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Originally published | Page modified July 13, 2009 at 4:26 PM

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It's "Harry Potter" vs. "Twilight" at Seattle Public Library teen debate

"Harry Potter" vs. "Twilight": Seattle-area teens debate the relative merits of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer's book series in "The Great Debate" on Saturday, March 21, at the Seattle Public Library.

Literary event preview

"The Great Debate"

Teens debate "Harry Potter" vs. "Twilight," 4 p.m. Saturday, The Seattle Public Library, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Microsoft Auditorium, Level 1; free (206-615-1410 or www.spl.org).
DVD release

"Twilight"

Catherine Hardwicke's teen-vampire drama, based on Stephenie Meyer's popular novel about Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her dangerous attraction to vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), will be available on DVD at midnight tonight. It's rated PG-13. Find store locations at www.twilightthemovie.com.

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Which is better: J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series? Or Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" saga?

The downtown Seattle Public Library hosts a literary smackdown of sorts Saturday when teens stage a "Great Debate" on the books' relative merits. Teams of young readers will present their arguments and audience members will decide the winner. Refreshments will be provided.

The debate is a project of Team Read, an after-school program in which older students help younger students with reading.

"There is so much buzz around these two series. At Team Read, it's our goal to get students excited about reading, and we wanted to host an event that celebrated how much students love these books," states Bill Eisele, program developer for Team Read.

To get a taste of what's in store, The Seattle Times asked two Team Readers some questions about their favorites:

For "Twilight":

Danielle Gregory, 17, Franklin High School

Q: Why do you prefer "Twilight" over "Harry Potter"?

A: With "Harry Potter," I thought the first book was interesting, but it started off slow. I took a chance by starting on the second book, but it didn't grab my attention. With "Twilight," I thought the characters were well-defined and realistic. Also reading a book in a local setting here in Washington, as opposed to the fantasy setting of Hogwarts, was something I could identify with.

Q: Compare Stephenie Meyer's writing style with J.K. Rowling's:

A: I found both "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" to be eloquently written, but it was the way that Meyer wrote which somehow kept me interested; her descriptions were lifelike, and I felt I was in the story. One good example is when Bella and Edward are in a field, and she first witnesses Edward in the sunlight: "He literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface."

Q: Who's your favorite "Twilight" character?

A: Bella, because I feel like I can truly relate to her. Like Bella, I moved here from a warm state about two years ago, and I had to adjust to the climate and meet new friends. Also, Bella is around my age, she reads frequently, and we are both clumsy.

For "Harry Potter":

Alyssa Eldridge, 15, Garfield High School

Q: Why do you prefer "Harry Potter" to "Twilight"?

A: The "Harry Potter" series is a complex, original story of adventure with a lot of fantasy elements, including an entire made-up world coexisting alongside our own. "Twilight" is really a romance novel, not fantasy, and hardly deserves to be treated as such. One major reason I prefer "Harry Potter" is the character development: "Twilight" characters develop minimally or not at all, whereas in "Harry Potter" characters grow and mature along with the reader, bringing him/her deeper into the story.

Q: How does Rowling's writing surpass Meyer's?

A: Stephenie Meyer's style is very straightforward; the vocabulary is basic, there are almost no hidden clues concealed in the writing to foreshadow future events. A 10 year old can read it and get more or less the same meaning as an adult. J.K. Rowling, on the other hand, writes simply enough that a 10 year old can enjoy it, but includes subtle humor and references that older teens/adults appreciate. An example: The character of Remus Lupin, the werewolf, is named after the story of Remus and Romulus, two boys supposedly raised by wolves who later founded Rome, and the Latin term for wolf (lupus). This extra level of complexity makes Harry Potter appealing to many adults as well as kids.

Q: Identify a theme in "Harry Potter" that speaks to you strongly.

A: I find the theme of love to be the most interesting and deeply explored. Unlike love in "Twilight," the love featured in the Potter books is much more than romance; it is a love for family, friends and everyone in the world. It is love that drives Harry's mother to die for him, Snape to switch sides, and Harry to try to sacrifice himself in the hopes of weakening Voldemort. The idea of doing something for the greater good, just because you love everyone and want to protect them from harm, is a powerful concept.

Lynn Jacobson: 206-464-2714 or ljacobson@seattletimes.com

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