Saturday, October 10, 2015

Life and Death Review and Discussion

Book: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Author: Stephanie Meyer

Series: Twilight

Standing: Spinoff of Book 1

POV: 1st person by Beau, past tense, present day

Setting: Forks, Washington

Genre: YA paranormal

Source: Physical copy (included as part of Twilight tenth anniversary edition)

Publisher: Little Brown

Pages: 387 (total book with Twilight is 752)

Release: October 6th, 2015

Rating: 3.5 Stars

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.

Twilight has enraptured millions of readers since its first publication in 2005 and has become a modern classic, redefining genres within young adult literature and inspiring a phenomenon that has had readers yearning for more. The novel was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a #1 USA Today bestseller, a Time magazine Best Young Adult Book of All Time, an NPR Best-Ever Teen Novel, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. The Twilight Saga, which also includes New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella, and The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, has sold nearly 155 million copies worldwide.


This will be in two parts: a review, and then a cultural discussion.

The Review

I wasn't quite sure what I was walking into with this book. I read Twilight a long time ago and was completely on the wagon with everyone else. It's been ten years, and though my initial Twilight hype has died down, part of me was confused and curious enough to read this asap.

To start off, the gender-switch threw me off at the beginning. Especially since I knew many of the lines, and was hard to wrap my head around the fact that it was a guy speaking them, not a girl. All my favourite lines suddenly were being said by the opposite gender, which was strange. It took me longer than I anticipated to adjust to it. Even then, it wasn't really until the epilogue that I could finally see Beau simply as Beau and not Bella, and Edythe as herself and not Edward.

Beau and Bella ultimately share the same lines, but there are slight differences to their personalities and thought processes. Beau is bolder, seeing as he has more testosterone than Bella. He doesn't really nurse his feelings as much as Bella does, with stronger intentions of trying to clear the air.

Edythe was interesting. She was both harder on herself and not as hard as Edward was. Her lines, though nearly identical to Edward, came off as a lot more sarcastic and angry, and it was more obvious to see that she had her fair share of angst. Female jealousy in comparison to male jealousy was also an interesting change, though methods of revenge were pretty much the standard vampire-monster acts for both Edward and Edythe.

The plot was overall the same, felt the same. Except for the ending. The ending is different from the original ending, and I have mixed feelings about it. That was when I could clearly draw the line between Beau/Bella and Edythe/Edward, since neither Bella nor Edward went through that alternative ending. Even if Bella and Edward had gone through that ending, I feel like they would have reacted very differently to how Beau and Edythe reacted. I wish the alternative ending was a little longer, just to give the story a chance to flush the ending out, especially since that was when I could finally see Beau and Edythe as their own individuals. But oh well.

Overall, this book was all right. It didn't really take me by surprise, expect for the ending. The character names were a little hard to decipher at first, trying to figure out who in Life and Death was who in Twilight. There was an underlying sense of deja-vu the entire time I read it, and though it didn't really affect the story, it felt a little odd at times. But what I really did like about this book were the society issues that were brought to light upon comparing this to Twilight, and the different perspectives I gained.

The Discussion

In the grand scheme of things, I've come to realize a few things: a) Bella's character is weak b) there's a theme of obsessiveness going on. I completely missed these two points when I first read the series way, way back in the days. But after reading about Beau and Edythe, these themes stand out even more, and highlight the cultural expectations we have in society today.

Bella has been seen as the damsel in distress, completely dependent on Edward for safety. Beau shares the exact same traits, but rather than seeing him as a damsel in distress, I simply saw him as being lame. And that got me thinking: why is it that girls are damsels in distress, whereas guys are lame? Damsels in distress and being lame both are two completely different things, gives us two completely different images, yet Bella and Beau are nearly identical. 

The same can be said for Edward/Edythe. For Edward, many people found him overprotective to the point of being a creepy stalker, but with Edythe, it was different. I found her less creepy, able to write her off as being overly concerned, and it "fit" her gender. Again, Edward and Edythe literally are the same people, yet with this gender switch, they each gain different titles and reputations.

Taking a step back, I can see an issue with this. There are things guys and girls do, and even if they do the exact same thing, stroke for stroke, they ultimately give off two completely different impressions of themselves. So what's with this?

The answer is stereotyping and gender discrimination. People are more drawn to labelling guys as creepers and girls and damsels in distress. Trying to imagine a girl as a creeper and a guy as a helpless person doesn't fit the ideal of your typical male-dominated society. Why is it so hard to for people to wrap their heads around Beau as completely defenceless, yet easy for Bella as a damsel in distress? Why do we scorn Edward for being a creeper, yet only shake our heads and see Edythe as merely overly concerned? They should both be seen as the same, regardless of their genders. It's their actions that define who they are, not their genders. This all just goes to show just how sexist of a society we still are living in.

