on May 29, 2009
While I've been known to exaggerate on occasion, I promise you I'm being completely serious when I say Breaking Dawn is the worst book I have ever read. The writing was atrocious, there was no drama and/or real conflict, and Meyer broke her own rules. Repeatedly.
Let's begin, shall we?
First, the writing itself was a huge problem. It's nearly impossible for me to believe Meyer was an English major in college. Maybe she was technically a literature major, but either way, she should have been exposed to enough decent writing to know how to produce it herself. And if she couldln't produce it from her own head, she probably had enough references to replicate it. Instead, Breaking Dawn reads like a terrible fanfiction. Meyer tends to overuse adjectives and adverbs, but does so in the least descriptive way possible. How did Bella look on her wedding day? I couldn't tell you, since Meyer never bothered to describe her dress other than to say it was satin-y. And how about the rest of the wedding ceremony? There were flowers "everywhere" and everyone looked "amazing." Thanks. I can totally picture that.
Bella is also the ultimate Mary Sue, which doesn't help Meyer's writing skills in my eyes. Bella is SO PERFECT. Everyone LOVES HER. Meyer's lame attempts to make Bella relatable by making her clumsy fall flat (pun intended), because the other characters think injury-prone Bella is adorable. Will Charlie object to Bella Sue getting married at 18? Of course not! Will Bella Sue become the most graceful vampire ever, even though she was the world's clumsiest person? You bet! Bella gets everything she wants in Breaking Dawn and sacrifices nothing.
There was also a conspicuous lack of drama and conflict in what should have been an epic conclusion to a series. As I mentioned above, Bella had no problem convincing Charlie that marrying Edward was the right decision. I was expecting more of an objection from the ol' sheriff. Denied. Jacob does make a small attempt to talk Bella out of turning into a vampire, but what could have been another interesting conversation is brushed aside by Bella. Why would she miss anybody she knew as a human? She'll be with her beloved Edward for all eternity; that's all she needs.
The sexy-time was also lacking. I'm not much of a smut fan, but I was hoping for more than a cheezy "fade to black" when Edward and Bella finally do the deed. After three books of anticipation and denial, Meyer doesn't have the balls to give us more than Bella walking toward Edward in the water. Seriously, Meyer? You can show Bella vomiting "a fountain of blood" but kissing before sex is too shocking? Nothing interesting here, folks.
There is also the issue of Bella's pregnancy. Nowhere in the previous three books, and I mean NOWHERE, did Bella mention a desire to be a mother. But as soon as Edward gets his vampire sperm inside her, she decides that motherhood is the most important thing on Earth. (Inconsistent much, Meyer? Another sign of bad writing!) I was expecting Bella to freak out, get angry at Edward, and blame him for ruining her life when she thought she could never get pregnant! But instead, Bella is inexplicably calm and instantly bonds with her "little nudger." Again, any drama that could have been just melted like an ice cube in Death Valley. The plot floats along...
The previously mentioned "fountain of blood" happens when Bella goes into labor. To make a long and rather gruesome story short, the baby almost kills Bella, and would have, had Edward not turned Bella into a vampire. Bella lays on a table for a couple of days until the venom stops her heart. She's dead! Let the crazed baby vampire gather her bearings! She's dangerous right now! Right? Wrong. Bella Sue is the perfect vampire, so graceful and strong. She requires almost no adjustment time, even though Meyer told us in previous books that new vampires are totally out of control. Again, all conflict nipped in the bud.
This leads us to Meyer breaking her own rules. Bella is totally in control of herself as a new vampire even though, according to Meyer's own words, it's totally normal and EXPECTED to have a lenghty adjustment period. Jasper struggled for years, but Bella gets the hang of things in a day. Of course. Meyer breaks the rules so Bella Sue can have her perfect life.
Meyer also gets into a sticky situation with Bella's pregnancy. According to Meyer, speaking through (I believe) Carlisle, vampires don't have any liquid in their bodies except for their venom. Last time I checked, sperm isn't venomous. Getting Bella pregnant should have been impossible if Meyer followed her own rules! That entire plot device (which only served to give Jacob something to imprint on) was an amateurish cop out that I would expect to find in fanfiction, not a novel written by an adult with a college degree.
Oh yeah, they named the baby Renesmee. Vomit.
And then Jacob imprints on it. Double vomit.
