Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I'd read review after review of Stephenie Meyer's book Twilight and I was even aware that some stores hosted Harry-Potteresque-midnight-parties for the release of the third book in the Twilight series, Eclipse. But I had never read them until this December. I always said, nah vampires aren't my thing. Boy, was I wrong. I started reading Twilight because someone had given me a copy of New Moon and I hate to start series in the middle. After the first 15 pages, I was completely sucked in. Bella is immediately lovable with her clumsiness and new-girl-in-school worries. And Edward, let's just say he's probably most girls' dream guy. Handsome, brooding, intelligent,and willing to stand between a careening vehicle and Bella. The main conflict in this first book is that Edward simultaneously wants to be with Bella and drain Bella's blood from her. Oh, and while he's trying to control himself, he also has to protect her from other blood-sucking vampires. Interestingly, Edward and his vampire family are "vegetarians" and forgo human blood.
The reason I found this book so compelling is, quite simply, Stephenie Meyer's writing. She moves the plot along at a speed that both allows you to enjoy the text and also keeps you furiously flipping pages to find out what happens next. I also enjoyed the literary references to Romeo & Juliet. Perhaps the most engaging feature of this series is her character development. Stephenie Meyer shows the very worst sides of her characters, yet still manages to make them likable. Their problems become our problems and their wishes become our wishes. Definitely worth reading even if you're not into vampires.
My review of New Moon
My review of Eclipse