Wednesday 28 October 2015

GoodRead - Life And Death

Of course I was going to read this. Of course I would! I read Twilight nearly ten years ago (just before New Moon came out. I couldn't buy the hardback - it had an awful cover!) and now, here we are, celebrating it being published for 10 years. And, out of nowhere, Stephanie drops Life and Death on the fandom and the fans are freaking out over it. A new Stephanie Meyer?!

Well, technically, yes and no. It's a reimagining of Twilight, but nearly all the characters have been gender-swapped (Bella is now Beaufort or Beau and Edward is now Edythe). The only characters that have stayed the same are Charlie and Renee (Stephenie explains why in her foreword). But, interestingly, we have more words/pages. And it might not be the words you'll be expecting.

But let me come to that later.

So, most (if not, all) of us know the story of Twilight. But Life and Death follows Beaufort (or Beau, for short), as he moves to Forks and, not long after that, he meets Edythe Cullen, a girl unlike any he has met before. But, on their first meeting, without even saying a word to him, Edythe reacts like she hates him. Only to act normal and, even pleasant, the next time they meet a week later.

As Beau tries to figure the mysterious Edythe out, he doesn't realise that he's putting himself in danger. His frenzied first love makes him blind to the dangers crashing towards him. Soon, there will be no turning back...

Ok, I am going to start by saying this: I forgot how much fun reading a Stephenie Meyer book was. Yes, she gets some stick for her writing, but she's fun. I was planning to read this as a side project while I read my "real" book, but this took over my life for a week. Stephenie still knows how to hook her readers.

The story itself was interesting. While gender-flipping characters isn't anything new to fan-fiction writers, this is new for published author and it was fascinating to see what the story would have been like if the roles were reversed. If it was a human boy that fell in love with a vampire girl? I get why Stephenie did it - she got sick of people saying Bella was a damsel in distress all the time and wanted to see if this would be the case if the genders were flipped - and there are elements when this works really well.

However, there are times when this doesn't work or it feels jarring. At times, the characters were saying things and I would stop for a moment as what that character said didn't feel right. It didn't feel true to these "new" characters. For example, The whole of chapter 13 - the famous Meadow scene - just felt out of place with the rest of the book. And what the characters - Beau and Edythe - were saying never felt right. It felt like they should be saying the others's lines. I wonder if it's because I am so use to this chapter, I just expected it to flow the same way.

I wonder if I would have the same reaction if it was a LGBT reimagining. With the love story being Bella/Edythe or Beaufort/Edward? Or maybe even a Jacob/Edward?

And the names. I liked most of the names used, but some characters names were either "Huh?" or just laughable. I mean, Royal? Royal?! Are you actually kidding me?

Another thing that I had problems with was Beau's and Edythe's actions. In Twilight, both Bella and Edward don't exactly do sane actions in their relationships. But when Beau and Edythe do them, these actions take a sinister turn. There were several moments I thought it was going to go Single White Female on us. If you were reading this for relationship advice, what you would been reading is a love story about one dangerously unhealthy relationship.

Now, I have read some blogpost about the ending. I won't go near that as... well... spoilers. But fans will love it, while casual readers might find it a bit rushed and maybe wanting an extra 50 pages.

But my biggest rant is how you can read Life and Death. You have to buy a special hardback edition of Twilight: Ten Year Anniversary Edition. So you get one HUGE bind up, which isn't necessary as most/all fans will have at least one edition of Twilight. This is the same if you buy the eBook edition of the audiobook edition. You have to get both Twilight and Life and Death. This could be seen by many people - myself included - as a money-making ploy - not exactly the best way to thank fans for their loyalty nor to show respect to a book that many people see as the book that truly kickstarted YA.

I read this as bonus content, and while I had fun enjoying it, it still has issues and with that price tag... am quite torn over my feels on whether you should buy this or not. If only you could buy Life and Death SEPARATELY...

I think my reaction is mostly this: as a fan, I had a fun time reading this and I want to reread the series again (maybe next year. Or maybe just Twilight and New Moon. Maybe even The Host and this rumoured adult thriller that is in the works). But as a reader, I feel a bit disappointed. So very mixed feels on this, I'm afraid, dear blog readers.

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