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Book Review: Breaking Dawn

Note: Spoilers ahead.

tl;dr: Thumbs Down. Although there were some successful moments, it was a very disappointing end to the Twilight series.

Breaking Dawn, by Stephanie Meyer

So. I finally finished ‘Breaking Dawn’.

It was very unexpected. So unexpected, so left field, that I’m honestly not even sure what to think. Before its release, I thought I had mentally prepared myself for every possible scenario that I could imagine Stephenie Meyer writing (Team Edward / Team Jacob / Jacob dies…etc. etc.) But this was so unexpected and…weird.

Unrealistic

The biggest problem I had with ‘Breaking Dawn’ is that it was too saccharine. The Twilight series as a whole has been criticized for this from the beginning, with many saying that the romance between Bella and Edward was too good to be true. However, I never saw it that way. I always felt that, in the end, no matter which path Bella chose, she would have to experience loss. In my mind, being with Edward, for example, would mean that Bella would have to give up her humanity, give up her family and the possibility of having children, and break Jacob’s heart.

‘Breaking Dawn’ took an unexpected approach, however, and ended with everyone happy. But things just don’t work like that in real life. Although the Twilight series is a fantasy, one of its strongest points was Bella’s realization that being with Edward ultimately would mean giving up a lot. Having Jacob imprint on Renesmee let Bella off the hook, and was a huge cop out on Stephenie Meyer’s part. Bella needed to break Jacob’s heart. Only with loss can we truly appreciate the things that we gain, but having Bella gain everything and lose nothing made ‘Breaking Dawn’ as shallow as its predecessors were accused of being.

Even Bella’s initial experience as a vampire was too easy. She did go through a lot of pain during the initial transformation, but afterward…where was the struggle that Edward had told Bella she would experience? Everything was just too easy for Bella, particularly her unusual ability to resist human blood.

Becoming a Vampire

I’m really glad that Bella became a vampire. It’s one of the things that I wanted to see happen in this book. However, once it did happen, I was a bit..underwhelmed. Bella just didn’t seem like herself; her clumsiness was gone, her innocence was gone…basically, all the quirks that made Bella so likable, arguably her most admirable traits, had disappeared from her character. Sure, becoming a vampire is supposed to be a huge transformation, but I don’t think it should have made Bella unrecognizable. Bella has always been so clumsy, someone who needed protecting…why was she suddenly very strong? Crazier things happened in this novel…I don’t think it would’ve been outside the realm of possibility for vampire Bella to be a little clumsy.

Renesmee

The strangest and most unexpected situation was the unusual twist of Bella and Edward having a half-vampire half-human child. I did not like the Renesmee storyline at all. Bella marrying Edward was a big enough step already, but having Renesmee was just too much. To me, the only reason Renesmee was necessary to the story was to easily resolve the Bella-Jacob situation, and it was convenient that she could also be at the center of the Volturi conflict, which shaped the last part of the novel. A novel’s elements shouldn’t seem like they were created out of convenience. Throughout the series, It was never suggested that Bella could have a child with Edward. Maybe if it had been brought up as a possibility before it wouldn’t have seemed so out of place. I felt like Stephanie was saying “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you this in all the previous novels, but you’re going to have to accept it anyway because its going to shape the entire book.”

Too Mature

I also have a big problem with Breaking Dawn not being YA. You can try to play it down as much as you want, but the fact of the matter is that Breaking Dawn was a very mature book compared to the rest of the series. While it was great to see the characters grow up, Bella is still 18. The unnecessary elements make it feel very disjoint from the other three in the series, especially the pregnancy, which was too dark and gory (Note: especially compared to the vampire stuff, which probably would’ve been more interesting had it been more violent, but in actuality was unusually tame).

Too Long

The book also felt too long, I think because of too many plot points. There were just too many ideas here. At times I felt as if Meyer didn’t want to say goodbye to her characters, and was keeping them around to tell the story longer than was needed. I think the Jacob section of the book, in particular, could’ve been shortened. As painful as it was to watch Bella go through the pregnancy–imagine her narrating it—and as much as I love Jacob, I can’t say that I was exactly happy spending so much time from his perspective. However, other things that I felt would be a HUGE conflict in this book, were quickly resolved: the vampire-werewolf treaty situation was resolved so quickly, I almost missed it.

—–

I just don’t really understand what Stephenie Meyer was thinking, why she decided to come out with a book so controversial and from such an unusual direction. The other three books in this series had a certain tone and rhythm , but the fourth seems very out of place next to the other books.

This is a review that I honestly didn’t want to write. I feel really disappointed. As much as I love the series, and as much as I really wanted to love this book, I just couldn’t. And unfortunately, as much as I tried to prevent it, ‘Breaking Dawn’ has left me feeling not as jazzed as I used to be about Twilight in general.

I’m glad Edward and Bella ended up together, and I’m happy with the choice to make Bella a vampire. These were not only the endings I wanted, but also the endings that I felt would make for a suitable end to the series. However, I can’t help but think that there could’ve been a much better, simpler way to get to these endings, one with at least a smidgen of reality.


Again, please let me know what you thought about ‘Breaking Dawn’, or post a link to your review in the comments! Thanks!

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  1. readerville
    August 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I had a lot of the same problems with Breaking Dawn , and my spoilerific review has been getting lots of traffic.

    Click here to read it.

  2. August 9, 2008 at 1:39 am

    I think that youre absolutely right.
    I used to love all the characters and I really expected -and wanted- some kind of huge war between legendary enemies. I thought that this “sci-fi novel for young adults” had too much sci-fi and forgot about teenagers, I’m a teenager myself and I hated the idea of Bella being a mom, it just seemed so out of place.
    I am really glad that I read your review because it is exactly the way I feel.
    I have almost lost my love for the characters and I think Meyer went so far from the original story just to attract people and make everyone happy, but she just blew it. 😦

  3. August 16, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  4. September 23, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Wew, I just started reading Twilight and I dont know how far Bella would go and it’s kinda interesting reading all of it in your blog.. ^.^

    keep up the good work ^.^

  5. Tanya K.
    November 3, 2008 at 12:14 am

    My first impressions while reading Breaking Dawn were that it was a little disappointing but as I got further into the novel I began to appreciate it more and more. Although the saga is supposed to be geared toward YA, I am 24 and thoroughly enjoyed all the books. I was glad to witness Bella maturing while becoming a wife and mother (and vampire!) in Breaking Dawn.

  1. January 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

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