Bree Tanner has only been a vampire for three months, but most of the time, she barely remembers her time as a human. However, life with her fellow newborns is full of danger and uncertainty. Most of them seem like little more than mindless killing machines, leaving a string of human corpses in their wake, while often getting into fights and slaughtering each other as well. Bree has been trying to simply keep her head down and stay as invisible to the rest of the group as possible when she meets Diego, a fellow young vampire, who like her, seems to have retained some higher reasoning in spite of their insatiable blood lust. The two strike up a friendship that's tinged with a touch of romance. They begin to wonder about their mysterious creator, who they've never really seen and only know as her. When Bree and Diego accidentally discover that they've been lied to about certain aspects of being a vampire and overhear a conversation they weren't supposed to, it becomes clear that they're being used as pawns in a much bigger game. But how do they decide who they can trust and which side they should be fighting for?
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a novella that is part of the Twilight series and takes place concurrently with certain events in Eclipse. It's kind of a paradox of a book in that, if you read it before reading Eclipse, you'll get some significant spoilers for that book, but if you read it after Eclipse (which I highly recommend), you'll already know how this story ends. Unfortunately that ending is not a positive and uplifting one, which is why I haven't categorized the book as romance, even though it does have a touch of romance in it. All that said, I did enjoy it, because it gave me new insights into certain parts of the Twilight story that we couldn't see since the entire series is written from Bella's first-person POV.
Bree Tanner is a character who inhabited the pages of Eclipse for only a short while, but she left a big impression on me. So much so that I couldn't help wondering "what if... ?" When I heard that Stephenie Meyer had written her story, I was excited to learn more about this young girl turned newborn vampire, and I wasn't disappointed. Bree comes from a throwaway background as do many of the newborn vamps in this scenario. This makes her a sympathetic character right from the start, even though she's pretty consumed by the blood lust that is common in new vampires. However, she does have a better grasp on it than most of the others in her coven, with the exception of Diego and Fred, the other two stand-out characters in this story. These three at least seem to have their higher brain functions still intact, whereas the rest are little more than an unruly mob. Bree tries to keep to herself and remain "invisible" by hiding behind Fred, who has some special talents. Then she meets up with Diego one night while out hunting and the two become friends. As they talk and begin to realize that some of the things they've been told by their leader about being a vampire aren't true, they forge a bond that turns a bit romantic.
Although I'm on my second reading of the Twilight series, this is my first time reading The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. The main reason for this is that this novella came out two years after Breaking Dawn, and I felt like I was too far away from having read the rest of the series to remember it well enough. So it's been languishing on my bookshelf while waiting for me to do a re-read. I'm so glad I finally got a chance to read it. It was nice to get some behind the scenes insights into the building of the newborn army and a slightly unexpected twist involving the Volturi. I also enjoyed seeing the Cullens through an outsider's eyes. I really liked Bree, as well as Diego and Fred. Even though I kept telling myself not to get attached, because I knew what was ahead, I couldn't help myself, which made the ending all the more bittersweet. Much like Ms. Meyer said in her introduction, I almost regret her decisions regarding these characters and wish the outcome had been different. But even still, I enjoyed reading about them. My only slight complaint is that the early parts of the story seemed a tad slow-paced, but otherwise, it was a great read that I highly recommend to fans of the series.
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