You’ve probably already heard the news that Stephenie Meyer has released another Twilight story and no, it’s not the long-awaited “Midnight Sun” (Twilight from Edward’s perspective) that will probably never be released. Instead, this new release is called “Life And Death: Twilight Reimagined” and has been published in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Twilight.
To date, the Twilight series has sold over 150 million copies worldwide and the few people out there that haven’t read Twilight are the ones who simply don’t want to. Knowing this, Stephenie Meyer and her publishing team had to come up with something that would re-sell the same novel to the audience that bought it the first time round – essentially, the twi-hards.
In theory, twi-hards should have been thrilled at the prospect of yet another Twilight story. Firstly, it’s over 400 pages of bonus content, and secondly, it was available to read instantly after the announcement. However, there’s been a particularly negative backlash against Stephenie Meyer from twi-hards and twi-haters alike.
The most problematic issue with the re-release is the gender-bending. Essentially, Life And Death is the same story as Twilight but with a shift in character genders; so Bella and Edward become Beau and Edyth, and the Cullens become Carine, Earnest, Royal, Eleanor, Jessamine and Archie.
On GMA the author explained that: “Bella has always gotten a lot of censure for getting rescued on multiple occasions, and people have complained about her being a typical damsel in distress. My answer to that has always been that Bella is a human in distress, a normal human being surrounded on all sides by people who are basically superheroes and supervillains.”
She added: “It’s just a love story, it doesn’t matter who’s the boy and who’s the girl.”
It’s a valid concern that by switching the genders of Bella and Edward, Meyer may enforce certain gender roles and remain controversial in her portrayal of what is supposed to be a story of true love. If Bella was not supposed to be a damsel in distress then perhaps the retelling should have shown a feminist-approved version of her rather than switch her gender to male, which suggests that the only way Bella can escape this stereotype is by becoming male.
Meyer described writing the retelling as “fun, but also really fast and easy,” which has led to further critical backlash from fans who claim that it’s basically just fan-fiction of her own work and about as worthwhile as Fifty Shades Of Grey.
In a society where becoming a published author is about as steady a career choice as being a rockstar, it’s depressing to see the same story published twice, albeit with a little bit of gender-bending. This is an industry that is squeezed so tightly that perfectly good manuscripts go unpublished on a daily basis, so it’s almost tragic that Stephenie Meyer, who – let’s face it – has had her turn, is using the success of Twilight to sell her own fan-fiction when it would fit better on the likes of tumblr.
Undoubtedly, the retelling will sell massively, perhaps because it will make an interesting read or more likely because most of us are curious. If you’re sick and tired of the Twilight phenomenon then don’t despair just yet – Meyer doubts there will be any further books centring on Beau, let alone a movie.
Jessikah Hope Stenson