Life & Death Final Thoughts

Ohh, a final thoughts post. One more post between the last of the main series for House of Night. I hope it doesn’t come across as though I’m putting it off. I mean, yes that’s what I’m doing but I’d like to pretend there was a whole lot of loose ends I just never got to talk about. Otherwise I’d have to admit just how much I’m dreading watching Zoey “triumph” over a villain who gets beat up by Team Rocket for her lunch money.

One thing that irked me was every character kept a first name with the same initial except for Beau. Yes, Bella and Beau both begin with the same letter but Bella is short for Isabella. You’d think Beau’s name should have been Billy or Bob or any nickname for a name he hated. That or have had a name like Issac. It reeks of Meyer doing a hack job on her own already cobbled piece.

Then there was the genital swap and lack thereof. Why didn’t Charlie become Charlene, Meyer? Mothers can be just as neglectful as fathers like Charlie. Or could you just not imagine that Charlene could be a police chief? You sure as shit couldn’t imagine Beau doing ballet. I mean, what kind of guy participates in ballet? Certainly no one that would be imposing.

I was also bothered by the change in book material. Instead of reading Jane Erye or whatever romance Meyer uses to get the irrigation going for the ten second twerk, Beau was reading old school sci-fi. Nothing wrong with that in reality but from a story perspective it’s a sign of weakness.

Why not have Beau be infatuated with romances? Maybe it’s a secret hobby he keeps from his friends and family but indulges when Charlie disappears to Lake Motel 6(now with naked Bonnie). The audience would understand, without being told, that this is a guy who seeks romance in fiction the same as he does in his life. He wants simple, uncomplicated love at first sight, with few obstacles between them.

A better author could have used that to show why Beau wasn’t bothered by the social implications of turning into a vampire. Or draw parallels between the challenges of characters in a favorite book of Beau’s. Which I’m sure Meyer thought she did but someone in her creative writing class should have told her otherwise.

But if she wanted to take a “classic” book and use it it for parallels without using romance, there are plenty of others. Moby Dick is a kind of go to that gets tossed around. Integrating it would be easy enough once you accept that Beau would be the white whale. Detailing a story of fixation, from the perspective of the obsesse rather than the obsessor, might be a hair compelling.

Hell, why not change a lot more about the whole book? Meyer claims it was to show that the love story would turn out the same no matter what. Which means that, within her literary universe, it was destined to happen. So why make it a retelling happen almost exactly the same as Twilight but with the exchange of tab A’s and slot B’s? It’s just puzzling the shit out of me.

Because all art has a purpose. Even the shittiest fan fiction exists to satisfy some desire. Twilight existed as a wish fulfillment fantasy of a bored housewife who finds marble counter tops erotic. The audience it resonated with, mostly women, aren’t interested in a dull avatar male with the personality of a cinder block. That’s not going to put asses in the bookstore like the dull girl they can pretend to be while their romantic ideal tells them how special they are.

If the outcome, the E and B romance, is destined then why not change up the setting entirely? If you truly were going to mirror the original, swap everything. Why not set it in Arizona and have Ed be the one that moves? Meyer could have shown how the scatterbrained mother impacted Beau’s life, rather than tell us. We could see firsthand his struggle with running the household while trying to be a teen. We could also witness Beau not being the most interesting person in the town because, there, he’s just another student.

Their personalities could be changed too. Beau could have been a slight to full on extrovert with Ed being a little shy and quiet. Play with the expectation that a century old vampire would have the self confidence to interact with people like a regular human. If the audience already knows how things are going to end, change the path everyone takes to get there. If only so they aren’t bored to death. They are paying you, Meyer.

So why does Life & Death exist? It doesn’t satisfy the suggestion that the E and B romance is inevitable. It’s not exploring or building on the themes put forward in Twilight. That would require Twilight has a theme though and that’s a lot of strain for someone who’d rather focus on the bland teen than the Civil War vampire. I would have said money had the ending not been changed.

That is still the biggest shock to me. I fully expected to see Beau start turning only to have Edythe  manage to suck the “venom” out in time. This would be followed by the horrible cliffhangers we’ve already seen and the threat of additional installments of the retelling of Twilight. I would have almost looked forward to New Moon being explained away. I don’t think Charlie would have allowed his son to sit around and mope for four months while doing nothing.

That’s probably the nicest thing I can say about Life & Death. Meyer doesn’t appear to be trying to double dip on her success. A lesser author would have jumped at the chance to repeat even a portion of their original sales from such a bestseller. Especially considering the, comparative, flops that her other attempts have been.

A really shitty author might take the wafer thin premise of theirs and stretch it out to twelve books. Along the way, they could come up with the most obnoxious protagonist, a horribly broken mythology and constantly break the fourth wall to berate the audience with their personal and political beliefs. Something Meyer and/or her editor has successfully kept from happening. Even at her absolute worst, Meyer has never been and will never be as bad as PCK.

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