Stephenie Meyer Undermines the Heart of This Whole Venture Before it Even Begins: Life and Death’s Letter to the Readers/Forward

I'm in denial too! It's cool!

What is this, you ask? Two posts on a Thursday? AND we had two posts yesterday (if you’ve missed them, you can see our plans for reading Life and Death and some polls about the Goodreads Choice Awards)!

Basically we really wanted to write about Meyer’s letter to the readers and her forward, but we didn’t want it to make our posts on the first few chapters even longer. So here’s an entire post about the foreword. Just the foreword. You’re welcome.

Ariel says:

I only have one thing to note about her letter, but it made me furious:

To celebrate this milestone, I’ve created some new bonus material to add to your enjoyment of the world of Twilight. (In typical Stephenie Meyer form, the bonus material is actually longer than Twilight.)

OH COME ON, DUDE. THIS WAS A TARGETED ATTACK, WASN’T IT?

The forward is actually where I really want to draw our attention.

I know there is going to be a lot of wailing and teeth gnashing because this new bonus material is (A) not entirely new, but mostly (B) not Midnight Sun. (If you are worried that I don’t understand your pain quite enough, let me assure you that my mother has made it abundantly clear.) I will explain how this came about, and hopefully that will make things, if not better, at least understandable.

I have loved a lot of books in my life, but I have never been in pain or gnashed my teeth because I wasn’t getting the same story from someone else’s point of view. Like I already know Edward was conflicted about Bella and tried to stay away. I already know he watched her when she slept and probably thought thoughts about that. Even if I loved Twilight to bits and pieces, I don’t get why people give so much of a shit? If Meyer is apologizing that the gender-swap doesn’t have a lot of new material… well neither would Midnight Sun, really.

A very short time ago, my agent approached me and asked if there was anything I could do for the tenth-anniversary rerelease of Twilight. The publisher was looking for a foreword of some kind, a “happy anniversary” letter thing. It seemed… well, to be honest, really boring. What could I say that would be fun and exciting? Nothing. So I thought about other things I could do, and if it makes you feel better, Midnight Sun did come up. The problem was time—as in, there wasn’t any. Certainly not enough to write a novel, or even half of one.

If EL James could throw together Grey, I presume while she was sitting on the toilet, than you could have put together Midnight Sun within ten fucking years, Meyer. Think of better excuses.

Anyway, the most important things to keep in mind are what Meyer said she changes in the book:

• 5% of the changes I made were because Beau is a boy.

• 5% of the changes were because Beau’s personality developed just slightly differently than Bella’s. The biggest variations are that he’s more OCD, he’s not nearly so flowery with his words and thoughts, and he’s not as angry—he’s totally missing the chip Bella carries around on her shoulder all the time.

I don’t remember this chip Bella supposedly carries at all…please remind me if you remember?

• 70% of the changes I made were because I was allowed to do a new editing run ten years later. I got to fix almost every word that has bothered me since the book was printed, and it was glorious.

What the fuck! THIS IS NOT A CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT THEN, DUDE. If you are trying to prove to us that all the accusations about Twilight being sexist are false by gender-swapping it and keeping the story the same, than this just completely fucks with this. Are the changes because you’re trying to make things sound better or because of the gender-swap? NOT COOL.

• 10% were things that I wished I had done the first time around but that hadn’t occurred to me at the time. That might sound like the same thing as the preceding category, but it’s slightly different. This isn’t a case of a word that sounds clunky or awkward. This is an idea that I wish had been explored earlier, or conversations that should have happened but didn’t.

Okay, cool, but then don’t try to act like this is definitive proof that things would have been the same without the gender-swap. Just don’t make that claim.

• 5% were mythology issues—mistakes, actually—mostly related to visions. As I continued into the sequels to Twilight—and even Midnight Sun, where I got to look inside Alice’s head with Edward—the way Alice’s visions worked was refined. It’s more mystical in Twilight, and looking at it now, there are ways she should have been involved and wasn’t. Whoops!

See above.

This comes into play a lot in the first couple chapters and I imagine will continue to do so throughout. What do you guys think about this? Is it fair? Unfair?

Matthew says:

Ariel makes a good point about controlled experiments that really appeal to the half of me that was a biology major back in college, but I’m kind of not as bothered about the same specific parts that she is. I guess let Meyer tweak some content that she’s felt less than great about in the ten years since she wrote it? Fair enough. I despise stuff I wrote like three years ago. So, sure, why not.

