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Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
(Let it be known that I have no intention of insulting the book, any characters from the book, the author, or any readers who may or may not disagree with me; my only purpose through this review is to point out the obvious flaws of the novel and inform potential readers that they may be reading it at their own risk, and may or may not enjoy it - and to let my opinion be known.)
Breaking Dawn is the fourth and final book to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga, and, although I had been waiting for it for ages, I was extremely disappointed. Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved Twilight and couldn't put it down when I first read it, and even the many times that I re-read it. New Moon was a pretty good follow-up - not as well written, certainly not as interesting for an avid Edward/Bella fan like I am, but necessary to carry out the plot that Stephenie Meyer had in mind. Eclipse was an extreme disappointment to me, mainly because Edward started to lose his personality, Bella was too immature and dependent, Jacob was too forceful, and Bella randomly decided out of the blue that she loved Jacob. But I still hoped that Breaking Dawn would be better and would conclude the series wonderfully. Unfortunately, my hopes were far too high.
I could write (and have written) over twenty pages on why I disliked this book, but I doubt anyone would want to read that. So I'll start with a brief summary of the novel: Book I starts with Edward and Bella getting married and going on a honeymoon during with the latter gets pregnant. Then starts Book II, which, by far, was more interesting than the other two, and is told in Jacob's point of view. Jacob has been agonizing over whether or not Bella will return from her honeymoon and, if she does, whether she'll still be human. He soon discovers that she has returned and cannot be seen by any of the humans she knew in Forks, but not because of the reason he previously thought - because she's pregnant. The rest of Book II goes on to describe Jacob's pain and, after a series of ups and downs and hope and despair, Jacob's POV ends with him seeing Bella's child for the first time, and imprinting on it. Book III starts with Bella's transformation, which was done more out of necessity to sustain her life than out of choice, and continues into a dull and unexciting confrontation with the Volturi. The novel ends happily with no actual conflict other than the pregnancy, and, although the somewhat dull events that occured in Breaking Dawn could have been written in a much better way, they weren't.
My main problem with this novel is that everyone's problems all work out easily and the characterization that had been so wonderful in Twilight starts to deteriorate. Bella's character especially - she doesn't even aspire to have children, but as soon as she finds out she's pregnant, she gets amazingly happy and somehow decides that that was what she had wanted all along. I was hoping that Bella would develop as a character in Breaking Dawn, since she failed to in the other books, and would become more independent, but no: her lack of personality isn't explained or resolved at all. I mean, her entire existence, since somewhere in the middle of Twilight, is defined by Edward, not by herself as her own person. And don't even get me started on her power. There was an amazing chance to develop her personality through that, but no - Stephenie Meyer just had to go and give Bella some shield so she could finally protect everyone she loved and not depend on them so much. But even with the shield, she doesn't find her independence - she's still defined by Edward, and has no personality of her own.
It really doesn't make sense how Edward could get Bella pregnant if it's mentioned various times throughout the books that vampires don't have any bodily fluids, but I'm not going to delve deeper into that particular aspect of the book. It just doesn't make sense how the author can just go and contradict the rules she established for her own books.
The writing in Breaking Dawn, compared to that in Twilight and even New Moon, could have been much, much better. Grammar wasn't top-notch (maybe her editor was sick or something), a lot of words seemed out of place, and the consistency was terrible. For example, in the second or third chapter, Bella is giving Charlie pancakes, and he's suddenly speaking through a mouthful of cereal and grinning into his cereal bowl. What cereal? She was making him pancakes, not cereal!
Don't get me wrong; I wanted a happy ending, too. I wanted Bella to become a vampire and to resolve her conflict with Jacob, and I wanted and had expected the Volturi to return. But I also wanted an intense fight - or at least some sort of conflict - with the Volturi, and at least a brief mention of what Bella was giving up when she became a vampire. But wait - Bella didn't have to give up a single thing! Amazing: she can just somehow skip that initial ten-year period of intensly overwhelming hunger and rampage that every other vampire has to go through. Not only that, but she had remarkable self-control, and a power, to boot! Amazing - so people really can get perfectly happy endings without having to give up anything? At least, Bella can - and without a struggle or even deserving it! After all, what has Bella been through? Not enough to be worth the amazingly happy ending she receives.
It also doesn't make sense how Jacob can suddenly accept her as a vampire and be happy with her. And, okay, I really felt bad for him in Breaking Dawn and wanted him to imprint or find someone else, but based on his book, I had expected him to end up with Leah, especially based on how they grew to understand each other and how their characters actually developed and grew (those two each knew what the other had been through; they could really relate, but then Leah somehow disappears and Jacob's all happy with Nessie). But no - he just has to go and imprint on Bella's child (how incredibly sick is that?!). (Well, it does sort of answer why he was so attracted to Bella, but then what about his animadversion to Edward? Nessie is, after all, just as much of her father as she is her mother. And I can just imagine what Jacob will tell her when she's older - "Hey, I used to love your mom.")
Bella, the heroine of the novels, is so incredibly immature that it makes no sense how Edward could love her. And it makes no sense how she could suddenly become a responsible mother. Throughout all four books, she was so incredibly dependent on Edward and had no life other than him (and occasionally Jacob), which is seen especially in New Moon when she pretty much ceases to exist when Edward leaves. She's too dependent and immature to be a mother, and nowhere near responsible enough. And the reason why she agrees with Edward to wait until after their married to turn her into a vampire? Yeah, it's so completely immature how she feels that that 'one human experience' that she wants with him is the only thing keeping her human - as if it's the only thing worth being human for.
