So are you on Team Edward or Team Jacob? Or do you even know what that means?
Whether you're an avid fan of Stephenie Meyer's teenage vampire series or new to this whole I vampires thing, it's hard to avoid the hype as the bestselling series moves to the big screen Friday.
Here's a primer to help you decide where your loyalties lie.
Fans' devotion to the romance between Edward Cullen, hottie vampire, and Bella Swan, ordinary human teenager, has been unreal. The series has sold more than 17-million copies, which Summit Entertainment hopes will translate into box office success. Fans talk of their affliction with OCD, Obsessive Cullen Disorder, and YouTube features a video on Twilight Addiction Syndrome.
Meyer dubbed her female lead the name she was saving for a daughter: Isabella. (She has three sons.) Twilight begins when Bella, or Bells, moves to Forks, Wash., to live with her father.
Bella has long been friends with a boy named Jacob Black, a member of the Quileute tribe (see Q). Jacob's tribe isn't exactly friendly with Edward & Co., and Jacob is the one who tells Bella about his tribe's differences with the "Cold Ones." It's a pretty good way to describe vampires, who are pale, cold, stony.
Meyer said on her Web site (stephenie meyer.com) that the idea for Twilight came from a vivid dream about an average girl and a beautiful, sparkly vampire. Six months later, the book was written and accepted for publication.
Meyer named Twilight's vampire hero after Jane Eyre's Byronic Mr. Rochester and Sense and Sensibility's Edward Ferrars.
As Eve tempted Adam with a perfect blood-red apple, a madly-in-love Bella pressures Edward to change her into a vampire by Twilight's end. The novel's symbolic cover isn't Meyer's only reference to the Bible's creation story, as the series opens with this quote from Genesis: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Meyer provides her vampires with special talents that carry over from their human lives. These gifts are then accentuated; some are unique (Edward's vampire brother, Jasper, can control others' moods) and some are shared (superhuman strength).
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
Fans of the bespectacled wizard were aghast when Warner Brothers moved the release of the series' sixth movie from November to July 2009. But that move proved advantageous for the little-studio-that-could, Summit Entertainment, which quickly took over Harry Potter's prime pre-Thanksgiving opening date.
Edward was dying of Spanish Influenza in 1918 Chicago when he was saved by Carlisle, who turned him into a vampire and became his adoptive father.
James is the leader of a nomadic trio of human-hunting vamps who sets his sights on Bella. He is gifted with sixth sense, which makes his ability as a tracker unmatched.
Prepare for squeals and sighs when Bella and Edward share their first kiss. (If you're not a tween, it's okay to sigh too.)
Meyer is a self-proclaimed music addict, and the California band was her background music when writing Twilight. "Linkin Park was really kind of the undercurrent of that novel for me," she told Rolling Stone. "I had Hybrid Theory and Meteora on a mix, and I just listened to them over and over again." The band's Leave Out All the Rest appears on the movie's soundtrack. (Meyer also offers thematic playlists for each book in the series on her Web site.)
Meyer originally planned an addendum to the series titled Midnight Sun — a retelling of Twilight from Edward's perspective. An unedited draft of part of the book was leaked on the Internet, causing Meyer to table plans to finish it. Meyer did give actor Robert Pattinson a copy of the draft before filming to give him insight into Edward's character.
NEW BREED OF VAMPIRE
Twilight's bloodsuckers won't burst into flames in direct sunlight or be repelled by traditional defenses like garlic, crosses and holy water. On sunny days, the skin of Meyer's vampires sparkles like diamonds.
The acronym stands for "Oh my Edward!" Fans use it interchangeably with OMG. OME shirts are available on sites like zazzle.com and cafepress.com. Cafepress already has more than 6,000 Twilight-inspired designs.
Edward is a virtuoso pianist, thanks in part to his vampire speed. He also composes a lullaby inspired by Bella. Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward in the movie, is an accomplished musician on piano and guitar. His original song, Never Think, appears on the movie's soundtrack.
Bella's pal Jacob is a Quileute Indian. The tribe and their home, La Push, are real. Taylor Lautner, the actor who plays Jacob, has some native ancestry: Ottawa and Potawatomi.
The initial backlash at the casting of a virtual unknown as Twilight's fair Adonis has morphed into a swoon-inducing second-coming of Brad Pitt. Pattinson, who likened the screams of the fanatical female crush at Comic-Con with "entering the gates of hell" in an interview in Entertainment Weekly, was not Meyer's original choice to play Edward. That honor goes to The Tudor's equally hunky Henry Cavill, who was too old for the role by the time the film was cast.
Meyer's series is composed of four books: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.
"Twi" is being tacked onto the beginning of just about everything. There is Twi-Rock, or music inspired by the books, which includes bands like the Bella Cullen Project, the Twilighters, the Twilight Music Girls and Midnight Sun. Fans classify themselves as Twi-hards and Twilighters.
For a sheltered teen, Bella easily accepts Edward's lifestyle with a maturity most adults lack. Such is the power of first love, literary style.
Edward's silver shiny ride. The car is quite a contrast to Bella's rusty 1953 Chevy pickup. Most of the vampires' cars seem excessive for Forks, Wash. Other notable vampmobiles: Rosalie's BMW M3 convertible and Carlisle's Mercedes S55 AMG.
The Cullens feed on wildlife, not humans, a lifestyle choice that Carlisle made more than 300 years ago. The Olympic Peninsula's dense, forested region provides the perfect playground for a weekend family hunt. The mountain lion is Edward's chosen prey.
The first time Bella meets Carlisle in the book, he's examining an X-ray of her head. Without giving away too much, Bella is hopelessly clumsy and has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Edward tries his best to protect her.
The Cullen clan's eyes are described as being liquid gold topaz, but in a later book they are called the strange Yellow Eyes by another vampire. The eye color is different because they only feed on animals. Human-eating vamps' eyes are red.
A quick Internet search by Meyer yielded Washington's Olympic Peninsula as the rainiest spot in the United States — the perfect sunless setting for a vampire tale — and thus the real town of Forks (ZIP code 98331) became Bella's new home. Photo ops for visiting Twilighters include a red 1953 Chevy pickup parked by the Chamber of Commerce bearing the license plate Bella, Forks High School and a parking spot at the community hospital with this sign: "Dr. Cullen Reserved Parking Only."
Times staff writers Joshua Engleman and Stephanie Swanson contributed to this report.