Bree Tanner: First Critical Responses

It’s been two days since The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella (hereafter Bree Tanner or Bree) was published and the first critical reviews are in.

The satisfaction of “Twilight” novels cannot be measured by such terms as “good” and “bad.” This goes double for “Bree,” which was not originally intended as a stand-alone novel and which all fans will read and all haters will skip regardless of the reviews.

I’m thinking from her conclusions that Ms. Hesse likes the books more than she wants to admit publicly.

Two quick notes:

(1) The only reviewer that suggests Mrs. Meyer is trying to deliver any meaning — Ms. Williams for The Guardian — bemoans that it comes in a “woefully, leaden-footedly pedestrian” fashion:

Bree and Bella look searchingly at each other before the Volturi, a kind of Italian vampire royalty, mercifully shorten Bree’s second life. As red eyes meet brown, you can almost hear the author bellowing: “Mirror! It’s like a weird mirror! For both of them! Notice my literary device!”

No mention of the repeated cave and light images of the book, about Freaky Freddy and Diego as deliverers, or about what Mrs. Meyer was saying in her “woefully, leaden-footedly pedestrian” way about Bella and Bree as mirrored reflections. (And, really, can anyone using the phrase “”woefully, leaden-footedly pedestrian” really criticize anyone on style points?) How about a note about how the book expands on or corrects notes we have from Eclipse specifically or the series as a whole.

Nada. Even for overnight work, reviewers should be asked for and expected to produce better than this. We’ll have to supply that kind of commentary here, I guess, on Bree Tanner threads all this week.

(2) Have you read any reviews that had a little more substance to them than these three? Please share them in the comment boxes below!


  1. Not so much reviews, but some of the responses on the Amazon comments (that I read before finally reading the book online for free last night) made me aware that readers are already sympathetically reacting to Meyer’s woe-is-Bree portrayal of the neophyte who is betrayed by both her creator (evangelist?), her leader (pastor?) and the vampire “police” (denominational inquisition squad). At the third level of iconological analysis Meyer seems to be arguing in Short Second Life even more strongly than in Eclipse, that a person is always better off with a religion that has rules but doesn’t force them on anyone else outside their sphere (ie, the Cullen/LDS Church) than any church that knows about the “rules” but doesn’t teach them, or any church that expects the rules to be enforced without any opportunity for mercy, clemency, or extenuating circumstances. She is, I think, arguing for the necessity of grace, but also arguing that it is important that we do understand the religious rules. In this sense it might also be an argument against the postmodern idea that tells our youngsters “truth is relative” and denies them any solid, unchanging basis for morality. Without teaching, very few people (I think Meyer is arguing) will ever come to know the truth on their own, if they are kept in the “dark” (all those basements!) about the existence of real rules whose existence and enforcement is external to them – whether those rules be a construct of a religion (the Volturi) or a self-necessitating rule that is required by existence aka general revelation (such as “the humans would already have found out about us if it wasn’t important to keep our existence a secret; since we do exist and they don’t know so far, we must be restrained in our killing so the humans continue in their lack of knowledge, and the unknown reason is kept at bay”).

    This is very rambling. Sorry. Just early thoughts.

  2. One other thought: I wonder if Meyer is also commenting on the difference there is with women in charge of religious denominations (ie Victoria, with her titular head Riley) versus the Cullens who really are led by a man, Carlisle.

  3. Arabella Figg says
  4. Arabella I totally agree with your connecting the basements to Plato’s cave. It’s almost like Meyer read Spotlight and thought, hmm, I’ll give that one a go at putting it into allegorical form, isn’t it?

  5. Yet another thought. Does Bree remind you of anyone in Card’s novels? What about Bean, the original starving-on-the-streets orphan from Ender’s Shadow? He was “rescued” by a Catholic Nun, only to be put to work fighting a war far separated from his own situation on the streets. Meyer has indeed been formatively influenced by Card’s writing, as she has said.

  6. Thanks for these lins Arabella. I like the BCS review one, and some of the comments are quite insightful. Two possibilities about Fred: is he intended for Tanya (comment from “mj”) or was he the hidden vampire (comment from “Sporkfairy”). Surely if he was the hidden vampire, he would have made Leah puke rather than attack her? Have to check all the numbers involved to work out if this was possible.

    Interestingly, everyone seems to follow Bree’s lead and assume Diego is dead. We never actually have that confirmed by either Riley or Victoria, although Bree is pretty sure that this is the case and even imagines how it might have happened. So perhaps there is some scope for Diego to reappear in a later novel “Look! He didn’t die after all! Isn’t that wonderful?” Given how Meyer said she got to the end and didn’t want to have to kill Bree (again) but of course she was trapped by her previous end in Eclipse, I think Meyer may well have left that loophole for herself. Diego knows Riley and is wary, perhaps he was smart enough to get away from him? The snippets Riley told Bree to convince her Diego was still alive did not make it clear that he got everything out of him if indeed he did torture him to death. Diego would be younger and there fore stronger, as well. Of course, he never got any fighting lessons, and he does seem more a hider than a fighter.

    I am puzzled by all the comments admiring Freaky Fred. Being able to inspire repugnance to the point of violent nausea doesn’t seem all that appealing to me, personally. What intrigues me about Fred is that we never read of him feeding on human blood. He is always in a basement, and never out hunting. Even during the Merry Ferry Feast scene he is only seen standing off to the side. Is it possible that Fred is already tending towards vampire vegetarianism?

  7. Arabella Figg says

    I noticed that too about Fred’s dining habits. Curious.

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