Life and Death (Twilight, #1.75) – Stephenie Meyer

life-and-death-stephenie-meyerSource: Goodreads

Beaufort Swan has spent his whole life being a grown up, and he’s tired of it. His mom is finally set to get remarried, and his new stepdad wants to move the family from Arizona to Florida. Beau, recognizing that everything is already about to change, makes the decision to move in with his biological father in Washington state. His mom has someone to take care of her, and Beau will have a chance at being a normal high school junior.

Getting used to the never ending rain of Forks Township soon becomes the least of Beau’s worries, while making new friends and trying to figure out why his perfect-in-every-way lab partner seems to hate his guts quickly take priority, but some of the answers could cost him everything.

 

Stephenie Meyer celebrates the 10th anniversary of the first Twilight book by gender swapping and rewriting it. Many have even speculated that she did it because everyone complained so much about how the original Edward used and abused Bella, and she wanted to show that it had nothing to do with their genders, but with the fact that one of them was a vampire and one of them was a human. Life and Death was originally released with Twilight, packaged together as a 10th-anniversary edition. I didn’t really feel the need to own another copy of the first book, so I waited until Life and Death was released independently. I picked up a paperback copy at my local Barnes & Noble for about $10.

It was a little slow at the beginning, and I also had a hard time figuring out who was who, having read the books and seen the movies nearly six years ago now. As far the Twilight craze went, I was a bandwagoner. My friend Christine read the books as they came out and was really surprised when the craziness appeared out of nowhere just before the final book, Breaking Dawn was released and the first Twilight movie was announced. I remember the books sweeping through our Catholic high school like wildfire, just as The Hunger Games would do three years later. Suddenly everyone had read the books, and vampires were the cooler than The Jonas Brothers. But I digress.

Life and Death gender swaps everyone, even minor background characters, except for Charlie and Rene, Bella/Beau’s parents, because at the time of his/her birth, it would have been very unlikely for the father to get full custody, so it wouldn’t make logical sense for Beau to be moving to Forks to stay with a mom who should have had custody all along. Everyone’s names start with the same letter as their old name, in an attempt to make it easier to figure out who is who. Though Mike/McKayla was the only one I could pick out without any trouble.

While I can’t tell you how many times or where exactly the book started to veer from the original, I can tell you that it does veer quite a bit. (I guess that’s why they released them together?) Beau is significantly more clumsy, and fearless, wishing to be the adult in all of his familial relationships, and obsessively in love with Edythe (or maybe the obsessive love was just more apparent from the male perspective? Bella’s thoughts were relatively quiet in comparison) and this ultimately drives the story in new directions. The majority of the Cullens have only very small parts, and everything after the slow beginning moves almost too quickly, though you probably guessed that by the fact that this novel is shorter than Twilight.

Overall, I felt it was well done, despite the slow beginning and the character confusion, and I actually enjoyed the new ending. While Twilight could never have ended that way, it made perfect sense for Beau and Edythe’s story to end there. I think I will always love the original quartet more, but it was refreshing and unique to be able to take a book I really enjoyed and look at it from a new perspective. I felt that I was able to get into the characters’ heads in new ways, and maybe understand Meyer’s world a little more thoroughly. I just need a list of people with their male/female names so I can get all of the characters straight in my head. Just thinking about it hurts.

 

Curio Street Reads Rating: 3.75 Stars

Flashback Friday: Seattle, WA – October 2014

A year ago next week, I was getting on a plane to Seattle for a college broadcasting conference. At the age of 22, I was heading to the west coast for the first time. I was psyched to see the Pacific for the first time, but I was also a little nervous about my first real conference. Would everyone be dressed more formally than me? I didn’t have a suit then, so I just wore pencil skirts and dress shirts. I was pretty sure I was going to go stir crazy an hour into our six hour flight, so I packed some homework and a book to read. I was missing three days of class for this,  so I actually had quite a bit of work to do.

Atop the Space Needle
Atop the Space Needle

I was wrong about everything. Literally every little thing about the trip, I was wrong about it.

First of all, You can’t see the Pacific Ocean from the Seattle business district. It’s an island(?) or maybe a peninsula(?) in the middle of a bay, and there’s east and west Seattle on other islands/peninsulas on either side. So seeing the ocean was out because we didn’t have time to go all the way to the far side of west Seattle to see it.

