Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined Review
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Coming from a former fan of all things Twilight, I have no idea why this book was created.
Maybe Stephanie Meyer thought it would be a good literary endeavor, an experimental poke at how gender roles impact our character perceptions. Perhaps this was an attempt to keep her name on the bestseller list, just in case we’d forgotten who she is. Perhaps this is Meyer’s corporeal, final way of telling us that Midnight Sun will never happen, and that we should all stop emailing her.
No matter the purpose for Life and Death‘s publication, it now exists, and I am here to inform you that no, you did not miss out by ignoring its massive, 1000-paged, $22.50 pretentiousness. To be entirely honest with you, I rage-quit after I saw the first typo about a paragraph into Meyer’s author note, and I picked it back up the next week after mourning what once was the epitome of my middle school existence (not that Twilight the original was ever really good).
Meyer’s gender-swap opened the gateway for a great character study like I mentioned earlier, which is a huge reason so many people were interested in this new edition. Because Twilight‘s main criticisms were against Edward’s abusive behavior and Bella’s over-dependence on his presence, I and many others assumed Life and Death’s gender-swap would acknowledge the pair’s issues. It would’ve been interesting to see how a helpless, depressive Edward and a controlling, abusive Bella poked fun at Twilight. But instead of maintaining just the gender-swaps, Meyer changes large chunks of the plot as well.
When Bella is sexually harassed by the large group of bikers, Edward saves her and reminds Bella of how helpless she is. When our male Bella, “Beau,” enters Life and Death’s version of this scene, he’s beaten up by a group of girls and guys who mistake him for a police officer. This scene isn’t the only one where Meyer totally neglects her chance to “correct” Twilight, or at least make some type of gender commentary.
Rosalie, who in Twilight, was brutally raped and murdered by her husband and his friends, is swapped in Life and Death with the character Royal. But when Meyer delves into Royal’s past, we learn that he was beaten nearly to death. This is a totally different backstory in comparison to the original character, which seems a little unwarranted, given the simple gender change.
Whether Stephanie Meyer realizes it or not, the correlating plot and gender changes reveal an unhealthy attitude towards female characters that many writers have. In Twilight, sexual trauma is seen as a way to add “depth” to a female character or to add “strength” to a female character. Rosalie’s rape is supposed to make her sympathetic to the audience, even though Meyer could’ve accomplished this goal in a myriad of different ways (a la Royal’s backstory).
As far as characters go, there isn’t a huge difference in personality in spite of the gender-swaps. “Edythe,” our female Edward, tries to accomplish a little more equality in her relationship with Beau than Edward tried with Bella, but the writing makes this appear forced and a little awkward. Edythe and Beau’s dialogue reads like Meyer was overtly addressing the apparent inequalities in Bella and Edward’s relationship, but this attempt is ironic and a little silly considering the aforementioned issues. Edythe has the super strength of a vampire and the aloofness that Edward has, but unlike Edward in Twilight, she’s not particularly interesting (because we all met her male counterpart years ago in 2008).
The writing in Life and Death parallels Twilight most of the time. As a matter of fact, some of Beau’s dialogue is exactly the same as Bella’s, especially in the beginning. So, unless your favorite book in the Twilight Saga was Twilight, the second most boring book in the series according to popular opinion, you might fall asleep as you read.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this book to most. Maybe I’d recommend it to my worst enemy to be mean. The era for wolf and vampire young adult fiction is over anyways. Aren’t zombies in?