Wednesday, October 14

[Review] Life and death (Twilight, #5) - Stephenie Meyer

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Original title: Life and death - Twilight reimagined
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Finished date: October 11th, 2015
Pages: 442
Read in: English

Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.
Packaged as an oversize, jacketed hardcover “flip book,” this edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes.

Source: GoodReads


Life and death is a complete gender swapped version of Twilight, written by Stephenie Meyer to prove that Bella wasn't really a damsel in distress, but a human in distress. Did Stephenie prove her point? I'm not sure, but I really think not. What Stephenie did was show us in not such big words what a screwed up society we live in. But I'll get into that in the spoilery section of this review. The point is this is not Midnight Sun.
Now, what everyone wants to know: IS IT WORTH BUYING?
Let me start out by saying that I'm not a Twilight hater. I started out as a gullible Twilight lover, actually. As I grew up, I begin wondering why my 14/15 year-old self loved this book so much. I went back and reread it. I did not enjoy the story that time around, but I couldn't deny the feeling of nostalgia that came with reading it. You see, back in 1999, 6 year-old me began reading the Harry Potter series. I got a new book every few years, and can you guess what I read in between? The ones that were already out. So by 2007, with the release of the last Harry Potter book, my reading life fell to a standstill. I was in a book hangover for a very long time, during which I read mostly classics.
It's easy to see why Twilight revolutionised my reading - I began reading YA again. I began reading fantasy again. And even though I loved Harry Potter with all my heart, I could finally move on.
It sounds overly dramatic, I know, but everything feels this way when you're 15.
So back to the question, do I believe you should buy this book?
Unless you want to read the Twilight series for the first time, and never came in direct contact with the franchise, in which case, if you're curious enough, go ahead.
If you're just super super curious but don't wish to spend that amount of money on it - lets be honest, the cash cow is moaning right now - and you already know Twilight, try reading the spoilery section to make sure you really are that interested.
All in all, I didn't hate this book - I actually thought it was better than Twilight in some ways -, but I couldn't really take it seriously. Because even though the characters were gender swapped, their dialogue and especially Beau's inner turmoil remained mostly identical to their opposite gender counterparts. 

The following extended review contains spoilers
If you have not yet read the book and/or do not wish to be spoiled, please do not read any further.

Beau - Bella
Edythe - Edward
Charlie - Charlie
Renée - Renée
Archie - Alice
Royal - Rosalie
Eleanor - Emmett
Jessamine - Jasper
Earnest - Esme
Carine - Carlisle
Bonnie - Billy
Julie - Jacob
Jeremy - Jessica
McKayla - Mike
Erica - Eric
Allen - Angela
Taylor - Tyler
Logan - Lauren
Sam(antha) - Sam
Lauren - Laurent
Victor - Victoria
Joss - James

First off, Stephenie outright admits that Life and death is the same story as Twilight, and therefore I don't think I can hold the fact that there are big chunks of the book that are exactly the same but with pronouns inverted against her. What I can, and will hold against her is that this bonus content for fans is not free. It's not even cheap. Stephenie, you should really take a page from Colleen Hoover, who wrote Finding Cinderella for her fans as bonus content for free.
It really pissed me off that she'd make us pay for this. When I read the synopsis, I was under the impression that this would be an LGBT version of Twilight. That still wouldn't be nearly as exciting as Midnight Sun, but it would be cool. So when I started reading it, I was immediately disappointed. 
Stephenie talks, in her forward, about how she wanted to show Bella as being a human in distress instead of a damsel in distress, and to do that, she would switch everyone's gender.
But really, she didn't accomplish that goal. Because she changed Beau/Bella's personality to fit better with the male gender. She took away the unexplained and irrational anger of Bella towards everything and everyone. And so the plot and the characters no longer fit with each other. It felt completely wrong, and not because I was reading Beau as if he were Bella, but because it didn't fit. Even though the dialogue flowed better and Beau was less intense than Bella, the point remains that it was like throwing a new character into another character's actions.

One thing that I really enjoyed was Beau's relationship with his parents. Beau was very protective of Renée, and took care of her because of that instinct, whereas Bella always seemed kind of exasperated with Renée and took care of her because it was her obligation. Beau and Charlie were much more compatible and their relationship actually felt healthy, unlike Bella and Charlie's.

One of the things that surprised me the most was that this book, intentionally or not, explored perfectly well the double standards of our society today. So Edward was seen as a creeper who stalked Bella and watched her sleep. Switch the genres, and what have you got? A much more socially acceptable conduct. Why? Isn't it the same thing? Why should being a female make Edythe any less creepy than Edward? It doesn't. But society makes you think it does.

The Volturi, now there's something to talk about. I loved this change. It wasn't necessary, but it was an awesome move by Stephenie. The Volturi, lead in Twilight by Aro, Caius and Marcus, are in this book lead by Sulpicia, Marcus and Athenodora. There was a new character introduced, Mele. Mele could absorb a vampire's gift, and even though she couldn't use it herself, she could allow others to use it. And therefore, Caius and Aro were killed. Can you imagine how much less corrupt the Volturi would have been?

And finally, that ending. I am in a love-hate relationship with that ending. I hate it because it literally makes no sense. So Beau died and became a vampire. Okay, that is an alternate ending that I can accept. What I can't understand at all is why did we get a major info-dump at the end? And more importantly, how is Beau such a controlled newborn? I mean, we get it with Bella - she had a lot of time to get used to the idea of being a vampire, had the bloodlust and the thirst explained to her several times. She had time. Beau only learned about it all when he was already changing. There was no time at all to prepare himself for what he would feel.
At the same time I love this ending because at least we know there won't be a reimagining of the other three books, too.

Did you read this book? What did you think? Let me know!

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