Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner review/aka Stephenie Meyer has redeemed herself


Yesterday, I picked up a copy of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. At first, I thought this was just a money grab for SM, trying to capitalize even more off the popularity of the franchise, but then I saw that she was going to post it online in its entirety for free, and also donate a portion of the proceeds from the book purchase to the Red Cross. That, combined with the fact that I am a Twilight nerd, prompted me to go to Borders at midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning to pick up a copy as soon as it became available.

Even though I'm addicted to the series, I have several complaints about it. With the series as a whole, I really felt like Bella's character did not develop very well. Her character felt a little flat to me. It's like, I get it, she's a clumsy, awkward teenager. I get it. She finds Edward attractive, but does she have to mention how gorgeous he is, every single time she sees him? Furthermore, she is willing to give up everything and everyone she has in her life, and possibly her soul, to marry and have hot vampire sex with a guy she has only known a few months. She is needy and clingy and the exact opposite of a role model. Edward is not much better. He is jealous and possesive and quite immature to be over 100 years old.

Carlisle, Esme, and the rest of the Cullens (with perhaps the exception of Rosalie) seem much more human than Bella ever did. I love their family, and I like the Quileutes too.

The conclusion of the Twilight Saga left much to be desired. In the end, needy, clingy Bella gets everything she wants: her hot vampire husband, immortality, her perfect family, a house, a fancy car and clothes, AND a child!!! Which vampires aren't even supposed to have. Breaking Dawn builds up to a climax and then falls flat. Bella has learned nothing from everything that has happened, except perhaps that it is possible for her to love someone as much or more than Edward (Renesmee). She ends up as a vain version of her former self.

And then there's Bree.

Not much is known about Bree Tanner, as the book begins after she has already been a newborn vampire for about three months. She was a runaway, about fifteen years old, and living on the streets of Seattle. She ran away from home to escape an abusive father and was lured by vampire Riley, who offered her a cheeseburger. She had been dumpster diving for a while and fell for it. She was turned into a vampire, along with about twenty other young people, locked in a house during the day, and left to run free through the streets of Seattle and murder innocents in fits of bloodlust.

She befriends Diego, a fellow newborn (he's been a vampire for about a year). They develop a friendship that develops to a crush level. Together, they find out that their leader, Riley, has been lying to them in order to control them all and build an army for sinister purposes. They try to devise a plan to escape after they find out that it's OK for them to be outside in the daytime. Diego still trusts Riley and wants to confront him. Bree doesn't hear from him in a while and Riley leads her to believe that he is off, doing recon work or something like that. She is naive and trusting, knowing very little about vampire life, as she has been kept in the dark, both figuratively and literally.

Eventually, Bree finds out that Diego, her only true friend since she was turned, was murdered by Riley for knowing too much about their true nature. Bree ends up in the war against the Cullens. She had been misled into thinking the Cullens were evil as well, and that it was basically a turf war for the blood of the people of Seattle (more lies from Riley). The rest of the newborn army is murdered, including Riley and Victoria, and Bree is taken hostage. The Cullens have offered to take in Bree as part of their family. By this point, Bree knows that Diego was murdered and that she was tricked into fighting against the Cullens and Bella, who are innocents. She has nothing left. She wants to die. Even though the Cullens offer to take her in, the Volturi decide she must be killed. In the end she does die. Prior to her death, however, she tells Edward (via his telepathy) that the Volturi have been plotting against his family and were behind the attack. By doing this, she redeems herself.

I knew from the beginning the outcome of the story. What I didn't expect was that SM would create a character that I would become so interested in, in 200 pages, that had more depth than other characters in which she has written over 2000 pages about. This book has gore and violence, what you expect from vampire books, but that's not the only reason I liked it so much. Even though so few details were provided, I felt like I knew Bree. She was a very unlikely hero. It didn't have the "happy ending," but I liked that too, because that's not how life works.

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