The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella
Published 2010 Novella (178 pages)
Summary (from the book jacket)
Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood… life before she became a vampire.
All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don’t draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn’t know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.
Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they only know as her. As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. Bust when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is Stephenie Meyer’s latest addition to her phenomenally popular Twilight saga novels. The Twilight saga books are aimed at a Young Adult audience but have a universal appeal to female readers of all ages. If you like vampires and enjoy reading romance novels chances are that Stephenie Meyer is on your reading list. If by any chance you haven’t read any of the Twilight saga before then don’t start with The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner – this is a companion story to Eclipse (the third book in the series) and is best read after that novel.
At 178 pages of fairly large print The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a quick read even for a novella. Partly this is because of the afore mentioned large print and partly because, like all of Meyer’s books, its simplistic construction and language aid comprehension enabling the pages to be devoured at a great pace even by previously lacklustre readers. Since the novella is published in hardback the cover price is perhaps more than such a scanty read is worth but the book is clearly marketed as an Eclipse novella – meaning that readers should know what length of story they are buying – so I don’t think that there is room for complaint on that score.
To start with I wasn’t that keen to read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Any vaguely observant Eclipse fan knows that Bree’s short life ends in a brutal manner when her vampire coven attacks the Cullen family. Knowing the ultimate end to the novella before I’d even started to read it was a little off-putting. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to invest my time getting to know Bree when she wasn’t going to be around for very long. I think this attitude coloured my opinion of her, making me not want to empathise with her character.
However Bree soon crept under my guard. The teenaged runaway who couldn’t remember whether she was 15 or 16 before she was turned into a vampire appealed more than Bree the murderous newborn. It wasn’t long before I was mentally shouting at her to use her brain, runaway again and not trust her maker – while knowing it was a futile hope that she would get wise and escape her fate.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner explores the events of Eclipse from the perspective of the newborn vampires that were created to destroy the Cullen family. Their experiences are a marked contrast to the Cullens’ idyllic existence – there is no wealth, no abundance of supernatural talents and no great love affairs. This makes Bree’s story a much different offering from Meyer’s previous novels – without the all consuming passion of Edward and Bella’s romance Bree’s story is a little flat by comparison. If it followed just an action/mystery plotline then this probably wouldn’t have been so noticeable but because this novella was written by Stephenie Meyer there is an inevitable attempt to add some all-consuming romance to the story.
Which is a problem because Bree’s romance with Diego isn’t amazing, all-consuming or even properly realised yet once again we have a female character who would rather die than go on alone with her love. This kind of dramatic behaviour is understandable for Bella and Edward their characters and storylines support it but for poor Bree (who never had a romance) it’s a little over the top. Given a greater story length to explore Bree’s feelings I’m sure Meyer would have had us all believing that it’s better to die than go without love but in the story time available it just didn’t work. Or maybe after having finally bonded with Bree I just wanted a better fate for her than the one that had already been written in Eclipse.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is just that. Short. But it’s not uneventful, making this novella an interesting addition to the Twilight books. Fans of the Cullen should enjoy the chance to see them through a different set of eyes while vampire fans get the chance to see bloodthirsty newborns in action and find out about a vampire with an unusual supernatural talent.
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