Many of us book lovers know, this past week was the tenth anniversary of Twilight. Regardless of how you personally feel about Twilight, it was a highly influential book, both in the publishing industry and in the lives of readers and reluctant readers everywhere.
For the tenth anniversary edition of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer released a new special edition hardcover of the book with some extra-special bonus material… which happened to be longer than the actual book. Titled Life and Death, the flip side of the new hardcover is only partially new content: a Twilight gender-swap. That’s right, kids, Stephenie Meyer just wrote her own fanfiction.
The official reasoning is that Stephenie Meyer had always asserted Bella is not a sexist character, and the relationship would still be the same were Bella a man and Edward a woman. In Life and Death, Bella is literally a man (Beau) and Edward literally a woman (Edythe
come on now). While I haven’t finished reading the new book, I do want to give Stephenie Meyer some props for not only being willing to put her money where her mouth is, but for sharing this experiment with the whole world for no extra cost except what we were already going to spend on the new special tenth anniversary edition, anyways let’s be real here.*
I will definitely be doing a full review of Twilight as well as Life and Death as soon as possible, so don’t you even worry. Until then, read this Buzzfeed article by Anna Menta and just laugh.
I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with Twilight, from full-blown obsession upon its release in 2005, to pure unadulterated hatred after the publication of Breaking Dawn, to callous disdain that stems from being a pretentious English major, to ironic interest with every passing movie up until the CGI baby, at which point, I quit.
Today I just want to discuss some really awesome things that Twilight did for me, and screw all the irrelevant haters whose unoriginal Twilight jokes are now ten years past their expiration date. It may not be a great book, or even a good book. It may be problematic as all-get-out. But it still did some cool things.
I first saw Twilight in my local bookstore, and boy, did it look gorgeous. It had its own display, all black and white and red. The bestseller list posted next to the display said Twilight across the very top. I thought it was an adult book– it looked big and daunting, and I loved big, daunting books. I read the back. Romance was something forbidden, but just on the horizon, to my almost-11-year-old self. My grandma bought it for me. I read it in a day.
I was a sheltered kid. My parents didn’t like me reading things about traditionally evil monsters being turned good. This included Harry Potter, which had witches and wizards fighting other witches and wizards. Twilight was the first thing I snuck under the radar. It opened my eyes to a world of shades of gray (50 of them, to be exact… KIDDING). I started to wonder what bad people were made of, what made them bad, and how they could be redeemed. And I started to incorporate that thinking into my own writing, exploring traditions of good and evil and breaking them down so you couldn’t always tell at the outset who was what. Yep, Twilight did that.
I was the first person in my grade to read Twilight, so when other people started reading it, guess who they came to talk to? I’d never been good at socializing before. I would rather read at my own birthday party. But all of a sudden, even that was entirely acceptable! Especially if it was Twilight! I dove into that series with renewed vigor, because for the first time, my love of books was having a positive effect on my social life. I’m certain many people talked to me because I was always willing to lend out my copies when the library ran out, but I didn’t mind. Books, and sharing them, were always more important than whether or not people liked me. This way I could have both.
Twilight was my first experience with the power of fandom. I used to write fanfiction. There, I said it. I wrote fanfiction and my own original stories side-by-side, and I learned that people are a lot nicer about fanfiction writing. Especially Twi-hards. We all read each other’s stories, gushed profusely, begged for more. It didn’t matter how good or downright awful your prose was– there were so many characters in the series to explore, so many places to take them, and we were all eager to crack into each other’s heads and follow all these crazy new ideas (gender-bending included!) to the ends of the earth. This experience did more for my confidence in writing than a random adult telling 11-year-old me I sucked and all my original characters sucked and I should click off the internet and never write anything ever again.
So thank you, Twilight, and thank YOU, Stephenie Meyer, and thank you a million times over for this new special edition containing Life and Death. It’s no Midnight Sun, but it’s almost the same thing.
Watch out for my later reviews where I get to dive into the actual text. Tons of fun will be had.
* To the multitudes of people wondering why Stephenie Meyer feels the need to re-visit the same story again, and complaining she’s just doing it for the money: WHY DO YOU CARE? THIS IS NOT FOR YOU! GO HOME!