In this young adult novel, Bella Swan becomes embroiled in a world of paranormal intrigue when she learns that her lab partner Edward Cullen, and his entire family, are vampires. Despite the obvious dangers, Edward and Bella fall in love, but their budding romance is threatened when a formidable outside vampire, James, decides that Bella must die. This first installment of the Twilight Saga introduces the love story than spans three more volumes.
Bella Swan is an accident prone girl who moves to live with her father in Forks, Washington. Her mother Renee is marrying a man named Phil Dwyer , who makes her mother very happy. Bella feels that it would make her mother more comfortable with Phil's traveling job if she were living with her father Charlie Swan , who is the sheriff of the small town. Having lived in Phoenix most of her life, Bella is not accustomed to the rainy and bleak weather of Forks. She attends the local high school and makes few friends. She sits with Jessica Stanley, Mike Newton and Angela Weber at lunch. Her first week at school, she is told about the odd and mysterious Cullen family who adopted five children, four of whom were dating each other. Those five teenagers sit together at lunch and Bella instantly notices their unusual beauty, the fact that they never touch their food, and the way that other students avoid them while not understanding why they do so. As Bella attends classes, she finds that the youngest looking Cullen, named Edward , is in her biology class. When she is assigned as his partner for the class, he reacts poorly to her, acting as if he found her repulsive and he belives she is attractive in a seductive way but the adience is not aware of it yet.
However, over time Edward warms up to her a bit, no longer glaring when she enters the room, or ignoring her throughout class. On a day when Edward is conspicuously absent from Biology, Bella is horrified to find that the class will be blood typing today. Upon seeing blood, she becomes woosy. Mike Newton (who has an obvious crush on Bella) immediately volunteers to take Bella to the nurse. On the way to said nurse's office, they run into Edward, who has arrived just as class is ending. Bella has fallen sickly to the ground, and Mike is patheticallly unable to move her. Upon being told what's wrong, Edward chuckles, and scoops her up to frustrated Mike's protests. He takes her to the nurse, mocking her for her intolerance for so little blood. Angrily, Bella defends herself by explaining that it's the smell of blood that gets her. Shocked, Edward says "People can't smell blood". "I can" she retorts.
As Bella and Edward spend more time together at school, they become friends, even beginning to sit together at lunch on occasion. But he remains mysterious. She notices that his eyes change color, sometimes golden, sometimes eerily black. One day, while Bella is in the parking lot at school, she is nearly crushed by a van that is spinning out of control. Edward rushes towards her (reaching her in a split second from the other side of the lot), pushes her out of the way and stops the van with his bare hands (leaving a dent in the metal). In the ER, Bella is examined by Dr. Carlisle Cullen - Edward's father. She learns that he is a well-loved doctor in this local hospital. Edward is there as well, and she finds that he is not hurt at all. This (along with the fact that she saw him stop a full-size van) peaks her curiosity, but Edward is quick to avoid the topic, telling her she hit her head pretty hard on the concrete. Back at school, they resume their odd friendship, and she asks him at lunch what he is exactly. He smirks and asks her what her theories are. He dismisses her cliche superhero-like guesses with humor, but then seriously asks "What if I'm not the hero, what if I'm the monster?", making her all the more curious about him.
Over a weekend, several of Bella's friends decide to have a bonfire on a beach at La Push, the Quiluete Native American reservation. Bella invites Edward to come, but he declines, telling her that he and his family are not welcome at the reservation. He will not say why. At the bonfire, Bella meets the son of an old friend of her father's - named Jacob Black. As the teens tell scary stories around the fire, Bella becomes intrigued at Jacob's knowledge of the Cullen family. Getting him alone, she coerces him into telling Quiluete legends until he gets to the one that Jacob's father (Bella's father's friend Billy Black) claims is about the Cullen family. According to the stories, they are "Cold Ones", or vampires. Jacob scoffs at the stories, saying his father is a crazy old man. But to Bella, the pieces begin to fit and she puts it all together.
Bella goes out one weekend with Angela and Jessica to Port Angelos, a nearby city. She splits off from the other two, planning to meet them later for dinner. Looking for a specific store, Bella gets lost in the darkening town. Creepy men follow her, and begin cat-calling. Now realizing what the men intend to do, Bella starts to run, but the men have herded her towards yet more creepy men. At the last possible moment, a shiny Volvo - Edward Cullen's car - screeches to a halt and he throws the door open ordering her to get in. Gratefully she does so, and they speed away. Edward snaps at Bella, asking her why in the world she had been so foolish, and asking her to distract him by babbling on about some boring subject, so that he could calm down. After Bella fails ease his temper by much, Edward suggests he take her to dinner as a distraction. On their way into the resteraunt they run into Angela and Jessica, who head home without Bella.
