Reflecting on Twilight – Older and Wiser

There’s been some conversation lately about Young Adult as a genre and some of the criticism it has received. Over the course of a discussion, there seemed to be this theme of avoiding YA because of one particular series.

The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer.

I’ve mentioned this before, how I openly mocked the books when I was in high school. No, I haven’t read them. Yes, I know I’m judging without having experienced for myself and that’s all kinds of bad juju, but I’m in no hurry to remedy that. However, I’ve noticed in recent years, since the Twilight mania rose up and crashed into my generation and those after like a tidal wave, the YA genre has stepped up its game. Bear has noticed too. When we take a romantic stroll through the bookstore, and inevitably split up to do our own browsing, we both notice the shiny Teen/Young Adult aisle. There is so much there now, and the covers are almost always gorgeous. It didn’t occur to me until recently that maybe Twilight had a hand in lighting the fire under the genre.

Though Twilight’s covers were bland, in my opinion.

When I was a tween and teen, it seemed it was incredibly difficult to find good paranormal series. My favorite to date is still the one I discovered in middle school: Sweep by Cate Tiernan. But other than that, it seemed the YA genre was mostly all about the high school angst. Now, it’s so much more than that. My favorite YA series currently being published is The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Look it up. Seriously.

So how did Twilight help the genre transition to what it is today, especially with the original covers? It’s quite simple, m’dear.

Money.

As I’ve been watching a lot of BookTube lately, one of the many things I’ve noticed as a common thread between the different BookTubers is one thing: Twilight got them started reading recreationally. Before that, they only read when school required them to. Twilight lit the fire of passion for reading for them and now, they tear through books like they’re dying of thirst and books are the only water around. As someone who has long lamented how few people seem to read for fun, I think this is excellent!

People bought the Twilight Saga, pumping money into the publishing industry until they sat up and paid attention. This was different from Harry Potter, the frenzy was crazier. The publishing industry seemed to wake up and realize that people LIKE paranormal, they LIKE to see extraordinary things happen to teens and young adults. And hey, throw in the beautiful covers because we have to continue to catch their attention in the bookstores. Especially now that Harry Potter is over, the masses are like WWE’s Ryback with their chants of “FEED ME MORE! FEED ME MORE!” And the publishing industry is only too happy to oblige.

We live in a post-Twilight mania world, and that’s a good thing. The hype has died down, but people remember those books and how they were what got them started reading, leading them on to other wonderful stories and characters and feeding into the fandom culture that has developed to what it is today. We’re seeing the mark that Twilight left on the YA genre and the growth it has made in the last few years. It’s made this reader excited to return to the genre over and over again, to see what new things it has in store for my imagination.

Even though I never read Twilight and I never plan to, I will dip my head in acknowledgment of the impact it had, helping the YA genre to shine.

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