Let’s Read Life and Death: Chapter Two

“All right, time to write about how this book is still incredibly boring.”

“How’s it selling? Is it on the NYT Best Sellers yet?”

“Ugh. I guess I’ll check.”

It isn’t. It barely broke sales rank 1300 on B&N, and it’s #65 on Amazon, and I found what is probably the perfect review:

ladreview

I should have listened to you, Anonymous. We all should have listened.

Open Book

It’s raining. It’s raining so much. Beau can’t sleep because the rain keeps him up. I still can’t figure this out. Is this a princess and the pea situation? Do you realize people spend money specifically for the privilege of falling asleep to rain sounds?

Beau goes to school and thinks about Edythe. Beau goes to lunch and thinks about Edythe. Beau talks to friends (he is actually remembering their names now) and thinks about Edythe. Edythe, of course, isn’t at school, because she was so overwhelmed with her need to murder and consume Beau that she had to take personal days to recover. I mean, we’ve all been there.

Beau goes grocery shopping. Charlie can’t cook. The vampires are so hot. Beau emails his mom. Oh my god, how did I make it through these books when I was an impatient, ill-tempered little so-and-so? Charlie likes the Cullens. It snows. Beau hates snow. oh my gooooddddd.

There are still incredible, bizarre word choices. More than general adverbs, this time around I’m noticing all the “as” and it’s driving me bonkers. Of course she’s using them as adverbs (this is Meyer we’re talking about) but it seems like the majority of the action happens as another bit of action is happening.

He hung up his gun belt and stepped out of his boots as I moved around the kitchen. As far as I was aware, he’d never shot the gun on the job. But he kept it ready. When I’d come here as a child, he would always remove the bullets as soon as he walked in the door.

Stop this. Stop it immediately.

We’ve also got two mentions of Beau being “OCD” about things, which is really starting to get on my f#$%ing nerves. I know and have lived with people who struggle with obsessive/compulsiveness, and seeing Meyer/Beau refer to organizing a cupboard as being “OCD” is a liiiittle insulting.

For some reason, Beau’s emails to Renee are formatted differently. I don’t know why this was something she turned her laser-like focus on, and not, like, fixing her janky damn tenses.

It was the longest speech I’d ever heard Charlie make. He must feel strongly about whatever people were saying.

This has happened more than once in just two chapters. Please pick a timeline. Don’t make me do a logic puzzle to find out which chronological perspective you’re using.

Speaking of logic puzzles, we get another clue as to how tall all the vamps are when Beau spots Royal (lol) and Eleanor outside the school:

He had to be a good two inches taller than even I was, but he only had a half-inch on her.

What the f#$%, why? Why can’t she just be the tallest?? I’m irrationally angry about this, perhaps, but especially after Edythe shrunk, it feels like an enormous amount of BS. I’m sure Jessamine is just a hair shorter than Archie now, too.

Anyway, things don’t pick up until Edythe inevitably comes back, and saying they “pick up” is a bit of an overstatement. They have their riveting “phases of mitosis” scene in science class. Nothing says clawing against the societal concept of premarital modesty like onion root tip cells. The two make stilted small talk over microscope slides. Any appeal Edythe had drains away considerably when she’s being nice to him, which doesn’t bode well for my “will I still be squicked out by the abuse” question at the beginning of the story. I really need her to be mean to him, or at least boss him around a little.

There are two strange things about this intensely boring scene–and I’ve only noticed now that I’ve gone to check the original source for alterations. One, we get a couple of paragraphs about how beautiful Edythe’s handwriting is–but Bella never noticed this about Edward in the original Twilight. I want to make a knee-jerk statement about how women are expected to have gorgeous handwriting but I’ve lost my fire after noticing that the stupid mitosis scene has, actually, been drastically changed.

In Twilight, Edward insists, “Ladies first.” Bella makes her observations and Edward then insists on checking them. Bella then checks his work, and I’m sure this is what passes for playful banter in a high school science classroom nowadays.

In Life and Death, Edythe insists, “Ladies first,” and she grabs the first slide. After she makes her observation, she challenges Beau to check it for her. There’s no back and forth–she checks a few slides and he thinks about how pretty her A’s are (seriously).

I guess what this means is no matter what, Ed is old-fashioned and unnecessarily aggressive. Given the Edythe spin, though, this means we have a small angry lady vampire who isn’t afraid to stand up for what she wants, so, I mean, of course I like her more than The Man is the Head of the Family Cullen.

It also means that Meyer had the time to change the scene in the science room, but literally couldn’t think of any other way to make it more compelling. I suppose the big-time fans will have noticed that this scene was flipped and probably really enjoyed that, but it leaves me feeling underwhelmed, to say the least.

Anyway, after the hot cell division action, Beau realizes Edythe’s “long” eyes are gold instead of black like they were at the beginning of the week, Edythe manages to wrestle out of Beau that he moved to keep his mom happy (childlike, helpless Renee), and school ends. Edythe still laughs at him when he almost rear-ends a Corolla.

Ladies First

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I forgot how boring Twilight is. There are a few places where I could easily manufacture some outrage (even beyond “Eleanor isn’t the tallest” and “that’s not how OCD works”), but mostly I just wanted this chapter to end. The urge to skip whole paragraphs is enormous. I can’t believe she had a chance to edit this thing and all she came up with was “the mitosis scene should be swapped” and “Edythe has nice handwriting.” I still have to suffer through Beau shopping, Beau playing volleyball, Beau worrying that girls might like him.

Here’s the thing about Beau, and by extension, Bella. These kids are profoundly depressed. This reads like someone with depression desperately trying to prove they’re doing just fine (“I went shopping and made dinner! Those aren’t things depressed people do!”). The problem is I can’t trust that this is what Meyer intended, because her writing style is more of the “hit you over the head with obvious cliches” type and less the “paint a subtle yet vivid picture” type. If Beau were meant to be depressed, we would have had pages and pages discussing it already. Instead, the narrative comes across as pointless and bland–a flopped attempt at “breathing life” into the setting. I have to read his minute by minute account of crap that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the story, and I have no idea why–I still have no idea why, and I don’t understand why Meyer thought any of it was vital and relevant on a second pass. My issue now is that so far Life and Death is five pages longer than Twilight, but overall about 40 pages shorter. Where the hell did she make her cuts?

That said, I’m still finding glimmers of hope in how potentially cool Edythe could be. This is the trap I fell into for most of my previous read of the series–hoping Meyer would eventually see the potential I did, and seize on it. Sadly, I never got my Alice-and-Jasper centric spinoff, and I never got to discover that the Cullen parents were seedy Stepford vamps, and I never got a single good thing out of the only female werewolf on the entire continent.

But Edythe could be cool. She could be assertive, unafraid, confident, and just really freaking cool. She could be the best of what fans saw in Edward, just in a smaller 😡 more feminine package. I could see a guy like Beau obsessing over a beautiful, self-assured woman with crazy superpowers–she’d basically be a goddess on earth!

What I’m afraid of is that changing pronouns and letting her go first sometimes isn’t going to be enough to redeem the dull psychoses of Edward Cullen. I’m afraid that Meyer decided “adheres to old-fashioned gender roles” really is an admirable trait in a love interest (chivalry isn’t what you thought it was), and I’m going to have to gnash my teeth through “Edythe insists that Beau drives” scenes.

Next chapter Edythe gets to save Beau from a crashing van (I hope–that may be too masculine for Meyer and maybe instead Edythe saves Beau from walking into class with a wrinkled shirt or something).

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