Haleigh Rodela, 9, poses for a photo in front of a poster for the movie "Twilight," which opened Nov. 21 at West Theatre in Craig. Rodela, of Arvada, is the granddaughter of Debbie Winder, West Theatre manager, but she is among a large number of youths across the country who are fans of the book and movie.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Haleigh Rodela, 9, poses for a photo in front of a poster for the movie "Twilight," which opened Nov. 21 at West Theatre in Craig. Rodela, of Arvada, is the granddaughter of Debbie Winder, West Theatre manager, but she is among a large number of youths across the country who are fans of the book and movie.

Local young women swoon for 'Twilight' book series - and now movie

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The Twilight Saga

Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers

Book 1: "Twilight," 2005

Book 2: "New Moon," 2006

Book 3: "Eclipse," 2007

Book 4: "Breaking Dawn," 2008

- Source: Amazon.com

Craig resident Crystal Walker had a premonition.

About a year ago, Walker, 25, began reading "Twilight," a novel by Stephenie Meyer chronicling the romance between Bella Swan, a disenchanted teenage girl, and Edward Cullen, the eternally young vampire who loves her.

"When I first read 'Twilight,' I thought, 'This is going to be huge,'" she said.

She was right.

Meyer since has spun Bella and Edward's story out across three other novels.

And when a film version of the first book debuted Nov. 21, her fans turned out in droves.

"Twilight" dominated box offices across the country, grossing $70.6 million it its first weekend, according to Entertainment Weekly's online box office report from Nielsen EDI.

The film showed on 3,419 screens across the country and garnered an average of $20,636 per screen, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Both book and movie have fared moderately well thus far in Craig.

Downtown Books has sold more than 100 copies of books in the series since the store first began carrying them in May, co-owner Caroline Dotson said.

When "Breaking Dawn," the fourth book in the series came out, the bookstore pre-sold an entire case, or about 30 books, before they even arrived.

Locally, book sales have been highest with women ranging from ages 18 to 25, Dotson said.

Other area stores, including Kmart, Wal-Mart SuperCenter, Walgreens, City Market and Safeway, also carry books in the series.

When "Twilight" debuted Nov. 21 at West Theatre in Craig, about 140 people, or 20 short of a full house, bought tickets, Manager Debbie Winder said.

Moviegoers began lining up for tickets more than two hours before the showing.

Walker was among those who waited in line outside of West Theatre opening day.

In her estimation, the appeal of the book and movie boil down to two elements: complex characters and steaming-hot vampires.

"Most vampire books that you read are dark and gritty," she said.

But not Meyer's.

Contrary to literary traditions that depict vampires as darkly dangerous, Edward, the main male character in "Twilight," is everything a teenage girl dreams of: attractive and utterly devoted, Walker said.

"(Meyer) made the vampires in her book beautiful," Walker said. "She made them exotic."

That's not to say Edward has lost his taste for blood, particularly the kind coursing through Bella's veins. Edward wrestles against the impulse to "just go buffet on her," Walker said.

After she read "Twilight," she read the other three books in the series and has urged others to do the same.

"It's pretty addicting," she said.

Walker is no stranger to the genre. Anne Rice and Christine Feehan are among the authors she's read who write fiction of the blood-sucking variety.

But in Walker's estimation, Meyer's books are different. Bella struggles with her self-esteem, and her experiences as a jaded teenager living in a small, rural community resonate with young Craig women.

Fight the bite

Dotson recently picked up "Twilight," just to see what all the fuss was about.

She finished reading the book last week and wasn't disappointed.

"(Meyer) keeps you turning the pages," Dotson said, adding that the author has no qualms about leaving her readers hanging at a chapter's end.

She chalked up the books' broad appeal to the emotions they elicit in both youths and adults.

"I think its such a fun, exciting book," especially for teenage girls and young women, she said. "It just takes you back to when you were younger, and it was exciting."

And there's another aspect of "Twilight" - the book and the movie - that could be alluring to adults.

In a departure from the traditional vampire genre, which often uses neck-biting as a thinly veiled euphemism for sex, Bella and Edward don't consummate their relationship in "Twilight."

The reason: Edward's fatal taste for blood. He and Bella kiss occasionally - but go no farther. And that element of the book, Dotson said, may appeal to parents.

Still, a lack of steamy scenes in the book and its film counterpart hasn't cooled Walker's devotion to the series.

Overall, she was pleased by the movie adaptation of the book.

Sure, it was a little cheesy in some parts.

But, "It was, like, good, teen cheese," she said. "I liked it."

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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