We thought we’d read Twilight in honor of the 10th anniversary of its publication and blog about it, and then the Internet blew up with the news that the “bonus material” for the anniversary edition was Stephenie Meyer writing a gender-swapped version of the story called Life & Death, with Beau for Bella and Edythe for Edward (and most of the other characters flipped), and then we had to make sure we mentioned it, too!
Turns out, Maria – our resident teen librarian – had never read Twilight before!
It may be pointless to say, but here be spoilers (for both Classic Twilight and New Twilight). The conversation could definitely go on, so let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on the bonus material or just Twilight in general!
Amanda Mae: So, what did you think of it?
Maria: I thought it was the ultimate girl fantasy
A: Since you hadn’t read it before, what stuck out to the most?
M: Edward is a lot more likable in the books. In the movies, I always liked Jacob– he had the best lines and was alive. Much better kisses that way I would imagine. In this book, I can see how Edward would be so lovable.
A: That is the best response. “Much better kisses.”
M: That was something I had such a hard time with– why would she love his cold hand, cold lips, cold touch. Yuck. Personality– yeah, I like Edward. Still, it would be a weird relationship.
M: What about you? What stood out years later after all the movies?
A: I found Bella a little more bearable now. Kristen Stewart still grates on me a little in the films, but in the book she’s more relatable. At least for me.
M: I completely agree. I don’t like Kristen Stewart, and throughout the book I kept trying to picture her in the role as Bella. This is the first book I read after watching the movies that I didn’t picture the actress as the character in my mind.
A: I watched the movie again over the weekend (yes, I do own all the Twilight films), and it is more charming than I remembered. But my favorite scene is still this:
A: Edward is AMAZING. Ultimate cool boyfriend. I remember my co-workers at Borders having a “moment” over this particular scene because he looked so good. That smirk! I don’t think that can quite be portrayed as well in the book. At least, from my experience.
M: Thanks for sharing! I had not seen that scene because that was after the point I was kicked out of the room by my teenage niece for laughing at the previous scenes. 🙂 He does have a great smirk.
M: Wait a minute, you own all of the movies?
A: Oh yes. The bookseller in me felt a need, paired with a leftover teenage sense of hormones. And I’m a completist — all the books, all the movies. It’s a sickness. But I do enjoy them in a weird way!
M: It’s an icon to our last remaining teenage years, going into the adult years. 🙂
A: I remember going to see the first movie by myself, as I went up an escalator (this was in downtown Chicago) to the movie theater, there was a girl going down saying, “Well that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.” And when I popped into the restroom, there was a girl in there saying, “That was the best movie EVER!” That basically sums up the Twilight fanbase.
M: It’s true! They are all for the books all the way. Including the guys I have known who will admit they like the books and movies. It takes a macho man to admit openly to liking Twilight.
A: I knew a guy in my singles ward who wanted to borrow a copy of Twilight to read before he took a girl on a date to see the movie. I figured the girl must be something special for him to want to do that.
M: That is so sweet!
A: I thought it was odd, but endearing to be sure.
M: Do you remember how it worked out?
A: Oh, he married someone else entirely, and had a baby a few months back. I don’t know if his wife saw Twilight or not. 😉
M: Well, I hope the first girl appreciated the effort.
A: Me, too!
M: There is a guy who lives in my family ward who owns all the movies and has visited Forks. True fan.
A: DANG! That is dedication! (Personally, I don’t have much desire to visit Forks unless I happen to be in the area for another reason and have the time to indulge in a visit to the Teen Fandom Capitol of the US.)
M: Yeah, it doesn’t sound appealing: the rainiest/cloudiest spot in the US. Give me the sunshine! Give me Phoenix!
A: And if I’m not going to meet Edward Cullen OR Jacob Black… what’s the point? LOL!
A: What characters in Twilight (book or what you saw of the film) did you like?
M: I liked Edward and Doctor and Mrs. Cullen. I also liked Bella’s Dad more in the book. What about you?
A: Mustache Dad!! Yeah, I think some of the characters I like more because of how they were portrayed in the film (Bella’s Dad being one of them!), but I don’t know that I particularly enjoyed the book characters until later in the series when we learn more about them. Jasper, for instance, is the character I usually tell people I like out of all of them, but that’s because *spoiler alert* he’s a Southern gentleman who once tried to eat Bella. And that amuses me.
