In 2005, Twilight was published, and in 2008, it was first checked out by an awkwardly proportioned 13-year-old me. Obviously, I have never been the same. From the first time I read it, I was enamored by the epic love of one Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. I have spent the better part of twelve years thinking about it.
It feels not so long ago that my middle school math teacher told me in the middle of class, “Meg, I know that’s a great book, but you can’t read it during a lesson.” She then asked me afterward if I wanted to join the Twilight club. We would sit in the science room, eat cookies, and discuss Robert Pattinson, all completely unironically. And it was absolutely fantastic.
Today, I spend a good deal of time unironically discussing Twilight on the subreddit r/twilight, and I can’t recommend it enough, really. If you’re a team Edward stan, that is (we only stan our consent king). But I digress. I am here today to give a definitive (aka extremely subjective) ranking of the books, in honor of the masterpiece that is Midnight Sun, the light at the end of the pandemic-ridden tunnel that Stephenie bestowed upon us.
Disclaimer: I haven’t read Bree Tanner, and I’ve only read most of Life and Death. Sue me.
10) The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2010)
I will admit that the story of Riley and his coven of vampires is an interesting one, but I find the idea of reading it pretty depressing, but we already know Bree’s fate. Jane chops her head off, and that is sad. I’ve read the Official Guide’s entry on Bree, and she had a shitty life as a human, too. I don’t go to Twilight to get my daily dose of tragedy – I could just watch CNN for that.
9) New Moon: The Graphic Novel (2013) (Artwork by Young Kim)
The artist, Young Kim, began experiencing health issues while working on New Moon and only ever finished the first volume. There is a sizable dip in quality from the first graphic novel, which is very sad – Kim’s work is gorgeous, and she deserves all the health and happiness in the world.
8) Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (2015)
I will admit that I got a certain level of validation from this book – I have been arguing for years that the amount of shit Bella gets for being a “damsel in distress” boils down to misogyny. Even if she was, like, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, she still would have had her ass kicked by James. And she even says so in the hospital after Edward and his family save her: “I’ll be the first to admit that I have no experience with relationships… but it just seems logical… a man and woman have to be somewhat equal… as in, one of them can’t always be swooping in and saving the other one. They have to save each other equally.”
Meyer’s prose is better in Life and Death and has a better fleshing out of characters. Yet, I still don’t find Beau to be as compelling as Bella. He’s fine, and so is Edythe, but neither of them is as angry nor as angsty as their counterparts (sort of by necessity – the twist at the end wraps up their story for the most part). But it doesn’t make for compelling drama. Give me my angst monster back, dammit!
I can’t say that I can bring myself to rank this above a core saga novel, but I do love it a lot – Alice’s backstory! Emmet’s backstory! Detailed descriptions for me to nerd out over! Young Kim’s gorgeous artwork!
However, I still don’t think I care about Coven power wars from two millennia ago. I’m very attached to my Olympic coven (I’d wear the shit out of a Cullen crest), but, hey, it’s the thing that critics call “interesting” (because apparently, stories are only interesting when there is a war or something).
6) Breaking Dawn (2008)
I’ve thought a lot about Breaking Dawn. On one hand, I enjoy the wedding, because nothing makes me happier than seeing my broody boy happy. On the other, shit goes off the rails really quick, and all of a sudden Bella has a demon baby eating their way out of her body. It kind of reminds me of when I used to play Mall Tycoon as a kid – I was all happy, going about my business trying to make cash for my mall, and then all of a sudden there’s an alien invasion (please don’t tell me this just happened to me).
All that aside, there is far too much Jacob and not enough Edward. Also Jacob imprints on a newborn. Gross.
5) New Moon (2006)
Alright, I’ll be fair – I get New Moon. I admire New Moon. Having your sexy male lead up and leave is a bold, fairly risky move, and it’s highly in-character for Edward (especially after reading Midnight Sun sob). But that doesn’t make the process of Edward leaving any easier, and though I enjoy young, happy Jacob, he’s not the tortured soul that I grew to love so in the last book. I usually skip all of the middle stuff and go straight to Edward telling me – erm, Bella – that he has always loved her (and by her, I mean me).
4) Twilight (2005)
Ah, the classic. The one that started it all, and inspired legions of fan-fiction writers to pick up their Blackberrys and somehow manage to turn Edward Cullen into a Dom (Edward is definitely a bottom and probably cries during sex). It holds a special place in my heart, and the end is what I most commonly use to defend my girl Bella’s honor (c’mon, guys, she outsmarts a bunch of vampires to try and save her mom. That doesn’t get her any badass points?).
3) Twilight: The Graphic Novel (Volumes 1 and 2) (Artwork by Young Kim)
Twilight in graphic novel form is the best version of Twilight. It’s better than the actual book. It’s way better than the movie. The artwork is spectacular and truly captures the spirit of the saga.
It also basically retcons Edward’s horrid sleeveless button-down he wears in the meadow scene, and Bella’s Mormon khaki skirt, for which I am grateful.
2) Midnight Sun (2020)
And, good God, was it worth it.
Being inside the mind of Edward Cullen was glorious – glorious, I say! It was delightful to see how much Stephenie improved as a writer, especially in regards to how Alice’s visions work, and to see Bella as she really is – a kind, gentle soul who gave up her childhood to raise her mother. Edward’s mind is exhausting and brooding – it’s awesome. The chapel scene? A MASTERPIECE.
But the real MVP of Midnight Sun turned out to be one Jasper Hale – not only does he look sexy while playing baseball, but he’s also the reason the Cullens (read: Edward) don’t implode from having So Many Emotions. Jasper, we stan. We stan.
1) Eclipse (2007)
I’ve read Eclipse so many times that the binding of my original copy from middle school is falling off. It’s like a warm blanket – not much actually happens during the course of the novel (which is why it’s probably my least favorite movie). But Edward being all romantic and having his shit together about loving Bella just makes me swoon, man. I love it to death and would like to be buried with a copy.
Look, I get Twilight is not for everyone. But as the great Lindsay Ellis once said, it’s a cheesy romance with sparkly vampires. But it’s such a fun cheesy romance with sparkly vampires, and more than that, it’s written by an author with a real talent for world-building and emotional writing. If my older brother can reread The Da Vinci Code whenever he wants and not catch shit for him, so can I.