Second, half of the people showed up in jeans. That’s broadcasters for you. Only the on-air-only people showed up in suits, and everyone was super nervous and mostly introverted, so we all chatted about our radio and television stations and exchanged business cards and never talked again. It felt like I was at a high school leadership conference to be honest. You could practically see the nerves floating through the air. But it was very educational, and everyone was friendly, even if they weren’t particularly outgoing.

On the way to Seattle.
On the way to Seattle.

Third, I was glued to the window of the plane for the entire flight. Clearly I had forgotten that this was only my second trip by plane, and that I hadn’t been to any of the states we were flying over. In the age of the internet it is easy to forget that we haven’t been to places that we’ve heard about and seen pictures of time and time again. I’m also a little obsessed with maps, and seeing all those mountains from 30,000 feet was AH-MAZING, so you could say that I was definitely not bored on the way there.

This is a LIBRARY. Coolest building ever. It was across the street form our hotel.
This is a LIBRARY. Coolest building ever. It was across the street form our hotel.

The conference was held at the Renaissance Marriott, which is flipping gorgeous and pretty expensive. We had to walk down a steep hill from the hotel to the waterfront as well as everywhere else, so of course we also had to walk back up the steep hill. I wouldn’t have packed heels if I’d known how hilly Seattle is. I remember thinking at the time that this must be what the people in San Francisco feel like, walking up and down hills all day long.

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I’ll spare you most of the boring details, but let’s just say that A) non-seafood dinners are hard to find at a reasonable price, at least without taking a taxi somewhere. B) The business district basically closes at 5pm, Pike Place Market included, so it took us three tries to get there while it was open but the fish throwing was very cool. C) It’s a much father walk to the Space Needle than you think, but the view is totally worth it, and the only McDonald’s we ever found was only a block or so away from it.

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Pike Place Market

I wish we’d had more time to explore, but we were there for the conference so we tried not to skip things. It was rainy the whole time we were there but it only actually rained on us the last night of our stay. Otherwise, the clouds parted whenever we left the hotel. It was pretty nice!

Coming into the Houston airport. SO lush!
Coming into the Houston airport. SO lush!

The flight back is actually a funny story. The friend I had flown out with had booked his tickets after me, and I guess I told him the flight I wanted to be on, but it had been blacked out for me, so we actually ended up on different flights home. His layover was in Denver and mine was in Houston. I left 30 minutes before him, but after an hour hold up in Houston because the plane had to be re-cleaned, I got back to New Jersey more than an hour after him. My dad was picking us up, so my poor friend had to chat with him until I got there. Not that my dad is bad. He’s pretty awesome actually, it’s just that the two of them had never met before and I wasn’t there to introduce them. My flights were pretty great though. I was really surprised by how green the Houston area was! (I’ve literally always pictured Arizona as a red-ish, rocky desert and Texas as a more yellowy-tan desert… I grew up watching a lot of westerns.) It’s really nice there, and I’d like to go back someday and actually leave the airport this time.

I finally had time to read my book on the flight back. The book, unsurprisingly, was Nicholas Sparks’ The Best of Me. I tend to pick up Nicholas Sparks when I’m in an airport, okay? I don’t know why. So, I was halfway through the book and nothing much had happened yet when I got on the plane in Houston. This nice couple in their 50’s or 60’s sat next to me. And then I got to all the sad parts… I should probably explain that I’m a crier. I cry for everything. Sad commercial? crying. Friend’s dog dies? tears. Sad movie? bawling. My own pet dies? bedridden for most of the day. So, sad books get me. Every time. And everyone knows that Nicholas Sparks likes to twist the endings of his books and make the reader bawl their eyes out. Only, I had zero tissues. So I sat there blubbering until the lady next to me basically adopted me and had the stewardess bring me a stack of napkins. She also kept checking on me to see if I wanted any food or a drink or anything throughout the flight. She was nice. That book was not.

By the time I got back to New Jersey it was one in the morning and my flight was 2 hours late. My poor friend had parked his car at my house and still had to drive home after got there. I learned a lot of lessons on that trip, not the least of which was to do extensive research on where you are going before you get there and get completely lost. Lucky me that I have pretty decent directional skills or we might not have made it back to the hotel. Cell phone map apps are so not helpful if you don’t know which way is north, by the way.

Check out some more pictures from my trip below, and let me know on Twitter if you’ve ever been totally wrong about a place you’ve visited!

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Sunshine in Seattle
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Skyline from the waterfront
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Waterfront from Pike Place Market
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Seattle Skyline from the Space Needle
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A totem pole down by the waterfront
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Another totem pole we found down town
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Somewhere over the western U.S.

Until next time,

Amanda