A Review of Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Twilight, #5), by Stephenie Meyer

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Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.
Packaged as an oversize, jacketed hardcover “flip book,” this edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes.
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Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: first half is pretty much word-for-word the original, with some interesting differences; a bit of disappointment in the gender swap; somehow I liked Beau much better than Bella?; an interesting and unexpected twist on the ending

I know what you’re probably all thinking right now: Really, Beth? Really?!

“You know I don’t understand what you mean, right?” I asked.

“I’m counting on it,” she said…

Yes, really. When I first discovered the Twilight books in college (with huge thanks to the roommate who owned them and forced all of us to read them!) I immediately fell in love with the story. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t such a big reader—which meant I appreciated them not for their artistic development or awesome plot, but because I enjoyed the STORY. The characters, the action, the love story—I was enraptured, at the time, with the idea of someone so extraordinary falling so completely for a girl who was almost ME. What can I say, I didn’t have very high expectations for my reading material at the time.

I have since then gone through several drastic changes in my reading preferences, and while I can admit I might not like the books NOW if I were to be only just picking them up…I still do hold them in pretty high regard emotionally. They’re the kind of books I turn to when I need a mindless read. The books I grab when I need to shut off my brain and just disappear for a while. So, yes. When this “retelling” was announced, I jumped at the chance to read it—I was SO excited about the gender swap, the potentials it carried with it for a new and intriguing story.

Seriously, though, this wasn’t a life and death situation—it was just high school. It’s not like anyone was going to bite me.

Unfortunately, it fell a bit flat for me regardless. You see, I didn’t realize going into this that it would be practically word-for-word the original story in the beginning. I was expecting a different type of drama, a different world unfolding! So to be thrust back into the original with some simple pronoun changes and just a few alterations to make it more “fitting”… Well, this didn’t take me over a week to read for nothing, I guess.

I LOVE Beau as a character, though—somehow, he comes across much more likable than Bella? I think part of this can be attributed to one very simple thing: he didn’t spend the ENTIRE book agonizing, beating himself up over stupid things, or comparing his supposed faults with the rest of the world. He was much better written, and more entertaining to read about, because he actually had a personality—instead of being the flat, paper-doll fit for molding like Bella was, Beau held his own against the world, and made himself known. I appreciated this quite a bit, and wish Bella had been written in a similar way. I also do wish that the gender swap hadn’t gone all across the cast of characters. While a few escaped this fate, I felt that swapping each and every character did nothing for the story overall. I’d have rathered only one or two specific characters were switched—it would have stood out much more, and made things more interesting.

“Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles.”

Now—while the ending of this matches (up to a point) the original book, there’s one HUGE and marked distinction that I wasn’t expecting heading into it. Having gone in blind, I’m not going to go into details about the specifics—I think it’s best readers don’t know about it when they head into this book. I will say, though, I’m not sure HOW I feel about the change. While I enjoyed it—FINALLY, the new and exciting changes I’d been seeking all along!–I also felt it was cut a bit TOO short.

Overall, this was an okay reimagining of the original story, but I’m not going to go crazy and call it my favorite, because it’s not. I appreciated some of the things Stephenie Meyer did here…but was also angered by others. I fell unexpectedly in love with one specific character…but the rest, overall, fell pretty flat. Still, I’d recommend for lovers of the original Twilight series—imagining the characters in a different light was interesting and, for the most part, entertaining!

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