The book was supposed to be about her 'choice' of becoming a vampire or staying human, but instead, it's about her being herself - a selfish, imprudent, immature girl who doesn't learn from her mistakes - Edward, who, for some reason, is so incredibly smitten with her, enough so that he'll completely lose his personality to appease her, Jacob, who suffers so much but then falls in love with Bella's child, and Nessie's conception and Bella's pregnancy, both of which are not explained much. The back of the book jacket says something about Bella having to make a decision and having to face 'devastating' and 'unfathomable' consequence. The unfathomable part they got right - the consequences were completely unrealistic. Oh wait! There were no consequences! Bella somehow gets everything she wants and doesn't have to give up anything except for her beating heart, which she was so eager to throw away anyway.
Edward's character - or lack thereof - was disappointing. He completely loses the personality that garnered him so many fans in the first place - where were the sarcastic and cynical comments that gave him such a large fan-base in Twilight? The cute over-protectiveness with which he regarded Bella? The concern for her safety and romantic moments between the two? No - everything that made me love him originally disappears successfully in Breaking Dawn.
The wedding was a scene that I had been looking forward to after Eclipse. It could have been romantic and cute, but instead, it's just a blur that focuses mainly on how amazing Edward is - his sweet breath and cold skin and marble-like body. It had such potential to be an amazing scene, but instead, it passes by in about ten pages, as if the scene was written just to get it out of the way. This probably wouldn't have bothered me so much if it hadn't been such a main focus of discussion in Eclipse, but no - after all the anticipation and waiting, it just passes by to make way for whatever else follows.
Or maybe I just really disliked the book because it was lacking. It wasn't that joke that tried to disguise itself as a plot - because, oh yes, that plot was a complete piece of tomfoolery. It wasn't the utter disgust that the whole Jacob/Nessie thing radiated, and it wasn't the ending, because that last scene may have just been the best on in the whole book. Maybe it was the 'fight' scene that nearly a hundred pages were spend preparing for - all that worry, anticipation, preparation, all for naught. Because the Volturi would really just come and leave without a fight. The conflict in itself is resolved in less than twenty pages of mostly dialogue and how Bella feels trying to shield the minds of the other vampires and shapeshifters, and planning Jacob's and Nessie's great escape that doesn't even happen. (The book probably would have been more exciting if it had happened.) Yeah, because that was really what I wanted to read about after Twilight, which, by itself, was amazing.
And then there's Jacob. Before Breaking Dawn, I couldn't imaging liking him - ever. But somehow, seeing (or reading) the world through his eyes (or words) makes him seem liked the most alive and dynamic character in the whole series. Previously, I would have found the very fact that he becomes my favorite character utterly despicable. He was totally used by Meyer in the second two books to create a soap-opera love triangle (just as the Volturi were used to promise some serious action, which, by the way, never came). And his story-line and involvement with Bella could have made for a great conflict in Breaking Dawn, but, of course, the author just gets rid of the werewolf (oh wait, I mean shapeshifter, because, you know, she can suddenly just say that they're actually shapeshifters and not werewolves and that they were previously having identity crises. And, of course, the Cullens knew all along, but just didn't want to tell you) and erases any chance of a potentially interesting storyline. And I actually started to really like him during Book II of Breaking Dawn. He became a really well-rounded character with an actual likeable personality, but as soon as Renesmee comes along, he imprints and then his personality disappears for the rest of the book. What a waste that was.
Okay, I'm going to suppress my urges to write a hundred page book on why Nessie is so completely wrong. I won't even get started on her name. But how is it - or maybe WHY is it that both Bella and Nessie can get whatever they want? Bella only has to be pregnant for a month, and half-human Nessie can conveniently age super-quickly until she's about seven years old, when she'll stop aging with the convenient appearance of seventeen-year old teenager. And there are so many unanswered questions about her, too - when she stops aging, will her heart stop beating? Will her skin lose its warmth? (Because, technically, she'll be a 'full' vampire then, just not as strong or fast or thirsty as one.) If a vampire bites her, will she turn into one? Or will a vampire's venom have the same affect on her that it would on Jacob (since they have the same amount of chromosomes)? Can a vampire suck her blood? So much about her is left out, even when she's such a main focus. And it was complete overkill how everything surrounding her turned out so perfectly. I hated how Meyer made Nessie out to be like a monster in the womb, but was somehow loved by everyone once she was born. It was creepy how she was destroying Bella, and how fast her mind was aging. And, of course, the birth was just so horrible for Bella that she had to be turned into a vampire midway just to make it all work out fine - and there goes another prime conflict of the novel: everyone has to accept Bella's transformation because it was done out of necessity rather than by choice. Goodbye, conflict and interest and anything else that may have made this novel better.
Overall, so much could have been done to make Breaking Dawn so much better. It wasn't necessarily the plot (if there even was one), but the way the events transpired and caused that so-called 'plot' to unfold. Stephenie Meyer, who proved that she could be a good writer and have great plot lines in Twilight, has outdone herself with the conclusion to the series - nothing could have been more egregious.