Is It 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight?

By: Torrance Grey
Image: Universal Pictures

About This Quiz

"Twilight" hit the bookstores and the pop-culture world like a hurricane. Millions of young people (OK, some weren't so young) fell in love with Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, rooting for their star-crossed relationship to work out. Three sequels, equally successful, followed.

Then, before we could catch our breath, a second hurricane made landfall: "Fifty Shades of Grey." Nothing could dissipate the power of this distinctly-not-for-kids book, not even the revelation that it was based on a "Twilight" fanfiction called "Master of the Universe," and that its author had posted it under the try-to-keep-a-straight-face name "Snowdragon's Icequeen." Not the typical path to the bestseller lists, that's for certain. 

Despite the difference in the two books -- Stephenie Meyer's tale of a chaste relationship between a high-school girl and her courtly vampire lover, and E.L. James's explicit NFSW prose -- many people devoured both books (and the sequels that followed). 

So -- can you keep straight which debut novel is which? Who drove a silver Volvo, and who flew the helicopter Charlie Tango? Which heroine got dangerously drunk in public, and which was nearly hit by a van? With one book being closely modeled on the other, there are more similarities than you might think. Good luck!

Identify the speaker: "I know nothing about the man I'm about to interview. He could be 90 or he could be 30."

Although the idea that "he could be 90" suggests Edward, the ageless vampire, this is Christian Grey. The fact that the speaker is about to interview him identifies her as Anastasia.

The heroine's father is a chief of police.

This is Bella's father, Charlie. He's an important figure in all the books, one of the few who is allowed to have an ongoing relationship with Bella after her vampirization in "Breaking Dawn."

The male love interest can fly a helicopter.

Christian Grey's helicopter is named "Charlie Tango." He flies Ana to his home -- a stand-in for Edward taking Bella "flying" on his back in the forest (actually just superhuman leaping).

Identify the speaker: "I stared because their faces, so different, so similar, were devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful."

This is Bella, upon seeing the Cullens for the first time at Forks High. Edward, her future boyfriend, is "the lanky one with untidy bronze hair."

The hero saves the heroine from being hit by a van.

You probably knew this one. One of the better-known moments in "Twilight" is Edward's rescue of Bella from Tyler's out-of-control van. This is where she starts to realize the object of her interest can't possibly be human.

The first thing the love interest notices about the heroine is her scent.

Edward has an acute sense of smell, and is driven to distraction by Bella's scent. She doesn't understand why he doesn't want to be around her, and is very upset by his attempt to get out of their shared biology class.

The hero lost his virginity to a friend of his mother's.

Christian had a dom/sub relationship with an older woman Ana thinks of as "Mrs. Robinson." He was her submissive, in fact.

Identify the speaker: "'I'm not the strange one, you are.' There - that told him, my courage fueled by alcohol."

The key here is alcohol. Anastasia is a college student, and of drinking age. Bella is a high-school student who is usually responsible (except where Edward is concerned), and does not drink.

The hero is not welcome on the local Indian reservation.

Edward and his family aren't welcome at the Quileute reservation, because the Quileute leadership knows they are "cold ones," or vampires. Later, it will be revealed that some of the Quileutes are werewolves.

Identify the speaker: "I flush at the waywardness of my subconscious -- she's doing her happy dance in a bright red hula skirt at the thought of being his."

It's Anastasia who repeatedly tells the reader about her subconscious and/or "inner goddess." She thinks this after Christian tells her he'd have spanked her for drinking so much, "if you were mine."

The main character drives a VW Beetle.

Both books' heroines have old vehicles with a lot of character. But Bella's is a 1960s-era truck, not a VW Beetle.

Identify the speaker: "What if I'm not a superhero? What if I'm the bad guy?"

Christian could almost say the same thing. But he doesn't actually have super powers, as Edward does -- and so this is Edward's line.

The hero's sister takes an instant dislike to the heroine.

Rosalie dislikes Bella for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Things aren't cleared up until "Breaking Dawn," when they develop a close relationship.

The heroine receives a copy of "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" from her would-be boyfriend.

Both Ana and Bella enjoy literature. But even Edward might not be able to afford a first edition "Tess," as the billionaire Christian does.

