When Life and Death magically showed up on store shelves this October I couldn’t help but be a little bit excited. Chelsey and I have always tossed around the idea of doing a Twilight review for Vampire Month and I’d been intending to reread the book for a close reading at some point. This was better.
Meyer has stood by the Twilight Saga through all the accusations of its anti-feminist message, its weak premise, its sparkling vampires… The book was her baby. With Life and Death she was going to prove it to the world that her book did not rely on outdated gender roles.
I read it. Did Meyer succeed? No, not really. Instead she just reinforced everything she was trying to prove wrong.
I tried to write a review on this book, but everything has already been said at length. Check out Chelsey’s blog post. It’s a thoughtful look at Twilight and the YA industry itself.
I thought I would do something a little different. During university I got into the habit of taking notes while I read. These notes can range from comments on the plot, to close readings to quotes that I like. I’ve decided to share my Life and Death notes with you in full.
I hope you enjoy them.
ALEXANDRA READS LIFE AND DEATH: TWILIGHT REIMAGINED
(Brace Yourself, Anger is Coming)
Author’s Note and Chapters One
- The book opens with an apology. Great way to start us off
- That opening though – “I’d never given that much thought to dying – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I wouldn’t have imagined it like this” (pg 13)
- “My Mom says we look so much alike that I could use her for a shaving mirror. It’s not entirely true, though I don’t look like my Dad at all, Her chin is pointy and her lips full, which is not like me, but we do have exactly the same eyes. On her they’re childlike – so wide and pale blue – which makes her look like my sister rather than my mom. We get that all the time and though she pretends not to, she loves it. On me the pale blue is less youthful and more… Unresolved. Pg 14
- WHY DID YOU NAME HIM BEAU LIKE WHY? YOU COUD HAVE NAMED HIM BEN OR EVEN BILL OR I’D SETTLE FOR BELL FUCK
- “I was the kid who looked like he should be good at basketball, until I started walking. The kid who got shoved into lockers until I suddenly shot up eight inches sophomore year. The kid who was too quiet and too pale, who didn’t know anything about gaming or cars or baseball statistics or anything else I was supposed to be into.” Pg 18
- Didn’t he see that commercial. The one where everything is good at one thing. You have your one thing or was that a Canadian thing?
- We get it Beau, you’re different. You’re a special snowflake. Damn it.
- Beaufort REALLY? FUCKING REALLY?
- “It won’t be that bad, I lied to myself. Seriously, though, this wasn’t a life or death situation – it was just going to high school. It’s not like anyone was going to bite me.” (21)
- Oh you so clever. I see what you did there
- Does anyone actually read Chaucer in high school?
- Female Edward is so pretty that she makes Beau’s stomach upset
- WHAT ARE THESE NAMES EDITH? ROYAL? REALLY?
- EDYTHE SERIOUSLY
- “I glanced at her as I slid the paper over, and then instantly regretted it. She was glaring just up at me again, her long black eyes full of revulsion” pg 29
- I have decided that McKayla is Mac from the Fever series
CHAPTER 2: OPEN BOOK
- Beau is very obsessed with people’s height
- Random name drop of the Rock. Really?
- “When I’d come here as a child, he would always remove the bullets as soon as he walked in the door. I guess he considered me old enough now not to shoot myself by accident, and not depressed enough to shoot myself on purpose” (35)
- So even Dr Cullen has been gender bent
- Was there this much focus on the rain keeping Bella awake as there is about Beau?
- “I kept silent. I wondered how many years I would have to live in Forks before I was bored enough to find frozen water exciting?” (40)
- “Why couldn’t my blood just stay in my veins where it belonged?” (41) really Meyer? REALLY? You’re laying it on a little thick don’t you think?
- “In fact, I knew there was something different. I had not forgotten one detail of the first time she had glared at me like she wanted me dead. I could still see the flat black colour of her eyes – so jarring against the background of her pale skin. Today, her eyes were a completely different colour: a strange gold, darker than butterscotch, but with the same warm tone. I didn’t understand how that was possible, unless she was lying for some reason about the contacts. Or maybe Forks was making me crazy in the literal sense of the word.” (43)
CHAPTER 3: Phenomenon
- Edythe is a serious manic pixie dream girl
- I want to know what is this fascination with Twilight of not actually liking your friends Beau and Bella just look at their friend group as something to be tolerated and not gain any happiness from
- This chapter played out pretty much exactly the same as it did in the original story which surprised me
CHAPTER 4: Invitations
- Beau does not feel human to me. At least with Bella there is the whole self insert fantasy. That’s not present here
- Meyer is really into the whole watching thing
- “I put my head down, pretending to stare at my book, as soon as her eyes released me. It bothered me- the rush of emotions pulsing through me, just because she’d happened to look at me for the first time in six weeks. It wasn’t normal. It was actually pretty pathetic, and probably more that that. Unhealthy (60-61)
- Either Meyer is poking fun at her reputation or this is some weird gender bent thing
- So the only character traits we’ve nailed down are Beau can cook and he is accident prone. But he’s not as accident prone as Bella. It’s just glazed over in this one instead of being focused on.
