I first found out about this book through a meme, a funny, ridiculous meme that switched Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s faces, and ridiculed the idea of a male ‘Bella’ and a female ‘Edward.’
It was funny. I laughed. However, I knew that I was going to read the book, because all those years ago, after I first discovered Stephanie Meyer, I tore through the Twilight series and came out with a desperate hunger to read anything else by her. I read The Host, stayed away from the unedited copy of Midnight Sun, and I have been waiting ever since, for anything!
So I guess I am the target market for this book, a willing, eager, hungry target market. I bought the book, ignored all the negative reviews and started reading, and right there in the second paragraph…
“I stared across the long room, into the dark eyes of the hunter, and SHE looked pleasantly back at me.”
I knew I already loved it.
Beaufort ‘Beau’ Swan is the awkward Arizona transplant, trying to adapt to life in Forks, with his taciturn police chief father. He has to adapt to a new school, make new friends, and through his eyes, we reprise the first sighting of the most beautiful family in vampire fiction. Yes, the Cullen’s, but instead of the Cullen’s as we know them, this is what we have now.
Edythe Cullen – Bronze haired, small framed, beautiful.
Eleanor Cullen – Dark Curly hair, tall and strong.
Jessamine Hale – Honey colored hair, not so tall as the brunette, intense and edgy.
Archie Cullen – Short guy, hair buzzed so short, it a shadow across his scalp.
Royal Hale – Straight gold hair, athletic, incredibly handsome.
I guess this might be the most confusing part of this book, trying to reimagine the Cullens. It was for me, but I got used to it. In case you haven’t, here goes.
Edythe is Edward
Eleanor is Emmett
Jessamine is Jasper
Archie is Alice
Royal is Rosalie.
Dr. Carlyle and Esme Cullen are also replaced by Dr. Carine and Earnest Cullen.
I loved the description of Royal and Eleanor, and I think I liked them much more than I did Rosalie and Emmett. They sound formidable. I could never really get an image in my head for Jessamine, and it was impossible to imagine Archie as anything other than Alice (Ashley Greene). The other character transpositions are along the same lines. The Quileute wolf pack and all the other main characters from the tribe are women. The students too, with Mike Newton becoming McKayla.
Back to the story, most of the events and action are the same, with little additions and changes. Beau is a really likable guy, and Meyer makes a real effort to make the male angle retelling convincing, while maintaining Edythe’s dominance both in physical strength and confidence. When Beau gets nauseous because of the blood in the biology class, he covers it up with humor, a really guy thing to do.
“I have a weak vasovagal system,” I muttered. “It’s just a neurally mediated syncope.”
There’s also a funny tongue-in-cheek reference to the theme of this retelling, when Beau tries to object as Edythe pays for his meal, and she says…
“Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles.”
The love story is as sweet and tender as I remember from reading Twilight, and Stephanie Meyer gives us a bonus by putting in a little twist at the end. It was unexpected, surprising, it hurt, because yes, I am attached to the original story, but it totally made sense.
I loved reading this book. The gender swaps were interesting, but the best part is that it IS still Twilight, the story we’ve loved since we first read it. That being said, I have some observations about the bigger picture surrounding the publication of this book.
Stephenie Meyer wrote this book not only as a gift to her more loyal readers (like yours truly), but also as a response to people who had criticized Twilight because according to them, Bella was portrayed as a weak female. What I learned is that people love to criticize and condemn, even when you give them, like in this case, exactly what they claimed to want, they will still criticize and condemn.
I also learned that I’m very traditional when it comes to romance. I thought Beau was sweet and all, but I’m one of those who will always choose an Edward, at least in the fictional world.
So if you love Twilight and you haven’t read this book because of what some people are saying, my own two cents is this. Read it. I loved it, you probably will too.