M: Ha! I think I read that scene in the extra chapter at the end of book 1.
A: As some people on the Internet have joked, Jasper’s hair is doing most of the growling/fighting in that scene of the movie.
M: So, is it just me, or did you start screaming in your head at Bella: why leave the vampires who are protecting you to go to a strange building to “save” your mother you didn’t even get to talk to?
A: Oh, there are quite a few times I wanted to yell at Bella. Mostly because she’s a teenager, and I left my teenage years awhile ago, and therefore have some more life experience and common sense to work from. Yes, that is one scene where I was pretty much *facepalm*
M: I kept thinking, “wow, you are being even stupider than the girls in the horror movies.
A: HAHA! Good point!
M: I also wondered why Edward didn’t want her to turn into a vampire any time soon. You would think he would realize, even more than Bella, what would happen in 10 or so years?
A: Hey, we wouldn’t get three sequels out of it if she had turned into a vampire then! LOL! Also, that’s part of Edward’s “complexity.” I don’t quite follow the logic myself usually, but it seems to work for the teens reading it.
M: ‘The only thing that matters is the here and now, not what will happen next year, or even 100 years!’ That mentality? I remember that…. seems a little distant…
A: Did you get a chance to read the alternate ending in Life & Death, the Twilight gender-swap?
M: Not the ending, I’m still in the middle (I know it’s the same story but I like seeing the slight differences). What is different about the end?
A: Beau (the male Bella) *spoiler alert* is allowed to turn into a vampire then, at the ballet studio. And that scene is pretty dark. And then the three Twilight sequels are condensed, that information quickly dispensed while Beau is in the midst of his transition to vampire, and then the epilogue is a real downer. Like, people have poked fun at Stephenie Meyer’s whole “imprinting” concept that turns up later in the sequels as being a little twisted, but her gender-swap ending… whoa. It’s dark. A little too heavy than what I think her initial teen readers (and their parents) could take.
M: Interesting– I wondered if she would let Beau turn into a vampire to skip the sequels, but I wasn’t expecting something dark. Imprinting is weird (haven’t read the books that is in), but I don’t know that I want a dark ending. Is Stephenie Meyer trying to prove a point? She can go dark?
A: Eh, I think with the gender-swap she’s saying that particular character type can be a boy or girl and the story can remain the same. I guess… but she also knew she couldn’t gender-swap the whole series as it is (Bella does have a baby that is very pivotal to the plot), so she ends the gender-swap abruptly in a way, and has to create a different kind of ending because of that. I just found it a little mind-blowing as to the direction she took it.
M: So far (I’m about half-way through the gender-swap Life and Death), I have found that I like the switch and it does work even with different genders.
A: I know I’ll have to let my recent re-read of Twilight settle before I can give Life & Death a fair shake. I had trouble distinguishing between Bella and Beau, so I mostly skipped through it to the famous scenes to see what Meyer did to change them. (And then the new ending, of course.)
M: I was impressed with the gender swap because it is everyone, except Bella’s parents. Even the Cullens, the teachers, and the secretary at the school are swapped. I thought she would just focus on the main characters and the people who ‘crush’ on them, but it’s everyone.
A: That was kind of fun! And I followed a woman on Twitter who live-tweeted reading Life & Death, comparing it to the original. She referred to “Brosalie” and “Femmett” which I quite enjoyed.
M: Yes, that was the weirdest, funniest switch. I like how the sheman has long hair in a bun and he-woman is incredible tall (taller than Beau) and looks like she could beat the crap out of anyone.
A: And that contributed to me having an awkward experience reading Life & Death. I couldn’t unsee the original characters! It was like they were playing dress-up or something!
M: I have to admit, of all the switches, that one is the worst. Beau/Bella and Edythe/Edward were smoother and allowed to adapt more.
A: I will agree with that! Though I think Stephenie Meyer had a ton of fun writing this. It’s an interesting exercise, at least!
M: I think it is what many authors want: a chance to rewrite and make it better. I read the letter at the beginning where Stephenie Meyer talks about it, and I think she liked cutting out things that irritated her. I agree with you, I could tell she was enjoying this, not just to get to reedit, but also to revisit.
A: And from what I’ve heard so far, the fans are totally onboard with it.
Thanks for joining us for our conversation on Twilight! What additional thoughts do you have? We’d love to hear them!