Twilight vs. Harry Potter

Ashley Hughes, Phillip Peacock

Stephenie Meyer is the popular author of the Twilight series. Her books’ popularity exploded after the premier of the movie tie-in based on the first book in November. Twilight has recently gained even more attention in the news for taking up the weekend-slot scheduled for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which has subsequently been postponed until next summer. Some Potter fans have expressed concerns as to whether Meyer’s book deserves an adaptation that replaces one of a Harry Potter book at the box office. Several reviewers have compared her to J.K. Rowling. Despite this assumption, Meyer has replied, “I’m not J.K,” and has no aspiration of taking over Rowling’s place and it’s obvious. Meyer doesn’t take the same approach and her experiences are different. When it comes to personality, Twilight could take a lesson from Harry Potter. By showing real-life in a good-humored, down-to-earth way, the Harry Potter series won a cherished place in modern culture, while Twilight’s emotionally skewed characters place it below Harry Potter’s caliber.

A graduate from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in English, Meyer resides in Phoenix, Arizona with her family. She began writing the Twilight books after a vivid dream in which a teenage girl and a very “sparkly” and attractive vampire were having a conversation in the woods together. This dream contained the seed of Meyer’s first book – the dramatic story of two high school teens, a human and a vampire, falling in love.

After the dream, Meyer was inspired to write Twilight, the first book of her acclaimed series. In the book, the main character, Isabella Swan, better known as Bella, moves away from her home in sunny Phoenix, Arizona to the rainy town of Forks, Washington. Seventeen-year-old Bella is surprised she attracts so much attention in this new town – she was hardly noticed in Phoenix and she is quickly hooked on the handsome and mysterious Edward Cullen, who is drawn to Bella in a possibly fatal attraction.

Each of the following books, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn continue as Edward and Bella develop a relationship complicated by the obstacles they face to make things work.

Twilight has sold over 17 million copies worldwide and 8.5 million in the United States. It has been translated in 20 languages. Eclipse sold 250,000 copies within the first week and Breaking Dawn sold 1.3 million copies within the first hour it came out. In contrast, on the first day Harry Potter came out, it sold 6.9 million copies – the seventh book, Deathly Hallows, a record 11 million.and the Half-Blood Prince

Twilight also gained recent attention in the news for its movie tie-in, which was released November 21. It made seven million dollars in box office sales within the first few hours. In its opening weekend, Twilight’s box office sales exceeded that of Harry Potter’s openings individually, but its debut attracted just as much criticism as praise, mainly coming from critics of the books. The movie had to overcome these objections that the books’ author, Stephanie Meyer, is a long way off from being “the next J.K. Rowling.”

The question is, of course, absurd. There is no way Harry Potter is going to be surpassed with this generation of younger readers. The producers and writers of the Twilight film, the marketers and even Meyer herself have made this plain. This is not to say Twilight is beneath Harry Potter, but they are two very different books for clearly different audiences. The descriptions alone in Twilight are enough to classify it a Romance novel. Harry Potter’s comic wit groups it with mainstream British fantasy. One is serious, the other is not overtly so. So before arguing about “who is the greatest among you,” look at the authors’ approaches.

Writing a book takes inspiration, but also a lot of depth and perception checking. Part of Meyer’s dilemma is her amount of “driftwood” – clutter that does not build up or contribute to the plot – perhaps including her vague inspiration. Most writers have to dump a lot of ideas they can’t convey to the audience that otherwise become stumbling blocks when the story needs to move on. The underlying concept of Twilight is superb, but Meyer has points where she doesn’t deliver it convincingly. This is probably because unlike the Harry Potter books, the Twilight series is wrote in Bella’s point of view. It is a more complicated stance to take than in the Harry Potter books, which is written in a third-person point of view. As Harry and his friends grow, their attitudes about the world and themselves grow with them. There is no clear indication in the Twilight series as to how much Bella’s attitude changes internally over the series. When Harry Potter experiences teenage angst, he sometimes loses control, like when he jinxed Snape in Prisoner of Azkaban or mutilated Draco Malfoy in Half-Blood Prince. This often naturally occurs in human beings under stress, but that kind of depth can’t be found in Bella Swan.

However, the Twilight books have an addictive flare with them, the type of books that you see students sneaking behind textbooks during class to read because they can’t put them down. We saw that with Harry Potter, but no school has yet approved Twilight for a reading assignment.  

These books are sure page-turners, each full of suspense. If you are prepared to get hooked (and you will be hooked) on something full of action and romance, this will make an easy escape. Caution: Do not start these books if you don’t want to be awake at three AM, lying in bed with a flashlight. But beware guys – Twilight is widely recognized as a romantic novel of “pure innocence.” Action definitely has an important role in the book, but there will always be some sort of action in a book about vampires; even sparkly, vegetarian ones.