- “I said it would be better if we weren’t friends…. (69)
- Where this came off as super creepy in Twilight here it just comes off as a challenge for Beau. Which is fucked. The whole no meaning yes bullshit. Culture is fucked
- Could also just be awful dialogue in some indie hipster movie
CHAPTER 5: Blood Type
- Patches of red are always forming on this guy’s face
- This is getting super repetitive. Yes we get it Edythe you two shouldn’t be friends why don’t you tell him the truth and then everything will go back to normal and he’ll think you’re crazy and that will be that
- “… She’s also slightly eccentric, a little irresponsible, and a very unpredictable cook. She was my best friend.” (84) NORMAN BATES MUCH BEAU?
CHAPTER 6: Scary Stories
- The guys seem not natural. But then again I haven’t interacted with teenage boys in a really long time
- The beach trip feels like a group date (think of LDS dating practices) because what teenagers invite half their class to go to the beach?
- I want a book from McKayla’s perspective. I don’t remember what she was like in the previous book as a dude. I don’t remember her being this predatory
- Calling Jacob a younger girl…. It’s unsettling.
- MARRIED YOUNG MARRIED YOUNG
- The story of Julie as a werewolf would be interesting
- OH MY GOD THEY GENDERED THE WOLVES
- Julie as a 14 year old girl with a husky voice is freaking me out
CHAPTER 7: Nightmare
- Omg Beau uses CDs
- “And Edythe stepped out of the trees. She wore a black dress. It hung all the way to the ground but exposed her arms to the shoulders and had a deep-cut v for a neckline. Her skin was faintly glowing, and her eyes were flat black. She held up one hand and beckoned me to come to her. Her nails were filed into sharp points and painted a red so dark they were almost as back as her dress, Her lips were the same colour.” 101
- “I read carefully through the descriptions, looking for anything that sounded familiar, let alone plausible. It seemed that most vampire myths focused on beautiful women as demons and children as victims; they also seemed like excuses created to explain away the high mortality rates for young children, and to give guys an excuse for infidelity.” (103)
- I mean you’re not wrong but…..
8. Port Angeles
- Seriously the reason that they jump Beau is because they think he’s a cop? He’s a 16 year old kid wtf
- “Because what I felt right now was.. Euphoria. She was right here, with me – on purpose – I’d gotten to touch her hand, and I probably had a few more hours ahead to spend with her, too, since she’d promised to drive me home. I’d never felt so happy and do off-balance at the same time” (124)
- I am pleasantly surprised that she kept the attack in the book. But I’m going to have to go and look at the attack in twilight to see if there was much changed or not.
- The major change with Beau and Bella’s attack scene comes down to the violence threatened, with Bella there is an implied sexual violence. Because Beau is male it’s just a possibly mugging. It’s really subtle but the conotations are scary.
- Gendered language, have Beau take me to dinner instead of take Beau to dinner
- “Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles” (130) LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
- Reminds me of Kate Beatons strong female character comics
Chapter 9: Theory
- Omg he really yelled holy cow when he realized she was speeding (132)
- Did Bella ask the vampire questions in the car or did that happen in the forest or was that just the movie?
- “There were a few things I knew for sure. For one, Edythe was an actual vampire. For another there was a part of her that saw me as food. But in the end, none of that mattered. All that mattered was that I loved her, more than I’d ever imagined it was possible to love anything. She was everything I wanted, the only thing I would ever want (142)
CHAPTER 10: Interrogations
- The whole relationship with McKayla is creeping me out
- Omg he’s seriously carrying her bag?
- This dialogue is killing me. It could all be summed up so much quicker if they just agreed that they were both into each other and that they’re going to be together even thought they clearly shouldn’t.
CHAPTER 11: Complications
- Omg really. They can’t be apart for one period of gym.
- This book is making me miss the purpose I felt in high school
CHAPTER 12: Balancing
- “She flourished her dimples” (175)
- Ooo bad boy Beau using cold medics to make himself sleep oooooo
- Is it just me or is nothing actually happening now. It’s just dragging
- Constantly referring to Edythe as delicate
- “Her beauty filled me with so much sadness” (186)
CHAPTER 13: Confessions
- “I thought about falling to my knees on purpose. This was the kind of beauty you worshipped” (188)
- The whole Edythe as corrupter thing plays pretty standard into horror theory,
- How the fuck did she get to Alaska, and then I realized she was in Washington State and not Maine.