Allow me to backtrack for a second. I forgot to mention another scene that should have been exciting but wasn't: the confrontation with the Volturi. Yep, the leaders are back and they want to kill the Cullens for making an "immortal child." Finally, some action! The Cullens invite some vampire friends to gather at their house and fight the Volturi, which should be the epic conflict we've all been waiting for! Except it most definitely is not. It turns out that Bella has a shield she controls with her mind. All the does is put the sheild around everybody and they're impervious to weapons. The Volturi stand around and talk for a while and then... leave.
Breaking Dawn was a letdown in every sense. Meyer's writing didn't improve (it got worse, actually), there wasn't any tension or action, and a lot of the rules established in the first three books got thrown out the window.
Avoid this book at all costs.
(Note: Don't be fooled by the high number of five-star reviews; a lot of them are two sentences long and say things like, "BELLA AND EDWARD ARE IN LOVE!!!!1!11one" They may very well be, but that doesn't make it a good book.)
on June 10, 2009
I started reading this series after I heard a rave review on NPR during their "Guilty Pleasures" segment. The middle-aged gentleman described Twilight with such enthusiasm that I couldn't resist temptation. I bought the four-book set and settled in for a long weekend of reading.
Three days and 2400 pages later, I'd finished the four novels. I adored Twilight, tried not to slap whiny Bella during New Moon, and mostly skimmed through Eclipse trying to get to something interesting. Finally, I got to Breaking Dawn. I have never been so let down by a book in my entire life. I don't even need to go into all the ways that this book was horrible - the other reviewers have done that well. But, here I go anyway:
Wedding - So, Bella's wedding to Edward was not what she wanted, but what she was willing to trade for sex and immortality. The wedding itself was not her vision and in no way represented their unique love, but was instead a fantasy created fully by Alice's vision.
Honeymoon - Meyer is telling us that sex is scary and awful. You will have a lot of pain your first time and your husband, who puts you up on a pedestal, will hate himself for "hurting" you, no matter how yummy delicious it is. Oh, and once you do get some, it's pretty much the only thing you'll want, and your new hubby will reject you, mercilessly, due to his own hang ups. Woo! I gotta get me some of that!
Also, how come it's either a little french kissing or sex? How come no one ever talks about alllll that space in between those two extremes? What a perfect place for her to talk about sex and the implications of it, especially given her target audience.
Pregnancy - You will get pregnant the very first time you have sex. Pregnancy is the most horrible state you will ever experience. It will be stunningly painful as your body is taken over by something that hurts you, and tries to kill you, and eventually chews its way out of you. The bloodbath of child birth is fine - but it says a lot, to me, about Meyer that she can't write the sex, but can write the gore. Or maybe it's about society, and not Meyer at all. Take your pick.
Renesmee - Say it out loud. I dare you. Look, I get what Meyer was trying to convey here about the beauty of having a child, the connection that a newborn's family feels to the child and how fleeting childhood is. But come on! The massive gaps in logic and leaps of faith it takes you to get here are stunning. Stunning. And impossible.
Jacob - Sigh. Poor Jacob. This boy never had an ounce of pride, he submitted it all to Bella, only to find himself a pedophile in the end. How utterly freaking awful. (and yeah, I tried to go with the whole "it's fiction, not pedophilia" but I just couldn't get there. It was creepy.)
The Cullens - Who? No seriously though, Edward had a family? Where were they after page 150?
Renee and Charlie - So, while Renee has been the primary parent and the person that Bella is closest to for the entire series, suddenly she's just...absent. Laaaame. And suddenly Charlie is Bella's first concern, but we've been given absolutely nothing by way of character development to buy into this. Again, I say: Come on!
Editing: Look, I don't know who edited this book, but ZOMG! fire that person. There were so many errors it was distracting. Dialog tagging: use it. Also, adverbs are not your friends. If Bella "shyly" does one more thing, I'm going beat her with her own arm. If you have to tell us that people are chuckling, giggling, that their eyes are "tightening" (wth does that even mean?) then you're failing at description. If you must tell and not show, read some Willa Cather. She gets away with it. You don't. So stop.
Tone: I'm guessing that Meyer took a break from Twilight land to write "The Host" and that's why the entire tone of this novel is off. It just doesn't even sound like it was written by the same person.
