Currently Reading: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

I didn't want to speak up and draw attention, but I wished somebody would decide something. I was really thirsty, and I didn't care much whether we went right or left over the roof. I just wanted to find some unlucky people who wouldn't even have enough time to think wrong place, wrong time.

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Synopsis: The title says most of it—Bree, the young 'newborn' vampire murdered by the Volturi in Eclipse, tells her post-vampirism story.

Notes: First, the negative. I can list off a number of reader-friends who will not want to read this book, mostly because either a) they find vampire novels too dark (and even people who did not find Twilight particularly dark—I didn't—will feel that way about Bree Tanner) or b) they don't like Stephenie Meyer's writing (more on that later.)

It was dark. A heck of a lot of people die in this book, and the non-vegetarian vampire's first-person perspective was awfully blasé about it. That made sense, character-wise, but it sure felt weird to read.

My primary problem with it, however, apart from a personal dislike of extreme violence in fiction, was that it blasted some holes in Meyer's own canon. Certain conversations in Breaking Dawn just don't logically coexist with events in Bree Tanner. As a writer myself, I can only be so harsh on canon failures; after a couple of major revisions, it gets hard to remember things like what got struck from an earlier draft, what you thought about changing and didn't, what you included on a whim and may or may not have gone back to remove. I totally understand. That, unfortunately, doesn't make the reader's experience easier.

But I didn't hate the book. A lot of people find Meyer an unbearable writer, either for her pedestrian and sometimes repetitive prose, or for her tendency to miss out on scope (I've heard the Cullens' car choices criticized, for instance—BMWs and Porsches apparently aren't the ultimate in the automotive world). I enjoy her, though; she's an emotive writer with a talent for suspense, and somewhere behind the slightly overpowering glitter of Edward and his world, her instincts are good. She gets at a place in the heart where some of the deepest longings and coldest fears come from.

Bree's progression back toward humanity interested me, and though it felt like a tale of interrupted repentance—ending Bree's life before she could become a Cullen—it leaves the reader with something to hold onto. The world isn't completely meaningless. There is value in being something more than selfish, and even a monster can choose rightly, moving toward a more human and loving existence.

For me, there was hope that after the end, the murdered Bree opens her eyes to peace and freedom from her painful thirst, and perhaps even to Diego and his secret handshake. I think Diego looked forward to that when he gave Riley the message for Bree. Diego, after all, also sought the light of truth.

Recommendation: Read it in broad daylight. And you might want to stay off the Washington State ferries for awhile afterward.


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