But here’s the part of the foreword where I did start groaning loudly and then had to explain to my friends in the coffee shop we were in what exactly I was working on. As you know, Stephanie Meyer takes some time to spell out that this rewrite literally only exists because of a decade of people telling her that her book is sorta regressive and full of systemic sexism.

You know, 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

I mean, in terms of well-founded arguments, this is basically the vampire young adult version of that person in every comment section on the internet going, “The problem with feminism is that it should really be humanism!”, like the fact that a thing is applicable to everyone somehow negates that it disproportionately affects specific demographics of people. But then again, it is just a silly book about teenagers and love and also supernatural escapism. How flawed could this theory be, really?

I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and the vampire female— it’s still the same story. Gender and species aside, Twilight has always been a story about the magic and obsession and frenzy of first love.
So I thought to myself, Well, what if I put that theory to the test? That might be fun. […] It turns out that there isn’t much difference at all between a female human in love with a male vampire and a male human in love with a female vampire.

And one would hope. And it would be lovely to draw the conclusion that the way we love ultimately isn’t gendered. But, of course, Meyer immediately (and unconsciously) reveals that she doesn’t really believe this.

There are many more changes in the writing than were necessitated by Beau’s status as a male person

But… but… literally everything you just wrote!

• 5% of the changes I made were because Beau is a boy.
• 5% of the changes were because Beau’s personality developed just slightly differently than Bella’s. The biggest variations are that he’s more OCD, he’s not nearly so flowery with his words and thoughts, and he’s not as angry

What just happened? There’s a foreword where Stephanie Meyer all but goes, “Here is Twilight, but with the genders swapped, to prove that this is the same story regardless of gender constructs”. BUT THEN she goes on to explain that she made changes to the story because she swapped the genders. So. Uh. The… The entire thesis – the entire point – is negated. From page one.

In other words, Life and Death is trying to be the picture on the right, but somehow still thinks it looks like the picture on the left.
In other words, Life and Death is trying to be the picture on the right, but somehow still thinks it looks like the picture on the left.

So now that we’ve spent 1400 words talking about just the foreword, let us go to chapter one of Twilight: Life and Death.

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19 comments

  1. Dejah

    It has to be the potential sexual assault scene in Twilight that Edward rescues Bella from. I was wondering how she would portray a guy being cornered on a vacant street by a group of females. Done correctly it could be an opening view of how poorly male victims are represented and the false belief it can’t happen to a male, but this is Meyer we are talking about.

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    • Dejah

      and, whoa, sorry I’m jumping WAY ahead here, but honestly I thought this book was just a rumor and didn’t realize it was an actual real thing until you guys posted it, but if Meyer intends to go the whole road with the gender swap, she’s basically eliminated the entire conflict element of the 4th book and an entire character. Without a human Bella, Renesmee cannot exist. and the werewolves. I’m assuming she’s going to flip those as well. A whole pack of anger prone females, roughly the same age, teenage to early 20’s. It sounds more comedic than I’m sure she intends. Plus, i’m fairly certain that Leah, the only female wolf from the original, had stopped her cycle as a result of becoming one and was therefore sterilized. unless that changes too, which i’m sure it will, but geez.

      I don’t think Meyer thought this through. It seems like a very clusterflucky disaster.

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      • 22aer22 Post author

        Basically I read Meyer’s note at the end, and I think Beau gets turned into a vampire immediately and that a lot of the conflict from the other books is probably avoided because the evil group’s leader is a woman.

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        • Honey

          SPOILER ALERT!! DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING!!

          Yeah, he does get turned immediately, meaning books 2-4 will never be written (which surprised me honestly). I was wondering how she was going to deal with the pregnancy, in particular, but, as he’s turned by the end of the book it will never happen.

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          • 22aer22 Post author

            There was a fleeting moment when I wondered if she was going to be like vampires can make some male humans have babies!

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            • Dejah

              Honestly I thought there would be some weird thing that the female Jacob would end up having Beau’s baby as some vampire/wolf hybrid, but Beau would still end up with Edyth. I’m honestly disappointed that Meyer made it only one book now. Oh the possibilities.

