Book Review: Stephanie Meyer, “Breaking Dawn” (2008)

Spoiler Warning: This review reveals major details about the book’s plot

I read all of Stephenie Meyers’s Twilight books within a span of about a week last summer.  The series, as  a whole, was fairly inconsistent- the first book, Twilight, was decent enough and fairly enjoyable. New Moon was absolutely horrible.  Eclipse was easily the best book in the series.  I was curious to see how the story would come to an end with the final entry, Breaking Dawn.

Breaking Dawn once again revisits the love story of human, Bella Swan, and her 107 year old fiancé, Edward Cullen– a vampire.   As the series has gone on, Edward and Bella’s relationship has seen various struggles, including Edward breaking up with Bella, various arguments over whether or not Edward would bite Bella and turn her into a vampire, and another love interest in Bella’s life- her best friend/werewolf, Jacob Black.

The story is 756 pages, and is split into three parts.  The first part of the story is about Edward and Bella’s long anticipated wedding and honeymoon.   The second part of the novel is quite a change for the series overall- for the first time, the narration is taken from Bella, and given to Jacob.  The third section of the book is about Bella’s life as a vampire and sees the return of the vampire counsel, the Volturi.

Twilight has always been about the relationship between Edward and Bella; their love for each other, and the romance within their union.   The entire Twilight fandom, and myself included, were incredibly excited to read the first part of the story, in particular- finally, Edward and Bella get married.  However, the wedding was a complete, and utter disappointment.  Meyer spent pages describing minute details, such as Bella’s wedding dress, and how Edward’s sister, Alice, helps her get ready- however, when the actual nuptials are exchanged, the whole scene seems brushed over.

Even more disappointing was the honeymoon sequence.  Throughout the story, Edward and Bella have been unable to consummate their relationship, because as a vampire, Edward’s strength was too much for Bella’s human body to handle.  Somehow, this is forgotten for their honeymoon, and they finally do have sex, despite the fact that Bella is still a human- contradicting Edward’s resistance throughout the entire series.  That’s not the worst part, though- Meyer, who, up to this point, has written detailed scenes of Edward and Bella making out and getting hot and bothered- choose to gloss right over the actual love making scene.  I didn’t expect her to write some detailed smut, seeing as how the target audience is still young adults, but she merely fades to black, without even a kissing scene or anything, as if millions of readers had not been waiting for this moment for the whole series.  Utterly disappointing.

The misfires just continue.  My biggest complaint with the book, and the entire series, and Meyer as a writer, is the next twist in the plot.  A few days into their honeymoon, Bella discovers that’s she pregnant.  Yes, pregnant.

Never mind that Edward is over a hundred years old, and DEAD.  Never mind that he has no human fluids within his body (he can’t use the bathroom, has no salivia, etc).   Never mind the fact that Stephenie Meyer herself did an interview several years ago, before Breaking Dawn was written, and said that vampires could not get pregnant or get anyone pregnant (she has now since retracted her statement, saying that she meant that two vampires couldn’t get pregnant).  However, let’s look at the simple physiology of all this anyway:

Edward is dead.  He has no living sperm inside his body.  He has no human fluids inside his body.  His body is filled with venom.   Meyer had explained that from the beginning of the story.  Then, upon the criticism Breaking Dawn received, she also retracted that,  saying that Edward has bodily fluids which closely resemble a humans and that he has something close to sperm that carries genetic information.  Anyone who’s taken tenth grade biology knows that only human sperm can fertilize a human ovum, therefore her “logic” makes absolutely no sense, and if I didn’t think that Meyer was an idiot before, I certainly do now.

And let’s not even try to figure out how Edward was able to have “sex” anyway, given the fact that according to Meyer’s canon, he doesn’t even have blood flowing through his body and therefore couldn’t, well…you know, unless he’s always…well, you know.  Gross.  And again, Bella is still a human.  Edward is incredibly powerful, with a rock-hard body, compared to marble.  Wouldn’t the act of having sex terribly injure her, if not crush her completely?  Anyway, let’s over look all that.  For the most part, I’m okay with Edward and Bella having sex, whatever.

But getting pregnant?  How?  Why?  Edward’s filled with venom- wouldn’t whatever he ejaculated just be venom?  I was sure that he would’ve just accidently turned her into a vampire through intercourse.  I would’ve been fine with that.

But no, Meyer writes in this ridiculous plot so that Edward and Bella can have a “normal” family with a baby- except not.  Because things just get worse and worse.

It turns out that Bella’s baby is killing her; sucking the blood from her through the womb as the pregnancy goes on.  This part of the book is truly disturbing and something straight out of Alien, or a Stephen King novel.  Bella’s own child is slowly killing her, forcing Bella to have to drink blood (though she is still not a vampire) in turn to stay alive.  And then, in a scene which I won’t even do the justice of describing, Edward basically rips the baby from Bella’s stomach with his own fangs and it’s one of the most disgusting, gratuitously graphic scenes I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading.

Jacob’s part of the story is really only to introduce another horrifying plot line.  Werewolves “imprint” on someone whom they’re meant to mate with forever.  The beginning of Jacob’s part of the story involves him meeting Bella and Edward’s half human/half-vampire daughter, Renesmee, for the first time, and- you guessed it- imprinting on her.  A baby.

