The question I get asked most often these days by non-writers is "How did Stephanie Meyer do it?" Of course, if I knew the key to exactly why Twilight became such an epic phenomenon, I'd be Stephanie Meyer-rich by now. But I do have my theory. I saw Bruce Coville give a speech once on why Harry Potter became Harry Potter, and his thoughts were brilliant. It was something like: orphan+average boy+magic+fantasy world+adventure+world is at stake = winner.
I cannot claim to have the brilliance of Bruce Coville, but I can jot down my ideas on this here blog and see if anybody agrees with me!
First, Twilight is the classic "longing for the love that can never be," but with a genius twist. The love could easily be changed into eternal love by only one method...killing Edward's one true love and turning her into a monster. The same monster Edward has been hating in himself for 100 years! So we, the audience, want them to be together so badly, but experience constant conflict and tension because we know what it would take.
Second, Edward is perfection personified. He is smart, worldly, musical, athletic, sensitive, mysterious, funny, protective, loyal, generous, a little dangerous and it-almost-hurts-to-look-at-him gorgeous. Girls want to marry him. Boys want to be him. He's the ultimate. Who wouldn't want to spend a few hours with the world's most awesome guy? Of course, he is anything but boring because he also has the biggest flaw in the universe...he's an undead murderer and deep down he yearns to kill you!
Third, Bella is the every-girl. Truly, there is nothing extraordinary about her. She is plain looking (at least in the book), not athletic, nice enough, of normal intelligence. She is so very average. She could be us. We could be her! So, we the readers can easily put ourselves in her shoes and "live" Bella's story. Which means we, too, could capture Edward's heart!
Take the perfect guy, the normal, average girl, the impossible love story, combine with a little magic and fantasy, toss in a tiny bit of violence and adventure, but keep everything "real" in terms of high school issues, friendships and hardships, and you've got yourself a winner.
I think the most appealing thing about Twilight is that it taps into our romantic ideal of true love. I don't care who you are, if you have two X chromosomes, you've fantasized about that one perfect soul mate at some point in your development. And in our dreams, that one perfect soul mate loves us unconditionally. He would do anything to keep us safe and make us feel loved and happy. He is gorgeous inside and out. He has nothing but interesting thoughts and hobbies and things to chat about. He listens to us. And he truly believes that we are the best thing that has ever happened to him. Oh, if only we could be that lucky!
Yep, I totally get why Twilight is such a phenomenon. Just wish I had the brains to concoct the new recipe for the next big thing!