- Teenagers are all about absolutes
- I don’t think kisses work like that Meyer
CHAPTER 14: Mind Over Matter
- We get the backstory. Pretty much exactly the same as the backstory from Twilight
- Omg Charlie is so on his case about dating. I don’t remember this with Bella…. What
- Omg we’re talking about sex > telling him he’s too fragile brought some very interesting images to my mind
CHAPTER 15: The Cullens
- You are my life now. Ughghghghghghghgh creeeppppy
- Meeting the Cullens feels very cult like.
- Ughghghg SO MANY OTHER STORIES ARE MORE INTERESTING THE SIDE CHARACTERS UGH
CHAPTER 16: Carine
- When Edythe touches Beau and he always reacts funny is that because of emotions or is it an actual thing
- The vampires can’t be killed by many means and they don’t need to breathe. They look perfect. My god why didn’t I realize this is more “angel” driven before. Fuck
- Referring to not drinking human blood as abstinence
- See the whole hearing what your prey is thinking so you can eat the bad people is interesting. Ugh stupid vampire morals
- Omg the baseball I forgot about the baseball. Omg this hurts me. But this means I’m at the lsat act of the book. Thank GOD
CHAPTER 17: The Game (which I just lost)
- You know what’s upsetting me the most? I think that in the hands of another writer Twilight could be good. I mean it’s all here, interesting characters, interesting mythology but we’re stuck with the two most cookie cutter boring people who just wander in front of this backdrop and block any of the interesting things
- Oh my god Charlie’s dialogue is so awkward
CHAPTER 18: The Hunt
- Wait. There have been no mention of animal attacks at all in this book. So either this is going to play out differently or Meyer is just relying on us knowing the original
- Wait I thought they were going north, isn’t Ontario north? WTF
- Ugh. Here we go, TIME FOR THE CLIMAX
CHAPTER 19: Goodbyes
- Charlie asks Beau if he is on drugs. This whole break up charade is just making me think of the Room. But everyone is Tommy Wiseau
- Royal is a jerk face
- I just want this shit to end
CHAPTER 20: Impatience
- The chapter title describes how I feel about this book
- The way Archie sees time is also interesting. It upsets me that it’s never really gotten in too
- Just turn him into a vampire. God.
- God I really want to know Archie and Alice’s back stories. They’re probably the most interesting and the most interesting characters in this book
- Of course male Bella would never take ballet of course it would be his mother who taught it.
CHAPTER 21: Phone Call
- You used to call me on my cell phone….
- Ugh so close now. I can feel it
- Beau will probably be turned after the events in the dance studio
CHAPTER 22: Hide and Seek
- UGH COME ON IM SO BORED
- Beau. You had an advantage. You have as friend who could SEE THE FUTURE. You – knew where the person was GOING TO BE. FUCK
- Ah here we go. A backstory for Archie. Thank you Meyer
- Beau has been bit. Now we wait
CHAPTER 23: The Choice
- Screaming sounds like an angel ???
- CALLED IT
CHAPTER 24: Change
- This is how the fucking first book should have ended fuck
- I want that story more. Edythe and a psychotic Beau hunting serial killers
- The story about the Volturi would have also been fun. Their rise to power etc
- GOD DAMN IT WHY ARE THE OTHER STORIES MORE INTERESTING IN MY HEAD ROYAL IS FROM A RUSSIAN CRIME SYNDACITE FUCK
EPILOUGE: AN OCCASION
- DAMN IT I THOUGHT I WAS DONE
- Wow that got dark fast. They’re watching his funeral. Fun times
- Charlie’s life sucks now like damn
- This was the worst proposal in the history of proposals
- WHY IS THIS DRAGGING ON?
- OMG REALY MEYER ITS TOTES BECAUSE HES A BOY
- I DID IT
Life and Death would be an interesting book to study in school. It is very much a product of it’s time. Twilight has stepped back from the spotlight and has been replaced by better (and sometimes worse) books. One day, I might come back and do a formal comparison between the two books. Specifically on Edward and Edythe. But not today.
On one hand I’m grateful for Twilight, like the Harry Potter books it can be blamed for the explosion of YA as a marketable product. I love YA. It also started a lot of discussion on healthy relationships and their portrayal in media.
If you’re a fan of Twilight, then you’ll probably enjoy Life and Death. It’s nothing special, but it makes me wonder. Does this mean there is a gender reversed Fifty Shades of Grey in all of our futures?
Please God No.