Sunday, August 10, 2008

Breaking Dawn

(If you plan on reading the Twilight Series, you may not want to read this review, as it discusses moments in the previous books.)

For starters, I admit that at the age of 24 I still enjoy young adult literature. There's something about the Twilight Series, by Stephenie Meyer, that's ridiculously addictive. The plot is enticing, the characters are so well drawn out that they become friends, and the overall books are satisfying. With that being said, the last book in the series, Breaking Dawn, is a bit underwhelming.

Eclipse, the third book in the series, leaves off with Bella's ultimate choice. After almost being murdered by a gang of young and angry vampires, she finally chooses that her love for Edward, her vampire boyfriend, is stronger than her friendship with (and possible love for) Jacob, her werewolf best friend. With that, she rejects Jacob and agrees to marry Edward. Breaking Dawn starts on a hopeful, gentile, and happy note: preparations for the wedding and honeymoon. There, Bella will, as planned, finally join her future husband in a life of bloodlust as a vampire.

Naturally, there are some complications. These early set complications, along with previously noted problems, all culminate to lead up to the climax 700 pages later.

In my opinion, the problems with the book start with the voice. Between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, Meyer penned a book out of the series entitled, The Host. Although the characters in The Host sound exactly like those characters we've grown to love in the Twilight Series, some of her writing style changed and with that, left Breaking Dawn different. She lost some of her characters, giving them new personalities and new motivations. Jasper becomes friendly and winks at Bella. Rosalie becomes angrier than normal. Also, what's with the nicknames? Since when was Jasper "Jazz" and Emmet "Em"?

A third of the way through the book she changes voices completely. Rather than having Bella narrate the middle chapters, she has Jacob. The reason is unknown. After three books of learning, accepting, and loving Bella's narrative, this new voice is different and irritating. Important at times, definitely, but there could have been ways to explain what happened without changing the voice. And most importantly, it's not very masculine. Meyer tries too hard to make him sound like a teenage boy, which results in dialogue even movies wont use. Thankfully, the narration is changed back to Bella's at a very crucial part.

I think the biggest problem Meyer faced, however, were her fans. It's not unknown that these books have created quite a following. With millions of fans aching to read the last book, message boards were filled with predictions, hopes, and fears. Wanting to suffice every fan, Meyer created a plot that lacked the passion she originally had in the series. Wanting to appease the fans, she lost many.

The plot itself was endearing at times, yet ridiculously over the top at others. My wildest prediction was proved to be true, something I truly hoped would not happen. Sure, a story of a vampire, human, werewolf love triangle is a bit out of the ordinary, but that's acceptable compared to what she proposes in the book.

Complaints aside, the book was decent. Not nearly as satisfying or complete as the others, yet still good and still very enjoyable. It had moments where I couldn't put the book down, moments that I reenacted in my head while at work. Moments that made me smile because it reminded me WHY I loved the series so much. With liking the characters as much as I do, I wanted to keep reading. I wanted to love it. And because of that, I did enjoy it. I did like how it ended, a happy ending, as she promised, and I liked what happened with each character. It was a solid ending to the series.


Airam said...

This review is pretty much what I thought as well. I did like the book, but I felt that it lacked something that the previous three had. I am still in the process of reading The Host, but your interpretation of why Breaking Dawn is different makes sense.

Sicilian Mama said...

Great review! I definitely felt the missing feel the other books had as well. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't as awesome as the other ones. I suppose that's how the end of a lot of things are for me...I wasn't fully satisfied with the last Harry Potter the first time I read it, either. Maybe if I give it a few months and read Breaking Dawn again, I'll like it better like I did with Deathly Hallows.

My biggest problem, however, was consistency in mythology. Or the lack thereof. I know that when authors write books about things like vampires, they can create their own rules. That's cool...I don't mind that at all. But you have to stick with the rules set forth in the first installment. The little surprise we get in chapter 7 made no sense to me. Perhaps I'm over thinking it (I'll blame the fact that vampire/human relations is definitely something I've had numerous conversations about with my friends...don't ask why). I don't want to spoil anything for anyone else, so I won't go into too much detail right now, but let's suffice it to say that I was disappointed in the lack of explanation as to how the, um...additional family member came to be. Aside from the obvious, of course.

