Arts & Culture

Book Review: ‘The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner’

BY Patricia Chasteen TIMEAugust 2, 2010 PRINT

[xtypo_dropcap]S[/xtypo_dropcap]tephenie Meyer’s hugely popular Twilight vampire series has sold millions of copies and been on best-seller lists for a number of years—beginning with the first book, Twilight, 2005, through the last of four, Breaking Dawn in 2008. With the accompanying movie releases, (the last one, Eclipse, came out the end of June), the fervor and popularity of the books has remained steady.

With the publication of the last book in August 2008, fans had to content themselves with rereading the four books, as Meyer had indicated that those would be all she would write for the series.

However, either due to pressure from fans, movie studios, or because she wanted to add to the story—this June, Meyer released another Twilight book—calling it an “eclipse novella.” The book, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a brief novel (177 pages) telling the story of Bree Tanner (in her own words) who has been a vampire for three months.

In Eclipse, the main story line that plays out between the main character—Bella Swann and her vampire true love Edward Cullen (one member of the Cullen clan of 7—all of whom are vampires) is about a vengeful vampire from the previous books called Victoria seeking revenge on them for killing her lover. The final scenes in the book are about a fight between about 20 “newborn” vampires created by Victoria specifically for killing the Cullen clan and Bella.

The newborn vampires are wild and vicious—“living” only to kill and drink blood. This is in complete opposition to the Cullen group—a peaceful family group who only drink animal blood, and have all been vampires for over 50 years (one over 400 years) and so have acclimated to the lifestyle and try to fit in and not be noticed by the rest of the non-vampire world.

At the very end, after all the “evil” vampires are dead—except one—we see a scene between the Cullens, the Volterri (a powerful group of “police” vampires) and one newborn vampire named Bree Tanner.

This new book is a story told by Bree—her thoughts and actions leading up to the final fight scene. It begins about a week before the fight. Bree is staying at a house in Seattle, Washington with about 20 other newly created vampires—with one exception—a vampire named Riley who is over a year “old” and is trying to be in charge of the wild group of newborns.

At first thought, you wonder why, or if this novella should have been created. The series was finished (even though fans longed for more), and Bree Tanner already had her moment—although brief in the Eclipse book. However, as soon as you start reading the book, told in first person by Bree, you are taken in again by Meyer’s artful writing style.

Even though a “vicious” newborn, Bree Tanner retains enough of her human personality to start questioning the new lifestyle she’s been given and to seek out contact with others in the group who think and feel as she does. We get to meet a number of new characters in the Twilight world and see them from a completely different angle this time. Instead of the established, peaceful, intelligent, and loving Cullen family we’ve come to know in the other books, we see the newborn breed of vampires—and this is a fascinating group.

Even though we already knew the outcome of Bree’s fate from the Eclipse book, the story and people introduced in this short novel are both fascinating and memorable.

It makes you wish that the end of Eclipse had had a different ending—even Meyer herself says in the foreword to the book, “the closer I got to the end, the more I wished I’d concluded ‘Eclipse’ just slightly different.”

So for fans of Twilight—Bree’s short story is definitely worth reading. But even for those new to this world—it gives an interesting and thought-provoking read into a whole new world.

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