After quite the hiatus, the story of Beaufort Swan and Edythe Cullen in Stephenie Meyer’s Life and Death continues in its epic and completely fresh plot. You might wonder, isn’t this exactly the first novel of the Twilight saga but in a gender-swapped world? My dear reader, the answer is yes.
Chapter Two: Open Book
Recap: Beau and Edythe’s relationship is off to a somewhat unorthodox start. Edythe seems to instantly dislike Beau for no particular reason, and the humiliated, pale, pale teenager cannot help but like the one girl who does not seem to believe he is the best thing ever since sliced bread. Onward we go.
The first page consists of Beau acknowledging McKayla and Erica’s passive aggressive encounters of jealousy. Because who would not want to date you, Beau, when you are such a wonderful, selfless creature? He admits his second day at Forks High School was better in the social spectrum, while worse because of extremely valid reasons:
“It was worse because I was tired; I still couldn’t sleep with the rain beating on the house. It was worse because Ms. Varner called on me in Trig when my hand wasn’t raised and I had the wrong answer…because I had to play volleyball, and because Edythe Cullen wasn’t in school at all.”
Beau acts as though there is absolutely zero rain in Arizona. I have two words for you, bud: monsoon season. Of course, the absence of the good-looking yet snobby gal is the real tragedy. The moping regarding Edythe’s absence and Beau’s constant dread that he might actually run into her continues with his conflicting emotions on the matter.
“I didn’t want to be arrogant, but I was pretty sure she [McKayla/Mike] was into me, which was a strange feeling. Girls hadn’t noticed me much at home. I wondered if I wanted her to like me. She was sort of pretty and everything, but her attention made me feel a little uncomfortable. Why was that? Because she’d picked me instead of the other way around? That was a stupid reason.”
Thing is, Beau, no one really has any idea as to why the female population is going nuts for your chalky, humorless disposition. He hypothesizes why he is not attracted to McKayla, even going as far to imply he will spend the rest of his life comparing someone else’s looks to Edythe and be disappointed at the results.
The second day at Forks High School is over, and we are now subjected to Beau’s journey for groceries to cook a wholesome dinner for himself and Charlie. On his way to Thriftway, however, Beau ends up recognizing the Cullen and Hale siblings– minus Edythe–and notices their expensive attires.
“It seemed like too much for them to have both looks and money. Though, as far as I could tell, life worked that way most of the time. It didn’t look like it bought them any popularity here.”
Just to reiterate for a quick second: this is a family of rich, gifted, immortal half-dead creatures that can do literally anything they wish to do, and their main course of action involves going to high school over and over again. That is the dream, really. There is absolutely no better answer to the question, “What would you do if you were immortal?” than “Go to high school forever!”
After gawking at the Cullens and Hales for a sufficient amount of time, we continue Beau’s odyssey. I know part of these reviews include commentary while I am reading, but this is possibly one of the most uneventful pages I’ve ever seen. So, I will use a single fast-forwarding sentence to spare you the bland narration: Beau buys groceries, returns home, cooks dinner, sends an email to his mother, Charlie arrives from work, they have small talk over dinner, they discuss the Cullens and how dreamy and attractive they are, they finish eating, Beau cleans then does homework.
Actually, Beau sums up my feelings about this chapter in a nutshell:
“The rest of the week was uneventful.”
Yet, he continues to describe the rest of his uneventful week (while noting Edythe is absent all throughout its fascinating course). Goodness gracious. Beau, I am a person who enjoys books where nothing much happens; it is all about how the events are narrated. Your narration, on the other hand, makes me want to be hooked to intravenous espresso shots while drinking a gallon of Red Bull.
We continue with the next school day: It snows, Beau complains, McKayla and Beau talk about the snow, Beau goes to the cafeteria with his minions– I mean, with his friends– and suddenly he recognizes Edythe Cullen is back. Side note: Thank you, Gods of Literature, for returning the only mildly entertaining character to its rightful spot in this novel.
“McKayla was planning an epic battle of the blizzard in the parking lot after school and wanted us to join. Jeremy agreed enthusiastically. I kept silent. I wondered how many years I would have to live in Forks before I was bored enough to find frozen water exciting.”
Remember how I kind of sympathized more with Beau than with Bella? Yeah, that’s gone.
In his biology class, Edythe introduces herself and engages in a polite conversation with a very surprised Beau. They work as lab partners, where Beau proves his outstanding ability to recognize the phases of mitosis of onion root tip cells– which would’ve been a far more interesting process to read about than the entire beginning of this bloody chapter.
Beau gawks at Edythe’s handwriting, attempts to find any imperfections on her skin, and fails. Since they finish the lab early, the pair continue to discuss fascinating facts about Beau’s equally thrilling past, including his mother’s marriage to Phil and the reason for his self-exile to Forks– oh, for the love of…just read:
“Her head tilted to the side, and her gold eyes seemed to laser right through the surface of my skin. ‘You put on a good show,’ she said slowly. ‘But I’d be willing to be that you’re suffering more than you let anyone see.'”
Suffering? Give me a break. He was gifted a free car, his dad is genuinely kind to him, he is practically worshiped in his new high school, and it is not like it never rains in Arizona. Ah, silly me for believing that could not possibly construe as suffering. Of course! That is the real national crisis, and anyone who thinks otherwise clearly just doesn’t get Beau and his complicated, brooding existence.
Conclusion of this chapter: Beaufort Swan is a pretentious, condescending bastard who sucks the joy out of life, which is ironic since his crush is a friggin’ vampire. Will need more coffee than I previously anticipated.
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Featured image via Entertainment Weekly