Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is an additional, non-canon reimagining of Twilight. The book was written and published by Stephenie Meyer in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Twilight franchise. The story is set in an independent, parallel universe in which the most significant difference is that the genders, names and roles of the main characters have been reversed, with only a few exceptions.
The story follows essentially the same plotline as Twilight, but with necessary adjustments and slight changes to the story, dialogue, backgrounds, and personalities of the characters to accommodate the switched gender roles. Life and Death also features an alternate ending from the original plot-line.
-excerpt taken from http://twilightsaga.wikia.com/wiki/Life_and_Death:_Twilight_Reimagined
Before I go any further I would like to say there will be spoilers in this review. So if you plan on reading this book I would stop now and come back after you’ve read it to hear my thoughts. Now that you’ve had fair warning, I will proceed…
I would like to point out first and foremost that I am a huge, and I mean HUGE, Twilight fan. I am enraptured by the story. I’ve traveled to Forks, WA to check out the sites. I own all of the movies, books, supplementary books, some jewelry and clothes, and a few random trinkets that people have gotten for me. I try to stick to new books on here for my reviews so that my readers are hopefully able to make choices on new reading material and hear a review based on somebody who is reading all the new stuff that’s out there. Also, if I wrote a review on the Twilight books it would go something like this, “Bella is so lucky. She found the perfect man who loves her unconditionally even though she’s just average. OH MY WORD, HE’S A VAMPIRE! OH MY GOSH, I WANT TO BE A VAMPIRE! HOLY COW, I WANT TO MARRY A VAMPIRE! AHHHH!!! I WANT TO HAVE A VAMPIRE BABY!” I just don’t think I could be completely impartial in my thoughts of my favorite book series of all time.
When I saw that there was a new book going to be released that has a different spin than the original I was very happy that I would be able to review a favorite story, completely indulgently, and hopefully give an unbiased review. After finishing the book I think I can successfully do that, because it was just different enough that I don’t consider it the same.
The entire premise of “life and death: Twilight Reimagined” is that the gender roles and names have been swapped for everybody in the entire book, from the main characters all the way down to the teachers in the school, except for Renee (& Phil) and Charlie, and the members of the Volturi that are mentioned in the book. Stephenie Meyer was quoted saying that the reason for this was that people saw Bella in the original Twilight series as a “damsel in distress” which always bothered Stephenie who thought it wouldn’t matter what gender the main character was. So in this story, Bella is Beaufort (Beau for short), and Edward is Edythe.
I would say that the story does have a different feel with the roles reversed. The major disadvantage I had as a reader who knows the original story inside and out, backwards and forwards, is that my mind had a hard time switching the characters in my head. I would sometimes have to stop and really think about what I just read to make sense of it. I would say to myself, “Wait, so Jessamine is supposed to be Jasper, and Eleanor is supposed to be Emmett, right?” I thought this would subside but I found myself doing that into the last chapter of the book. Archie (a.k.a. Alice) was mentioned the most so I had the easiest time remembering who he was supposed to represent and what his special abilities would have been. Because of these struggles it would be much easier to read this as somebody who wasn’t already such an invested fan of the saga.
I am admittedly old-fashioned so there were a few parts that I didn’t love with the roles reversed, or at least I didn’t think they flowed the way they were meant to. One of them was when she paid for him whenever they ate. I know this generation is obsessed with strong women and equality, but it felt like Beau was uncomfortable with that and I didn’t like it either. It’s fine if a girl pays but maybe let the guy pay sometimes. Another time was when she ran with him on her back. I just kept thinking of how awkward that sounded and how a big strong dude wouldn’t want to ride on his tiny girlfriend’s back. The other thing that was bizarre to me was when Beau would kiss Edythe – because Edythe (and Edward) were so very careful about kissing or really any physical contact for fear of losing control it seemed like the vampire should always be the one leading, and not the other way around. That just seemed very unnatural to me.
Now, I am going to broach the biggest spoiler of them all, so if you were naughty and read this before you finished the book, here is one last chance to turn back…
The biggest variance from Twilight to this book is the ending. They end up driving Beau to Phoenix just like in the original, and Beau sneaks away from Archie (Alice) and Jessamine (Jasper) when he learns that his mom has been taken by Joss (James) and heads to the ballet studio where Renee once taught dance (instead of where Bella once took ballet class). Beau is cornered by Joss and has bones broken, and then Joss bites the tip of his finger. When Edythe arrives she tries to save Beau by sucking out the venom but Archie sees that there are only two remaining conclusions: Beau dies because Edythe can’t stop drinking his blood and kills him, or they let the change take place. Beau decides to let the change happen. They keep him as comfortable as possible while they drive him back to Forks. They also let him know that if he changes he won’t be able to see his family ever again and his death will have to be faked. The story concludes with Beau and Edythe watching his funeral from a tall tree far off in the distance. He watches as his parents, family, and friends mourn his death, which was supposedly in a fiery car crash.
He also meets up with the werewolves and explains that the treaty wasn’t broken, and that a vampire who wasn’t affiliated with the Cullens was the one responsible for the change. They don’t like that it happened, but agree that the treaty was still, in fact, intact.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I can’t deny that even though the story is flopped, at its core, it is one of my favorite stories. The genius behind the premise is still there, and that’s what I fell in love with. However, I don’t think this version works as well. I wonder if the franchise would be anything like it is today if it had been written this way to begin with. I don’t think so to be quite honest.
Reading this book made me excited for the day that Stephenie hopefully writes some new stuff. I would love to dive into a new series by her. She always teases in interviews saying she is writing all the time, but just hasn’t released anything new* in quite a while. Hopefully that day will come soon, and if not, at least I have this to tide me over for a while.
I came across this article by buzzfeed and it made me laugh out loud, so I thought I would share it too. #30 cracked me up.
*Yes, I realize this is technically new, but I mean ALL new.