Top critical review
Not exactly my brand of heroin
27 February 2018
The "Twilight" series is anything but scary... and yet the "Twilight Tenth Anniversary" edition has given us something truly bone-chilling: Stephenie Meyer trying to write a book from the perspective of a GUY.
Yes, the tenth anniversary edition of the sparkling vampire book has an additional tale tacked onto it. And instead of some short stories or perhaps a new novella, she decided to write the same story... but this time, with gender-flipped characters! If you needed any more evidence that Meyer is A) utterly ignorant of the male mind and B) creatively bereft, this two-for-one book will leave you in absolutely no doubt -- the original is a grotesquely overripe glorification of teen melodrama and misogyny, and the companion novel is dull and artificial.
"Twilight" is... well, "Twilight." Everyone knows the plot: whiny, self-absorbed Bella Swan moves to the small town of Forks to live with her silent lump of a father. At her new school, she encounters the mysterious and misogynistic Edward Cullen, and eventually deduces (through the worst Internet research in history) that he is actually a vampire. Who sparkles. She and Edward fall madly in lust, and he introduces her to his creepy vampire "family".... only to have everything go awry when an evil vampire begins stalking her.
And then there's "Life and Death," in which whiny, self-absorbed Beau Swan moves to the small town of Forks to live with his silent lump of a father. Yes, everyone else in this book is gender-flipped (with many names straight from Utah), but I guess the idea of a flaky, irresponsible man and a sullen female cop is beyond Stephenie Meyer's imagination.
And of course, Beau encounters.... Edythe Cullen. Which sounds like the name of a Southern great-grandmother who makes everyone uncomfortable. Of course, there's buckets of contrived sexual tension, mostly involving petty bickering and talking about things that don't matter -- and eventually he realizes that she's actually a vampire. A sparkling one. But after Edythe finally introduces Beau to her creepy vampire family, an evil tracker decides she wants to kill Beau. For some reason.
Everyone knows "Twilight" by now -- the misogyny, the creepy stalker characters, the flowery goopy language, the total lack of plot. Every aspect of the book has become notorious, so that it's almost not even worth exploring all over again. It's not quite the worst book I've ever read, but it's definitely up there -- the characters are bizarrely prissy, whiny and obnoxious, and the book mostly squanders its time on the most boring pursuits you can imagine (MacBeth papers, vampire baseball, every boy in school chasing Bella). When an actual pitiful plot appears, it's too late to save this soggy mess.
And then... there's "Life And Death." If there's one thing the Twilight novels have shown us, it's that Stephenie Meyer understands the male psyche as well as she understands string theory. So an entire book from a male perspective is kind of torturous -- her idea of writing a male perspective is to just toss in some token mentions of watching violent action movies, reading books with monsters, Monty Python and sports. It's kind of like masculinity as seen by aliens.
As a result, Beau doesn't come across as a character in his own right -- he feels like Bella Swan with a penis. Both are whiny, self-absorbed, self-pitying and obnoxious ("I wanted to die when they put on the neck brace"). And since Edythe is a woman and not Stephenie Meyer's fantasy sexual partner, the descriptions of her attractiveness feel bloodless and vague, and she's completely devoid of even the pretense of menace. Even in a book where the powerful, dangerous vampire is female... Meyer can't bring herself to actually have her seem credibly scary.
Admittedly she did adjust her writing somewhat, since Bella's flowery, melodramatic style is ridiculous enough for a girl, and would be hilarious coming from a guy. And she adjusted certain scenes, such as turning the attempted gang-rape into a hilariously contrived "you're a cop!" confrontation (because obviously guys never get raped! Rape exists as a peril to swooning girls so they can be rescued!).
But the attempt at a stripped-down style ("It was probably beautiful or something") just ends up being boring -- without the giggle factor from lines like "I'd already said my goodbyes to the sun." When Smeyer does sound like herself, she writes lines that no guy would ever actually think or say ("I was well aware that my league and her league were spheres that did not touch"). And it's wildly inconsistent, with some scenes stripped-down awkwardly to make them more masculine, and others are just as flowery and silly as ever.
"Twilight Tenth Anniversary" takes the wretched, oozing mess that was the original book... and tacks on another one that absolutely nobody asked for. If you need positive proof that Stephenie Meyer has no creativity as a storyteller, then look no further.