Title: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined
Series: Twilight, #1.75
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: Little, Brown & Co., 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight!
Life and death is a stunning new reformulation of the whole story -Twilight- by the author, along with a detailed preface and epilogue.
Readers will enjoy iconic love story of Bella and Edward with a renewed perspective.
Be advised that this review contains discussion of abuse.
I saw this book on the shelves just after it was released in 2015, but at the time I wasn’t able to buy it. I was finally able to read it this year, though, and as an ex-Twihard (sigh) I thought it would be an interesting experience.
It was. For the wrong reasons.
Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (spellcheck does not like “reimagined” by the way) has a pretty simple concept: to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the original book, Meyer flipped the genders of (almost) everyone and gave us … almost exactly the same book. No, seriously, with a few exceptions it felt like a “find and replace” on the names situation. I kept wondering why I was rereading Twilight when I knew that I didn’t want to do that.
Perhaps the most interesting thing was why Meyer claims she wrote this. Take this from the introduction to the book:
Bella has always gotten a lot of censure for getting rescued on multiple occasions, and people have complained about her being a typical damsel in distress.
She’s also criticized for being too consumed with her love interest, as if that’s somehow just a girl thing.* But I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and the vampire female – it’s still the same story. Gender and species aside, Twilight has always been a story about the magic and obsession and the frenzy of first love. So I thought to myself, Well, what if I put that to the test.
*That’s not what we said, Meyer.
Okay, is it just me, or does it sound like her priority was to prove her critics wrong? Mayer has a history of this sort of thing, too, even publishing cut chapters on her website like she can’t accept that professional editors might know what they’re on about. It doesn’t sound like she wants to make any improvement. Which means, what?
Well, it kind of means that this book has exactly the same problems as the original. The biggest ones being that no issues of gender roles are fixed, merely further highlighted, and the relationship between Beau and Edythe is just as unhealthy as Bella and Edward’s. Meyer, by the way, failed to comment in her opening about the criticisms the book received because the relationship it portrays is downright abusive, but you can be damn sure that flipping the genders did nothing to fix that.
Edythe is controlling. She’s manipulative. She’s guilt-trippy. She creates impossible ultimatums. She tells Beau he’s safer without her, then doesn’t leave him alone. She still watches him sleep without his knowledge. Beau is constantly apologising for things which aren’t his fault, and when he’s being hunted by a vampire Edythe tells him it’s “partially [his] fault.” She also doesn’t appear to care about the well-being of his loved ones. Her being a girl doesn’t make this behaviour any less abusive. Having been in an abusive relationship myself, I was physically uncomfortable reading this book.
Look, writing an abusive relationship is fine if you acknowledge that it’s abusive. This book … this book hardly did that.
And yes, no fixed gender roles. Do you remember the scene in Twilight in which Bella is almost sexually assaulted? Changed to being held at gunpoint in this book because Beau is a boy. Oh, and you won’t forget he is either because the characters are constantly reminding us of the flipped genders.
The other major problem with this book is that its changed ending appears tacked on. Up until the last couple of chapters, this really is basically Twilight, then suddenly it turns into a massive rush of exposition, explaining the Volturi and werewolves featured in the saga as quickly as possible, and it made me wonder where the time management was.
And, while Meyer claimed to have fixed some issues with the original, I still heard an awful lot about what Beau had for breakfast. Which is fine, except when it’s every morning and adds nothing. Oh, and in the ebook that I read there were several formatting errors. I counted at least five.