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Katie Bratvold, 17, wears her "New Moon" movie T-shirt and holds her copy of "Breaking Dawn," the fourth book in the Stephenie Meyer "Twilight" series. Bratvold is looking forward to seeing "New Moon," the second "Twilight" movie, which opens at midnight tonight. (John Stennes/Grand Forks Herald)

Fans over the moon for new 'Twilight'

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GRAND FORKS -- When high school seniors take their senior pictures, they often bring along props that tell who they are and what's important to them. The linebacker will bring his football helmet, and the musician her saxophone or some sheet music. The four-wheelin' fan may pose next to his beloved pickup truck.

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Grand Forks Red River High School Senior Katie Bratvold, a self-described obsessed fan of all things "Twilight," arrived for her senior photo shoot wearing her "New Moon" T-shirt and her "Team Edward" bracelet and carrying her copy of "Breaking Dawn," the fourth and final book in the "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer.

"I decided I wanted to do it because I wanted to show something that was me, and everyone knows that I like 'Twilight,'" said Bratvold, a senior at Red River High School.

Bratvold, 17, like millions of "Twilight" fans worldwide, is especially excited this week. That's because "New Moon," the second movie in the "Twilight" series, will open at midnight. Many early showings in Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, Fargo and many other locations across the country sold out days ago.

"Twilight" began as a book by author Stephenie Meyer and has grown into a pop culture phenomenon rivaling Harry Potter and Star Wars, with four books, two movies (and more in the works), plus clothing, jewelry, a best-selling CD soundtrack, posters and more.

Bratvold has all those things and has ordered a "Twilight" bedspread and pillow shams.

Twilight began as the story of a regular teen girl named Bella who moved to a small town in Washington state to live with her father. There she met Edward Cullen, a sexy, smart and often funny teen vampire. The two fell in love and began what, at least at first, was a passionate relationship in which they never actually did the deed.

It was a story destined to melt the hearts of teen girls and young women, many of whom are "Twilight's" biggest fans.

"I think the reason I like it is because so many girls can relate to it," said Amanda Schafer, 15, Bratvold's friend and the one who encouraged her to read the first "Twilight" book. "Bella is actually a regular girl and this dreamy guy comes along and they fall in love."

And what regular girl doesn't dream of having a beautiful, devoted boyfriend who's madly in love with her?

The "we want to be intimate but we can't" story line has appeal, too. In today's highly sexualized culture, it may be a relief for young women to read about two young people in love who aren't immediately leaping into bed together.

"I think just because it was forbidden, because they wanted each other so bad but they knew that they shouldn't," Bratvold said, discussing part of the story's appeal.

"Twilight," like every pop culture phenom, has its backlash from haters, too.

"There's a lot of people who are fans of those books and movies and then there's also a lot of people who don't like it," Bratvold said. Some people think "Twilight" has taken too much license with the image of traditional vamps. For instance, Edward and his "family" don't head for the nearest coffin when the daylight comes. As long as they stay out of direct sunlight, they're OK.

Bratvold, however, is on the other end of the fan spectrum. She doesn't have tickets to see "New Moon" yet, but (as she did with the first movie) plans to wait a while to see it until the crowds become more manageable.

In the meantime, she's got her "New Moon" soundtrack -- loaded with songs by Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Skulls, The Killers, Muse, Thom Yorke, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and more -- the books, and her DVD of the first movie, "Twilight," which she estimates she's already watched 20 to 25 times.

She likes actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in the roles of Edward and Bella because they look the way she'd imaged the characters when she read the book. But it's the teen love and devotion that has really won her heart.

"In all the books, Edward says he'll love Bella forever and never leave her side, and that's why I really like it," Bratvold said.

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