Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner - Book Review

Summary : The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner is told from Bree Tanner's perspective, describing life as a newborn vampire who is unable to control her bloodlust and has no choice but to follow and believe what she is told by her leader, Riley.  Bree's secret creator, Victoria, is an evil vampire set on revenge against Bella Swann, the heroine of the Twilight series.  Victoria has sworn revenge on Edward Cullen for killing her mate by creating an army of newborn vampires to kill those most dear to Edward, his family and most importantly Bella. 

Bree and the other newborns are kept in the dark about Victoria's true intentions and are told the Cullens are evil vampires who want to destroy them.  If the Cullens of Twilight are examples of high society vampires, then Bree's "family" of newborn vampires are the underground, the lowest of the low, the psycho monsters of nightmares. They will kill each other just as well as strangers. Bree and the other newborn vampires are not taught the rules of vampire life and/or how to live among humans; they are essentially being "bred" as killing machines.

During the brief moments when her need for blood is not driving her with the crowd, Bree practices controlling her thoughts and analyzing her situation. She is smart enough to know that something isn't quite right.  She also accidently witnesses a visit by a group of cloaked strangers and realizes something much bigger is happening than what she and the others are being told.  Bree has enough sense to make the decision to flee during the attack so that hopefully Victoria and Riley will think that she is dead and no one will search for her. 
Eclipse and The Short 2nd Life overlap when Carlisle Cullen captures Bree during the attack.  Unbeknownst to the newborn army, the Cullens have been forewarned and are ready to fight; the newborns never had a chance.  Bree begs Carlisle Cullen to spare her life, and Carlisle agrees to give her a chance if she will make an effort to learn to control herself.  When the four Volturi guard members arrive, however, the leader of the guard, Jane, dismisses Bree's request, asks her a series of questions, and then has her destroyed, without so much as a blink of an eye.
The scene between the Cullens and Bree and then Jane and Bree is played out in both books almost word for word except, of course the difference in perspective.  In The Short 2nd Life Bree also chooses to share information about the Volturi with Edward (who she knows is a mindreader) before she dies.  In Eclipse Edward knows the Volturi are behind the attack, but how he knows is never made clear.   The ending is the same though; Bree is destroyed before we ever really get to know her or who she could have been. 

My Thoughts : My oldest daughter read this before I did and warned me that it was "slow."  I was reluctant to read this book when it was first announced once I found out it was a "novella."  I wasn't sure of the point, and I'm honestly still not.  I pushed my way through this short episode, and then asked my daughter a series of questions to which she replied, "Mom, You did READ Eclipse, didn't you?"

So, I re-read Eclipse.  In Eclipse once the Cullens put together what is happening, where the threat originates and why, Jasper tells an intriguing story about another newborn vampire army of which he was actually a member.  The dangers of unguided newborns are described, and Jasper explains this historical event as the reason there are strict Volturi rules about newborns.  I probably didn't pay as much attention to this part of the story on my first read...simply because I was so caught up in the action, but I did see the significance the 2nd time around.  The significance of this history I believe will continue to play out as the Volturi again visit the Cullen's to investigate both Bella's immortality as well as the birth of Bella and Edvard's child in Breaking Dawn.

In the foreward of The Short Second Life... Meyer explains that she herself became attached to Bree and wanted her readers to have more of an explanation of who Bree was and Bree's "story."  Maybe Meyer felt that with the release of the movie version of Eclipse, that many readers needed a reminder of what the story was about since in the midst of Twilightmania, many other readers, like me, were flying through the novels to get to the end.  When I re-read Eclipse, I couldn't tell if Meyer intended for Edward to read Bree's mind, and this made me a little suspicious of Meyer's intentions.  If she was so attached to this character as she wrote the story, I would think that she would have had this backstory in mind all along?  Then, I wondered if I was just a little jaded suspecting Meyer of trying to sell another book since the Twilight saga is over??  I hope this is not the case.

I haven't read any other reviews of The Short Second Life...yet...on purpose.  I'm anxious to see what other readers thought.  
I also have not seen the movie version of Eclipse yet.  I will see it, but I'm anal about reading the books first...and in this situation, it was even more important...I didn't want my understanding of The Short Second Life... to be tainted in any way by Hollywood. 

Have I mentioned I'm a little OCD about certain things? ;)


  1. I know a few vampire fans..I'll pass this one along! :)

  2. Betsy, I still haven't decided whether or not I actually recommend it or just really frustrated me more than anything. I do know that Meyer donated proceeds from the sale of this book to the American Red Cross and also offered the ebook to readers for free? I still just don't know...I like much more in depth stuff where I can get to know the characters :)

  3. I got involved in the Twilight books for one reason only ... because I turned into a dope about Edward Cullen. It is embarrassing really. I don't think I would need to read this ... but I give Meyer credit .. she manages to suck me in over and over again.

    What a dedicated reader (and mom) you are!