As the Twilight saga begins, 17-yearold Isabella Swan moves from sunny Phoenix to rainy Forks, Washington to live with her father, Charlie. School-smart and mature beyond her years, Bella does her best to blend in with the kids at Forks High; because she’s clumsy and shy, Bella can’t see her own beauty and strength -though her classmates clearly do. When Bella locks eyes one day with the impossibly handsome Edward Cullen, her life changes forever and she realizes she’s falling for a vampire, literally putting her life at risk just to be near him. As a series of events put Bella in harm’s way, the super-powered Edward becomes the protector of her fragile human life -- though their increasing closeness tests Edward's ability to control his thirst for her sweet-smelling blood.

The inhumanly handsome Edward Cullen has been 17 years old since 1918, when his adoptive father Carlisle Cullen turned him into a vampire as he lay dying from influenza. Since then, Edward’s been the odd man out in the Cullen clan, comprised of couples like his “parents” Carlisle and Esme and “siblings” Alice and Jasper, and Rosalie and Emmett -- all of whom have chosen to live as “vegetarian” vampires, like him. Like all vampires, Edward possesses icecold skin, super strength and speed, and razor-sharp teeth (but not fangs); unlike most vampires, Edward also has the ability to hear the thoughts of those around him -- with one exception: Bella Swan. When Edward realizes he’s falling in love with Bella, whose tantalizing blood smells sweeter than any other human, he must fight his twin impulses of eternal love and vampiric thirst in order to ensure that Bella remains safe – not only from himself, but from Others of his kind.

Because their fathers Charlie and Billy are longtime friends, Bella Swan has known Jacob Black longer than almost anyone else in the town of Forks. Two years younger than Bella, Jacob goes to school on the Quileute Indian reservation where he lives with his father, a respected elder in the close-knit community. For years, Jacob has paid no mind to the tribal stories of wolfmen and their bloodsucking nemeses, the “cold ones,” although his close friendship with Bella Swan might reveal that the Quileute tales may just be more than the stuff of legend.

Pixie-like and vivacious, Alice Cullen is the adoptive sister of Edward, Rosalie, and Emmett, and the mate of Jasper Hale. Like Edward’s unique ability to hear people’s thoughts, Alice can look into the future of humans and vampires, a rare super power that her vampire brethren value highly. Destined to become friends with Bella, Alice welcomes her into the Cullen family despite the apprehension of some, including Jasper, who struggles to control his blood-lust in Bella's presence, and Rosalie, who disapproves of Edward’s choice, and loves Bella like a sister.

Jasper Hale is the newest addition to the Cullen family, having lived for years among more “traditional” vampires. Leaving behind his clan of morally-ambiguous blood drinkers, Jasper found his way to Alice, his soul mate, who had foreseen him in one of her visions. The pair then sought and joined Carlisle Cullen and his family to live as peaceful vampires. As the most recent Cullen to “go vegetarian,” Jasper still struggles with his vampiric desires to drink human blood, but is committed to the family’s choice to feed only on animals in order to protect human lives.

The stunning, blond sister of Edward, Alice, and Jasper, Rosalie Hale is the “wife” of Emmett and the vocal contrarian of the family. Immediately disapproving of Edward and Bella’s relationship, Rosalie makes no secret of her displeasure at Bella’s intrusion into the heavily-guarded Cullen lifestyle. As vain and beautiful as she was in life, and having been involuntarily “saved” from death at the age of 18 by Carlise, Rosalie questions her identity as a vampire and is envious of Bella’s humanity.

The brawniest of the Cullen kids, Emmett is most intimidating even to humans who do not know his vampire secret. In contrast to his mate, Rosalie, Emmett is goodnatured and supportive of his brother Edward, though initially wary of Edward’s attraction to a human girl. Like his favorite snack, Emmett possesses a bear-like strength and size that may prove useful to the Cullen clan in a fight.

As a senior police officer in the sleepy town of Forks, Charlie Swan has few preoccupations other than fishing and watching sports on TV -- that is, until his teenage daughter Bella moves in after leaving her mother Renee in Phoenix to enjoy a second marriage. Charlie’s bachelor tendencies lend themselves to Bella’s grown-up impulses and she ends up playing the role of caretaker with him, as she had with Renee. Not one for talking, Charlie is quiet-natured and guarded – traits he passed on to Bella. But he is also fiercely protective of her, in his own way, and might not be as quick to welcome Edward into his home if he knew what he truly was.

Like her husband, Esme Cullen became a vampire in her twenties, having been transformed by Carlisle on her deathbed in the 19th century. Esme loves all of their children passionately, but especially worries for Edward, for whom she wishes the same romantic happiness that the rest of the family has found. When Edward falls in love with Bella Swan, Esme embraces her son’s choice and welcomes Bella into the family.

Dr. Carlisle Cullen is the patriarch, founding member, and moral bedrock of Edward’s family, having instilled a sense of responsibility and compassion into his vampire clan along with his wife, Esme. Sealed forever in the body of a 23-yearold, Carlisle nevertheless commands the respect of his peers, human or vampire, as befits a man of his age: about 368 years, give or take. Thanks to years of training, Carlisle is the only member of the Cullen family with almost no reaction to the smell of human blood. Putting his immortality to good use, Carlisle studied and practiced medicine for many decades, earning an esteemed reputation in Forks for his tireless dedication -- though his family must obey a strict treaty with the Quileute people, who know and warily keep his family’s secret.

Although Bella is the only human who knows the Cullen family secret, not all of her friends are vampires; on her very first day at Forks High School, new girl Bella meets a friend, a frenemy, and an admirer. Shy, quiet Angela Weber becomes one of Bella’s best human friends, thanks in great part to the fact that she doesn’t want to use her for her own social agenda. Not so for Jessica Stanley, a chatterbox who befriends Bella despite being secretly envious of the attention Bella gets from their classmates. And finally, there’s Mike Newton, who harbors a not-so-secret crush on Bella and coincidentally can’t stand a certain Edward Cullen.

While Edward and the Cullen clan are committed to sparing human life, not all vampires share their philosophy. Enter James, Laurent, and Victoria -a nomadic trio of humanhunting vampires who stumble upon the Cullens and Bella during a friendly game of baseball. While Laurent may prove open to the Cullen’s peaceful lifestyle, his associate James is another matter; a “tracker” by nature, James enjoys the thrill of the hunt, and will stop at nothing to beat Edward and his family in order to taste Bella’s sweet blood for himself.