We've made some great progress in breaking these norms since Twilight came out 10 years ago. We have badass female protagonists, we have more diversity, and more LGBT characters. But we're not completely through yet; we still have a long way to go before we can finally see females and males as equals, labelled the same way.


  1. I really like your discussion. It’s interesting that a change of pronouns can create a completely different story. I didn’t plan on reading this book because I’ve never been a Twilight fan, but I’m reconsidering now. It sounds interesting.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thank you! I agree, a simply switch of pronouns and you have a completely different imagine of characters. I didn't really read this book for the plot, but I think reading it as a means to see the differences we as a society have on different genders might be worth it!

  2. I feel the exact same way about Twilight! When I was younger I thought Edward was just being loving and that it was normal for boyfriends to watch their girlfriends sleep (how naive I was) and that Bella was like me and every other teenage girl out there but now that I'm older I can see their flaws a lot more deeply. After your review and this Buzzfeed article I found, I totally agree with your discussion on how male and female norms are seen. While we've come a long way when it comes to damsels in distress and men not allowed to be saved or cry, etc, we still have a way to go. Emma Watson is really helping this with her heforshe campaign but I still hate how everyone is stereotyped by their gender. I don’t think I’ll ever read this book but it’s still a great review! Meyer is simply trying to extend her five minutes of fame as she isn’t writing anything that’s not Twilight-related. I remember I saw somewhere that writing this book was “really fast and easy”. If it was that fast, it shouldn’t be good writing then! It’s all copy and paste I bet and she just changed the names.

    Sorry for rambling!! Great review and discussion, Erika :)


    1. I couldn't agree more! I was like that too, as a young and disturbingly naive child. My perceptions of what a boyfriend/girlfriend should act like was based off of Twilight, which upon looking back, is really creepy. I completely agree and support Emma Watson's He For She! I absolutely love what she's doing, and I really hope her project will change the world for the better, because we still have a ways to go for gender equality.

  3. This is such a disappointment, I was actually going to get this book next week even though I was a little sceptical about it, curiosity was the driving force. Twilight was one of the book series that got me into YA books and no matter how I feel about the books right now, at the time I genuinely loved them!
    I thought in addition to Life and Death being gender swapped there was also going to be a few wrongs righted from the original series and from your review and a few others I've read this isn't the case at all.
    What's even more disappointing is this could have been great... I mean gender swapping characters? I can't say I've EVER read a book or met an author kind bold enough to do it. So sad!
    I wholeheartedly agree with your discussion on stereotyping an gender discrimination, I'm so proud that you've mentioned this because not many people would, fabulous work Erika!! <333
    From what I've seen of reviews certain events that happened in Twilight to the women characters (e.g a certain alley scene and Rosalie's past) did not happen in Life and Death when the characters were male, they were instead beaten up? I have a major issue with this.
    It's makes me question Twilight as in, were certain dark scenes orchestrated for the male character to look the hero? Hmm.
    I hope you know what I mean by this, I obviously don't want to spoil it for any potential readers and knowing us two, we're likely to discuss this later ;)
    I completely agree with you saying that we've definitely evolved in the world and I absolutely love it when my reads have LGBT characters, diversity and of course badass females who don't need a man!

    Sorry for my rant but this is such an eye-opening review and I loved it so much!
    Thank you for saving me from buying this book, I completely trust your review,
    and thank bloody god for honest reviews like this!
    Fabulous review Erika, keep it up <333

    Cody @ Literary-ly Obsessed

    1. Awww, Cody you're so sweet. Your words are too kind! :')
      Agreed, I was hoping for something a bit more...well, more. This is the first gender-swapping I've ever heard of, and I had high expectations. But again, it's one of the firsts books of this kind out there, so it's bound to be a little rough around the edges.
      Oooh, now that you point it out, you're right about scenes being orchestrated for male characters to be the hero...hmm...why can't girls be heroes in every situation too? After all, as the song says: "Who run the world?" "GIRLS!"

  4. I'm still not sure if I should read this book or not. I really liked the first book in the series, but found the others to be just ok... Except Breaking Dawn, I didn't like that one. But oh the nostalgia! Haha :P that's what might get me to read this.
    Thank you for sharing! Both the review and the discussion were great!! :)

    Lipstick and Mocha

    1. The nostalgia gets me all the time :) I felt the same way, Twilight was one of my favourites, and I was on the fence about reading this, afraid it would spoil my initial views of Twilight. But I think it's given me a greater appreciation for books with diversity and awesome female leads!

  5. I have no plans to read Life and Death, but your discussion is really interesting! I like your point that it is Bella's character that is weak. It makes me wonder if the plot of Twilight would have been different had there been a female vampire and a male human to start with, or if Meyer would have written it exactly the same way.

    1. You raise a good point! I don't think so. I think it's because Twilight did so well as a human-girl/and male-vampire that Meyer was able to switch it up. Had it been a male human and a girl vampire to begin with, I don't think it would have done so well.