Stephenie Meyer’s new release, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is not the Twilight related release fans wanted. But it’s the first new taste of the Forks gang since Meyer’s indefinitely postponed working on Midnight Sun, a rewrite of Twilight from Edward Cullen’s perspective.
There were a lot of expectations and hopes riding on Meyer’s novella centering around a minor character from Eclipse, the third novel Meyer wrote about Bella Swan and her supernatural companions. Fans of the series will be satisfied with this little fix but overall, the novella isn’t what it could have been.
Following Bree Tanner, a newborn vampire caught up in the plans against Bella, anyone who has already read Eclipse knows exactly how the novella ends. The novella only makes that inevitable end more painful when Bree’s sad story of perpetual victim-hood is filled in. She’s a smart young vampire, exploring her new capabilities, realizing there’s something wrong with what she’s been told by those who created her but it isn’t going to be enough to change her fate.
The novella is shorter than Meyer’s other works and can easily be read through in one extended sitting. It is still lengthy for a novella at 178 pages, but contains no breaks for the reader. There are no chapter breaks, not even a skipped line between scenes. It is straight narration and can becoming tiring. It doesn’t leave the reader time to digest the information (though this isn’t fully necessary since much of the information is hardly new to veterans of the series).
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner seemed to be more of a way for Meyer to explain the connections between her vampires and the traditional lore that she seemed to largely ignore in the first four novels (and for which she has often been ridiculed by fans of established vampire mythology). Those critics will not be satisfied with the explanations provided in Bree Tanner.
As someone who was dissatisfied with the way Meyer handled the end of Breaking Dawn (the whole novel, really, but the end especially), Bree’s story came across as an attempt at reconciliation. As though, because she couldn’t bring herself to kill off any of her characters during the showdown with the Volturi (except Irina who, let’s face it, no one cared about because she was never really presented to the reader as dimensionally as the others), she went back to a different character she had already killed off and made them more multidimensional to make up for the fight that fizzled in Breaking Dawn. Unfortunately, it is too late.
Though there is no hope for Bree, there are almost as many loose ends created as are wrapped up in the novella, leaving room for Meyer to take readers on another visit to, if not the Cullen clan, at least their vampire world.
For fans who haven’t yet picked up their own copy, you don’t have to wait for a chance to grab it in stores. Through July 5th, Meyer has a free readable copy posted online (you can find it via links on her website), though this doesn’t allow downloads to various eReaders or printing the book pages. Not posted full size, the text can be difficult to make out for some readers, and anyone who suffers headaches from extensive computer screen reading might want to find a hard copy. A portion of the sales from the physical copies sold is being donated to the American Red Cross.