The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Book Review
Title: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: June 5, 2010
Pages: 192
ISBN-10: 031612558X
ISBN-13: 978-0316125581
Stars: 3.0

I’m a big fan of author Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga and devoured all four books in that series with distinct pleasure, raving about them to those who would listen. When I heard that Meyer had released an Eclipse novella called The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, I knew I wanted to read it. While the Twilight Saga is definitely a literary phenomenon, this short story about the minor character of newborn vampire Bree Tanner, seems superfluous at best. I barely remembered Bree from Eclipse and probably would have forgotten her altogether if I hadn’t just seen the movie Eclipse a couple of weeks ago. I suspect that it’s no coincidence that Bree’s novella was released last month, just before the theatrical release of Eclipse, particularly since Meyer allowed director David Slade and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and a few of the actors to read a draft of the novella during the production of the movie.

I read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner in one sitting and while I enjoyed the story and thought it was fun to take a closer look at this character as well as the characters of Riley, Diego and Freaky Fred, I don’t feel that it’s a must read for Twilight fans. They won’t gain much insight into the series by reading this novella and this is not a romantic novel by any stretch of the imagination.

In The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner we are privy to Bree’s experience as a newborn and the suspense that builds amongst all of Victoria’s secret newborn army as they prepare to attack Bella Swan and the Cullens. Victoria, herself, is alluded to in this novella but only mentioned by name once and the Volturi have only a shadowy presence as well. We know 15-year-old Bree’s fate at the beginning of the book, so there are absolutely no surprises within it.

“As part of the larger publishing release, one dollar from each physical book sold will be donated to the American Red Cross,” so that may be reason enough to buy it, and at a retail price of CDN$16.99, it’s affordable. However, if you’re a Twilight fan who is pinching her pennies, don’t bother with the Bree Tanner novella because you’re not missing out on much.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn

Book Review
Title: Breaking Dawn
Author:  Stephenie Meyers
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: August 2, 2008
Pages: 768
ISBN 10 – 031606792X
ISBN 13 – 978-0316067928
Stars:  4.0

I read Stephenie Meyer’s mega-bestselling Twilight and New Moon last year, and then like millions of others, went to see the movie Twilight upon its release. It’s embarrassing to admit as a 45-year-old woman, but Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of Edward Cullen jammed my radar for days! He truly is supernaturally beautiful as Edward and Kristen Stewart’s uncomfortable, awkward, worried, and accident-prone but beautiful Isabella Swan is an equally perfect depiction of Meyer’s “Bella.”

The Twilight saga is a worldwide phenomenon (as of February 2009, over 28 million copies had been sold!) that made author Stephenie Meyer a superstar in her own right, and she deserves every bit of her success, as did J. K. Rowling before her. They have both created unforgettable characters that we care about so much that they feel like family, and their stories are set against the most magical backdrops imaginable. They transport us out of our dreary, mundane, mortal lives to a place where absolutely ANYTHING can happen and remind us why we have an imagination.

I completely understand the appeal of the Twilight series. A contemporary story (inspired by a dream) in which the writing flows effortlessly, the character development is superb, and the characters bring to life every human emotion imaginable; in particular, young love and its all-encompassing allure. This is not a vampire/horror novel in the archetypal sense (Meyer’s main vampire characters don’t feed on human blood and live in peace among the humans of Forks, Washington), it’s a romance inspired by classics like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. Anyone who is a fan of true love cannot help but be completely mesmerized by Bella and Edward’s story.

My favourites of Meyer’s books are Twilight and Breaking Dawn because I am more interested in Bella and Edward than I am in Jacob. New Moon just didn’t have enough Edward in it for my taste. I found the relationship turmoil between Jacob and Bella in Eclipse to be a bit overblown at times, and some of the dialogue between them was almost nauseating (I thought if Bella apologizes one more time, I’m going to scream!), but I understood its importance in the grand scheme of things. I just finished reading Eclipse and while I enjoyed it thoroughly, I couldn’t wait for what I was sure to discover in Breaking Dawn, and I picked it up right away and continued reading.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an hour-long discussion with my best friend’s 12-year-old son, Jacob, who is a huge fan of the books. Jacob is an exceptional child (whose favourite character is Jacob Black), and he had read all four books within a week! I was amazed that he could remember the story in vivid detail and quote the last line of Breaking Dawn word for word! I didn’t mind in the least that he confirmed the outcome for me before I read it. He told me that Breaking Dawn has at least six major surprises in it, and it does—even though I’d already guessed most of them, there was a big surprise I hadn’t considered! The book made me sigh heavily more than once. This is the epitome of fairy tales!

“A very, very small part of my head considered the interesting conundrum presented in this situation. I was never going to get tired, and neither was he. We didn’t have to catch our breath or rest or eat or even use the bathroom; we had no more mundane human needs. He had the most beautiful, perfect body in the world, and I had him all to myself, and it didn’t feel like I was ever going to find a point where I would think, Now I’ve had enough for one day. I was always going to want more. And the day was never going to end. So, in such a situation, how did we ever stop?

It didn’t bother me at all that I had no answer.”

See what I mean?

I languished over and savoured every chapter of Breaking Dawn, stretching it out for as long as I could. As an adult, I was quite disappointed with the scene in which Bella and Edward finally physically consummate their love as it translated to something you’d see on network television—a passionate kiss, followed by a fade to black, and the next morning the couple are in bed together with their clothes on and everything that happened between them is assumed. (I wasn’t surprised to discover that Meyer comes from a Mormon family.) However, the last few chapters were incredibly intense, suspenseful, and had me hanging onto every word. I won’t give away the story or its surprises, but I will say that its elemental themes are love (in all its forms) family, loyalty, and living in peace with tolerance for those who are different. If you’re a fan of vampire or werewolf/shapeshifter stories or simply a great, adventurous romance with a huge heart, this series is definitely for you.

Most members of the Cullen family are an integral part of the story: Carlisle, Rosalie, Jasper and particularly, Alice, who is my favourite character after Edward and Bella. Although Esme and Emmett didn’t play quite as large a part, you cannot imagine the Cullen family without them. Jacob’s steadfast loyalty, as well as the collective allegiance of his wolf pack (Seth is the most obvious), is equally important. The addition of many different vampire covens from all over the world in Breaking Dawn added to the intrigue of the tale, and the fear of their confrontation with the Volturi ancients was palpable.

There is plenty of room for more vampire and werewolf stories when this one concludes, and I know I will read every book that Stephenie Meyer writes. I didn’t want Breaking Dawn to end. Meyer says it’s the last book of the Twilight saga written from Bella’s perspective. She was working on Midnight Sun, which was to be Twilight from Edward’s perspective, but due to an unfortunate leak of a draft copy on the Internet, it remains to be seen whether the book will ever see the light of day. [Note: the book was published in 2020 and is available on Amazon.]

No matter what Stephenie Meyer chooses to write for her next book, it will undoubtedly be another bestseller. Although she admits she’s still an amateur writer in her mind, she should have a very long career in which to evolve into an expert.