Charleston parents of teens addicted to the Twilight saga may be interested in a new book by professor and minister Elaine A. Health. The book offers a critical examination of the Twilight series from both a theological and feminist standpoint.
Twilight is a series of four vampire-themed fantasy romance novels by American author Stephenie Meyer. It charts a period in the life of Isabella “Bella” Swan, a teenage girl who moves to Forks, Washington, and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen. The series is told primarily from Bella’s point of view, with the epilogue of Eclipse and Part II of Breaking Dawn being told from the viewpoint of character Jacob Black, a werewolf.
Since the release of the first novel Twilight in 2005, the books have gained immense popularity and commercial success around the world. As of October 2010, the series has sold over 116 million copies worldwide with translations into at least 38 different languages around the globe. The four Twilight books have consecutively set records as the biggest selling novels of 2008 on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list and have spent over 235 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list for Children’s Series Books.
In The Gospel according to Twilight: Women, Sex, and God (Westminster John Knox Press), the author analyzes the disturbing messages about women, marriage, and family Stephenie Meyer could be sending to young readers of the popular series, particularly through its gender stereotypes and depictions of violence against women. The book comes just before Breaking Dawn: Part One prepares to hit theatres on November 18.
Heath is not adverse to all aspects of the series, however. Her analysis also considers the good news found in Twilight’s theological themes of salvation, reconciliation, and love. Moreover, Heath suggests the characters of Edward, Carlisle, and Bella act as a triad of saviors, and deliberates the possibility of Bella as a Christ figure.
Heath also explores the treatment of organized religion in the series, and considers how Meyer’s Mormon belief system affects her theology within Twilight, and how it could influence readers’ interpretation. Twilight’s treatment of the concepts of sin, heaven, hell, and resurrection is also examined. The book includes questions for youth and adult groups or for classroom discussions.
Charleston readers may order The Gospel according to Twilight here.