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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Twilight Resurrected: A Review of Stephenie Meyer’s Gender-Swapped “Twilight”

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer released a “new” book, a gender-swapped version of Twilight itself. The book, entitled Life and Death and available only as a special double edition of Twilight, was intended to address the criticisms her portrayal of Bella has faced in the decade since the book’s original publication. Those criticisms usually fall into place as complaints that Bella is a stereotypical “damsel in distress” who lives and dies by her male love interest and his emotions. By swapping the genders out and retelling the story, Meyer aimed to prove that the story would be the same if Bella had been male and Edward female.

Image Credit: Little, Brown

Image Credit: Little, Brown

She was both right and dead wrong.

Life and Death is both a lazy find-and-replace of the original Twilight text where Meyers simply swaps out names and pronouns and a gutting of the original that reinforces gender stereotypes. Where Bella was weak, insecure, and self-critical, her male counterpart Beau is almost flat and emotionless. He doesn’t take is own inventory and at time seems almost entitled. To put it directly Meyers doesn’t just swap the genders of her characters, she straight up swaps out the gender stereotypes and thus doesn’t redeem Bella and her reactions. Instead, she seems to point out further that teenage girls are over-emotional and weak while teen boys simply aren’t.

The inability to truly upend the story with gender balance isn’t the only disappointment in the book. Meyers switches the genders of nearly every character in the book (the exceptions are Bella/Beau’s parents) but the swaps feel awkward, like nothing more than a name and label change without any real attempt to understand how those changes would subtly influence the dynamics of the relationships within the book. Meyers also fails to break any new ground. The book is quite literally nearly a sentence-by-sentence copy of the original and even a lazy twist at the end can’t resolve the sense that the book is nothing more than a weak attempt to capitalize on the most popular thing the writer has done. In the end Meyers doesn’t manage a defense of her previous work, but instead simply reinforces the gender stereotypes that lead to so much criticism in the first place. And the story is still seriously lacking.

Bottom line? Don’t waste your time or your money and find yourself a better vampire love story. Or any love story. They’re all going to be a better story than this.

What did you think of the anniversary edition? Let us know in the comments below.

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One Comment on “Twilight Resurrected: A Review of Stephenie Meyer’s Gender-Swapped “Twilight””

  1. BBandGT October 13, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    Thanks for this. I was thoroughly confused when I heard they they were doing a gender swap special edition. I was almost going to look it up out of pure curiosity, but I guess I’ll pass, now.

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