Stephenie Meyer Undermines the Heart of This Whole Venture Before it Even Begins: Life and Death’s Letter to the Readers/Forward

Posted on November 5, 2015 by

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I'm in denial too! It's cool!

What is this, you ask? Two posts on a Thursday? AND we had two posts yesterday (if you’ve missed them, you can see our plans for reading Life and Death and some polls about the Goodreads Choice Awards)!

Basically we really wanted to write about Meyer’s letter to the readers and her forward, but we didn’t want it to make our posts on the first few chapters even longer. So here’s an entire post about the foreword. Just the foreword. You’re welcome.

Ariel says:

I only have one thing to note about her letter, but it made me furious:

To celebrate this milestone, I’ve created some new bonus material to add to your enjoyment of the world of Twilight. (In typical Stephenie Meyer form, the bonus material is actually longer than Twilight.)

OH COME ON, DUDE. THIS WAS A TARGETED ATTACK, WASN’T IT?

The forward is actually where I really want to draw our attention.

I know there is going to be a lot of wailing and teeth gnashing because this new bonus material is (A) not entirely new, but mostly (B) not Midnight Sun. (If you are worried that I don’t understand your pain quite enough, let me assure you that my mother has made it abundantly clear.) I will explain how this came about, and hopefully that will make things, if not better, at least understandable.

I have loved a lot of books in my life, but I have never been in pain or gnashed my teeth because I wasn’t getting the same story from someone else’s point of view. Like I already know Edward was conflicted about Bella and tried to stay away. I already know he watched her when she slept and probably thought thoughts about that. Even if I loved Twilight to bits and pieces, I don’t get why people give so much of a shit? If Meyer is apologizing that the gender-swap doesn’t have a lot of new material… well neither would Midnight Sun, really.

A very short time ago, my agent approached me and asked if there was anything I could do for the tenth-anniversary rerelease of Twilight. The publisher was looking for a foreword of some kind, a “happy anniversary” letter thing. It seemed… well, to be honest, really boring. What could I say that would be fun and exciting? Nothing. So I thought about other things I could do, and if it makes you feel better, Midnight Sun did come up. The problem was time—as in, there wasn’t any. Certainly not enough to write a novel, or even half of one.

If EL James could throw together Grey, I presume while she was sitting on the toilet, than you could have put together Midnight Sun within ten fucking years, Meyer. Think of better excuses.

Anyway, the most important things to keep in mind are what Meyer said she changes in the book:

• 5% of the changes I made were because Beau is a boy.

• 5% of the changes were because Beau’s personality developed just slightly differently than Bella’s. The biggest variations are that he’s more OCD, he’s not nearly so flowery with his words and thoughts, and he’s not as angry—he’s totally missing the chip Bella carries around on her shoulder all the time.

I don’t remember this chip Bella supposedly carries at all…please remind me if you remember?

• 70% of the changes I made were because I was allowed to do a new editing run ten years later. I got to fix almost every word that has bothered me since the book was printed, and it was glorious.

What the fuck! THIS IS NOT A CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT THEN, DUDE. If you are trying to prove to us that all the accusations about Twilight being sexist are false by gender-swapping it and keeping the story the same, than this just completely fucks with this. Are the changes because you’re trying to make things sound better or because of the gender-swap? NOT COOL.

• 10% were things that I wished I had done the first time around but that hadn’t occurred to me at the time. That might sound like the same thing as the preceding category, but it’s slightly different. This isn’t a case of a word that sounds clunky or awkward. This is an idea that I wish had been explored earlier, or conversations that should have happened but didn’t.

Okay, cool, but then don’t try to act like this is definitive proof that things would have been the same without the gender-swap. Just don’t make that claim.

• 5% were mythology issues—mistakes, actually—mostly related to visions. As I continued into the sequels to Twilight—and even Midnight Sun, where I got to look inside Alice’s head with Edward—the way Alice’s visions worked was refined. It’s more mystical in Twilight, and looking at it now, there are ways she should have been involved and wasn’t. Whoops!

See above.

This comes into play a lot in the first couple chapters and I imagine will continue to do so throughout. What do you guys think about this? Is it fair? Unfair?

Matthew says:

Ariel makes a good point about controlled experiments that really appeal to the half of me that was a biology major back in college, but I’m kind of not as bothered about the same specific parts that she is. I guess let Meyer tweak some content that she’s felt less than great about in the ten years since she wrote it? Fair enough. I despise stuff I wrote like three years ago. So, sure, why not.

But here’s the part of the foreword where I did start groaning loudly and then had to explain to my friends in the coffee shop we were in what exactly I was working on. As you know, Stephanie Meyer takes some time to spell out that this rewrite literally only exists because of a decade of people telling her that her book is sorta regressive and full of systemic sexism.

You know, Bella has always gotten a lot of censure for getting rescued on multiple occasions, and people have complained about her being a typical damsel in distress. My answer to that has always been that Bella is a human in distress

I mean, in terms of well-founded arguments, this is basically the vampire young adult version of that person in every comment section on the internet going, “The problem with feminism is that it should really be humanism!”, like the fact that a thing is applicable to everyone somehow negates that it disproportionately affects specific demographics of people. But then again, it is just a silly book about teenagers and love and also supernatural escapism. How flawed could this theory be, really?

I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and the vampire female— it’s still the same story. Gender and species aside, Twilight has always been a story about the magic and obsession and frenzy of first love.
So I thought to myself, Well, what if I put that theory to the test? That might be fun. […] It turns out that there isn’t much difference at all between a female human in love with a male vampire and a male human in love with a female vampire.

And one would hope. And it would be lovely to draw the conclusion that the way we love ultimately isn’t gendered. But, of course, Meyer immediately (and unconsciously) reveals that she doesn’t really believe this.

There are many more changes in the writing than were necessitated by Beau’s status as a male person

But… but… literally everything you just wrote!

• 5% of the changes I made were because Beau is a boy.
• 5% of the changes were because Beau’s personality developed just slightly differently than Bella’s. The biggest variations are that he’s more OCD, he’s not nearly so flowery with his words and thoughts, and he’s not as angry

What just happened? There’s a foreword where Stephanie Meyer all but goes, “Here is Twilight, but with the genders swapped, to prove that this is the same story regardless of gender constructs”. BUT THEN she goes on to explain that she made changes to the story because she swapped the genders. So. Uh. The… The entire thesis – the entire point – is negated. From page one.

In other words, Life and Death is trying to be the picture on the right, but somehow still thinks it looks like the picture on the left.

In other words, Life and Death is trying to be the picture on the right, but somehow still thinks it looks like the picture on the left.

So now that we’ve spent 1400 words talking about just the foreword, let us go to chapter one of Twilight: Life and Death.

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