Well, this was not what I expected. The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide isn't actually by Stephenie Meyer. Looking at the title page, there is no author listed, it simply says:
The publisher wishes to acknowledge contributions by
Lori Joffs and Laura Byrne-Cristiano of the Twilight Lexicon
I had added this book to my wish list when it was first released, but I am so glad I borrowed it from the library first. For most Twilight fans, there isn't a lot of new information. If you have spent any time looking at Meyer's website or any of the other zillions of Twilight blogs out there, you've probably seen most of this.
Really for me the only interesting part was right at the beginning of the book. Stephenie Meyer did an interview with a fellow author friend, Shannon Hale. I hope you don't mind if I share a bit of it with you.
When discussing her life-long love of books and reading, she says, "I always needed that extra fantasy world. I had to have another world I could be in at the same time. And so, with writing, I just found a way to have another world, and then to be able to be a lot more a part of it than as a reader." I loved reading this because it is such a reflection of how I feel. She also tells of feeling compelled to write and compares it to a good book that you can't put down, except that instead of reading it, she was writing it. I can totally imagine that.
I've heard many people say that Twilight got them reading again. I know it is true for me to a certain extent. Before Twilight, I read a book every few months. I had small children and I was stretched as thin as I thought I could go. After reading Twilight, I couldn't get my hands on books fast enough. I still have small children, though they are bigger and more self-sufficient now, but I have found time to read. I've always been a reader because I always loved to read, but for a few years, I just didn't read much.
Meyer says in this interview that she loves when people tell her that her books made them excited to read. She says, "I really feel like one of the important things you can do for kids in school is not just give them the classics that teach them about excellent form and really great writing style, but also throw in a couple of fun things that teach them that reading can be this amazing adventure. Let them love some story, so at least they know not all books are 'hard' or 'difficult,' but that they can just be fun."
I believe that is important. Right now my seven-year-old son only wants to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. In my opinion they are a bit brainless and filled with boy humor, but he is a seven-year-old boy and so of course that is what he likes. I could try to force him to read something else, but what would that accomplish? It might just turn him away from reading all together and I would hate that. So I'll hold on to my Harry Potter books and hope that as he gets older he'll come around. He is only seven, after all.
As for the rest of the book, it is filled with descriptions of each of the characters in the saga. Most of this seems redundant if you've actually read the books, though there is some additional backstory. Another part some people my find interesting are the playlists. While Meyer was writing, she had very specific thought on soundtrack for each event in the saga. Each of these are listed in the guide along with a short description of the place where it belongs. If you wanted to take the time to search out each of these tracks and play them as you read along, it is interesting information. I don't expect that I will. It is also information that you can find at http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/ .
Actually, if you are a fan and haven't spent some time on Meyer's website, I recommend that you do. You will find quite a few outtakes and most of the information contained in the guide.