After dinner (as always, Edward did not eat), in Edward's car on the way back to Forks from Port Angelos, Bella confronts Edward with what she has learned from Jacob. He reluctantly admits to being a vampire, and confirms that so are the rest of the Cullens. She then asks how he knew she needed saving. He explains that he has been following her, feeling a need to protect her. He knew she was coming to Port Angelos because he can read minds... all minds except for Bella's mind. So, he had been listening to Angela's and Jessica's thoughts to keep tabs on her. When she left them, he lost her for a while, but managed to find her by scent just in time. Hearing the would-be-rapists' thoughts about Bella nearly sent him over the edge. He needed Bella to distract him so that he could stop himself from hunting them down and killing them all.
Still driving home, Bella freaks out at how fast he is driving, and he tells her not to worry because he is a "built-in radar detector". Sufficiently soothed, Bella continues to ask questions. She asks if her assumption that when his eyes are golden he is full, and when his eyes are black he is thirsty is right. Surprised at her observance, he comfirms that's correct. Then Bella learns about Edward's family. His "parents" are Carlisle and Esme . His brothers are Emmett and Jasper , and his sisters are Rosalie and Alice . Emmett and Rosalie are in love, so are Jasper and Alice. Jasper can both feel and manipulate the emotions of those around him. Alice has premonitions, and can hazily see pieces of the future. Bella also learns that unlike the Cullen coven, vampires are usually nomads. The Cullens are one of only two covens (that they know of) that do not feed on humans. They jokingly call themselves "vegetarians". Edward also dispels the myths that they sleep in coffins and have no reflections. However, he says that they truly can't go out in sunlight (the Forks area is almost always rainy). However, that is not because the sun harms them. Edward refuses to tell Bella what happens when he goes out in sunlight, but promises to show her someday.
Now that they are being completely truthful with each other, their relationship begins to turn to romance as the two find they have deep feelings for each other, rather obsessive. However, they never so much as touch hands, Edward makes sure of that. One day, Edward tells her that the sun will be coming out that weekend, and he wanted to show her a place he loves up in the mountains. Enthusiastically, she agrees to go with him, though she doesn't know where. However, as the appointed day nears, Edward tells her to reconsider going with him, warning her of the danger of being alone with him far from help - from witnesses. Undaunted, Bella tells Charlie and her friends that she is going shopping in Seattle that day. After Edward comes to pick her up this news infuriates him. He makes it clear that he does not trust himself to not harm her. However, Bella wants to prove her faith in him, and they continue. In Bella's slow-moving truck (as she insisted) they drive to the base of a trail, and they hike for three hours until they reach the edge of the most beautiful meadow Bella has ever seen.
Bella runs out into the measow, and turns to watch him enter the sunlight. When he does, his skin sparkles as if millions of tiny diamonds were embedded in his skin. They lie down next to each other, and for the first time try touching faces, holding hands, etc. Edward always seems to be concentrating on self-control. At one point Bella leans too close, and he leaps up and runs to the edge of the clearing. Slowly coming back, he explains that it is hard for him to stave off his animal instincts, though he loves her, he is always tempted to kill her. The day that they first met, his expression was not disgust, but rather thirst. Her blood smelled better to him than any other. Then taunting her, proclaimng the fact that he is the perfect predator (his looks, his smell, his inate charm, everything draws humans into their doom), he demonstrates his vampire strength and speed by circling the meadow in the blink of an eye, and snapping a giant limb from a tree and throwing it. Seeing her fear, his face falls. Apologizing sadly for his rudeness he lies back down beside her, and tries to describe what it's like to be near her. Explaining how maddeningly intoxicating and irrisistably delicious she smells to him (and he has super senses), he says the iconic line: "You are exactly my brand of heroin", and lies his head on her chest, listening to her heart. The sun begins to set, and they reluctantly head for home. Edward suddenly enthusiastically throws her on his back and runs down the mountain at a blinding speed, reaching the road in minutes. This so dizzies Bella that back at the truck she falls over and has to sit for a while to avoid being sick. Edward laughs and apologizes, sitting beside her. When she has recovered herself, he leans in and kisses her for the first time. She responds wildly and kisses him back passionately. He hastily pushes her away, and then it is her turn to apologize. So, in a bittersweet mood, they fire up the old red truck and head back to town.
