The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series. You can read my reviews of these books [here], [here] and [here].

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a short spin-off novella which forms part of Stephenie Meyer’s massively successful Twilight Saga. The story was first published in 2010 and describes Bree’s experiences over the three months that she spent as a vampire. The book overlaps with the events of Eclipse (2007), therefore I would strongly advise that you read the first three novels in the series before picking up this one.

For Bree Tanner, every day is marked with uncertainty and terror. Ever since she was first created by the vampire that she knows only as Her, she has spent all of her time trying desperately to stay alive. The other Newborns in her coven are vicious and uncontrollable – prone to tearing off each other’s limbs or lighting each other on fire. She’s smart enough to know that she needs to keep to herself if she wants to live.

Things change when she meets Diego. He’s been a vampire far longer than she has and is rumoured to be Riley’s right-hand man. Although she’s reluctant to trust him at first, she soon discovers that he is genuinely nice and could become her first vampire friend. When disaster strikes and the two of them find themselves stranded at daybreak, it’s only Diego’s ingenuity that saves them both from facing the rising sun.

Yet in doing so, the two of them uncover Riley’s lie. He’s been keeping the Newborns in check by telling them that all the myths about vampires are true but now Bree and Diego know that sunlight can’t harm them. Believing that Riley might be unaware of this himself, the two of them head off to tell him of their discovery. However, they quickly discover that they are pawns in a larger game and that the vampire known as Her has sinister plans for them…

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ll know that I have had a bit of a rocky relationship with the Twilight Saga to date. While I can see the appeal of the first book, New Moon and Eclipse just didn’t work for me at all. Yet I was optimistic about this one. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner removes the focus from Bella Swan and her vampire/werewolf love triangle and instead offered a chance to explore a completely different world. In Eclipse, the Cullens described Newborn vampires as being feral and uncontrollable. Even Jasper has impulse control issues despite having been a vampire since the American Civil War. I expected this novella to be dark and soaked in blood. But that wasn’t what I got at all.

If you can’t remember who Bree was from Eclipse, she’s the Newborn who surrenders during the final battle (and then gets promptly executed by the Volturi). We knew from the beginning that her story wasn’t going to end well. Yet her life leading up to this messy end just didn’t seem to tally with what the Cullens previously described. While Bree tells the reader that the Newborns are vicious and unpredictable, this isn’t exactly how they are presented. They’re intelligent enough to learn and follow orders and some of them (Bree, Diego and Fred) seem perfectly calm and in control when they’re not on the hunt.

I really struggled to see the purpose of this novella. In all honesty, it didn’t feel like anything more than a cash-grab. I know that sounds harsh but it just didn’t add anything to the saga. It does not stand alone, answer any previously unanswered questions and add anything new to the series. As we know that Bree is destined to die, it can’t even build any tension. There’s no point in getting invested in her relationships with Diego or Fred because we already know that they’re going nowhere. The best thing that it could have done would be to finally show the battle from the end of Eclipse – the one that Bella wasn’t present to describe – but somehow, Bree also managed not to see any of this. Despite the fact that she was on the front line…

The novella couldn’t even really develop any new and interesting characters. Bree is just a watered down Bella Swan. She’s a special snowflake who isn’t like all the other Newborns, yet is also painfully dim. This is a girl who is willing to follow Riley into battle despite knowing that he’s been lying to her. Who is so desperate to believe that her love interest has been sent on a secret mission that she ignores the fact that there is a vampire shaped burn on the floor of their hovel that appeared at exactly the same moment that Diego vanished.

And let’s talk about that love interest. If you felt that Edward fell for Bella alarmingly fast, you’re going to be incredibly frustrated with Diego and Bree. The two of them start making out having only known each other for a matter of hours. After a day, Bree is imagining running away from him and is distraught by his disappearance. Seriously, I can understand her being a bit disappointed but this is just a step too far. Similarly, she doesn’t even really speak to Fred before he suddenly takes a shine to her and offers to help her escape. What is wrong with these people? They’ve been in the same coven for three months yet they suddenly bond just days before Bree’s death?

Ultimately, I was left thinking about more interesting concepts that Meyer could have used for a spin off. Perhaps an episode from Carlisle’s long life, the story of how the Volturi came to be or even something focused on the werewolves (as the only female werewolf, Leah probably deserves some more page time). The life story of a character as tiny and insignificant as Bree does not make the list.

I really don’t have much more to say about this one. If you’re a huge fan of Twilight and need to read more, perhaps you’ll get some enjoyment out of it. For anyone else, it can certainly be missed.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner can be purchased as a Paperback, eBook and Audio Book from Amazon.co.uk

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