Tag Archives: Stephenie Meyer

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Author: Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 2.5 of 5

You’re likely all familiar with the story of Bella and Edward, star-crossed lovers who obsess over each other–one human, the other vampire, a love-story fraught with complications. But what if, perhaps in another universe, things had been just a little different. What if Bella had been a guy–Beau–and Edward a girl–Edythe? Would fate have still drawn them inexorably together? And would their choices lead them to the same conclusion? This is Beau and Edythe’s story.

Having just read (and enjoyed) Meyer’s The Chemist, I decided to (finally) give Life and Death a try. And I have to say that, having read Twilight a few times in the past, the experience of reading this book was immensely strange. I guess I was expecting something along the lines of a retelling–you know, the same concepts, but genderbent and retold. This is more like a genderbent manuscript rewrite with an alternate ending. There are areas where awkward phrasings were corrected, certain concepts were delved into more, obvious changes due to the altered gender of the characters . . . but there are also huge swathes of story that are exactly the same, down to memorable phrases being word for word. None of this is exactly bad, but . . . it also feels kind of cheap to be marketing this as a whole new book, you know? I did enjoy the alternate ending, and I think it was fitting. And yes, the gender swap did make the romance less weird and creepy that it was in Twilight, I guess. But on the whole, I honestly wasn’t super impressed. I probably would have liked Life and Death a lot more if I hadn’t read Twilight first, so there’s that . . . if you haven’t read either and are interested in trying one, this one is probably the better book. Otherwise, not particularly recommended; it was okay, but just generally a strange reading experience.

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The Chemist

Author: Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience, mostly for violence, although there’s some minor sexual content

She used to be an agent of the American government, conducting black-ops interrogations, addressing biological threats, and creating new chemical compounds designed to target the human body. Now she’s a fugitive, on the run from her own department since someone there has decided she knows too much to stay alive. She’s gotten good at surviving–staying alone, being over-prepared, trusting no one and nothing. But when the department tricks her, bringing her into contact with sweet, innocent Daniel Beach, everything changes. And suddenly, she’s got a reason to do more than just hide; now she’s prepared to fight back.

In a lot of ways, The Chemist was everything I expect from a Stephenie Meyer novel, although at the same time, it was quite different from anything else of hers I’ve ever read. I have to say that I quite enjoyed it, more than I expected to. It is a book that I think you’ll enjoy more if you know somewhat what to expect, and honestly, that’s not clear from either the title or the cover or the author’s reputation. So I’ll go ahead and tell you: this is a secret agent thriller with a bio-chemistry twist. If you’re into the whole Jason Bourne thing, this should be right up your alley. If needles give you the heebie-jeebies, be forewarned, there are a lot of them here. The book is fast-paced and an easy right throughout, with plenty of action and suspense. And of course, the one element that is definitely classic Meyer, there’s a star-crossed romance thrown into the mix. Although this is definitely a more adult book that the others of Meyer’s that I’ve read (especially with the whole torture and violent death thing), it’s light on the explicit sexual content, and there’s basically zero bad language present. But yeah, torture and violence is definitely a thing here. Tropes are also a thing–as in, the book’s absolutely full of them–but then, they’re the sort of things that are tropes for a reason, right? And this is the sort of story (again, it’s helpful to know this going in) where that’s kind of acceptable because we’re in it for the intensity of the thrills and the sweetness of the love story, not for some great literary exposition. So yes, taken as what it is, I found The Chemist to be a surprisingly rewarding read, one I would recommend, especially to fans of thrillers.

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Twilight

twilightAuthor: Stephenie Meyer

Twilight Saga, vol. 1

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Bella Swan knew she’d be making sacrifices and experiencing a hearty dose of misery when she moved back to Forks, Washington, to live with her dad, Police Chief Swan. What she could never have expected was that her experiences there would lead her into one dangerous situation after another, culminating in a life-threatening horror-fest–back in her hometown of Phoenix. Or that she would meet a boy in Forks who just might make it all worth it . . . . Although the more she notices him, the more Bella’s convinced that Edward isn’t quite human. In fact, he might be the most dangerous situation of all for her.

Ignoring popular opinion (of which even I am aware there is a great deal, both positive and negative), I like Twilight. It has the fast-paced draw that keeps me reading until way too late at night–not what I’d want to read all the time, but a nice switch from more serious novels sometimes. I love the first-person perspective–from Bella’s point of view, of course. I think Bella is truly what makes the story; she’s a fascinating, many-faceted character. Not that I’m saying she’s an ideal role-model sort of protagonist. She makes a lot of choices that seem stupid, childish, and selfish–because there’s a side of her character that is all of those. Which makes the story more interesting, in my opinion. The romance factor is probably a bit more that I would usually prefer, and I certainly don’t hold Bella and Edward’s relationship as an ideal for young women to pursue, but on the other hand, the theme of fated, hopeless love is rather appealing on occasion. As for Meyer’s intertwining of urban fantasy, I think she chooses a rather novel interpretation of your traditional vampire, but one that works for her plotline–and really, the story is deeply rooted in the plot, although it is just as deeply rooted in the characters who drive that plot. For those who like both romance and urban fantasy, I think Twilight is an intriguing story that might be an enjoyable read.

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The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

the short second life of bree tannerAuthor: Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 3 of 5

Twilight, vol. 3.5

Along with several other kids dredged off of the streets of Seattle, Bree has been forcibly given a new and very different life . . . as a vampire. So far, she’s pretty much just rolled with the change, because that’s the best way to survive. But that was before she started talking to one of the other young vampires, Diego. Before the two of them started asking some very good questions, like: Why is someone making a bunch of new vampires? Why lie about the sun burning vampires? Why all the secrecy in general? Of course, the real question is: Will it be too late by the time they find their answers?

I told myself years ago, when The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner was first published, that I would never read it (mostly because I know how it has to end, and I don’t like it at all). Curiosity finally got the better of me. I’m still not quite sure if that’s a good thing or not. Coming into the story knowing (spoilers alert!) that 1) I like Bree, and 2) she’s going to die isn’t the best way to start, I must say. Still, Stephenie Meyer has found ways to make it less not-okay that Bree dies the way she does (you’ll have to read the book to find out why). As far as the writing style goes, if you like Stephenie Meyer, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner reads like her other books, only more tragic. In any case, read the Twilight Saga first, or this novella really won’t make much sense. Seriously. My biggest complaint is the lack of chapter breaks; it’s really too long to read in one sitting (almost 200 pages), yet there’s no natural break. This made reading it feel a bit disjointed. Overall, I’d say this is an interesting omake for those who liked the Twilight books, but an essentially pointless read for basically everyone else.

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