two-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
48-Sept-Oct-2010
user_rating: 
0

An Eclipse Novella

A-The Short Second LifeStephenie Meyer is the best-selling author of the teen human-vampire romance series, The Twilight Saga (2005–2008) (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn). Perhaps you’ve heard of it. This novella is a companion to Eclipse.

The Story: At the end of Eclipse, in which Bella, the series’ protagonist, negotiates her star-crossed love for the vampire Edward Cullen and the werewolf Jacob, Bree Tanner--a peripheral character who appears for only a few pages--is slaughtered and becomes a vampire "newborn." The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner explores Bree’s backstory against the darker side of the vampire world as Bree and the newborn army are deployed to destroy the Cullen clan. Bree, who experienced a poor, abusive childhood, finds that life hasn’t gotten much better in a shady Seattle flophouse, where she must negotiate teenage love and, of course, the bloody brutality of daily life.
Little, Brown. 178 pages. $13.99. ISBN: 9780316125581

Spectator (UK) 3 of 5 Stars
"The set-up--all yearning and good old-fashioned values--will be familiar to Meyers’s fans. ... Anyone interested to see why she’s such a sensation might prefer to read this short book than wade through the much bulkier Twilight volumes." Cressida Connolly

Times (UK) 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Bree’s teenage voice is convincing, but it is hard to sympathise with a wanton killer who feeds off human ‘dregs’ (prostitutes, the homeless), even if it is all a metaphor for teenage anger. As for the prose style--well, that was never the point of reading this series, so the Twihards won’t be disappointed." Nicolette Jones

Washington Post 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Bree and love interest Diego talk and act like real (undead) teens exploring a crush, as opposed to Edward and Bella’s pathological obsessi-love that defines the other novels. ... This, it turns out, is the problem. Fans do not come to Stephenie Meyer for reality." Monica Hesse

Salon.com 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Wanting to stretch beyond supernatural beings who endear themselves to us with their winning traits is a worthy goal, but for those accustomed to Cullens and Blacks, life as a real-life monster, I am sorry to report, seems dismal indeed. ... We’re relieved when the Cullens show up--not because we like them better, but because they’ve got the best story." Lizzie Skurnick

Guardian (UK) 1 of 5 Stars
"Bree is a thinly-disguised, bloodsucking version of Meyer’s first Twilight heroine, Bella Swan--geeky, dependent on males to protect her and think for her, and utterly devoid of black-hearted, kick-ass joie-de-vivre. ... Its few promising moments--Bree’s pleasure when no humans interrupt a special moment with Diego, because ‘all the screaming would have ruined the mood’, a chillingly thorough massacre of a whole ferry-load of people--are insufficient to redeem it from being woefully, leaden-footedly pedestrian throughout." Imogen Russell Williams

Telegraph (UK) 0.5 of 5 Stars
"This lack of suspense might have been mitigated by good writing or character development. ... This is a strange, chaotic, even tedious book, which you cannot read if you don’t know the series, and if you do know it, won’t enlighten you one bit." Philip Womack

Critical Summary

Even diehard fans of the Twilight Saga may wish to skip this one. Although Meyer adds some nice touches--the narrator is herself a vampire, for example--critics had few positive things to say about Bree’s life story. "Intelligent and gifted, Bella, Jacob and Edward are intrinsically glamorous to readers," Salon notes. "But Bree is PVT (poor vampire trash) and she knows it." While Bree could have been interesting, she’s less than the "wild, amoral, bloodthirsty teen protagonist" (Guardian) critics hoped to see; clunky prose and dialogue don’t help. Still, the Washington Post speaks for many readers: "The satisfaction of Twilight novels cannot be measured by such terms as ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ ... [A]ll fans will read and all haters will skip [this novella] regardless of the reviews."