14 Oct 2011

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer: review

You might have thought there was no room for more in the bloated Twilight saga, which consists of four mega-tomes for teenagers relating the chaste love affair between a kindly vampire and a human girl. But there is. Stephenie Meyer has a story to tell and not even garlic will stop her. This mini-tome takes a minor character from the series, Bree Tanner, who (unfortunately for her) was vampirised. The novella follows her on the road to her death. Yes, she dies. Again. Didn’t guess that from the title, did you?

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer
This lack of suspense might have been mitigated by good writing or character development. But Meyer doesn’t let such things get in the way of her befanged juggernaut. The plot concerns a vampire army. These vampires are bad. No, really bad! They listen to loud bass-heavy music. Sometimes they flip over cars, just for fun. They are being created by a girlishly voiced vampirette to attack the Cullens (the main family in the saga). Bree and the others are kept subjugated in a cellar; Bree falls in love with Diego, a slightly older pretty vampire (“but then,” muses Bree, “who wasn’t pretty?”), and tries to work out what’s going on.
Meyer’s favourite tricks are lists and repetition: “The sound of his landing was too low to catch the attention of the crying prostitute, the zoned-out prostitute, or the angry pimp.” Her conversations are limited, as most people are so tongue-tied they spend their time staring at each other across tables (causing Bree to think, usefully, “I had sat like this before – across a table from someone”).
Sometimes Meyer accidentally channels P G Wodehouse: “A couple of kids temporarily lost limbs”, or “the breeze turned helpfully gentle”. At others, Napoleon Dynamite crops up: “Vampires with skillzzz.” When the vampire army attacks a passenger ship, it’s Enid Blyton: “That was amazing – three cheers for Riley!” shouts one of them as they sit surrounded by bloodied and gutted corpses.
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.

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