Girl (one Bella Swan) moves away from her emotionally needy, child-like, yet perceptive mother in sunny Arizona to live with her quiet, introverted father, Charlie, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. The weather is terrible, she hates it. Blah, blah, blah. I felt as though Meyer goes through a lot of trouble to really drive home how “normal” Bella is. “Hey, look, kids! She’s a REAL LIVE TEENAGER TYPE PERSON!” The beginning of the novel is made up of many excruciating pages of text in which Meyer painstakingly enumerates the minutiae of Bella’s everyday existence. Her sweatpants. Her intellect. Her insecurities. Her food preferences. Her quiet, awkward -yet-loving relationship with Charlie. Her inability to accept presents (???). Her clumsiness. We get it, Steph, “Bella” is spelled B-O-R-I-N-G. Or it was, until …
She begins school and notices a group of beautiful teenagers, the Cullens, who don’t eat and keep to themselves. One of them, Edward, appears not to be able to stand her. This DEVASTATES her. Why? The reader isn’t sure. She’s used to being a relative outcast, but she seems generally well-accepted in this new school. She’s smart, she’s capable (physical prowess notwithstanding), she’s pretty. But we get it, rejection from hot guys is hard. Fact of teen life, right?
Edward disappears for quite awhile from school and when he comes back he suddenly takes a special interest in Bella – giving her rides to school, questioning her incessantly, etc. He even saves her miraculously from potential physical harm during an out-of-town shopping trip (rape is generally implied, later confirmed) after which he takes the stunned Bella to a very expensive Italian restaurant. It’s all very mysterious and romantic. Then, during a weekend trip to the local Native American reservation, her old friend Jacob Black (remember that name, ladies and gentlemen) tells her about the Quileute (Jacob’s tribe) legends regarding “the cold ones,” and their antagonistic relationship with the Quileutes’ wolf-spirit forefathers. She puts two and two together and then: OMG, you guys, Edward Cullen is totes a vampire, amirite?!?
It turns out there isn’t just ONE vampire there’s seven. The Cullen family consists of Carlisle, Esmé, Rosalie, Edward, Emmett, Jasper, and Alice. The Cullens have a unique world view from most vampires – they’re “vegetarians,” meaning they only feed on animal blood, even though it’s generally a poor substitute for human blood. Subsequently, Meyer goes about deconstructing all of the old vampire legends: destroyed by sunlight, silver bullets, and stakes through the heart. Basically anything that makes it more difficult for this romance to be a reality. In fact, she incorporates attributes to her breed of vamp that makes them even more sexy! Their beauty, for one thing: they’re just so brilliantly beautiful that they can’t go out during the day because then everyone would KNOW something was wrong. But that’s not all, folks! Some vampires have special “talents,” and it just so happens that the Cullen family has three such vampires: Edward can read minds (except Bella’s), Jasper can influence moods, and Alice can read futures based on decisions as they are made. So they are breathtakingly beautiful, harmless vampires that have a stable home life, supportive vampire role-models, not to mention extraordinary talents, (even for a vampire). Oh, and did I mention they’re pretty? Because they are.
So girl meets vampire. Vampire meets girl. They are in so. Much. Love. They kiss, he spends the night in her bed watching her sleep, he straps her on his back and takes her on runs through the countryside. It’s awesome. She’s generally accepted as part of the family and everything is great UNTIL:
They’re playing baseball (the great American pass-time, why not?) and suddenly Alice sees another coven of vampires coming towards them. They see Bella, normal human teenager girl hanging out with a bunch of vampires, and all hell breaks loose. One of them, James, tracks Bella, despite her best efforts, to her childhood home in Arizona. For a minute it looks like Bella’s going to bite it (oh, pun intended) but of course Edward saves the day just in time. Hooray! So Bella’s got a broken leg but also a boyyyyfriend. The End. Of Book 1.