Today I wanted to talk to you about something that’s been in my mind since last week. At first, I wasn’t sure whether to write this post or not, but after watching and reading interviews, reviews and opinions, I decided I had to share my thoughts with you.
Stephenie Meyer’s popular young adult saga, Twilight, just turned 10 years old, which makes me feel old. So, for the 10th anniversary edition of the first book, Meyer chose to re-write the story and put it in the back of the original one. The result: a flip-book where on the one side you have Twilight, and on the other, you have Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined.
For those of you who don’t know, I did have my Twilight phase when I was fifteen. I read all the books and watched the movies, but my Twilight fever was gone by the time I turned sixteen. Now, I get why some people actually like the saga. Many avid young readers see Twilight as the book that got them into reading. That’s not what happened in my case; I started reading thanks to a book called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. But the point is, I get why people like Twilight and why they think it’s important, even if I personally don’t like it. And that’s exactly why I got mad when I heard about Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined.
This is literally the same story: boy meets girl, one of them is a dangerous vampire, the other one is a human, they fall in love, fight against some bad vampires and have a happy ending. The difference is, this time, the genders are swapped: Bella is Beauford, Edward is Edyth, Alice is Archie, Jacob is Julie, etc.
I’ve looked into the reasons why Meyer decided to re-write Twilight and it’s mainly because:
- She didn’t want to write only a foreword for the 10th Anniversary Edition, she wanted to do something fun for the fans;
- She didn’t like how people see Bella as a damsel in distress. To Stephenie Meyer, anyone could be vulnerable and in distress when «surrounded by superheroes», and thus, she wrote Beauford to prove it.
After spending an unhealthy amount of time watching and reading reviews that discussed the plot and characters in detail -reviews made by fans- I’ve come to the realization that most of them can be summarized in one line: ‘I love Twilight, I love Stephenie Meyer, this book wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t really enjoy it as much’. Apparently, the story feels rushed, mainly because the author tried to squeeze the results of four books into one; and the characters feel weird since they talk and behave in virtually the same manner their original counterparts did.
People like to justify all these points by arguing that Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is not really (nor is it meant to be) a stand-alone book, as Meyer didn’t have enough time to do a whole new novel. Some readers even encourage people not to take it as seriously as they would if it were a stand-alone book. The first time I heard that I almost fell off my chair.
Here’s what I think about this not-really-a-book:
Quality over quantity
This book is 442 pages long and has the same story twice. Authors, there are other ways to do something fun for your fans while expanding the universe in which your story takes place.
Bella, the damsel in distress
I understand Stephenie Meyer’s point. She doesn’t like that people see Bella as a weak woman because it’s not about her, it’s about the super strong, super fast vampires that surround her. Meyer wants Bella to be seen as a normal human, but I don’t think writing another Bella-character and putting a boy’s name on it is going to solve the problem.
As an author, it’s your job to transmit the real essence of a character without having to justify it outside the book. If you want a strong woman, write her strong despite the situation that surrounds her, make her overcome the odds against her. But do not expect us to see a woman as strong just because you’ve written a weak man.
Literature is serious. I’m not saying that the stories should be serious or that funny books should be banned. I’m saying that literature is an art, and it should be treated as such. Authors write (or should write) because they love what they do because they have a story to tell and can’t help but tell it. Sure, money is important and you should definitely aim to get paid for your work, but you need to put love into it. This is true for all kinds of work: If you have a job and you don’t do it with all your love and all your passion and all your energy, your results will probably suck. You should do what you love, but you should love what you do. Authors put (or should put) all they’ve got into their work.
As a reader, it’s okay not to like some books, authors or genres, but you shouldn’t read something that was not written with such passion. Publishing for publishing is not literature; it’s a cash-grab.
Take your book choices seriously
The books you read define in many ways the way you perceive the world; a good book can become a part of you. You can read anything you want, all genres and all stories are allowed, but please don’t read just for the sake of reading. Reading is a joy and a wonderful habit. Look for the stories that make you happy, the stories that make you better, and cherish them.