Edward gives Bella a short tour of the house, stopping by Carlisle's room (more of an office since he doesn't sleep). On the walls are many pictures from all different time periods. Edward asks Carlisle to tell his history, and Carlisle tells Edward to tell it, since he knows it as well as he. Pointing to a painting of old London, Edward tells of how Carlisle lived in the 1600s in England, the son of a very self-righteous religious leader that busied himself hunting down "evil". Carlisle was a disapointment because he was slow to accuse people without solid proof. One night while hunting down vampires that were actually real for once, he was cornered and attacked. However, the vampire being weak nearly to the point of being crippled, it couldn't finish the job before slinking away. Carlisle managed to hide from those who would have killed him upon finding he had been bitten. When the change was complete, he wandered the countryside, refusing his thirst out of the pure goodness of his heart. However, one day he realized he could feed on animals, and had been ever since. Next, Edward pointed to a painting of Renaissance Italy. There were four figures, all looking like Gods, one very much like Carlisle. He explains that Carlisle stayed with these patrons of the arts for a while: Marcus , Caius , and Aros . (These characters are intoduced in the next book in the series). However, he left them because he couldn't stand their blood-soaked and ruthless lifestyles. Eventually, Carlisle ended up in America, and discovered his talent for being a doctor. Becoming extremely lonely over the years, he had been contemplating creating a companion. During the Spanish Influenza epidemic in the 1910s, Carlisle came across a dying 17 yr. old boy, past any hope of recovery. His mother, also dying suddenly gripped Carlisle, and begged Carlisle to save her son - inexplicably insinuating that she knew what Carlisle could really do. When she died, Carlisle wheeled Edward to the morgue, and bit him. From then on, Edward had been his son and closest friend.
Edward also told of the other Cullen's histories. Esme jumped off a cliff after having lost a baby. Carlisle fell in love with her, and changed her. Rosalie was bleeding to death in an alley when Edward and Carlisle came upon her (explained in the third book). Later, Rosalie was out in the mountains and found Emmet mauled by a bear. Loving him at once, she carried him all the way back to Carlisle, afraid that she wouldn't be able to change him. Carlisle did not change Jasper or Alice. The pair wandered into the area one day, Alice said she had seen a vision of them, and they wanted to live the Cullen lifestyle. Jasper was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War when he was made a vampire. Oddly, Alice has no recollection of when or where she came from, a total mystery to this day. Edward also ashamedly tells of a time when he went through a rebelious stage, and left Carlisle to hunt humans. He tried to feed on only "bad" people, like murderers, but one day he looked in the mirror, saw his dark, blood red eyes, and penitantly returned to his father.
In Edward's room, Bella claims to Edward that she was not afraid of him. Seeing through this, he teases "You really shouldn't have said that", and pounces on her, landing on top of her on his couch. "What were you saying?" "That you are a very terrifying monster" she complies. Just then, Alice and Jasper burst in, and Alice announces that there will be a thunderstorm that evening, so the Cullens would be able to play baseball without the sound of their equally thunderous batting drawing attention. Bella tags along. They take Emmett's jeep up a road until it ends, then the vampires run. Left behind by the others, Edward tells Bella to get on his back, but remembering how sick she felt last time, she refuses. Leaning her agaisnt the jeep he kisses her softly until she agrees, then kisses her hard once, and like their first kiss he has to stave her off. Making it clear that he is far from completely mastering his self-control around her, he exclaims she'll be the death of him, then slings her up, and they run to join the others in another clearing.
Bella and Esme (as referee) watch the others play baseball, and all is well until suddenly Alice halts the game, warning that other vampires are on their way...the bad kind. Three vampire nomads - Laurent , James , and Victoria - enter the clearing and are intrigued by the gathering. Zeroing in on Bella, they ask if the Cullens will share their "snack". When Edward moves protectively to sheild Bella, James, the Tracker, notices. Now it is too late, this is what James loves: a challenge.
To save Bella, the Cullens split up. Jasper and Alice will take Bella to Phoenix (the idea being that James would not expect her to go where she said she was going), Esme changes clothes with Bella and along with Rosalie will try to draw James off, and Emmett, Edward, and Carlisle will hunt James down - though Carlisle abhors violence he sees no other way. Bella stops by home, Edward telling her she only has moments to grab some things, and make an excuse to Charlie why she must leave so that he won't worry and search for her. It breaks her heart, but she must break his heart. She shreiks at him that she hates it here, and is going back to her true home, even throwing in the last words her mother had said to him before he left him. Sobbing on Alice's shoulder, she falls asleep as Jasper drives the three of them to Pheonix.
