To start with, I am a Twilight fan. I loved Twilight, struggled with New Moon (oh Edward!), and really enjoyed Eclipse. I had crazy high hopes for Breaking Dawn (didn’t we all?). I was also rooting for Bella to end up with Edward, to make the change to being a vampire, and for her to have some sort of awesome power that would give her the strength and self-reliance that was missing in the other books. So, actually, I got exactly what I wanted out of Breaking Dawn… so why am I so unhappy with it? Well, I guess for a lot of reasons. Forgive the exceptionally long review!
Okay, so I think a lot of my grievances with the story center around Renesmee (by the by… it really is an awful name… I know that’s kind of the running gag, but… ugh!). I was not looking for Bella to get pregnant or to go into the mothering role. I’m not going to get into Stephenie’s Meyer’s personal beliefs about marriage or parenting – I actually don’t feel like it applies. I think that Bella’s transition from nervous fiance to CALMLYANDSERENELYCARRYING A PART-VAMPIREBABYTHATWILLTEARITSELFOUT OF HERSTOMACHAFTERALMOSTSTARVINGHER TO DEATH was just totally unbevelievable. Yes, Bella’s always reacted with a stubborn sense of optimism towards vampires and werewolves… but this was just too much for me. If marriage made her that nervous, why on earth wouldn’t having a killer baby scare that bejeebus out of her? There was a great moment at the end of New Moon when Bella freaked out about the Volturi… that would’ve been a good reaction to this. For a start.
And then on to Renesmee herself… for a child that inspires people to love her, I certainly couldn’t make myself care about her. She went so suddenly from being monster nudger to angelic, smiling baby, I couldn’t make the transition. Her entire birth process was so creepy (Rosalie bugs the crap out of me throughout this story… ugh again!), it completely tainted her as a character throughout the book. Since I’ve spent the last three books caring about Bella and Edward hooking up, I think I harbored some resentment towards lil’ baby Nessie for ruining it for me.
Speaking of Edward and Bella – does Edward just disappear in the third book? The whole give and take between Bella and Edward totally evaporated in this book. So did her exchanges with Jacob. To me, this series is all about those interactions and relationships! But suddenly all I’m hearing about from Bella is that she is willing to give it all up in order to save her baby… whom I don’t care about. Edward should not just be relegated to hot nights of constant vampire sex and jaw-kissing! Ugh! I think that Meyer’s writing style is strongest when she has her characters interacting with each other, but what we get here, outside of Jacob’s book, is Bella’s summaries of those conversations. For a book that was closing in on 800 pages, it feels kind of silly for me to say I wanted to hear more of those… but I did.
And about those characters… I think she’s created an awesome cast for her stories. But again – where we they? Alice, who seriously has to rank up there in favorites (okay, at least for me!) disappears part way through the book. I couldn’t believe that everyone jumped to the conclusion that she had left because she was scared for herself and Jasper, that it was out self-preservation. It confused me, in fact. This was another spot where I think that the story needed some fleshing out, some explanation of the thought process, maybe some arguing between the family members. If I don’t find it plausible that Alice had abandoned them, then I think brilliant vampires might have a clue. I would’ve actually enjoyed Alice’s reappearance at the end if it would’ve been a surprise, but I always figured that she’d be back, with something to save the day.
On a slightly different thought line – what was the deal with breaking vampire rules? As in, oh, the only fluid they have is venom… oh, except for male vampires, they have semen. Oh, and half-vampires don’t have venom… oh, except for male half-vampires. WTH? This felt like bad writing – changing the rules of your world for the sake of a plot point that’s kind of weak to begin with. Ugh again and again!
And that brings me back to Bella. I had been teased and worried over her first year as a newborn vampire, learning to be herself again. And then, for once in Bella’s life, it all comes so easily to her… was that ever even cleared up? Was she well-prepared? Gifted in levelheadedness (pssh!)? What was the deal with that? Again, this felt like sloppy writing excusing a major Meyer-vampire rule so that we could have a story about Edward and Bella’s baby. For a book that has so many awful threats to their happiness, it certainly seems like they get everything that they want. It’s all overcome, without any detriment to the Cullen family, the wolves, or even Bella’s human friends and family – who, by the by, have totally dropped off the map.
I would’ve liked to see them deal with a challenge that wasn’t the Volturri, but rather having to overcome their own faults and issues. That was one of the things I liked so much about Twilight; Edward overcoming his innate nature to have a relationship with Bella and Bella stepping up to protect Edward and her own family. Perfect people are boring… and I hate to be bored by Bella, Edward, and Jacob (and the freaky baby!).
I do have some positives about Breaking Dawn. Jacob’s book was excellent. I have been an outspoken opponent to Jacob and Bella’s relationship. I was mad at Jacob about the way he manipulated her in Eclipse. But his perspective, while not making me want him to be with Bella, really made me appreciate him more. Seth and Leah also got a chance to shine and grow on me. I think I stayed in Jacob’s mindset for more of the book than was intended, and that says a lot for Meyer’s writing. It made it all that more depressing when the characters that had developed so much in Jacob’s book practically disappeared. His interactions with Carlisle and Rosalie, the way Esme mothered the pack, Alice’s use of Jacob and Seth as aspirin, that all shed new light on the Cullens that was interested and made me want to read more. And then it ended with babies chewing out of stomachs. Bleah.
I would really like to see some short stories from other characters’ perspectives… I think that Meyer has a strong list of choices if she wants to continue and do something similar to Jacob’s book. I’m also eager to see Midnight Sun, a flip side to my favorite book in the series. I’d also be kind of curious to see other writers dive in and try on the Meyer-vampires/werewolves, to see what can be added. It’s a strange feeling to have a finished a book and be very unsatisfied but also wanting more. Despite all my moaning and grumbling, I don’t think this was a bad book. It just wasn’t a good one. And it was and wasn’t what I had hoped for. Hooray for Bella for getting Edward and turning FINALLY! But boo for losing the tense relationships and romantic moments for lots of off-the-page sex scenes. The writing felt sloppy and disjointed; perhaps Meyer was getting tired of Bella?
If you made it to the end, I owe you one Grumblecake.