Today is a bittersweet one for many people — with yesterday’s release of Breaking Dawn, Part 2, night has officially fallen on the Twilight Saga. Love Twilight or hate it, we can’t deny the influence it had on the world of YA fiction. From paving the way for more teen/adult crossover blockbusters to propelling the paranormal romance genre to unheard of levels of popularity, Twilight left a huge mark on YA culture. Let’s explore some of Twilight‘s lasting legacy in YA literature, shall we?
I’m sure that pre-Twilight books included love triangles, but Twilight elevated love triangles to a team sport, one that every teen book wanted to play. Without Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, would we have Team Gale vs. Team Peeta? Team Will vs. Team Jem? Team Damon vs. Team Stefan? Team Cam vs. Team Daniel? Maybe not. Of course, that might not be a bad thing…
Old Series, New Readers
Twilight not only inspired a legion of paranormal romance books, but also a renewed interest in books and series written before the paranormal boom. Books like Blood and Chocolate (a 1998 Best Book for Young Adults), The Last Vampire, and Vampire Kisses have gained new readers thanks to Twilight‘s popularity. The Last Vampire even got a snazzy new reprint as Thirst in 2009, so Christopher Pike should be sending Stephenie Meyer a nice Christmas card and maybe a fruit basket. (Note: In each reprint volume of Thirst, three 1990s Last Vampire books are combined to make a mega-book, because teens these days buy books by weight, like steaks.)
Want to see nerdrage in action? Walk up to a classic vampire fan and say “sparkles.” Stephenie Meyer famously reinvented the traditional vampire for her series, causing consternation and ire among some, and shrugs from people who are less invested in the hypothetical attributes of fictional monsters. Of course, if one writer does it, they all want to try it out. Twilight gave writers the green light to stretch, twist, and manipulate the creatures of folklore and legend however they liked, and we have seen many interpretations of many mythological creatures including merpeople, fairies, demigods and angels. You know what? Just read Staking the Vampire. It’s all in there.
Fanfics Becoming Pro-fics
You may have heard of a little series called Fifty Shades of Grey (note: NOT a YA series — but teens will read it anyway). Well-informed readers such as yourselves probably aren’t surprised to hear that the series began as a Twilight fanfic called Masters of the Universe that made the jump into commercial publication. Another Twilight-based work, originally a fanfic titled The Office, will be soon published under the title Beautiful Bastard.
Twilight‘s breakout crossover popularity among both adults and teens, as well as its pop-culture ubiquity, has lead to a situation where people can publicly admit that their multi-million dollar novels are born out of fanfics. Will this become a trend? Are we going to see a Hunger Games-inspired erotic novel called Fifty Shades of Bread, where Katniss is a bounty hunter/dominatrix pursuing a gentle coffee shop owner? Excuse me, I have a LiveJournal account to create…
When I heard Breaking Dawn was going to be two movies I scoffed. “You know what series came to the big screen without splitting any books?” I said, “Lord of the Rings.” I mean, if this had been a thing when the Harry Potter movies were being made, Daniel Radcliffe would be thirty before they were over. But now everyone is doing it. Mockingjay will be two movies. The Hobbit — one relatively short book — will be three movies! I love The Hobbit more than the average person, but where’s this going to end? Will Ender’s Game become a trilogy? Will Divergent take five movies? Will the next Star Wars trilogy actually be eight movies? We have to draw a line somewhere.
What about you, readers? What legacy do you think Twilight has left the YA literature universe? Do you think that The Hobbit should just be one movie? Tell us in the comments!
— Maria Kramer, currently reading Dodger by Terry Pratchett