A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is a full novel slapped on the back of the Twilight Tenth Anniversary Edition that swaps the genders of most of the characters from the original and keeps most of the story exactly the same. A foreword from author Stephenie Meyer explains why some minor changes were made, and an afterword discusses some surprises we won’t spoil here. The only kids who will be interested in this version will be those who've read the original, so you already know what to expect: some vampire violence and nothing beyond passionate kissing. Also expect some great discussion about what's so different about the feel of this version. Some will cheer on Beau (formerly Bella) for falling for a much stronger, savvier girlfriend. Some will find other parts a little odd, such as that the scent of a boy, as opposed to a girl, can be so talked about and seem so attractive.
What's the story?
Beau isn't excited about moving in with his dad in Forks, Washington, but decides it's time to give his mom in Arizona some time with her new husband. He shows up in the rainy small town and enrolls in school feeling pretty low, even though all the girls at school are gaga for him immediately -- all but one reclusive girl, Edyth, who, at first, seems enraged by his very presence. Beau can't understand why she can't stand him, and she understands it even less when Edyth saves him from getting crushed by a car at the last second. What girl has that kind of superhuman strength? He has his theories, each crazier than the last. And he realizes, no matter what Edyth is, he's totally smitten with her.
Is it any good?
This reimagined Twilight with swapped genders (Bella is Beau, Edward is Edyth) and most of the same content will primarily interest Twi-hards and anyone in a gender studies class. Sometimes the changes work, sometimes they don't. On the working side: It's less weird that Edyth glistens in the sunlight. And more normal -- to the point of being mundane -- is Beau and his father Charlie's taciturn relationship. It's what made Bella more intriguing, this joy in solitude over gabbing with her friends, and what makes Beau kind of boring. In general, Beau's a bit dull and half-formed.
Things that don't quite work: There's no way a teen boy's smell will bring anyone, no matter the species, into raptures. And some of the surprises near the end are too expository for a big finish. And no matter what, a story narrated by a girl, especially one that feels the way many teen girls feel at some point in their development, will resonate more with teen girl readers. So even if they take a shine to Beau and admire Edyth for being so strong and lethal, it will be hard to identify with, and obsess over, LIFE AND DEATH in the same way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender roles. When the characters switch, what seems natural and what doesn't? For things that don't seem natural, why?
Does the story work with Beau and Edyth instead of Bella and Edward? Which do you prefer? Why?
What other romantic books can you imagine with genders swapped? Would they work as well?
- Author: Stephenie Meyer
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: October 6, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 387
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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