What happens in Twilight?

Bella Swan leaves her childhood home of Phoenix, Arizona, to move in with her father, the police chief in Forks, Washington. On the first day at her new school, Bella meets Edward Cullen, who appears to hate her at first. A few days later, they're paired up as lab partners in Biology class and get to know each other.

  • After a winter storm, the snow freezes, leaving the roads icy. A van nearly hits Bella in the school parking lot, but Edward stops it with his bare hands. His feat of strength leads Bella to speculate that he is a superhero. Jacob Black, a member of a local Native American tribe, tells her that Edward is one of the "cold ones," or vampires.
  • While walking around Port Angeles alone, Bella is attacked by a group of boys. Edward saves her again, then takes her out to dinner, where he tells her that he is indeed a vampire. His coven drinks animal blood so they don't have to feed off humans. Bella feels irresistibly drawn to Edward, and they start to date.
  • Edward takes Bella to his family's softball game. James, a member of a smaller clan, catches Bella's scent and starts to fixate on her. He pretends to kidnap Bella's mother in order to trick her into coming to him. Before he can kill her, the Cullens attack. Edward saves Bella's life. In the end, Bella asks Edward to turn her into a vampire so they can be together forever.

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Twilight is the first book in a multi-volume series aimed at young adult readers that has inspired such loyalty and excitement among its readers that some are comparing it to the Harry Potter phenomenon. Like J. K. Rowling's series, Twilight focuses on a young person who really does not have a functioning family.  Like Harry, Bella Swan learns that there is more to the world than she thought. But where Harry Potter encountered the reality of magic, young Bella must face the fact that vampires are real. And, while Harry quickly falls in love with magic and the world of magic he explores, Bella falls in love in a far more literal sense: she falls for Edward Cullen, one of the beautiful, ethical vampires living in her new home of Forks, Washington.

This leads her into intense danger, first from Edward, who must master his intense desire to drink her blood if she is to live, and then from other vampires who are not as ethical or civilized as Edward and his loving adoptive family. The result is a striking blend: one part young adult novel about high school romance, two parts intense and often erotic desire between a young girl and a hundred-year-old vampire, and a final portion a rollercoaster of a thriller as another vampire tries to kill Bella. Written in clear prose and with a markedly ethical tone, Twilight has appealed to so many readers that it made it onto the New York Times bestseller list. Twilight was made into a movie starring Kristen Stewart as Bella in December 2008.

Extended Summary

At seventeen, Bella Swan has to leave her mother and her home in Phoenix, Arizona and move to Forks, Washington to live with her police chief father, because her mother has remarried. Her first day in her new high school, Bella meets a number of friendly boys and girls—and the Cullens, a family of adopted teenagers, all of them intensely beautiful young people. Edward Cullen, reacts to Bella intensely. He seems to hate her on sight, and tries to get transferred out of the class they share.

The next day Edward is not in school, and Bella asks her father about the Cullens. He explains that people judge them because they are new to town, rich, and attractive.

A few days later, it snows. Edward Cullen is back in school, and introduces himself to Bella. They work together as lab partners in biology, and talk. The next morning the snow has all frozen. When Bella gets out of her truck in the school parking lot, a van is skidding toward her. Suddenly Edward Cullen is there. He stops the van with his bare hands to rescue her. The accident puts Bella at the center of attention at school, and the power with which Edward moved cues...

(The entire section is 1,249 words.)