August 19, 2008

Vampires Teaching Lesson on Love

Toronto Globe And Mail

Even though he is only 19, Kaleb Nation says his mother raised him to treat the ladies right.

But if he needs another model for a healthy approach to romance, he has one: Edward Cullen, a dreamy 17-year-old vampire from Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series of young-adult novels.

"I think more guys should read the books," Nation said. "They might not enjoy the romance parts very much, but there's a lot to learn."

The Texas resident, who maintains a blog about the series at, is definitely on to something.

"Breaking Dawn," the fourth book in the "Twilight series," has been selling strong since its release earlier this month.

The books are a publishing sensation, due in large part to a devoted following of female fans from all age groups. But most women aren't drawn to the genre out of a desire to see bared fangs -- they want to see emotion laid bare.

The only stakes being driven through hearts are the pangs of teenage heartbreak.

"Only a vampire can love you forever," said "Twilight" fan Mahdis Aruni, a 20-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ontario.

"Because he is a vampire and loves her so much, he puts himself through so much pain to be with her. Not that we want Edward to be in pain, but it shows how much he loves her."

On the social-networking site Facebook, hundreds of groups are dedicated to vampire love, and its effect on real-life romantic encounters.

Aruni is one of the administrators for a group called "Because I read 'Twilight' I have unrealistic expectations in men," which has more than 55,000 members.

Angela Miles, a professor at the University of Toronto who has studied popular romance novels, said this kind of infatuation is a form of regression but not necessarily an unhealthy one.

"It's quite a deep psychological escape, so when they're reading this formula, women really are in another world," she said. "They're very comforting in a strange way."

Nation said many readers of his blog are 12 or 13 years old and looking for a hopeful model of romance, and see themselves in the series' female main character, Bella, who is 16 when the books begin.

"They see a girl that's clumsy and depressed and they think, 'I'm better than she is,' " he said. "It's a boost of self-confidence to see that someone like Bella can get someone like Edward who's good and true and unselfish."

(c) 2008 Topeka Capital Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.