Stephenie Meyer, perhaps realizing that she’s becoming more irrelevant by the second as the Twilight franchise fades into memory, has capitalized on the vampire series’ 10th anniversary. The author revealed that she has written a new version with gender-swapped leads entitled Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, presumably after the publisher rejected such titled as Twilight Returns: My Fans Are Dumb Enough to Buy Anything, Right? and Twilight Again: Stephanie Wants a Yacht.
And if you think I’m being a bit hard on Meyer for what appears to be a cynical ploy to exploit the nostalgia of her fanbase, on Good Morning America [via The Playlist] she said the process was “fun, but also really fast and easy,” which is what you want to hear an author say when she’s talking about characters you love.
Although Life and Death won’t really have those characters, I suppose. The new story features “Beau” instead of Bella and “Edythe” instead of Edward. I hope Meyer didn’t strain herself too hard thinking of those new names.
While she did note that Beau’s personality was “more OCD” and “not as angry,” (via THR), Meyer stressed that the love story remains the same, and that the novel, which is available today in hardcover and e-book, is a rebuttal to criticisms that Bella is a “damsel in distress”:
“My answer to that has always been that Bella is a ‘human in distress,’ a normal human being surrounded on all sides by people who are basically superheroes and villains,” wrote the author. “She’s also been criticized for being too consumed with her love interest, as if that’s somehow just a girl thing. I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and vampire female — it’s still the same story.”
The larger question (at least for our purposes) is whether or not Twilight is still a viable film franchise. I feel like Twilight is a relic, and while it will certainly have nostalgic fans, it’s also a series that has ceased to matter in the larger pop culture landscape. YA cinema left behind the dewy-eyed romance of Twilight and instead started charging towards The Hunger Games, and it feels like that series is the one that’s had the greater impact. For Twilight to return with the exact same story but different-gender leads feels desperate at best.
But who knows? Meyer was able to trick audiences once before with her silly vampire tale, and to be fair, the gender roles were one of the most toxic aspects of her stories. I’m not opposed to a vampire story where the female vampire is the one who holds the power, but that story should come from a better writer, not one who sees it as a “fast and easy” exercise in milking her fans for more money.