Carrie M said...

Nice review. You are right on about Meyer trying too hard to make Jacob sound like a teenage boy, but thankfully it was a book and we don't have to endure that dialogue aloud. I loved the chapter titles though.

Spoilers ahead...Two things - I have been hearing about the vampire mythology a lot, that Meyer broke her own rules. Did she though? She never addressed vampires and humans though, and while she tied it up neatly, I didn't think she broke her own rules. I was more 'offended' by the use of "Jazz" and Bella's drinking of blood. I was sure that she wasn't going to be able to do it b/c of her aversion to it.

Second, I've been trying to figure out what everyone loves so much about the series (myself included). Based on people's reviews and reactions and how many people now love Rob Pattinson (playing Edward in the movie), I think it comes down to Edward. Plain and simple. Which is really interesting to me, considering how the books are set up. I also think it transports a lot of us to that 13 year old inside when we thought it would in fact be a good thing to find someone to be in all consuming love with. It's very dangerous territory though, especially since young girls have glommed onto this book.

I dunno. Food for thought!

Sicilian Mama said...


Oooh! Good food for thought, though! I have to agree...I've questioned myself (and have been questioned by others) why I love these books so much. And yeah - it's Edward. He is my perfect vampire (I'm obsessed with vampires). But, I do not think Rob Pattinson is Edward for me. I was disappointed in that casting choice.

Also, I think in my comment, I used the word "mythology" wrong. When it comes to the mythology, Meyer doesn't really break any of her rules. I think (?) was what I was questioning. You are right, the whole vampire/human relation thing had never been really fully discussed in previous books. And I'm going to go ahead and include some spoilers here because it's really bugging me (I should really get a life, I know, but what can I say? I'm obsessed)!!! [begin spoiler] Here's my beef with it...I'm still trying to figure out how Edward was able to impregnate Bella. They explain in the book that female vampires are unable to get pregnant because they don't have eggs, ovaries and a uterus and all that fun stuff that requires someone to get pregnant. They are dead (undead?), so therefore their insides don't work. So how are male vampires exempt from this? How do they get to continue manufacturing sperm to impregnate female humans? I would think the same would hold true that their insides wouldn't work either since they are just as dead/undead as their female counterparts. But this is not the case for Edward and apparently some other vampire living in the Amazon. Where is the explanation as to how this works? [end spoiler]

I know, it's not only just a book, but a fictional book at that. But it still bugs me a bit!

Carrie M said...

I think you raise a good point though, b/c Meyer built an empire by building the trust of her audience and a lot of people feel like she turned all that upside down and felt betrayed. that mythology/biology was a big kicker for a LOT of people.

Spoilers ahead... While I can't say Meyer did a very good job of explaining how Edward could have gotten her pregnant (and btw, I SO don't remember it being explained that vampire women couldn't get pregnant, although I accepted that fact. Did Rosalie say it during her chapter of exposition?), but obviously, there were other half vampires. Also, the males are still venomous, the females aren't. Maybe that translates to other, fluids. That's my best guess. However, I still think she could have done - and absolutely should have done, as a service to her fans/readyers - a better job in working all of that out.

I personally think also that there wasn't nearly enough Edward or the Cullens, b/c seriously, that's what we love. Although interestingly, people still looooooved New Moon. That's my least favorite of the series for obvious reasons. I did think the story was fantastic once she introduced Italy/the Volturi.

After I read BD, I thought it was fantastic. It's been a week since I finished it and I've now revised it to I love it, but it was far from fantastic. I can think of more problems with the book than not, but I still loved it. Go figure.

