an underlying problem there that has nothing to do with the books themselves. Arguing that they can be dangerous is like arguing that certain kinds of music or video games lead to violence or socially unacceptable behavior. I myself began reading at a very young age, and quickly moved into the realm of literature considered by many to be inappropriate for my age. I read my first Stephen King book at age 10, and never once looked back. Sure, I read things that shocked and disturbed me, and forced me to reflect on my own approaches to life, but these only made me more secure in my own identity, and in turn made me want more. The Twilight series, in language and theme, seems well-suited for a teenage audience, and while I've noticed girls wearing "Team Edward (or Jacob)" t-shirts, and sporting Twilight backpacks, I haven't yet had to question the series' influence over anyone.
Actually, I don't think that reading is ever dangerous to either gender. Surely, there is age appropriate material for younger readers, but I have a hard time buying into the idea that either the Harry Potter series or the Twilight books are harmful or dangerous, any more than a teen's thoughts can be dangerous.
It's a series about vampires and werewolves, mythical beings in a modern setting. They are a fad, just like The Beatles or Star Wars were in past generations. Teens know the difference between fantasy and reality, and I think we can really over inflate the influence of a book on a child's psyche or development. As a teacher, I am completely in favor of any book that gets kids to read with a passion.
When I was a young teenager (OK, a while ago now) in school, people worried much less about the books we read and whether they were controversial or dangerous. I read everything I could get my hands on and it was very important for my vocabulary development and my spoken language. I say read and let read.
Many parents have cautioned against the reading of the Twilight series for teenage girls because there seems to be an addictive quality. As a teacher of literature, I almost long for that for my students, an addiction to literature. But I want it to be for the right reasons. If it is because a character is so enticing and appealing that a person, or a girl, longs for that character to be real and something she can reach out and touch or achieve a realtionship with, then there has become a problem.
The problem with the Twilight series is that it paints an untruth about the way we have desirous relationships with people of the opposite sex. It is work. Sure, there is appeal in the beginning that should continue but we all have faults that make that difficult to continue on. Some girls can distinguish between fact and fiction, or the book and reality. However, in my experience, we have seen some girls looking for their Edward or Jacob at school. It's not going to happen.
I don't think this can be harmful to teenage girls unless some adults want to make sure their daughters don't read the last book since it involves a love making scene but it can cause girls to have unrealistic expectations of romance.
If it is dangerous it is because its an echo of the dreams they already have. The novels is:
1 part teenagenovel
1 part harlequin
1 part fantasy
1 part thriller
When u show this to ur students they will realise what their dreams are made of.