Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (The Twilight Saga)
Hachette (US & US: 6th October 2015; AU: 7th October 2015)
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NOTE: Though Life and Death is currently only available as part of the “dual edition” of Twilight‘s tenth anniversary special, this review only covers the reimagining.
All the Twilight Saga books are worth three stars each. While I don’t love them, I’ve grown more respectful and supportive of their author over the years.
It’s fine to write fan fiction and share it with a community. It’s fine to even have it published and be paid for it if it’s officially licensed (e.g. Kindle Worlds, the many Star Trek novels, etc). But if it’s unofficial and monetised, then we have bad blood. It betrays the fan community, and it’s really shoddy treatment of the author whose work inspired you to write fan fiction based on their characters and their worlds. And even those “pull-to-publish” fan fic writers know they’re in the wrong, otherwise we’d never know the character names of Ana Steele and Christian Grey because they would still be Bella Swan and Edward Cullen.
Stephenie Meyer has not yet brought court cases upon those P2P Twific authors. While I wish she would, I don’t blame or shame her for not doing so. IT SHOULD NEVER BE ON THE VICTIM TO BRING A STOP TO THE PERPETRATORS’ ACTIONS. If you want to blame someone consider the authors, publishers, and purchasers of P2P fan fiction.
And if you’re waiting for Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer’s retelling of Twilight through Edward’s point of view, it likely won’t eventuate. She started working on it again, but the very next day news broke of a male retelling of a P2P Twific. Ms Meyer described it understandably as a “flip the table” moment.
Many books’ reviewers have been accused of misunderstanding, or not taking into account, authors’ intentions, but in Life and Death they’re explained in the foreword and afterword. Addressing criticism of Bella being a “damsel in distress”, Ms Meyer wanted to prove Twilight is just a “human in distress” story, non-gendered. And so Beau Swan and Edythe Cullen were created…
Had the names and pronouns been the only things changed in the reimagining, the author’s point may have been clearer in the text. But she’s also made other changes, such as particular words or events. While they’re minor at first, the whole ending differs – as explained in the afterword to try a “what if” scenario, which she claims had nothing to do with Beau’s gender. It’s hard to tell which changes were made because of the gender-bend and which because the author didn’t like how she originally wrote them.
Then there’s the matter of the selective gender-bend. Renee and Charlie remain as Renee and Charlie, for the ridiculous excuse of it wouldn’t be “historically accurate” for a boy to grow up with his father instead of his mother. Uh, are vampires historically accurate? I don’t agree with the exception here, but it doesn’t really impact the story.
It’s been years since I read Twilight, so memories have faded. I read Life and Death by itself and here are my conclusions:
-I like Bella more than Beau.
-I like Edythe more than Edward.
-That “what if” scenario does seem gendered, because in the Life and Death world Renesmee won’t eventuate because Beau is not a human female.
Maybe because I’d read up on all the spoilers and compare-and-contrast reports before reading, but Life and Death is simply…boring. It’s not great, but it’s not particularly bad (i.e. it didn’t anger me), either. It’s essentially useless, though it does make you wonder how other pairs would’ve had their stories told; such as Bella with Edythe, or Bella with Jules, or Edythe with Jules.
I fully support Stephenie Meyer’s right to publish whatever she likes, though I’d love to read some non-Twilight stories from her. The Host proved she’s not a one-trick pony, so she’s bound to have other tales to tell.
Though if she doesn’t publish them, it would prevent unscrupulous P2P fan fic writers from capitalising on those works, too…