Island feels the‘Twilight’bite

Young women are swooning regularly over Edward the gorgeous vampire. Meanwhile, local librarians are doing some swooning of their own.

Young women are swooning regularly over Edward the gorgeous vampire. Meanwhile, local librarians are doing some swooning of their own.

Debut novelist Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight Saga” series has 819 people of the Sno-Isle library system waiting on hold for the first book of the four-book series.

There are only 307 copies available, however, which prompted library officials to order 30 extra uncatalogued copies.

Such unmarked copies are, one imagines, like the black market of the library business prompted by the rabid demand of the book’s unforeseen success.

If you hadn’t heard of the book when it first came out in 2005, you probably have by now since the release of the “Twilight” movie nationwide in theaters last month.

The movie was filmed in and around Portland, Ore. where filmmakers recreated the town of Forks, Wash. on the Olympic Peninsula, the setting in the book where the story takes place. The town was chosen by the author for its “rainiest place in America” status. The dreary, cloud-dominated skies make the life of a vampire easier, apparently.

The story about an average young woman and the impossibly beautiful vampire she loves have subsequently made Forks a must-see place for her readers as the formerly sleepy small town has of late become well-known among fans of the books. Forks has become, somewhat, the new “Twin Peaks,” a mythical town that put North Bend on the tourist hotspot overnight more than a decade ago.

The Clyde Theatre will jump on the “Twilight” movie bandwagon with a three-day showing of the film Dec. 30 through Jan. 1. A special New Year’s Eve extravaganza for the most die-hard of fans is also planned.

And plenty of fans there are, mainly of the youthful variety.

Tweens and teenagers have kept the books a consistent bestseller, though there is a fan club Web site called “Twilight Moms,” so the book’s appeal is not restricted to the younger-than-18 set.

“The kids love the book,” community relations and marketing director for Sno-Isle Libraries Mary Kelly said.

“The demand is exceeding our expectations and, honestly, I’ve been surprised by it.”

Kelly is not the only one surprised by the runaway hit that some are saying is surpassing even the popularity of the Harry Potter series which made British author J.K. Rowling a global celebrity.

Meyer’s series — which includes the four books, “Twilight,” “New Moon,” “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn” — is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Even the publishers were surprised by the books’ success and were caught short.

After an initial printing of 75,000 copies of the “Twilight” release in October 2005, the publisher almost immediately printed another 75,000 copies of the book for the Christmas rush.

Since then, 3.3 million copies of the first book have been published to date, with all three of the subsequent books matching or surpassing those numbers.

The final book, “Breaking Dawn,” saw a first printing of 3.5 million copies.

Jayanne Bixby is the youth librarian at both the Freeland and Langley branches and monitors an ongoing book club for young readers.

The group read “Twilight” before all the buzz about the book surfaced, Bixby said.

Some of the readers submitted anonymous reviews of “Twilight” which read like a forecast of the series success.

“This is the greatest book of the year and my favorite,” one 13-year-old submission read.

“I think both boys and girls can enjoy this book (if boys are willing to sacrifice their self-image),” reads another from a 16-year-old.

“’Twilight’ is an amazingly suspenseful and funny book about vampires,” wrote another. “The way Meyer wrote about the mythological creatures made me want to live in a world where they existed. By the end of the book I loved and cared for all the characters’ well-being and couldn’t wait to read the next book in the series.”

The book group went on to read and review other books in the Twilight Saga series, and made clear both their criticisms and praise throughout.

One 13-year-old fan even demonstrated the physical grip the book had on her.

“’Eclipse’ was another blow to my eyes,” she wrote.

“I was so sucked into it, I didn’t notice how close my face was to the pages. This book was exciting, full of energy and brilliant.”

Langley resident Sophie Frank is 12 and attends the Whidbey Island Waldorf School. She is adamant about the final book, “Breaking Dawn,” as being the best of the series.

“This is my favorite because the action starts to come in majorly and some new and exciting characters are added,” Frank said.

Frank is honest in her assessment about why the book sucked her right under its vampiristic spell.

“I can relate to the character of Jacob Black in the sense of putting yourself through something that you hate just for one person and not for yourself,” she said.

When asked to explain, Frank said she thinks the main theme of the books is about forbidden love, that irresistible conflict that is the mainstay of the romantic novel.

One of the boys interviewed about the books had a different perspective.

Langley resident Nicholas Schnieder, who attends the Northwest School in Seattle, said he is intrigued by Bella, the main character, because he wanted to know all through the series what choice she’d make; to be with Edward or Jacob.

He had a theory about why the books don’t have exactly the same audience as the Harry Potter series.

“I feel like Harry Potter is a bit more nerdier of a book than this one,” Schnieder said

“’Twilight’ has more love and more suspense. At the end of each book you want to get started with the next one. But I feel like Harry Potter just builds and stops while ‘Twilight’ builds up and doesn’t stop,” he said.

Clyde Theater owner Lynn Willeford said her daughter-in-law turned her on to “Twilight” when the book first came out.

It wasn’t exactly her cup of tea, she said, but she understood the appeal and diligently started watching for the release of the film.

“The film’s distributors were really smart,” Willeford said. “When the latest Harry Potter film was pulled from a Thanksgiving release this year and moved forward to the supposedly ‘magic’ spot in the spring where ‘Iron Man’ debuted this past year, they slid ‘Twilight’ right in, thinking there would be plenty of Potter fans who would be thrilled to see ‘Twilight,’ too.”

It was a lucrative decision.

According to the Box Office Mojo Web site, in one month “Twilight” has crossed the $150 million mark since its release on Thanksgiving Day weekend. Produced for $37 million, the picture has been a rousing success, ranking as the highest-grossing vampire movie and teen romance on record.

“I’ve enjoyed reading the reviews of the film, because I thought it was just a popular vampire romance,” Willeford said.

“Turns out, it’s really all about teen sexual abstinence. Who knew?”

The Clyde Theatre will present some lucky “Twilight” movie attendee with a movie poster, and will have plenty of other “Twilight” paraphernalia on hand for the New Year’s Eve “Goth Night” showing.

“Dressing silly and going to The Clyde might give the undead young an alternative activity for New Year’s Eve,” Willeford said.

“Twilight” plays at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Dec. 30 through Jan. 1.

It is rated PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality. The running time is two hours. General admission is $6; and $4 for those younger than 12 or older than 65.

Regular or child/senior gift passes can be bought at the box office or requested by e-mail at 221-5525 for details.