Friday, August 27, 2010

Review of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4)***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE TWILIGHT SAGA, INCLUDING BREAKING DAWN***

When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?


To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life—first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse—seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?

The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.


I have finally finished reading the infamous Twilight saga and finally have an idea of what all the fuss was about. I can see where the ending of Breaking Dawn satisfies audiences and leaves them feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I'll admit, I even gave a little contented sigh when I closed the book. However, when I thought of everything I thought the book could have done better, that went away. I enjoyed reading this well enough, but thought it left a good deal to be desired. I'm not by any means saying that I could have done it better, or that I know someone who could have. I think Meyer herself could have done it better, and I'll get into that as this review continues.

So much about Bella and Edward's story seemed unrealistic and to go against several of the themes which Meyer had set up earlier in the saga. For example, Bella and Edward don't get intimate until after they're married, and they're rewarded by having awesome, pleasurable sex. I'm okay with that. I was more irked by the fact that Bella woke up covered in bruises. I understand that Meyer might have done this to show that a.) sex with a vampire is way different than it is with a human and b.) very few people's first time is flawless. I think it bothered me because I'm worried that young, impressionable girls will pick up this book and feel that's what they should have expect out of their sexual experiences. I realize that this fear might be unrealistic, but it still worries me. I'd like to add that I realize that it is not Meyer's or any author's job to depict an entirely positive relationship. I'm sure some authors probably do otherwise to teach a lesson, or for some reason that is entirely unbeknownst to me. I think that as I read any genre in literature but particularly YA, I need to get over the fact that not every story should will send out an obviously positive message and that even if I don't get it, there could be a good reason for this. I also didn't like that Bella and Edward had to marry to come into happiness, because I don't necessarily believe that to be the case in real life, but I'm pretty sure Meyer is Mormon so I won't go on and on about it but instead accept that it probably factored into her choice of ending.

With this being said, I was happy to see Bella and Edward's relationship evolve. It was great to see her get so much more self-esteem upon becoming a vampire. I noticed at one point that Bella referred to her before and after selves as "hideous human" and "glorious immortal" However, I did think it sad that she could only achieve this as an immortal, and that it could have happened say after they got married and Bella realized how much Edward loved her. Again, this is a matter of personal preference, and while I would have liked to see this happen, I know it's not Meyer's duty to represent everything positively. For more on this subject, please see the rant about myself as a reader at the end of the above paragraph. Another thing I'd like to add about their relationship is that it didn't feel like Bella and Edward had to put in much effort to have this perfectly magical relationship. In the real world, there's usually some kind of sacrifice or compromise, or it's just not as easy as this. As the song "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 says, "It's not always rainbows and butterflies / It's compromise that moves us along." I realize that I'm kind of a dork for liking such a cheesy song, but I do and I ask you to forgive me. Hopefully someone else agrees with me that there is some truth in those lines. While Edward and Bella may be special because they are immortal, it's their human qualities, such as Edward's chivalry or Bella's insecurities and normality which have drawn readers in it. Why not make the effort to make things work feel more human?

As for Jacob, I spent the first half of this book being really annoyed at him. I grew to really dislike him in Eclipse, so I came into this novel biased. I thought Meyer did a lousy job with the chapter titles for his section, and got annoyed at him for being so emo at times. I felt that in the earlier part of the book he overstepped his boundaries many, many times. This isn't really fair of me, because I've never really gone through a heartbreak as intense of Jacob's or his exact situation. One day when I've felt more intense heartbreak and am a bit more mature than I am today, I think I'll address Jacob's story with a bit more empathy. I was glad to see him calm down by the end of the book and develop an interest in caring for Renesmee. On the note of the birth scene, all I will say is that I found the violence unnecessary. Anyways, I didn't actually mind him and Renesmee being together (or the prospect of it). For some reason I felt that with her he was still protective, but not as crazy and pushy as he sometimes was with Bella. I was impressed by the sacrifices he made, so by the time I put the book down I was much happier with him. I just left that storyline saying, "Meh, if you say so." Yeah, it felt unrealistic and infeasible, but I've kind of grown to expect that from this series. By that point I had spent so much of this book going "WHAT?!?!?!" that I just kind of thought, "You know what? Oh, never mind, forget it, I'm too angry about ____" (insert one of my other gripes there).

And speaking of unrealistic, the ending. Oh, the ending. That just was so anti-climactic to me. It felt like a cop-out thataws meant to give readers what they want. I would have liked to see more time devoted to something like a real fight scene, and cut down on some less action-packed part of the book because, to be honest, the story did drag in a few places.

Since I've spent so much time talking about what I didn't like, I'll devote a few minutes to something which I thought Meyer did particularly well, specifically some of the scenes after Bella's transformation. I think Meyer did a great job with writing the scenes where we see the world through her vampire eyes. If there had been great descriptive writing like that throughout the series, I would have enjoyed it more.

On the whole, I'm glad I read this series. It's made me think a lot about what sells, and about all the different kinds of messages books can send out to young adults. It's also made me seriously consider my own faults as reader. I enjoyed it as over-the-top romantic literature and as someone who enjoys happy endings, but I definitely think it could have been done differently and better. Again, I in no way claim think that I could have done it better and believe that Meyer showed in some places that she could have. At any rate, I will definitely pick up The Host at some point, and check out any future novels Meyer will publish (including those affiliated with this series), because I'm curious to see where she will go and how her writing will evolve throughout her career.

3 comments:

  1. AWESOME review. I consider Breaking Dawn the worst book I've ever read, but it really helped me figure out how to view novels critically.

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  2. Love the review!!

    You should definitely try The Host!

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