“I try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles.”
Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephanie Meyers
| website |
Publisher/Year: Little Brown| October 6, 2015
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Source: Overdrive through Cincinnati Libary
There are going to be spoilers all over this review, both for this book and the original Twilight. You’ve been warned.
What if Bella was a boy and Edward a girl. Would the story still play out the same, would gender roles hold true? A familiar story that looks at the effect of gender on a story and whether it makes or breaks the love Beau and Eddie finds.
So here’s where I was at going into reading this book. I read all the original twilight books and saw all the movies. I enjoyed the story line, but never really thought they were worth all the hype. It was a fun story that I enjoyed, but that was about all in my opinion. So when I saw Meyer’s was doing a gender swap for the 10th anniversary I first thought, What the vampire, it’s been 10 years? Then I thought this will be one of the weirdest books I’ll ever read. Really the writer side of me was more intrigued than the reader side of me. But I had to give it a go.
Thoughts as a Reader:
This may be the fastest I’ve ever read a book over 300 pages. It was basically the same story with tweaks here and there. Meyers does a disclaimer at the beginning as to why some changes happened. The biggest one was that she didn’t gender swap the parent role. I get that with the time of the book the dad wouldn’t have gotten custody, but I would have rather her thrown that fact out of the window and swapped the parents. Instead, you don’t really see the dynamics between Beau (that’s the boy Bella) and his dad that you did between a father-daughter duo.
There was also a change to the portland part of the story, Beau nearly gets killed rather than possibly raped. I get that switch, it feeds into the end of the story, which is totally different. Meyer’s also changes around when certain conversations and explanations happen. I didn’t have time to do a side by side comparison of what happens when, but from what I remember there was a little less angst in the “I’m not telling” department.
What Meyer’s has said as to why she did this was she wanted to show her books weren’t just about a helpless girl that couldn’t live without her boyfriend, but rather how a normal human would react in a world of superhumans. Personal, I think it came across as trying too hard to not be a YA Paranormal Romance. It’s not like that’s a bad thing, I mean 4 best-selling books and 5 blockbuster movies, that’s nothing to be ashamed of, just own it for what it is.
The characters seemed more shallow in this book. Which is slightly understandable because Meyers tried to fit 4 books into 1. I think she was relying on her audience to pull from the previous books for further understanding rather than making this one stand on it’s on two feet. Logical, since only the people who have read and liked Twilight, will probably read this one. She didn’t change any of the character traits, and only slightly tweaked the backstory to make sense for the altered genders.
The further I read this book, though, the more I wondered if she was going to leave the ending like the first one, which would only make the book a complete letdown. Thankfully, she didn’t. Rather than have Beau saved from the doom of eternity as a vampire, everyone arrives a split second too late and the only choice is to kill Beau or to let him turn into a vampire. Obviously, Eddie chooses the second option and she spends the whole drive back to Forks explaining everything that was happening to Beau, Vampire rules, and what to expect. While this is happening, some of the family is staging a terrible car accident that Beau “died” in so that his family can have closure. Eddie and Beau watch the funeral from a tree and have a conversation jabbing fun at the original story and how they would get into so much trouble with the Volturi if Beau’s family ever found out he was a vampire. The Quileute tribe does figure out that Beau became a Vampire and threaten to call of the treaty until Beau talks them out of it, and the Cullins and Eddie live happily ever after.
Thoughts as a Writer:
I actually enjoyed the story more as a writer than I did as a reader. It’s an interesting writing exercise to take characters you’ve invested in and see what happens when you switch their genders.
In the End
I think it was meh. Interesting for the writer, overplayed for the reader.
10 Second Summary:
- Not a true gender swap: Not all the characters changed genders, which I think loses some of the storylines of the original.
- Interesting writing exercise: I think I want to try this with some of my characters, I feel like it would help you when you get blocked just to try it from the viewpoint of another gender.
- Trying too hard to not be YA Paranormal Romance: Meyers said her story is about how humans handle a supernatural world. Just accept that it is what it is and roll in your money.
Borrow. If you like Twilight, you might find it interesting.
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