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Books

Vampires and time for bloodletting

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The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner By Stephenie Meyer Hachette 178 pages, Rs 595

For all you Twilight fans, it's time to sit up. Stephanie Meyer is back. Her latest book centres on the life of Bree Tanner, a newborn vampire who has been previously mentioned briefly in Eclipse, the third novel in the Twilight series. Bree, like other newborns, is confused, immensely strong and tortured by an incessant thirst for human blood. Interestingly, the reader learns to empathise with Bree, who is not a morbid or negative character, but simply a human predator. Is it so reprehensible to kill your natural prey? It doesn't seem like it at all.

Near the end of Eclipse, Bree is destroyed by the Volturi, the royalty among Vampires, who cruelly refuse her a second chance. For this reason, the reader must enter Meyer's newest book with a sense of inevitable doom, even as they learn to care for her protagonist. Meyer, as always, uses a simple narrative with no pretension. The characters from whose perspective she writes her books inevitably draw our sympathy because they're unassuming, genuine and honest - yet fragile and afraid. The reader instinctively reaches to protect them. Such was Bella, of the Twilight series. Such is Bree.

This is why we learn to like the unyieldingly strong, deep, and yet sensitive characters who make themselves responsible for protection. They come as something of a relief, and we're glad when they do. This was why we learned to love Edward. This is why we are relieved when Diego comes along.

An army of newborns has been created by a mysterious Vampire, referred to as "her";an army, most of whose soldiers are unconcerned about the reasons for their creation, distracted by the all-consuming thirst for blood and their own petty squabbles. It is overseen by Riley, another character introduced in Eclipse, who aids her in her designs.

Trapped in a group of disoriented newborns, some of them strong thugs like Raoul and Kristie, Bree focuses on self-preservation, and to this end gravitates towards Freaky Fred, who seems to have a peculiar ability to repulse people. She befriends Diego when they're sent out hunting together, and they take to each other instantaneously. They discover that not all the things they've been told about themselves are true, and they wonder how much they can trust Riley.

An effortless saga of friendship, caprice, and betrayal, Meyer's new book is already one of the fastest-selling books of all time.

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