Oh, gentle reader… do we have a treat for you today! After a hiatus of several months, Pat and I were tempted back to the fold when it was brought to our attention that Stephenie Meyer was celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Twilight’s publication by releasing a gender-swapped version. You may thank Reba from Pajiba’s online community for bringing this to our attention. Or not.
Before we talk about anything else, we need to discuss the title page:
I don’t think you get to decide for yourself that your novel is a classic. This isn’t To Kill a Mockingbird, people. THAT’S a classic, or possibly Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. You know, books that are well-written and reach in and rip your guts out. (OR are written by Diana Gabaldon or Courtney Milan, obviously.)
My initial response to Pat’s suggestion that we review this one was perhaps best expressed by Taylor Lautner of all people:
Pat: But then…
For the record, we are going to attempt to do this as faux First Time Readers. We will do our best to eschew any pre-conceived bias, previous love or hatred for the series, secret and deeply buried empathy towards tween angst and/or any inadvertent loathing-by-association with the Fifty Shades of Shit. This we solemnly swear.
Having said that, I find it inauspicious that Meyer starts the book out with an apology. Either she’s she’s truly sorry for not being able to crank out book 5: Mid-morning Dusk or she has reached the pinnacle of self-awareness, can now take a joke and figured, “So the ten year deadline is here? You want me to, like, produce something vampiry? Screw it – I made my millions. This is for the lulz and for all the haters who said Bella sucked at being a girl.”
Kat: Surprisingly, though, I haven’t despised it as much as I thought I would. Maybe the gender swapping helped? It hasn’t seemed as creepy as the first one yet.
Pat: It’s kinda cute. I mean, I never found the original to deserve as much flack as it got – for God’s sake, it’s a story about a moody and insecure teenage girl, written for teenage girls, that describes how all-encompassing it can be to have a mad crush on a vampire – so this one is similarly amusing to me. I don’t know that a teenage boy would be capable of quite so much introspection however; don’t they all just go around focusing on being cool and aloof while trying to hide boners? No? Is that my own gender bias rearing it’s ugly head?
Kat: I actually kind of adore that the male lead is now a clumsy dork instead of an athletic alpha-type (which leads back to my comment in a previous review about how not everyone can be a Navy SEAL…). I mean, Seth was always my favorite.
Pat: Agreed. I’ve always suspected there is a burden of limitation when coming of age if you have a pair between your legs; I mean, teens subscribe to only a handful of Approved Boy Types and society dictates that the John Benders and Andrew Clarks are the pick of the HS cafeteria litter. Our protagonist, Beau, is… nothing. Not athletic, not super-smart, not wealthy, not jaw-droppingly handsome and not a bad-boy. He’s plain vanilla and he knows it.
With Bella, it was the Mary Sue thing but that’s still a thing to be – an identity. A boy who doesn’t have a label and isn’t exactly looking for one NEEDS a vampire in his life because otherwise we’re going to be reading page after page of Forks weather and silent dinners with Charlie.
I suck at summaries so I’ll let Kat deal with that whole thing but I have to say, I didn’t get it: his insta-love. It was really no different than Bella’s but I could relate, on some level, to that tweeny infatuation. I remember crushing on boys for no discernible reason – like, NO REASON WHATSOEVER but *swoon* – and I suppose it’s unfair to assume boys didn’t/can’t do the same. I just have a hard time buying a guy falling for the strong, dominant, brooding girl. More importantly, I’m annoyed that a Twilight regurge is making me re-evaluate my own gender stereotypes.
Kat: Beaufort Swan, who REALLY prefers to be known as Beau, has just moved back to his Dad’s home in Forks, Wash., after his mom has re-married. To this point, he has spent most of his life in hot, sunny Phoenix, Ariz., and looks like a vampire because of a chronic inability țo tan. Forks, on the other hand, spends more time under cloud cover than any other place in North America.
Beau is… well, depressed is probably too strong a word. Melancholy, maybe? He’s also not too happy about being the center of attention at his new school. And, while everyone else is fascinated by him (due to being shiny and new, I guess, because there’s not a damn thing interesting about Beau), he’s fascinated by the Cullen and Hale foster kids. Edythe Cullen is by turns beautiful, rude, condescending, dismissive and completely cuckoo with the randomness of her actions toward poor Beau. In short, she’s lasagna for Garfield.
Beau starts noticing things about the table of painfully cool kids in the cafeteria at lunch: they don’t eat, they aren’t there on sunny days, and their golden eyes gradually darken toward almost black before being suddenly gold again.
Oh. Come. On. Do I really have to write a synopsis for this? Everyone knows the story by now. This is Twilight, with everyone except for Beau/Bella’s parents changing names and genders. WAIT. Isn’t there a movie about this already?
Pat: OH SWEET MERCIFUL JESUS I just thought of something: if Meyer continues this gender-bending experiment and takes it to its unnatural conclusion, that honeymoon night is going to be a shitshow. What’s the female equivalent of Popsicle dick? Ann Coulter?
Kat: And with that I’m done. How could I possibly top that? Just kidding. Actually, I find myself irritated by this whole gender swap thing even though it works better in some ways for the story. I find myself trying to keep track of who is really whom instead of paying attention to the story. If I were really able to read it with fresh eyes, this would not be an issue.
Pat: It also kind of goes off into a newish tangent after the first half; it’s not a complete word-for-word pronoun salad reproduction of the original. Beau has a better sense of humor, PG13ish language and no lip biting. Think of it as a Bizarro Clift Notes of the entire series. If you liked the original, you will pee your pants over this one. If you hold nothing but disdain and reproach for Meyer and her commitment to Sparklemotion, you may find this latest fauxstallment to be less irksome but you aren’t missing anything if you skip it.