Jasper, Alice, and Bella are stuck in a hotel room together. Bella feels awful - guilty and frightened. Jasper begins to use his ability to calm her. Talking with Alice while Jasper is out, Bella learns that usually people die when bitten by a vampire because like a shark, they go into a feeding frenzy. In order for someone to become one of the undead, they must be bitten but not drained, and that takes more self-control than most have. The vampire venom works in them then, for three days of unimaginably excruciating pain, one of the many reasons Alice says Edward refuses to change Bella. Later, Alice has a vision of a dark room with mirrors, and she cries out "Bella!" before coming to. Jasper is concerned for her, and sits with her while she draws the room from her vision. Bella looks over her shoulder, and recognizes it as the ballet studio she went to as a child. This worries the two Cullens even more. The cell rings, and Bella answers in hopes that it's Edward. It's James. In the backround Bella hears her distressed mother. James says he will let Renee go if Bella meets him in the ballet studio. He gives her until noon to break away from her protectors, which seems impossible to Bella.
The three head to the Phoenix airport, where Bella and Edward will meet up and fly somewhere safe. However, worried sick about her mom, Bella goes to a bathroom that she knows has two exits, and runs out the far side, just barely managing to get away from Jasper, and jumping into a nearby cab. Arriving at the ballet studio, James is waiting for her. She is releaved to find that he had been playing a home video from her house in the background of the phonecall to trick her into thinking that he had her mom. James sets up a camcorder so that Edward can watch him kill Bella later. He sniffs her, mocks her, trips her as she tries to flee, breaks her leg, and throws her into the mirrored wall. She lies bleeding to death amid shards of glass on the floor, and James goes in for the kill, biting her wrist.
Just then the Cullens rush in, and drag James off of her. Three of them: Edward, Alice, and Carlisle kneel over Bella. Alice braces Bella's head as Carlisle works on her leg. Edward holds her hand and begs her to live. Bella's whimpers turn to screams as the place where James bit her wrist begins to burn. Carlisle (who was the one to change the others) realizes what is happening, and tells Edward he will have to suck out the venom or she will become a vampire. Terrified, he proclaims he can't, that he'll be unable to stop himself from draining her dry. But Carlisle urges that he must because the only other person that could is himself, and her leg must be tended to immediately. Steeling himself, Edward sucks on her wrist, which initially makes Bella hurt worse, and Alice has to brace her harder, but then after awhile she starts to feel sleepy and the pain numbs. All that is left to be seen is if Edward can stop himself before killing her...and he does, triumphantly proclaiming "Her blood tastes clean". By this time James is dead (having been ripped to shreds and set on fire - that's how you kill a vampire) and the ballet studido is burning down. Edward picks her up, and Bella loses conciousness as he carries her.
Waking up days later in the hospital, Bella finds herself hooked up to various machines, sporting casts, an IV in her arm, a bandaged hand, and Edward at her bedside. He tells her that Alice had seen the videotape that James was making in a vison. To add to the insult, James had told that he knew where Alice came from. He even knew her last name. The reason she couldn't remember anythign was because she had been locked away in a dark cold hole of an insane assylum because of her visions. Her unfeeling family had faked her death and sent her there to rot. James found her and wanted to make her his, but an older vampire beat him to it, and he had wanted vengeance ever since. After Bella is through absorbing this story, Renee comes into the room, Carlisle having called her (Alice had too much fun fabricating an "accident" at a hotel), and Edward pretends to be asleep. To please her mom, she proclaims Edward to be just a crush, and her mom leaves. Edward then tells Bella that he really is just a crush, and she can't beleive he could think that! Bella demands Edward to promise to never ever leave her. He feels that all this is his fault, and will only agree to promise not to leave her so long as she needs him. He kisses her softly and the heart moniter goes wild.
Dissapointing her mom, Bella says she wishes to continue living with her dad, and goes with the Cullens back to Forks, where she apologizes profusely to Charlie. Months later, the delighted Alice gets Bella all dolled up– who is not sure why. Edward comes and picks her up, in a tux, and she is horrified that he takes her to the prom. However, Edward is suave enough that despite the fact that her leg is still in a cast, she has a good time. At the prom, Jacob shows up and says that his dad payed him in car parts (he loves to fix up old cars) to come tell her to beware of Edward. Embarrased, he shrugs and leaves. Edward and Bella exit the dance to sit outside. He asks her what she thought they were going to do if not prom (still frustrated by the fact that he can't read her mind). She tells him she was hopinghe would make her a vampire. He is angry and sad because he has already tried to convince her that's not what she wants. Perking up, he mischeiviously asks if now is a good time, and puts his mouth on her neck. Bella gets scared but excited...and he turns it into a kiss, saying "Did you really think I'd give in that easily?" Our story ends with Bella on Edwdard's lap, the two of them looking out at the Twilight, and with a sigh Edward comments on how there's always another ending.