As for Rob Pattinson - I've liked him since HP and found out that he was cast as Edward when I was just starting New Moon, so I didn't have many preconceived notions about Edward. I thought Rob fit them perfectly, but what I think is so interesting about the whole Rob thing is that SO MANY girls/women have become diehard Rob fans now that he's been cast as Edward. I don't think that's coincidental.

Jena said...

Lauren--well said. also, I don't see how there's anything wrong with enjoying teen books when you're past your teens. (I'm 30. It's good that I like teen books, 'cause I'm also a former teacher with a lot of librarian and teacher contacts who want me to keep reading books they can tell their students about.)

Carrie M & Sicilian Mama--Meyer did explain that vampire women couldn't get pregnant because their bodies froze in time--and their skin couldn't adjust to accommodate a kid, anyhow. and somehow men being able to reproduce their whole lives had something to do with why Edward's seed was still viable. (doesn't it sound dirty, using the word "seed"?)

Lauren said...

Oh man! I'm excited this got so much attention!

Airam - I never finished The Host! I plan on finishing it, really, but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe the characters were too similar. Review it once you're done, I'm really curious as to what other people think of it!

Sicilian Mama (1) - Thanks! Like you, I think i'll enjoy it more second time around as well. We'll see. I was equally as confused about happened. How it was POSSIBLE.

Carrie M (1) - Thanks! Yes, the chapter titles were hilarious!

Spoilers start here: I was also wondering how Bella's aversion to blood was going to be brought up. It never was, which was strange! I agree that most girls love the book BECAUSE of Edward. I think, ideally, every young girl wants to fall in love with a guy THAT PERFECT. Kind of books you off real life guys, doesn't it? Heh.

Sicilian Mama (2) - (Spoiler) YES! That's exactly what I was wondering. If girls can't have babies because their bodies practically die, how can guys And also, isn't venom in his body? So wouldn't he impregnate her with venom? Weird.

Carrie M (2) - Spoilers - I think the "we can't have babies" part IS discussed when Rosalie tells Bella about her past. I missed the Cullens as well. I missed Alice, actually, as she's my favorite character and she's gone for HALF the book! I really thought Jasper would be touched on some more, as he really doesn't have much of a characterization, but no. I felt like she could have brought the family in to the book more--to appease me at least. :)

I do think Robert Pattinson will do a good job. He looks it, really. I think the film is well cast and I suppose we'll see what happens. I'm nervous, though, because some of the previews just look...wrong.

Jena - Thanks! I figure i'll be in my 50s and still reading teen books. They're just interesting to me! And, yes, it does sound hilariously dirty using "seed." I suppose that's right, though. Hmmm..

Thanks for all your comments, ladies! :)

Carrie M said...

RE The Host - it took a good 150 pages for me to get invested in it. I think I only read those 150 pages over the course of like 5 days. Then it took me two days to finish it b/c I got sucked in. I don't know what it is about Meyer. She is NOT a good writer, and she has some messed up themes in her books, but she sucks people in.

Thanks for the reminders on vampire women, ladies. I guess I DO need to go back and read the books...and not skip over the non-Edward parts. LOL

Airam said...

Carrie, I don't feel so bad now. I've been on page 74 for I don't know how long now.

Anonymous said...

(I am a reader of a reader of a reader of yours and I found this entry by accident and felt I had to comment...)

Why doesn't anyone ask the following question about the whole twilight series:

You know how Edward can barely stand it when Bella is bleeding.. and even runs away when she gets a papercut.. I wonder what he does when she's on her period? I know it's gross but one has to wonder... they never make mention of the fact that Edward has to disappear for 3-5 days out of the month. Just something that was bothering me...

Sicilian Mama said...

anon - believe me when I say that this question has crossed my mind as well. I just didn't dwell on it like I did with the mechanics behind Bella getting pregnant.

I read an article in Entertainment Weekly a few weeks before the book was released where they were interviewing Meyers and she said that she gets this question all the time and is grossed out by it. So she won't answer it. Personally, I think it's a valid question. But whatevs.