The Negative Reader

Drinking Tea and Trashing Books

Life and Death is a weird book. For one thing, it was kept completely secret by Meyer and her publishers, while in the past they’d been very willing to crow about new things. While everyone was sort of aware that ‘new content’ was going to be on the 10th Anniversary Edition of Twilight, most people assumed that it was going to be nothing more than some content from Meyer where she discussed her journey or maybe included some part of Midnight Sun to tide over the people who were still mad about the fallout that happened after Breaking Dawn.

I wasn’t expecting another book.

Nor was I expecting Meyer’s reasons for write this book.

And honestly, the reasons were 90% of the problem with the entire book.

It was written to her critics

In the past, I’ve compared Meyer to a fanfiction writer. The reason is because she acts incredibly immaturely when faced with critique of her work. While most would either ignore or just decide to listen to what was being said, Meyer got offended. She talked several times about how wrong the critiques leveled against Bella was, completely missing the real nature of those critiques and making points that, while valid, had nothing to do with the situation.

For instance, she interpreted the statement that Bella was an anti-feminist heroine as stating that unless Bella knew kung fu or that she made the ‘wrong’ choices. While her rebuttals to those ideas do have merit, the issue of Bella is not what Meyer seems to think that it is.

Her critics were not impressed by her rebuttal, but they moved on.

But Meyer did not. She held on to the bitterness that she had about her Sue and her fantasy being snipped at, and actually wrote out an entire book, out of sheer spite, trying to prove to her critics that she wasn’t anti-woman, she was anti-human. As such, the entire book is really nothing more than a giant ‘take that’ to everyone who complained about her work.

I’m going to repeat that. She wrote out an entire book dedicated to her critics. People who a) might not even buy her book since they could have moved on to bigger and better things or b) would make sure to get their stuff used just so that they didn’t have to support her.

From the get go, this book was doomed both to failure and a lack of the popular support that Meyer honestly wanted.

Meyer ignored her fans

One of the biggest mistakes that Meyer made when she wrote a book to her critics was further alienating herself from the people who had been her fandom and would still be her fandom if she gave them the chance. While it’s fashionable to hate on Twilight now, there are still plenty of people who liked the book.

There are still people who loved and cherished the series, and saw it as a childhood favorite, and while they knew that the series had flaws, they still loved it and saw it as a special series.

These were the people who were going to buy a special anniversary edition. Not the critics of the book.

If you look at the boards, people were hoping, really hoping, for one book: Midnight Sun. Remember, most people aren’t there for Bella. They’re there for Edward. Bella herself doesn’t really mean much to most of them. Her fans didn’t care about Meyer justifying Edward and Bella’s relationship to a bunch of people that they didn’t like all that much anyways. They wanted to hear about things from Edward’s point of view. To be able to experience their fantasy in a new way. As awful as I thought that Midnight Sun was, her fans were thrilled and really, really wanted to see just what was going to happen.

Had she decided to write Midnight Sun, regardless of E.L. James having already stolen Meyer’s idea, things might have been different.

The original feedback was a mix of confusion, annoyance and fans complaining that they wanted Midnight Sun. I know this because I just so happened to walk in on a conversation between some major fans who were furious. They didn’t know or care about these new characters and their new world. They cared about Bella and Edward.

While some people changed, the very idea had a lot of people unhappy from the first, and they were the ones who Meyer should have been considering.

Meyer wanted, at some level, to bring attention back to Twilight, and while she denies it, she would have probably written new books in this new Forks.

The critics weren’t going to change

I’m not entirely sure what Meyer was expecting to happen. Was she expecting apologies from the critics who she hated so much, and for them to suddenly crack open Twilight so that they could experience the original story with new eyes? Was she just expecting nothing? Was it just that she was upset in general and wanted to address an old grievance that she felt like she could control, and really wasn’t interested in who liked, read or even paid attention to what she was writing? Was it that E.L. James, a Twilight fanfiction writer who no doubt knew about Midnight Sun had decided to cash in on her own idea, and Meyer worried about facing critique for ripping off James?

It doesn’t matter, because, in the end, when you focus on critics, you’re playing a sucker’s game. There is literally no perfect work in existence, and there will always be someone who finds something wrong with it and wants everyone else to see the same problem. The most that a writer can do is look at the critique, decide if they want to listen or not and move on.

By attacking or addressing them, it doesn’t really solve much, since they’ll find something new, or they’ll keep bringing up the original point if they do not think it was addressed right. What’s worse, if you get angry, you’re the one who ends up looking thin skinned.

It’s why the advice of most writers is ‘never look at your own reviews’.

Meyer, by writing her work for critics, actually ended up inviting criticism.

Meyer didn’t really understand the criticism that was leveled against her.

What was probably worse is that Meyer didn’t really seem to see what people were even saying was wrong with the series.

The book really showed that Meyer wasn’t sure just what people were really saying. She seemed to hyper focus on this idea that because Bella wasn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer, people were unhappy, and didn’t see that she was just a normal girl navigating a dangerous situation. Every rebuttal that Meyer ever made was to that particular assumption, and it really, really shows in this book.

The problem was that that wasn’t what most people were talking about.

The critique that was leveled against the book wasn’t that Bella was navigating a situation where she was overpowered as best as she could, it was about her just sitting back and doing nothing. It was her being little more than a way to get to Edward. It was about her and Edward’s relationship being unhealthy in ways that had nothing to do with his being a vampire. It was about her randomly taking on ‘feminine’ tasks. It was about the danger that she was in being nothing more than a way to get to Edward himself.

But her entire book was written to show how weak Beau was as a human, completely ignoring the other factors (and even new ones) that were there.

If you are going to write something to your critics, at least you need to know what the criticism really is before you write your reply. 

The Effect

In the end, Meyer’s choices killed the book before it could even start.

Life and Death could have been a way that Meyer revived interest in her series. It could have been a way that she patched things up with her fanbase after discontinuing Midnight Sun, and the garbage that had happened around Breaking Dawn.

In the end, it was more or less a slightly awkward genderbend fanfic.

At the time of this post, Life and Death is probably the lowest rated of all Meyer’s Twilight books, ranking at a whopping 3.5 stars with 24% of the reviews at one star, with many of the one star reviews complaining about it not being Midnight Sun or talking about some of the other main issues with the book.

In the end, whatever Meyer had been hoping for failed. If she wanted to revive the series, she was unable to. If she wanted to address her critics and win she failed. If she wanted to do something fresh with her own story, it was a failure as well.

Because, like with her original, misunderstanding her audience might be the core problem, but it’s not the only one.

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3 thoughts on “Everything Wrong With Life and Death: The Concept

  1. AshKiryn says:

    Well, at least one good thing came out of Life and Death: the ability to make gay ships out the leads, with Bella/Edythe and Beau/Edward. Few things in life give me greater satisfaction than doing something that I know an author I hate, would hate to see being done to her precious, precious characters. (Also, adding in Julie / Jacob for even greater combos.) ;P


  2. JoeMerl says:

    Is this a one-shot bonus to the “Everything Wrong With Twilight” series, or will there be more specifically for “Life and Death?”


    1. I’m planning on more Life and Death. The next one is probably going to discuss the issue of Beau as a protagonist: namely that he’s about as appealing as a limp noodle.


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