Ten years ago, Stephenie Meyer launched the Twilight series that further immortalized supernatural romance among vampires, werewolves, and humans (pun very much intended). As throngs of screaming fans rallied behind “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob,” sparkly vampires and muscular werewolves were all the rage through four books and five films. For Twilight’s tenth anniversary, Stephenie Meyer released a reimagining of the original novel, but with many of the characters’ genders flipped.
Isabella Swan became Beaufort, or Beau. Edward Cullen became Edythe. Fellow human classmates Jessica, Mike, and Eric became Jeremy, McKayla, and Erica. Fellow vampires Rosalie, Emmett, Alice, and Jasper became Royal, Eleanor, Archie, and Jessamine.
“I’d had people ask me, you know, if Bella was too much a damsel in distress, and so many a time I said she was a human in distress,” said Meyer in an interview with NPR. “None of us would fare so well trying to match our strength to someone who had superpowers. So as I was thinking about that, I thought, well, what if I kind of looked at it through a different lens — Beau’s perspective? And I started with the first chapter, and then it kind of got away from me.”
Despite the changed genders, the plot remains largely the same. Beau Swan moves to the sleepy town of Forks, Washington, where he falls head over heels in love with the dark, mysterious, beautiful vampire Edythe Cullen. It’s a forbidden love because of the minor technicality that humans are supposed to be a significant food source to vampires. After a series of ill-planned hunts and chase scenes on both the Cullens’ and the antagonists’ parts, Beau and Edythe are allowed to stay together — to the surprise of no one.
One of the biggest problems with the original Twilight is the fact that Bella and Edward’s relationship hinged on control, often presented with the rosy image of “protection.” Throughout the original novel, Edward repeatedly tells Bella that he cannot control himself around her, but is paradoxically overprotective of her. If Beau and Edythe’s relationship plays out in the reimagining exactly as Bella and Edward’s does, then the swapped gender roles will not rectify the preexisting damage.
Rather, readers will be able to see the same relationship’s problems, though projected by entirely different people. Even if the relationship pans out exactly the same way, even if Beau and Edythe’s personalities remain perfectly consistent with the original Bella and Edward’s, the primary relationship in the reimagining will be something entirely different from the original’s — one with its own set of flaws and problematic elements which will likely be presented as something beautiful and ideal, just as the original was.
On the other hand, Stephenie Meyer reimagining her most popular work could set a new trend among authors — a trend characterized by transformative works based on their own source material. It’s nothing new to take an already published work and change a few details to create something entirely new, but someone with such a widely-known name as Stephenie Meyer to do it so publicly could inspire other well-respected authors to do the same. Imagine Harry Potter with Neville Longbottom as the main protagonist, or Percy Jackson and the Olympians featuring demigods related to different figures in the Greek Pantheon; the possibilities are endless.