As 'Twilight' nears its end, fans search for what comes next
Just a week after what would have been Bram Stoker's 165th birthday, another vampire-related tale celebrates a milestone of sorts.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part Two" debuts in theaters on Thursday, the last of a multi-book and multi-film phenomenon that drew in millions of fans with its stories of vampires and werewolves set amidst teen romance.
Local Twi-hards (as the series' fans are called) are likely to pack movie theaters throughout the weekend as they say goodbye to the series that spawned the ever-important debate: Team Edward or Team Jacob?
One of those fans is 18-year-old Bobbi Kronberg, a first-year student at North Dakota State University, who says she got so wrapped up in the "Twilight" books several years ago that her high school grades suffered because of it.
"My mom actually threatened to take away my books from me," Kronberg says, laughing. "She was on the brink of taking them away from me."
Kronberg, originally from Forbes, N.D., has of course read all the books (multiple times) and seen all the movies, and she says it was the relationship between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen at the heart of the novel that really got her hooked.
"At the time, I wasn't in a relationship," she says. "But you're wondering, will I ever find that guy who will sweep me off my feet, like Edward did with Bella?"
Bree Schmidt, the teen librarian at the Fargo Public Library, agrees that it was "Twilight's" love story that was responsible for the series' huge success.
"Teen girls probably can identify with the main character," she says.
At the library, Schmidt says there are no special "Twilight"-themed events planned this year, unlike with past movie releases.
That's in part because she thinks teens seem to have already lost a little bit of interest in the series, even though the release of "Breaking Dawn - Part Two" is sure to do well at the box office.
"Teens and adults seem to be moving on to the next thing, which is 'The Hunger Games,' " Schmidt says, referring to the dystopian novel that kicked off its own multi-film run earlier this spring.
" 'The Hunger Games' has definitely taken on that post-'Twilight' role," Schmidt says.
That's not the case for Kronberg, though. In the search for something to fill that empty void, Kronberg says she turned to the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy.
She's read all three books on her Kindle, and despite the immediate (and obvious) differences in content and material, Kronberg says she's been able to find plenty of similarities between the two as well.
"That series is also something like 'Twilight,'" she says. "You get so wrapped up in the story. You want to live where they're living."
'Twilight' companion book, sequels
The "Fifty Shades" series was actually written by author E.L. James as "Twilight" fan fiction before being published.
But before you follow Kronberg's lead and make that transition to "Fifty Shades of Grey" in the search for your next fix, take note: Stephanie Meyer, the author of the "Twilight" series, has said there's always the possibility for more books in the future.
Meyer told "Entertainment Weekly" last week that there are definitely some ways that the series could continue after "Breaking Dawn - Part Two" is done and gone from the movie theater.
"I planned out where it would go for a couple more books," she told EW. "So I knew exactly what would happen."
Specific details are unclear, but EW speculated that a continuation of the series would involve a relationship between Jacob and Renesmee Cullen (Edward and Bella's daughter).
Even if new books don't come to fruition, fans have yet another potential option: "Midnight Sun," an unpublished "companion" novel to "Twilight" that re-tells the story from Edward's perspective.
Several chapters of that book were leaked online in 2008, however, and since then Meyer has said in interviews that she's put the project on hold indefinitely.
At the same time, she's left the door open for "Midnight Sun" to finally be completed someday.
In a 2008 interview with EW, she said that "once I'm pretty sure that everyone's forgotten about it, I think I'll be able to get to the place where I'm alone with it again. Then I'll be able to sneak in and work on it again."
But in the case that no more "Twilight" books are written, and "Midnight Sun" remains unpublished, there's one last option for Twi-hards: "The Host," also written by Meyer and published in 2008.
That book has the same science fiction theme (this time in outer space) mixed with a teen romance and love story.
"The Host" is being made into a movie for 2013, starring Saoirse Ronan ("Hanna"), Max Irons ("Red Riding Hood") and Jake Abel ("I Am Number Four").
At the Fargo Public Library, Schmidt says patrons never seemed as interested in "The Host" as they were with "Twilight," and those that did check out the book were mostly older women, not teens.
So regardless of what comes next for fans, as the story of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan heads into its twilight this weekend, Kronberg, at least, is planning on enjoying the finale of the series that she grew up with over the last several years.
"We're going to get a bunch of girls together and go," she says. "We'll make a big event out of it."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535