This is incredibly disturbing and odd.  If Jacob’s life in the book hasn’t been bad enough (oh, God, just read my reviews to see how I’ve felt about Meyer’s treatment of him), he gets the shortest stick of all in this story.  He’s still in love with Bella, but imprints on her daughter.  Whom is a baby.  A half-vampire baby, at that, causing problems within Jacob’s pack- as werewolves and vampires are natural born enemies.  And of course, the Cullen family (and Edward, in particular) are having a hard time excepting a werewolf as the future lover of the newest addition to their vampire family.

Okay, let me take a breather here.  Because the story, if you can believe it, gets worse.  When we switch back to Bella’s perspective for the third act, she gets changed into a vampire.  As the series went on, Edward constantly warned Bella that turning into a vampire wouldn’t be easy.  Newborn vampires sometimes have an insatiable thirst for human blood.  However, Bella wakes up as the perfect vampire- stunningly beautiful, incredibly strong, and with no such hunger- she goes straight to being a “vegetarian” and hunting animals like the rest of the family, despite the fact that’s she’s supposed to naturally thirst for human blood.

As the rest of the last part goes on, things get more and more over the top and outlandish.  It turns out that Renesmee is discovered by the Volturi, who see her birth as half human/half vampire as an abomination (they’re not the only ones!), and come to Forks to try and kill her and the rest of the Cullen clan.  There are a least a hundred pages devoted to Bella and the gang preparing for the Volturi’s arrival and the fight against them (including Bella discovering some supernatural talent that she has- see- she’s absolutely perfect!), but the actual confrontation between the Cullens and the Volturi is rushed and is resolved in about thirty pages.

It’s as if the Volturi- the most powerful coven of vampires- travel all the way from Italy, and go, “Oh, ya’ll gathered together to fight us?  And Bella has a superpower now, huh?  OMG!  ‘Kay, well, then, never mind.  Back to Italy we go.”  There is absolutely no conflict, after all those pages of build up, and the whole “fight” is incredibly anti-climatic.

The end of the book is basically thrown together, and resolved with a happy ending, of course.  That was the only part of the book I did enjoy- the end.  I was pleased that 1) Bella and Edward do have a “happy ever after”, and Meyer did put a little bit of romance into the end of the story, but I was mostly more excited about 2) The fact that this horrible book was finally ending.

It’s so strange to me the way this book was put together.  I don’t understand the people who thought Breaking Dawn was good, or enjoyed it.  Meyer breaking her own canon is one of the worst travesties in the novel.  Why would she write this story, create this universe, and then negate everything she’s taught us about her world in one book?  Just to give Bella and Edward a “normal” family?  They aren’t normal- they’re vampires, for God’s sake!

Jacob imprinting on Renesmee was incredibly disturbing and another effort to just make everything perfect for Bella and Edward, because of course, by the end of the book, Edward and Jacob have forgotten that they’ve hated each other for two whole books, and Edward calls Jacob “son”, officially accepting him into the family.

Bella being a perfect vampire from the start- despite every other vampire struggling to be vegetarians was also ridiculous.  And, of course, the whole Volturi ending was absolutely pointless and just dragged the story on even longer.

Even worse is the lack of Edward’s character in the story at all.  I think everyone knows the main draw of the Twilight saga is the dreaminess of Edward Cullen- however, Edward is hardly in the story, and when he is, he’s completely disturbing and out of character (one example of this is when Edward tells Bella to kill Renesmee once he realizes she’s pregnant.  Edward, the old-fashioned gentleman, is now condoning abortion?  This seems so out of character to me, and for Meyer, who is Mormon, to even write in her story!).   There is very little interaction between Edward and Bella once Renesmee is born; Bella focuses all of her former adulation for Edward on her perfect baby, and oh my God, the whole story is just sick and disturbing, and idiotic.

I never looked down on the Twilight saga.  Sure, Stephenie Meyer isn’t a good writer.  Sure, most of the books were weakly written, and poorly executed.  But Breaking Dawn is the worst one of all, in which every conflict from the entire series, every struggle, and basically everything we expected would happen is negated as Bella gets exactly what she wants.  Eclipse leads us to believe that Breaking Dawn would be about sacrifice, yet it is not.  Bella gets to be with Edward forever, with no more thought about the loss of her soul.  She gets a normal family, despite being completely abnormal vampires (and besides one other hybrid whom conveniently shows up towards the end of the novel, Renesmee is the only half vampire/half human baby in existence).  She gets to keep Jacob in her life, even though she chooses Edward.  She gets to be a perfect, beautiful, never aging vampire, without any sort of repercussion whatsoever.  She even gets to keep contact with her human friends and family- somehow miraculously explaining away her pale complexion, odd eyes, and strange baby to her father, who falls for it hook, line and sinker.

I’m not even sure I can sum it up nicely, so I’ll just say this: Breaking Dawn is, hands down, one of the worst books I’ve ever read, and a completely horrible end to the Twilight Saga.  The series would’ve been okay, had it ended with Eclipse, but Breaking Dawn tarnished the entire series for me.  The plot is horrible, the conclusion is terrible, the characters are dreadful, and the writing is absolutely appalling.  Stephenie Meyer should be sincerely ashamed for taking her own series and ruining it.

Rating: 256px-1_stars.svg

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