The hero nearly died of the flu in his youth.

Edward nearly died of the 1910 flu epidemic, before his new "father" saved him. We're calling this "in his youth," although Edward's youth was preserved, at the moment of his change, forever.

The climax of the action is in Arizona.

This happens in "Twilight." To escape a predatory vampire, Bella goes back to Phoenix with two of Edward's siblings as bodyguards.

The hero drives a silver Volvo.

One of the interesting things about "Twilight" is how much interest author Meyer has in cars and how the book's cars fit the personalities of their drivers. Bella's truck, Edward's sleek but safe Volvo, Carlisle's Mercedes ... everyone has a car that truly reflects who they are.

The heroine does not consider herself beautiful.

Both Ana and Bella consider themselves somewhat plain, shy and not sexy. In other words, far beneath their dreamy objects of desire.

The heroine is pursued by average-guy Mike Newton.

Mike Newton is both a classmate and Bella's co-worker. Of course, he can't compare to the fabulous Edward.

The heroine works at a hardware store.

This is "Fifty Shades." Bella has a similar job, in Forks. She works at an outdoor/camping supply store.

Identify the speaker: "Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin."

Edward is comparing Bella's scent -- and, by implication, her blood -- to heroin. We're not sure Christian would say this -- unlike Edward, Christian has a wild lifestyle and might have actually used the real thing!

The heroine has blonde hair.

Both Bella and Ana have dark hair. Not surprising: Ana was modeled on Bella, given the book's origin as "Twilight" fan fiction.

Identify the speaker: "How does she do it? Even now she looks gamine and gorgeous, strawberry-blonde hair in place and green eyes bright."

Anastasia is talking about her roommate Kate Kavanagh. Kate is gorgeous "even now" because she's sick, therefore should not be looking great. It's Kate's flu which leads to Ana going to interview Christian Grey.

The main character enjoys literature.

Anastasia Steele hopes to work in publishing after graduating from college. Bella compares her relationship with Edward to the experiences of famous fictional lovers, not just in "Twilight," but throughout the series.

The hero gives the heroine a new car.

If you said "both," you were thinking ahead to "Breaking Dawn," in which Edward gives Bella a Mercedes Guardian (he thinks she's in danger from powerful vampires called the Volturi). It's "Fifty Shades of Grey" that sees Christian give Ana a red Audi.

The heroine visits her mother in Georgia.

Bella's mother lives in Florida for most of the series. "Fifty Shades" doesn't change that setting very much, placing its heroine's mother in Georgia, slightly to the north.

The hero can play piano.

Both Edward and Christian play the piano. Edward, of course, has had a century to learn new skills. Christian is just multi-talented.

The hero and heroine break up at the end of the book.

Ana splits with Christian despite being in love with him. His need to cause pain is just too much for her to deal with.

Identify the speaker: "Do I dazzle you?"

Hey, everyone dazzles everyone in these books! But Edward's the one who actually glitters in sunlight, and that's what he's teasing Bella about.

The hero has siblings, but they're foster siblings.

Both guys have suffered losses -- Christian was abused as a child; Edward lost the rest of his family in an epidemic. But both, happily, gained very nice foster families afterward.

The heroine is the editor of the school paper.

Ana does interview Christian, but not because she's the editor of the college paper. Bella is kind of a loner, who cares about her studies, but doesn't play sports or join clubs.

The action takes place mostly in Washington state.

Bella lives in Forks, a real town that Meyer's books put on the map. Anastasia attends UW at Vancouver.

One of the hero's adoptive parents is a doctor.

Christian's mother is a doctor, which parallels Carlisle being one in "Twilight." Both took a role in saving their new son from difficult circumstances.

The love interest has "coppery" hair.

This is another area in which E.L. James didn't stray far from the source material. Edward has "bronze" hair, while Christian's is coppery.

A follow-up novel tells the story from the male protagonist's point of view.

"Grey," which told the first "Fifty Shades" story from Christian's point of view, was actually published. "Midnight Sun" was leaked on the Internet in rough-draft state, and Stephenie Meyer, rattled and unhappy, called off its publication "indefinitely."

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