For Bree Tanner, life as a newly-created vampire has consisted of following orders, avoiding squabbles in a household of other newborns and being told, under strict penalty, never to go outside in the daytime. Sent out in the streets of Seattle, Bree’s only goal is to feed — as much and with as little trouble as possible. Human blood, even from the “dregs” of society, is her sustenance.
But something feels strange about her situation, about life with twenty other vampires and little knowledge of how they got that way. Bree was a troubled teen, true, and she’d been living on the streets when discovered by Riley and offered a meal. She became the meal at some point, taken to the dark home where she “lives” now, told that she’s a member of a coven whose purpose is still unknown. After she befriends Diego, another vampire and friend of Riley, Bree begins to think about getting away — especially when Riley’s lies begin to stack one atop the other. And something is beginning to happen. Something is coming after them.
Stephenie Meyer’s The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner is a novella to supplement Eclipse, the third in her bestselling Twilight Saga, and centers around the life of a minor character from that third book. I’ll admit to reading and enjoying all four of Meyer’s novels several summers ago, pre-blogging, and getting lost in the complicated love story of Edward and Bella. The shadowy world of modern-day vampires was a new one for me, I’ll say, and while I know the series faces criticism (and rightfully so), I liked the Twilight books as the escapist fun I found them to be — and, in that vein, I enjoyed Bree Tanner.
Like all of Meyer’s books, the emotional depth was lacking — or non-existent, depending on your perspective. Things happen. Lots of talking. Many questions — entire paragraphs of questions, most of them centering around, “What is happening? Are they telling me the truth? Should I believe them? What if they’re wrong? What should I do?” And after the third or fourth set of Bree’s thoughts in that realm, I started nodding off a bit. (Well, not literally. I was reading it online. But if I were at home, that’s around the time I’d have gotten a big bowl of ice cream, put on some “Glee” and forgotten about it for a while.)
For me, the appeal of the books seems to center around being able to picture yourself as the heroine — the Bella, or the Bree — and imagining your own place within the adventure. The Twilight books hinge around a familiar formula: the slow building of a problem; gearing up for a fight or battle; the confrontation; the resolution. Bree Tanner doesn’t break from this, though it bothered me less in a 200-page story than a 700-page clunker of a book.
Twilight devotees will enjoy another glimpse at life within the newborns, a group which played an integral role in the plot of Eclipse and the fate of Bella. I liked watching the attachments forming between Bree, Diego and “Freaky” Fred, another mysterious coven member with special powers, but never got completely attached to Bree — especially knowing, as I did, how it all would end. That’s what’s strange about a book like this: we know the ending long before we open the first page. I didn’t find it particularly enlightening, moving or powerful, but hey — it filled an afternoon.
3 out of 5!