Today, Oct. 6, bestselling author Stephenie Meyer pulled a Beyoncé and dropped a surprise novel out of nowhere. Released as part of the 10th anniversary edition of "Twilight," "Life and Death" is a gender-swapped retelling of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan's classic love story.
Meet Beau Swan and Edythe Cullen, your new OTP. Like Bella, Beau moves to Forks, Washington from sunny Jacksonville, Florida during his senior year of high school. Beau is your typical awkward and lanky teenage boy -- with the WWE references to prove it -- who falls in love with the pretty untouchable of the school, Edythe Cullen. From there, you pretty much know how this love story is gonna go. Boy meets girl, girl struggles not to eat boy in biology class, girl saves boy from imminent death (multiple times), boy and girl eventually fall in love, defeat a thirsty vampire tracker, etc.
(Major "Life And Death" spoilers are ahead, so if you don't want to know the deets of Beau and Edythe's love story, RUN AWAY NOW.)
"Life And Death" is a pretty straightforward retelling of "Twilight," but there are some major differences, especially when you get towards those final few chapters.
As Meyer noted in her forward of the novel, she wanted to take on the task of gender-flipping the characters of "Twilight" to dispel the notion that Bella was a stereotypical damsel in distress who found self-worth in the arms of a handsome man. Would the narrative still be the same if the roles were reversed?
"Life And Death" is nearly identical to "Twilight," with the exception of character names (although, the first letter of every name is the same) and some situations. But Beau is still very much Edythe's little lamb, if you know what we mean. After reading the entirety of their story, here are 21 mind-blowing things you need to know:
It's Edythe, not Edith.
Don't get it twisted... like Beau... who misspells her name in his head for a solid chapter. Well, at least we know he's a reliable narrator! Direct quote from the novel: "It was Edythe, not Edith. I'd never seen it spelled that way, but it fit her better." Indeed it does!
You should call him Beau, not Beaufort.
What kind of a name is Beaufort, anyway? Similar to Isabella Swan, Beau has a traditional first name he hates. He constantly has to correct his classmates and teachers, and honestly, it's kind of endearing. Because unlike the name Isabella (which is quite common), Beaufort is a seriously WTF first name. Also, Bella and Beau both allude to beauty, so we see what you did there, Meyer.
Every character has been gender-swapped -- even the school secretary.
Edward and Bella aren't the only characters who have been gender-swapped in Meyer's experiment. Carlisle Cullen is now Carine, the family's matriarch. Esme is now Earnest (hypothetically speaking, Renesmee would now be... Chearnest?), and instead of Alice, Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper, we now have Archie, Eleanor, Royal and Jessamine. Oh, and Billy Black now goes by the name Bonnie Black, which means Jacob (<3) is now known as Julie. Does anyone else get chills thinking about how badass and matriarchal the Quileutes are now?
Except Charlie and Renee.
According to Meyer, it would have been largely unheard of for a father to receive primary custody in 1987 (aka the year Beau was born) unless the mother was ruled unfit for custody. Since Meyer didn't want to sacrifice Renee's character to gender-swap the two role, Charlie and Renee are the only two figures who remain completely untouched by the swap... which means Charlie still gets the raw end of the deal when Beau ~acts out~ and heads to Florida to throw off Joss' (formerly known as James) scent.
Yes, Edythe still wants to kill Beau in Bio class.
This iconic scene from the novel, and later, the hit 2008 movie starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, is pretty much the same in "Life And Death." If looks could kill, Edythe would have straight-up murdered Beau in Bio class because he smells so damn delicious.
Beau loves his truck, too.
Say what you want about Bella Swan, but homegirl loved her old, beat-up truck. We're happy to report that it's love at first sight for Beau and his truck, too. Who needs a stupid Volvo when you have a gas-guzzling truck with so much character?!
Meyer tries her hand at... boy stuff.
The author credits approximately five percent of these book changes to the differences in gender. According to Meyer, Beau is "more OCD" than Bella. Plus, he says things like "man code" and "bro hugs." Oh, and our favorite difference, he likes Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Here's how Beau describes Royal, the brawny ~aloof~ Cullen brother:
"Anyway, Royal had his hand casually on the hip of the really tall girl with the dark curly hair, who looked like she was just as familiar with the weight room as he was. He had to be a good two inches taller than even I was, but he only had a half-inch on her. Though he was obviously pretty sure of himself, I was still kind of surprised he felt comfortable doing that. Not that she wasn’t hot—she was super, mega hot—but not... approachable. Like, not even the Rock would dare to whistle at her, if you know what I mean."
First of all, The Rock would never whistle at a lady because he is a GENTLEMAN. But tbh, we're just happen to see our boy DJ even referenced in a "Twilight" novel. YOU DO YOU, BEAU.
Beau needs to be rescued... several times.
Beau first becomes suspicious of Edythe when she saves his from being smushed by Taylor's (née Tyler) van -- and exhibits some super-human qualities in doing so. From there, Beau's clumsiness and Edythe's desire to protect him from harm intensifies.
It all escalades in Edythe's white-knight moment in Port Angeles. When Beau is harassed by a two drunks -- a woman and a man -- who are convinced he's a cop, it's Edythe who comes to his rescue. In "Twilight," this scene read a particularly harrowing, as the "bad guys" nearly abducted Bella. In "Love And Death," it reads somewhat differently. Tbh, I never feared that Beau would be sexually assaulted the way I feared for Bella's safety, and maybe that's because of my own gender bias as a women... which is Meyer's entire point with "Life And Death."
That being said, it's really awesome to see Edythe kicking butt and protecting her man. Take THAT, gender norms. Oh, and the piggyback rides that Edythe gives Beau aren't bad either.
Vampires still sparkle.
AS IF MEYER WOULD DARE MESS WITH THIS LOGIC. It's still one of the best vampire reveals, well, ever. Also, Edythe -- like Edward -- takes Beau on several pleasant piggyback rides throughout the forest.
The love story's most quoted meadow scene is exactly the same.
Except in this case, it's Edythe who is the lion and Beau, the stupid lamb. Awww!
There's not really a love triangle.
Team Jacob fans are probably not going to love "Life And Death." Beau and Julie only share one significant moment together, and with a reimagining of "New Moon" to compare to, Julie's story just feels like a half-hearted attempt to honor the character.
Archie is the best.
Of course Archie is the best! Archie is based on Alice and is therefore the best. Plus, Archie has a little more to do in this version of events than Alice did. According to Meyer, in later novels, the mythology of Alice's visions expanded, which means that "Twilight" has a few major logic fails when it comes to Alice -- all of which Meyer has rectified with "Life And Death."
The ending is completely different.
In "Twilight," Bella is bitten by James, but Edward is able to suck the venom out of her finger, thereby saving her humanity. However, in "Life And Death," the situation is too dire for Beau. As Archie's vision foresees, if Edythe attempts to suck the venom out of Beau's finger, he will die -- so the Cullens leave it to Beau to choose his fate. Obviously, Beau chooses to turn into a vampire because he simply CANNOT live without Edythe. (Say what you want about Bella, but she always had a CHOICE -- and we're happy to see that Beau did, too.)
And just like that, Beau is turned into a vampire. The Cullens ultimately fake his death, which is heartbreaking for Charlie and Renee, who obviously have no idea their son is actually a vampire. But they need to keep it a secret because of the Volturi, you know? (Beau gets a hilarious crash course in all things Volturi during his turning.)
In the end, Edythe and Beau live happily ever after... without little
Renesmee Chearnest because THANK GOD. (Sorry, Julie.)