The Twilight Saga and the Women Who Love It
By Tanya Erzen
Beacon Press (MA), Paperback, 9780807006399, 184pp.
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
An author immerses herself in the frenzied fandom of Twilight, the young-adult vampire romance series that has captivated women of all ages
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer’s young-adult vampire romance series, has captivated women of all ages, from teenagers who swoon over the film adaptations to college-educated women who devour the novels as a guilty pleasure. All told, over 110 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide, with translations into 37 languages, and the movies are some of the highest-grossing of all time. Twilight is a bona fide cultural phenomenon that has inspired a vast and unimaginably fertile fan subculture—the “fanpire,” as the members describe it.
Just what is it about Twilight that has enchanted so many women? Tanya Erzen—herself no stranger to the allure of the series—sets out to explore the irresistible pull of Twilight by immersing herself in the vibrant and diverse world of “Twi-hards,” from Edward-addition groups and “Twi-rock” music to Cullenism, a religion based on the values of Edward’s family of vegetarian vampires. Erzen interviews hundreds of fans online and in person, attends thousand-strong conventions, and watches the film premiere of New Moon with Twilight moms in Utah. Along the way, she joins a tour bus on a pilgrimage to Twilight-inspired sites, struggles through a Bella self-defense class, and surveys the sub-universe of Twilight fan-fiction (including E. L. James’s enormously popular “Master of the Universe” story, the basis for her erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey).
Erzen also takes a deeper look at the appeal of traditional gender roles in a postfeminist era saturated with narratives of girl power. If Twilight’s fantasies of romance and power reflect the fears, insecurities, and longings of the women who love it, the fanpire itself, Erzen shows, offers a space for meaningful bonding, mutual understanding, and friendship.
Part journalistic investigation and part cultural analysis, Fanpire will appeal to obsessed fans, Twilight haters, and bemused onlookers alike.
“A thought-provoking and entertaining take on the Twilight phenomenon.”
“Tanya Erzen ventures into ‘the Twilight zone’ in this compelling and ultimately sympathetic foray into fan culture, exploring the appeal of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books and movies in a postfeminist age. Erzen argues that what fans do with a text is as important as, or even more important than, the text itself. Part Cinderella Ate My Daughter and part Reviving Ophelia, Erzen’s book is my own personal brand of heroin.”
—Jana Riess, author of What Would Buffy Do? and Flunking Sainthood
“Tanya Erzen’s Fanpire provides a much-needed portrait of the girls and women who love Twilight. From how the series appeals to girls’ and women’s ideas of pleasure, power, and romance to the ways in which the love of these books has forged communities and friendships among women, Erzen’s window onto these subjects is both sympathetic and critical. Fanpire is sure to fascinate and, at times, trouble anyone interested in the lives of girls and women today.”
—Donna Freitas, author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses
“In this carefully researched and insightful account of Twilighters, TwiMoms, WussPerv writers, and other participants in the Twilight universe, Tanya Erzen explores the complicated waterways of Twilight fandom. Listening and engaging with fans of all ages, Erzen’s account of the Twilight empire and the girls and women who love it opens up new ways of thinking about the gendered dimensions of romance, the persistence of the genre among female fans, and the perils and potential of online and offline female fandom.”
—Carol Stabile, author of White Victims, Black Villains: Gender, Race, and Crime News in US Culture
“The Twilight phenomenon is too vast and strange to be ignored. Tanya Erzen digs deep into the fandom and finds the confused, the grasping, and even the self-assured among them. It’s always odd, like a horror book should be, but never boring.”
—Amanda Marcotte, author of It’s a Jungle Out There