When is a new book not a new book?

When it’s the same old story, just changed.

By now, everyone has heard the “big” new from the Twilight world, right?

Stephenie Meyer has chosen a somewhat odd way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Twilight‘s publication: A rewritten version of the story, supposedly exactly the same as the original, but with all the genders swapped. So Bella becomes Beau, and Edward becomes Edythe… and I think supposedly she’s trying to prove everyone wrong who talked about Bella being a weak female?



According to Goodreads:

Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer.

Packaged as an oversize, jacketed hardcover “flip book,” this edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes.

And from an article on PopSugar:

Part of the reason for the gender swap is that Meyer wants to prove that the character of Bella isn’t a “damsel in distress,” which is a commonly criticized element from the first book. She has also corrected some grammatical issues and word choices and altered some of the mythology for consistency.

I guess the “new” human character, Beau, will be sleep-stalked by Edythe and will find himself the weak, fragile one surrounded by a surreally beautifully undead family of vegetarian vampires. Yay, progress? Or something. (And maybe those grammatical issues and word choices could have been fixed without making fans buy an entirely new book?)

The book is 752 pages (!!!), and contains BOTH the original Twilight novel and the “new” version… and retails for $21.99 (Amazon lists it at $13.53). As of this moment, Life and Death is listed as the #1 bestselling book on Amazon.

Can anyone say “money grab”? Doesn’t Stephenie Meyer already have all the money?

I don’t know. This concept strikes me as utterly ridiculous, but then again, I’m not a die-hard fan of the original. (Yes, I read them all… and waited for the midnight release of the 4th book — but time passes and gives us the breathing space to reassess whether what we binge-read was actually, you know, good.)

I loved this piece on io9, which is mostly snarky but brings up some more serious points too. A snippet of snark:

Meyer says that writing this version was “fun, but also really fast and easy.” She totally used search and replace for the names, didn’t she?

News about this “reimagining” is all over the interwebs. Here are a few to check out:

This Tweet pretty much sums up my initial reaction to the Twilight news:

Does anyone actually plan on reading this? I don’t… although now that I’ve put together this post, maybe I should check it out. You know, for research purposes.

What do you think? Do you find the idea of a gender-swapped Twilight interesting — or is this a lame attempt to further cash in on a craze that we just wish would die already?

27 thoughts on “When is a new book not a new book?

  1. I don’t think I will end up buying this book or reading it. Although I was a fan of the Twilight series, I don’t think I want to re-read it with the gender swapped, especially since it’s the same thing.

    • Nope. Although I admit that I’m a teeny bit curious about whether anything changes plotwise. I’ll just have to ask a friend who’s a total TwiHard — I’m sure she’ll be reading it!

  2. I doubt I’ll ever read it or buy it. I mean, despite not liking them, I did read all four books, years ago. When I got on Twitter yesterday and saw everyone freaking out about it and running to buy it, I just didn’t understand? I saw plenty of posts that went along the lines of “but Twilight changed the YA genre!!!! If you don’t like it, don’t say anything about” or “don’t go around hating on a thing someone else loves” etc. And all I could think was, she pretty much wrote fan fiction for her one claim to fame. It just bothers me so much that this is the face of YA when there are books and writers 100000x better out there. Who are changing the YA genre, but no one seems to care about.

    • I agree, if we want to talk about the authors who’ve truly made a difference in YA fiction, I wouldn’t put her on the list! Being skeptical about this new book isn’t hating on Twilight (usually), just questioning why this is even necessary. But I suppose there will always be people who will read everything even possibly connected with that world.

  3. I had much the same reaction as you did. I did read the books when they first came out and enjoyed them. Also looking back I see the flaws and am not as interested in them. But this just seems to be like a way to take people’s money. It just seems to easy to do, there isn’t that much difference from what I hear. It would be nice to see her spend her time writing some new and original instead.

    • Ha, yes — might be fun to go through with a highlighter and mark everything that’s different than the original. (Not that I’d spend my time on that…) I wonder if the ending scene still takes place in a dance studio — or is she going to substitute in something more “masculine” than ballet?

    • I can’t see really reading it, but I suppose if I found a copy at the library, I might flip through it to see if anything more substantial than the names have changed.

  4. I hate to be mean or cynical, but this looks like a money grab. She wanted to publish the version that was “Twilight from Edward’s POV” years ago and didn’t do it because parts were leaked. So then we got “Fifty Shades of Gray from another POV” and Meyer and her author saw that people were still totally willing to buy what was essentially the exact same book and came up with this gender-swapped thing. If it wasn’t about the money, Meyer could donate the proceed to charity or post it free online or something because I bet it totally was “fast and easy” to write.

    I also don’t buy into this being some profound statement about Bella’s not being a wimpy damsel in distress. Meyer was trying to frame the situation as if Bella was only comparatively weak because she was surrounded by people with “superpowers.” But the warped power dynamics in Edward’s and Bella’s relationship have nothing to do with who is or is not a vampire. The stalking, controlling behavior and Bella’s utter reliance on Edward for emotional stability can happen to two normal humans–and that’s exactly everyone’s problem with it.

    • Agree completely, both about the money side of things and the Edward/Bella dynamic. I always felt like telling teen girls that this kind of behavior is not romantic, and it’s not a good idea to (literally) throw your life away for the boy you meet in high school!

  5. Ha, when I heard about it, I was totally thinking that she just used search and replace for the names and then slapped it together with the old one and BAM! New book. This smells of a pathetic attempt to get more money. She is obviously out of ideas, so she wants to capitalize on all the Twilight fans. I actually loved the series when it first came out, but I probably wouldn’t love it as much if I read it again today.

    • I know what you mean. I was so sucked into the 1st book when I read it… but later on, I could stop and think about all the things that made no sense whatsoever.

  6. Ooooh there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this “new” book. Twilight was also a series I binge-read when I was younger and won’t pick up again. I never liked Bella’s character so I thought it’s ridiculous that her damsel-in-distress situation was the only problem the author identified XD I mean, no one probably even remembers this “situation” before the author mentioned it. I think it would have been better if she wrote a new short story about any of the characters after the events of Breaking Dawn.

    And for goodness’ sake, Beau? ROFL.

  7. I enjoyed the series. I read it twice, own the boxed set, and will probably read it again. He probably doesn’t want me to tell people this, but my husband even read the whole series. What I don’t get is how this is a celebration of the 10th anniversary? For the fans? While I will admit Bella is not the strongest female character in YA (by a longshot), I still enjoyed the story. So presumably, other fans are not really the critics she’s trying to make a statement to. They might buy it anyway, but I think the people who already like the series, aren’t really the ones she’s trying to make her point to. But really, are the people who hate on this book going to buy this “new” version just because the genders were swapped? I seriously doubt that.

    • Oh, for sure the haters won’t buy it! But I think you’re right – I can’t imagine who the audience would really be. (Then again, someone’s buying it, since it’s Amazon’s top seller!) My friends who are serious Twilight fans have already told me they have no interest in reading this. They pretty much feel that it’s just as it should be already and don’t think changing the story will enhance it at all.

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