July 09, 2010

How The Other Half Lives (Review: Bree Tanner by S. Meyer)

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
Stephenie Meyer
Atom 2010

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily 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 know only 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 trus. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth? (Blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

I very nearly didn't read this. At least, that is what I like to tell myself. It's rubbish of course – there was no way that I was missing out on this but I liked to think that I was over the whole Twilight thing. Yes, I've read all the books and yes, I liked them, but there is such a lot of quality YA literature out there at the moment that it is all too easy to see that Stephenie Meyer's writing lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. However, what her writing may lack in finesse is more than made up for by her great story-telling ability and it was this that made picking up a copy of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner a no-brainer.

Bree Tanner is a pretty slim volume – I read it in about an hour and am glad that it was no longer, as it works beautifully in its brevity. Bree is an interesting and sympathetic character and provides fascinating insight into a side of vampire life not readily discussed by the Cullens. Diego proves a worthy companion to her as she discovers that all is not as it appears in her shambolic coven and Fred is a fascinating character who I would certainly like to read about again. I couldn't decide if we were being lead to believe that we might meet him again in the future or if he too had joined final fight at a later stage coming to blows with a certain wolf.

Inevitably, the most interesting part of the story is when we get to see the Cullens through the eyes of neither Bella nor Jacob but someone completely objective. They come across as both frightening, aloof and kind and it was a lot of fun to see them minus Bella's perpetually rose-tinted perspective. The Volturi are suitably nasty and there is some interesting behind the scenes action with them, also. Nothing surprising, but it's interesting to see how much Edward knows that he doesn't mention to Bella or the others.

If you have read the Twilight Saga, then this is a fun and well written addition (I preferred the writing style here to that in the other books, perhaps because there was less of Bella mooning around). If you haven't (and yes, I know it's unlikely), then this is a nice taster. Yes, there may be some mild spoilers but nothing that would ruin the series for you – it may even enhance your experience as you try to figure out how everything fits together. Also, it really does have a gorgeous cover. In fact, I think that I enjoyed this tiny read so much that I might even succumb to Midnight Sun, should Stephenie ever deign to publish it. It turns out that I, just like everyone else, haven't quite had my fill of sparkles, mind-reading and those mysterious Cullens.


Rhiana said...

I felt exactly the same as you, I really enjoyed this despite not being a big fan of Eclipse. I've just been to see Eclipse and honestly, having read this first definitely added to the movie.