Monday 26 October 2015

Clare Reviews: Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer

Life and Death: Twilight ReimaginedTitle: Life and Death: Twilight Re-imagined
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #5
Pages: 389
Format: Hardback
Rating: 2.5/5
Blurb: 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.

“Seriously, though, this wasn’t a life and death situation—it was just high school. It’s not like anyone was going to bite me.” 

I am actually fairly grateful to Twilight. It was the first YA book I ever read, the first book I ever rated on Goodreads (at least I think so). I think for me, like a lot of people, Twilight was my introduction to a genre that I went on to love. And yes, when I re-read it I couldn't help noticing all the obvious faults. But despite my criticisms of it, I am still strangely fond of the series.

That said, I didn't have the highest expectations for this book. Plot wise this is basically identical to Twilight (apart from the ending which was a completely different one). Beau and Edythe themselves are the main difference. Edythe I thought was actually an improvement on Edward. She came across as marginally less creepy and slightly more fun. Beau on the other hand I didn't like so much. He was about as boring as Bella and suffered from just as much of a low self-esteem problem. Which was absolutely as annoying as it was with Bella. 

The insta-love remained. They were declaring their everlasting love at the same point as Bella and Edward although for some reason it felt more false here. I can't pinpoint why but I just didn't believe that this was anything other than a crush. Not that Bella and Edward's love was all that more convincing but this was somehow less so. Stephenie Meyer says in her foreword that Beau is more direct than Bella was, which may take away some of the romance. There was certainly less flowery language which at times was good - it got to the point a lot quicker but at other times it just felt very prosaic.

Switching the gender roles did not, I think, prove whatever it was Stephenie Meyer was attempting to prove. Twilight was a very sexist book in a lot of ways and the changes made in this book just served to highlight that. Beau didn't learn ballet as a kid (because of course boys can't do ballet), the scene where Bella was about to be sexually assaulted has been changed so now Beau (mistaken for a cop) is instead about to be shot. Which would be fine except it just makes Bella's scene seem unnecessary and was only about sex because she was a girl. Which is not okay. There were a few more minor changes which just annoyed me on a mild level. For example Beau doesn't read Austen or Wuthering Heights, he reads Jules Verne - which seems to suggest that either girls can't read science-y books like Verne or boys can't read "romance" books. Neither of which I think is accurate. The switch also provided us with this line;
"My mom says we look so much alike that I could use her for a shaving mirror."
Does that sound bizarre to anyone else or just me? And by the way he goes on to say that her chin and lips are different but they have the same eyes. So... actually she wouldn't be that useful for shaving, unless he is suggesting he shaves the top half of his head? Which just brings odd images to mind. 

I don't want to be horribly negative. In her foreword, Stephenie Meyer says she also changed some things due to editing and this part did actually work for me. I think if she'd released an edited version of Twilight I might have enjoyed it more. 

I mentioned earlier that the ending was completely changed. The thing is, I actually quite like the new ending. I think it made a lot of sense plot wise, and I do agree with her that this wasn't influenced by Beau's gender but was just a result of there being no sequels to come. It was a little rushed, because she only had a few chapters to do it all, there were some parts that felt a little bit pulled together at the last second. But I actually liked this part of the book.

In all, if you loved Twilight then this will probably be something you enjoy. There were new elements, some twists on the original and it was a fun read. If Twilight annoyed you on any level (particularly with the sexist angle) then this likely will too. I didn't hate it and I don't really regret reading it - it was definitely interesting to see how things could have played out.

You can also find us on Goodreads (Ann and Clare) to keep up with what we are reading 

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