Saturday, August 16, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

In preparation for this review, I went back to my review of Eclipse from 2007. My same frustrations from Eclipse are all found in Breaking Dawn. I had hoped for a really rock star ending to this series, but it's really more of the same. Then I remembered what my friend Jeanna said 3 years ago: it's a romance novel. (Gail Gauthier also emphasizes this.) Still, I was disappointed in missed opportunities for blood shed and action.

By the way, spoilers abound.

I had hoped that the brouhaha over this book would be to my advantage. (If they hated it, maybe I'll like it!) After finishing the book I wasn't sure why the ardent fans were turning against it. It seemed like standard Meyer material to me. I don't take issue with Bella and Edward married and having a kid. Nor do my feathers ruffle over a perceived anti-abortion message. This was one part of the book that totally and took me by surprise and I liked it. I thought the unknown "creature" growing in Bella provided great tension and that's something that has been lacking in these books. Maybe because my own belly beast thumps and somersaults to no end that I found this part of the book to be so interesting. Overly lengthy and repetitive? Of course. It's Meyer's book after all.

Like the previous, Breaking Dawn drowns in mind-numbing, repetitive dialog. I suffered through page after page of same old same old. Here's a snippet, slightly edited for length:

He didn't move.
Nothing. So, this would be a monologue, then.
"I'm not sorry, Edward. I'm... I can't even tell you. I'm so happy. That doesn't cover it. Don't be angry. Don't. I'm really f---"
"Do not say the word fine." [...]
"But I am," I whispered.
"Bella," he almost moaned. "Don't."
"No. You don't, Edward."

This could have come from any of the previous books. This scene is post-coital, BTW. ::shivers::

Jacob and Bella's "you're my best friend"/"I don't know why I do this to you/myself" also returns. These passages weigh the book down. It is absolutely unnecessary that this book is as long as it is. So much time is spent rehashing old events. What a waste. BTW, they're shape-shifters, not werewolves.

The biggest letdown is The Big Ending That I Believed Was Surely Coming. No luck. It ends happily for Bella and Edward and that's super. It's just the most anti-climatic climax ever.

The Volturi finally make an appearance on page 697 (of 754). Prior to that there is the preparation for their arrival which means various friends and acquaintances of the Cullens arrive to act as witnesses to the fact that Renesmee (Run-nez-may) is not a pure immortal child but half-human and therefore not the threat assumed. This gang of misfits marked another high point of the novel for me. Don't ask me names or anything because I have a hard time keeping them straight, but they were a nice addition to the story around the 570 page mark. Also, Alice and Jasper unexpectedly abandon everyone, but not before Alice leaves some clues for Bella to decipher so that Renesmee may survive. (Recall that Alice can see some of the future.) I found this little mystery super fun and a refreshing change of the storyline. Bella handles this part of the story all by herself. No way! Way.

More or less, this is how the non-climax goes down. The Volturi come with their brute force and witnesses to the baseball field clearing. Jacob stands with Bella, Edward, and Renesmee while the rest of the wolves surround the forest. The Cullens and friends face off against the Volturi Posse. Greetings exchanged. Accusations made. Explainations offered. Some vamp powers extended in a kind of bully tug-o-war pissing match. One vamp is killed! More discussion among the vamps in each group. Questions asked again. Waiting. Talking. And a final chit chat before ALL. IS. A-OK. No need for an all-out vamp-tastic battle! Stop hissing now! Just a simple misunderstanding. How civilized.

How dull. How easy.

I'm glad the series is over. It was quite a ride with some good times and some mind-numbingly lame times. Meyer certainly rocked the YA lit world and produced books that teens wanted badly. I look forward to discussing Breaking Dawn with the girls at the teen book club next week as I'm sure it will be the topic of discussion. I haven't had the opportunity to talk to teens about the story yet and I am very curious to hear what they have to say. (Although I do hope someone read Skin Hunger.)

P.S. Stephenie. Thanking just the booksellers for making your series a hit? Boo!

Must read review: Bookshelves of Doom (Schlitz was a good idea.)
Elsewhere: Twilight Moms


kathleen duey said...

Thank you for your original review of Skin Hunger and for what is implied here. I stumbled across it looking for Breaking Dawn reviews.

Sacred Scars is within a few weeks of finished--to be released summer 09. I can't wait to see what Sadima does with the ordeal she is facing. Hahp has a huge decision to make, too, and I am not at all sure what he will do. The course of the book has suprised me over and over. I think it's good. We'll see...

Thanks for being a librarian and saving knowledge and literacy--and civilization.

Anonymous said...

Well, written review. I, on the other hand, was to angry or dissapointed to elaborate on my disenchantment with Breaking Dawn.

Patti said...

She just thanked booksellers? Lameity, lame, lame...

You didn't talk about the gross imprinting on Bella's daughter. Or the dude who imprinted on the 2 year old in the previous book who is sort of "raising" his wife. Puke.

I liked that you had your own belly beast :) Yay for babies!

Patti said...

By the way, I just talked to one of my favorite teen patrons and when I asked her if she was reading the series she said yes, "but I vowed not to read the fourth. After reading about it online and hearing about the vampire baby, I absolutely refuse to read it." She rocks.

Good review by the way! "Overly lengthy and repetitive? Of course. It's Meyer's book after all." Too true, too true.

joanna said...

I did leave out the imprinting. I meant to go back and add it, but the review was getting long. I also lamented the early exit of Leah. She had potential. I don't blame her for it though after Jacob imprinted. Seriously girl, just move away.

And HELLO to Kathleen Duey! Patti and I love Skin Hunger (hence its pick as a teen book club selection). Can't wait for Sacred Scars.