Bella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear.
Bella celebrates her birthday with her boyfriend Edward and his family, a unique clan of vampires that has sworn off human blood. But the celebration abruptly ends when the teen accidentally cuts her arm on broken glass. The sight and smell of her blood trickling away forces the Cullen family to retreat lest they be tempted to make a meal of her. After all is mended, Edward, realizing the danger that he and his family create for Bella, sees no option for her safety but to leave. Mourning his departure, she slips into a downward spiral of depression that penetrates and lingers over her every step. Vampire fans will appreciate the subsequently dour mood that permeates the novel, and it's not until Bella befriends Jacob, a sophomore from her school with a penchant for motorcycles, that both the pace and her disposition begin to take off. Their adventures are wild, dare-devilish, and teeter on the brink of romance, but memories of Edward pervade Bella's emotions, and soon their fun quickly morphs into danger, especially when she uncovers the true identities of Jacob and his pack of friends.
Jake, the werewolf met in New Moon, pursues Bella with renewed vigilance. However, when repercussions from an episode in Twilight place Bella in the mortal danger that series fans have come to expect, Jake and Edward forge an uneasy alliance. The plot patterns have begun to show here, but Meyer's other strengths remain intact. The supernatural elements accentuate the ordinary human dramas of growing up. Jake and Edward's competition for Bella feels particularly authentic, especially in their apparent desire to best each other as much as to win Bella.
In Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final installment in the series, Bella’s story plays out in some unexpected ways. The ongoing conflicts that made this series so compelling--a human girl in love with a vampire, a werewolf in love with a human girl, the generations-long feud between werewolves and vampires--resolve pretty quickly, apparently so that Meyer could focus on Bella’s latest opportunity for self-sacrifice: giving her life for someone she loves even more than Edward. How close she comes to actually making that sacrifice is questionable, which is a big shift from the earlier books. Even though you knew Bella would make it through somehow, the threats to her life, and to her relationship with Edward, had previously always felt real. It’s as if Meyer was afraid of hurting her characters too much, which is unfortunate, because the pain Bella suffered at losing Edward in New Moon, and the pain Jacob suffered at losing Bella again and again, are the fire and the heart that drive the whole series.