Twilight: Life and Death – The Aftermath
Ten years ago, a book called Twilight by an unknown author was published without fanfare and with a pretty lukewarm reception. I read it, my daughters read it, even my husband read it. It became a phenomenon. Move on a decade and that debut novel has spawned 3 more books in the series plus 5 movies. It’s made the movies stars a household name and has one of the biggest fandoms in the world.
So, how does the author Stephenie Meyer choose to celebrate this milestone? Does she thank the fans by publishing the long awaited Midnight Sun, the version of Twilight from Edward’s point of view that had its first chapters leaked on line? Or does she produce a piece that she claims anwsers the critics who felt Bella Swan was too week by switching the genders of all the characters? The whys of this I’ll come to later. The Twilight Tenth Anniversary Edition is a book of two halves. One half is the original Twilight novel but when you flip it over, you get the reimagined, Life and Death, the story of Beaufort Swan, a human boy and Edythe Cullen, a vampire girl.
The internet was awash with opinions on the subject both for and against this reimagining. Many wanted to know why she didn’t publish the previously mentioned Midnight Sun and others were just asking WHY?
The thing about Twilight, in my humble opinion was despite the at times appalling grammar, the story tugged on the emotional heart strings of every person remembering falling in love for the first time. Was Bella weak? In a physical sense yes of course she was. In a world full of supernatural creatures she could be nothing but. As a person, and a very young woman at that, she showed a strength that belied her years, She was selfless, she put those she loved before herself everytime and often at the risk to her own safety. She was kind yet stood up for her beliefs often against those she loved the most. So why pray tell, did Ms, Meyer feel the need to prove Bella’s worth by writing a gender reversal piece that on the surface smacks of nothing more that her trying to prove that boys are weak too?
Needing to be saved isn’t gender specific. Meyer explains her reasons for the exercise in the forward of Life and Death as pretty much that. It’s a pretty long winded explaination but long story short, she wanted to prove that there isn’t much difference between a boy vampire falling in love with a human girl and a girl vampire falling in love with a human boy. She says in essence the original of the story remains; it’s about magic and obsession and the frenzy of first love.
She’s made other changes apart from the gender swaps (although some background characters remain the same) mainly in specific male/female chracteristics, her general unhappiness with the original editing and things she wished she had done the first time around, She also used this to rectify some mythology issues. mistakes related to Alices visions.
Beau doesn’t have quite the chip on his shoulder as Bella. Some of Bella’s inner musings when placed in the mind of a 17 year old boy come across as, dare I say it without being bashed by the feminists, girlie!! There are physical changes too, Beau has blue eyes like his mother, he’s still clumsy and has more OCD tendencies than his counterpart but on the whole, Beau is just Bella, but taller. Edith or Edythe as we come to learn, is just a smaller version of Edward. Which leads me to another question, the names. What the hell? Beaufort? Edythe? Royal? Jessamine? OK, I still don’t get it. Nor do I get the change to the preface. It’s the same on the whole but that first line is iconic! And she’s changed it. Just a little but still!
I’d never given much thought to how I would die —
..and here’s the new one –
I’d never given much thought to dying –
To be honest, I have only just started the book and I’m interested to find out if as much as I liked Bella, she irritated the crappola out of me, so will Beau be the same?
Here’s an excerpt of her NPR interview in which Stephenie clarifies or should I say justifies her reason for this exercise.
On why she reassigned the gender of the Twilight characters
As they were gearing up to do the 10th anniversary edition — which I wasn’t much involved with at that point in time; I knew it was going to happen — the publisher wanted me to do something for the release. I think the idea was a forward or something — which sounds really really boring to me. And I was trying to think of something that wouldn’t … just, you know, suck really.
And I’d had people ask me, you know, if Bella was too much a damsel in distress, and so many a time I said she was a human in distress. None of us would fare so well trying to match our strength to someone who had superpowers. So as I was thinking about that, I thought, “well what if I kind of looked at it through that different lens” — Beau’s perspective. And I started with the first chapter, and then it kind of got away from me.
On if the gender swapping was an answer to the criticism of Bella
A little bit, you know — there’s a different power to being the quiet one. And so I’ve never really felt that Edward was as controlling as some people think, or Bella’s as passive as people think. But in that one specific query, this was my ability to really answer it solidly — that there really is no difference when the human is the male. He’s in the same predicament — he still can’t lift cars over his head.
On how Beau and Edythe differ from Bella and Edward
Beau is not as angry as Bella is. He’s also a little bit more OCD. And then Edythe is very similar to Edward. There are a few places where I wished in the original novel I had shown what he could do a little bit more. She tends to answer questions before people can answer them more than Edward did. But that was more just, “oh, I should have done it that way the first time.”
You can listen the whole thing HERE.
I actually think it’s a shame Stephenie still feels after 10 years the need to defend her books. As we know, they are highly successful and despite the mistakes she believes were in Twilight, I kind of like them. They are what made the book fun to talk about. Yes, I may have criticised her prose at times but on the whole, I was quite happy with this young girl who grew up too fast, saw the world slightly differently from her peers, fell in love with a vampire and knew she would love him forever.
Now let me find out more about this Julie wolf (Jacob) person!!