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          • Dejah

            See that’s just lazy, and even more against not changing this or that. But I’m sure a relief to BBGT, who only have to sit through one book and not four ?

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    • 22aer22 Post author

      I’m interested in comparing those scenes as well, that must be coming up soon. Things like that will be a no-brainer to compare between the books with, but I hate missing the smaller stuff in the chapters too!

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  2. bookbaron

    I actually gender bender my own novel as a writing exercise and liked the new characters so much that I kept them that way. I got the idea from a movie (I think it was Alien) that did the same in attempt to create a female character outside of cultural gender bias, something I was struggling with when writing about one of my female characters. I hated how weak and trophy like she was. So I switched her gender and that of my male protagonist. It changed my story in major ways. But I liked the changes and the challenge of making them work. I mostly loved the unique personality I found in seeing these characters in a new light. 🙂

    So Meyer, no. Gender bending only changes everything.

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    • 22aer22 Post author

      See this is amazing and makes me wanna try that out. It makes me wants loads of existing authors to do that to their books! It’s that she’s trying to say gender changes nothing and acting like there weren’t major changes in the story as a result. Maybe not completely as a result, but definitely a factor in many instances. Stop with the human in distress crap.

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  3. E.H.Taylor Post author

    I see nothing but disaster for this novel. If her statement was that the books would be exactly the same if the genders were switched, then there should have been no changes except the genders of the two main characters. Forget everyone else, just switch the gender of the two main characters. Don’t change the dialogue or the character’s thoughts or the plot, just switch the shes for hes (and vice-versa) and then let the reader decide if it’s just the same that way. By making changes, the entire point is moot and the book is a waste of paper.

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    • 22aer22 Post author

      YES YES YES THANK YOU! I think it’s a totally cool idea to swap all genders, sure, fine, but that’s not going to prove the point she’s saying it does at all!

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  4. Pingback: The Lazy Reader’s Guide: November 2-November 6 2015 | Bad Books, Good Times

  5. Lougoober

    “I don’t remember this chip Bella supposedly carries at all” I can’t speak for Stephanie Meyer, but I seem to remember Bella’s supposed to be really irritated about living in Forks – cloudy, rainy, hicksville or whatever – so maybe that’s what she meant by Bella’s “chip on her shoulder”?

    I’m confused by Meyer saying there wasn’t enough time to write Midnight Sun for the anniversary, but apparently she had time to write this? “There’s not enough time for me to write a novel, so I’ll just write a novel instead”? I know from personal experience it’s a little easier to rewrite an existing property with the genders switched than to start an entire novel from scratch… but didn’t she already have half the book written when it got leaked a few years ago? (By the way, that was such bull – “oh my book got leaked and my thousands of rabid fans wanted to read it so I guess I WON’T BOTHER WRITING THE REST OF IT.” I’m not even a fan of Twilight and that logic just pissed me off. I understand being upset that her work was leaked in the first place, but that’s awfully childish logic I think – that she’s just not going to bother with the rest of it. Especially since it’s just a POV flip of an existing book anyway! So stupid.)

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    • 22aer22 Post author

      But that’s the thing – Beau and Bella have the exact same feeling about living in Forks! But at least at the beginning neither comes off as all that angry to me? And they both immediately fit in at school with no issue whatsoever.

      Omg I know NONE of it makes any sense!! It’s fine she’s annoyed about the leak, but you’re right…that logic makes no sense. Even if she was solely doing this for the money (which I bet you anything she’d say she wasn’t) clearly people will still buy that book leak or no leak. And how was this quicker to write at all???

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  6. Pingback: A GIRL Can’t Carry a BOY? False Alarm, Guys, Sexism is Still at Large!: Life and Death Chapters 5 & 6 | Bad Books, Good Times

  7. Cara

    My favorite thing about this is that she tries to differentiate between changes made “because Beau is a boy” and changes made because he “developed just slightly differently.” After the gender swap.

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  8. anemicanomie

    I count 95% of the changes accounted for. Did you omit the other 5% for time/humor reasons, or is it just that Meyer forgot how to count to 100?

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    • 22aer22 Post author

      Hahaha the last reason was just, ” Which leaves a 5% catchall, for the many miscellaneous changes that I made, each for a different, and no doubt selfish, reason.” Ug, Meyer.

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