The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I know what you are all thinking: he’s reviewing a Stephanie Meyer book! A Twilight book! Well actually a novella, to be more precise, but I know, I know. I suppose this would be the moment to confess that I’ve read all the other four Twilight books, and though I didn’t exactly enjoy them (not at all really) I felt the compulsion to read them, if only to be as informed as possible about what is probably the bestselling paranormal series of all time. The other books, especially the first and second, were riddled with flaws, so much so that they were really only shells of books. Then again, I am certainly not Meyer’s target audience, hence why I wasn’t won over like every single teenage girl that ever set eyes on Meyer’s writing. But, having worked my way through the toughest bit, the four main novels, I thought: what the hell, what is novella to me anyways? so I went ahead and read it. While it clearly didn’t work any miracles on my general opinion of the series, I can see how fans of Meyer’s series would appreciate this 180-page return to the world of Twilight.
Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood…life before she became a vampire.
All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or dies. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.
Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as her. As they come to realize that anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?
Meyer has chosen the most bizarre of structures for her novella: the entire thing is one body of text, with paragraphs of course, but nothing else. No chapters, no breaks in narrative, etc. At first glance, this wasn’t anything that excited me, not that I was terribly psyched about reading the book in the first place. But it turns out it’s not too bad. It sacrifices any dramatic tension or any advantage a narrative respite might bring but benefits from an extremely steady pacing and development. It’s also tiring; all texts need some time to breathe. And I also need a convenient place to stop reading every once in a while. But if you’re like me that won’t be a problem as I read the thing in just about two sittings, in the same day, so if you decide to give this a go you won’t be wasting much of your time.
The story is everything you expect it to be. If you’re a fan that means a great deal of captivating insight on the Seattle vampire army from Eclipse, if you’re not then that means a bit of a long-winded tale about an overly emotional vampire. In any case, it’s readable and I even found myself interested in what was happening, though certainly not through the entire book. I did enjoy the beginning bits of the story, the hunting and the vampires-discovering-themselves bits but after that things took a turn for the worst, in my non-fan opinion, as Bree went a little too Bella-like on us about her relationship with Diego, a relationship that develops in an unbelievably short amount of time and amounts to no more than Bree worrying about Diego. Then that last act is a bit of a disappointment (though of course I wasn’t disappointed,seeing as I went in with zero expectations) with a hastily done vampire battle. I’m thinking a battle between immortal superhumans could redeem much of what was bad in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, but here Meyer restricts herself too much in Bree’s first person point of view, leaving us to see only minimal portions of the action.
Ultimately, even if you’re a fan, in no condition will The Short Second Life of Bree
Tanner have any lasting effects. Since it is set before the last book in the Twilight Series, Breaking Dawn, it has no repercussions on the main arc of the series and so will only serve to entertain. Novellas are often useful to test the waters about a certain author or series but this one wouldn’t be a good way to get in on Twilight and makes little sense unless you’ve read Eclipse. For the most part, fans of the series will have already stormed their local bookstore for this book, but if you haven’t (and this is assuming you are a fan) then chances are this will not disappoint you. A Sunday afternoon of reading should get you through it. For those that aren’t fans, well then my recommendation, other than if you are a teenage girl/young woman, is not to get into Twilight, unless you have a purpose similar to mine: see what all the hype and (horrible) movies are about.
My Rating: 3 out of 5
Reading Age: 14 and up (girls) never (boys)
Stephanie Meyer's Website: http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/
Buy The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: