From the moment Twilight introduced Edward Cullen and Bella Swan to the world, an international phenomenon was born. Readers of all ages fell in love with this tale of supernatural, teen romance, sparking three sequels and the accompanying movies. This official guide gives readers an in-depth look at the series including character profiles and connections, family trees, timelines, a transcript of an extended discussion between Stephenie Meyer and fellow author, Shannon Hale, and much more. Accompanying it all are numerous full-color illustrations of the characters, places, vehicles, and more that became such an integral part of this beloved series, giving fans new insights into the world of The Twilight Saga.
The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide is a companion book to the Twilight Saga novels. Much like The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, this book was published a few years after Breaking Dawn, the final installment of the series - too far after my reading of those books for me to remember much - so I decided to save it for when I reread the series. Since I just completed that reread a couple of months ago, it was the perfect time to pick up the Illustrated Guide. I found it to be a very informative book that gives readers all sorts of insights and background that you don't get merely from reading the novels and which can help to enhance the reading experience. A book like this could potentially be dry, but I found it be quite readable and I very much enjoyed learning all of the facts it had to impart.
The book begins with a 65-page transcript of an interview Ms. Meyer did with her good friend and fellow author, Shannon Hale. I thought that it might largely be stuff that I already knew, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find new information in it. That may or may not be true depending on how closely you follow the author. I know quite a bit about her, but since I'm not an obsessive "stalker," I can't speak to exactly how much of the interview covered new ground. I just know that I personally enjoyed reading it and found myself relating very well to Ms. Meyer, one author to another, and to how certain parts of our writing journeys and writing experiences mirror one another. That wasn't necessarily surprising given how much I enjoy her work, but it was a welcome discovery anyway.
The bulk of the book is an encyclopedic reference to every character in the Twilight universe, broken down first by species: Vampires, Werewolves, and Humans. Then they're further categorized by coven, pack, or friends and family relationships. This part was quite fascinating, because Ms. Meyer offers impressively detailed backstories on virtually all of the characters. Generally speaking, the more important they are to the story, the more detail we get. There were so many characters whose stories weren't told in the main Twilight Saga novels. This is in part because they weren't pertinent to the plot, but also because most of it is told in Bella's first-person POV, meaning she wouldn't have been privy to it unless someone recounted it to her, which in many cases, would have slowed the pace. So getting to sit down and learn all about these characters was a sweet treat. I particularly loved finally getting to learn Alice's complete backstory, as well as learning about Sam and Emily's love story. But I also enjoyed finding out more about the main Volturi members, the wolf pack members (the family trees tracing each of their lineages back to the original three werewolves was awesome), and some of the other coven members. Benjamin was always a stand-out to me, so his story was nice, too. Really all of them were interesting. At the beginning of each section, we also get background on each of the different species, things like physical attributes, special abilities, laws, myths, inheritance, lifestyles and lots more.
The final 100+ pages are a mixture of ingredients. We get a complete time line of events that affect the Twilight world starting in 1400-1200 B.C. and moving forward up through all the events in the books. Then there's a full summary (kind of a cliff notes version) of all four novels of the series. After that, there's a section with all the specs on the cars that play a part in the series. I can't say I'm much of a car geek, but I did enjoy drooling over the pictures.:-) The author also offers up the full playlist of songs she listened to while writing the series and which specific moments in the novels that the music inspired. Then the book finishes up with a fan art gallery, a gallery of international book covers, a few deleted scenes, and finally a FAQ section, which much like the rest of the book, had some things in it that I hadn't known before.
Overall, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide was an excellent companion piece to the greater Twilight Saga. In addition to getting a wealth of new information, I also enjoyed seeing the artistic concepts of the main characters, as well as certain places and scenes within the series. The pictures simply added a new dimension to what was already a really great group of books. I definitely highly recommend this book. For die-hard fans of the series, like myself, it's a must-read.
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