Brace yourselves. For the tenth anniversary of the Twilight books (everything is so old), Stephenie Meyer has decided to rewrite her own story by genderswapping her protagonists. So go ahead and pick up Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined. Or don’t.
Full disclosure: I am not going to read the reimagined Twilight. There are only so many hours in the day and days in a week, and I already spend a lot of them on bad things. However, since this is happening, I put it to the fans to answer a few questions that Meyer will never answer, since she’s only redoing the first book:
- Meyer says that writing this version was “fun, but also really fast and easy.” She totally used search and replace for the names, didn’t she?
- Why do this?
- SPEAKING OF THE NAMES: Bella is now Beau and Edward is now Edyth. Is there an explanation of how someone can have the name Beau and not be a Confederate army soldier?
- Edward was a perfectly normally spelled name, why the “y” in Edyth? And who was naming children “Edyth” in 1901? Because I checked, and “Edith” was the 32nd most popular name in America in 1901, but “Edyth” was the 777th.
- No, seriously, why is this happening?
- Does Meyer ever address that Edyth’s unaging century as a young woman has fundamentally different challenges to Edward’s as a young man?
- Can someone please tell me if this means we’re getting mpreg or if, instead of magic vampire sperm, we have magic vampire womb?
- If Jacob is now Julie, does that mean that Julie falls in love with Beau and Edyth’s baby son? (I assume yes, because gay-half-vampire-baby and bisexual-werewolf-woman is a pairing that seems too radical for Meyer.)
- The baby was named “Renesmee” by slamming together the grandmother’s names. If the baby is a boy, how do the names “Charlie” and “Carlisle” get blended? Can we please see baby Charlisle?
- What is the female equivalent of Jacob’s shirtlessness? Is Julie a werewolf with plunging necklines and miniskirts?
- Is this going to inspire E.L James? Are we going to have fanfic inspired by a fanfic of a book which inspired the fanfic that the book was based on?
- If that happens, does the universe implode?
- What did we do to deserve this?
In all seriousness, I am a huge fan of the gender swap trope when it’s handled with finesse. What you should get from it is a nuanced look at a character. Some things stay the same others completely change when the societal pressures put on those characters change.
For example, in Twilight it’s Bella who really wants to have sex. In the reimagining, it’s Beau pressuring Edyth—which has a completely different message than the original.
Or it should, except that Meyer is on record saying that she wanted to show that Bella isn’t a damsel in distress because anyone would act as she does when surrounded by beings with supernatural powers. “I thought, ‘What if we switched it around a bit and see how a boy does,’ and, you know, it’s about the same,” she said. It is not. Maybe that’s how it should be, but that is not how context works. No one ever thinks that a girl who stalks you is romantic—she’s always some combination of desperate, dangerous, or delusional. That’s why men get to stand outside windows with a boombox and women get to boil bunnies. The point of gender swap isn’t “it’s about the same.” It’s “how much changes.”
Unless, of course, it’s Twilight. Nothing there ever changes.
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