At the end of this novel, I wanted to rewrite the whole thing myself. I wanted to see why Bella decided that she would marry Edward. I wanted her to give a damn about the wedding and see some reverence in it. I wanted to see a real deepening in her relationship with Alice. I wanted Esme to be more than just a paper doll mother figure. I wanted a real, honest to goodness sex scene that lived up to three freaking novels worth of some of the steamiest kisses ever. I wanted Bella to pay a price for some of her choices. I wanted that epic battle with the Volturi to actually happen. I wanted someone to die. Meyer cheated us out of the thoughtful endings that we get when good triumphs over evil. That's what makes life sweet, and makes us appreciate what we have - working for it, sacrificing for it.
Bella would have actually wanted to marry Edward. She would have cared about the decorations and Alice would have developed into a real sister, and not some overblown party planner. There would have been real sex - not smutty, but real, nonetheless. Pregnancy would have disappeared. Bella would have had to make the choice - between having babies and having Edward. She would have been cruel to be kind and given Jacob his freedom. Jacob would have grown and gotten over her, and moved on and found real love with someone who loved him back - maybe even Leah, since that ground was laid pretty well. Bella would have spent months being a newborn, filled with nothing but bloodlust. Jessica would be her first victim. The Cullens would have worked tirelessly to help her transform, and we could have gotten to know them all so much better. Rosalie might have died, doing something selfless for once in her life. That would have been doubly meaningful if Meyer rewrites the whole series from Edward's POV (ala Midnight Sun, which in rough draft form is head and shoulders better than Breaking Dawn.) Bella would have to give up Charlie and Renee for a while, but eventually they would be able to be in her life, altho in a much more limited way. There are a million possibilities that could have had a very nice happy ending, with a bit of bitter thrown in with the sweet.
Meyer is a great storyteller and an okay writer. If she gets a better editor and learns some discipline, she could be very good. I found this particular book to be a total betrayal of the earlier books, which is why my review is so harsh. Overall, I hope she keeps going, and I *really* hope she keeps going with Midnight Sun, which so far, I love.
on September 30, 2008
At the time, I was 12, and I had seen Twilight in book stores hundreds of times. I had never paid it any attention until one day I finally decided to read it. I had read the back cover, but it wasn't too informative, but I did gather the fact that it was typically about vampire love. So, against my better judgment, I thought "Well, if I've seen it this many times it MUST be good."
The beginning of Stephenie Meyer's writing leaves so much to be desired. In all of her books, for the first 150-200 pages I am bored out my mind, wishing for SOMETHING exciting to happen. I remember reading Twilight and being at least a hundred pages in and not caring about any of the characters at all. If they all decided to jump off a bridge I doubt I would have batted an eyelash. But then, something that changes the entire story occurs and it finally gets interesting 'till the point where I just can't put the book down. That is, until Breaking Dawn. I remember being at page 107, and looking at the 550-600 more pages I had to read and feeling like breaking down and crying. I wanted to chuck the book out the window and just have my friends fill me in on what happened, because I was just sick of it all. I had to force myself to read what I did, and every five minutes or so I got distracted by something around me because the book just couldn't hold my attention.
In Twilight, I instantly liked Edward because of what I thought he'd be, but then later I realized I got his personality all wrong. I imagined he'd be . . . I don't know, different. Deep, meaningful, calm, cool, collected. Not some overactive stalker. (He said to her face that when she got to Forks he WATCHED her SLEEP. I mean, mega ew much?) Bella, I hardly had much of an opinion on until much later. She wasn't strong enough for me to respect, didn't have enough of a personality for me to like, and wasn't practical or smart enough for me to even comprehend. Her boyfriend was a freakin VAMPIRE, and she's totally fine with that. She wasn't terrified, or even the slightest bit nervous, which makes no sense. Think about it for a second: If your boyfriend is a VAMPIRE, would you be THAT cool about it? You wouldn't be scared at all, when a month ago the thought of a vampire existing would have you laughing at the absurdity? But here, Bella is introduced to a world of vampires and werewolves and she's pretty much chill with it all.
Um, where's the conflict? Where's the "OMG YOU'RE A VAMPIRE?" Where's the "Ohmygoodnesswhatonearthisgoingon?" panic attack? Vampires and werewolves don't just waltz into everyday life and I expected at least SOME kind of resentment or hesitation Bella would have for Edward. But oh no, that would make too much sense.
In New Moon, I had the slight hope that maybe through the course of the series Meyer would have Bella grow and develop into a strong, wonderful and mature character. Sadly, she didn't. To the very end, Bella remains a selfish, impractical, and illogical girl who for the life of me I can't stand. Jacob was the only one with a sliver of a complex personality. He had a goal and did everything in his power to achieve it, and throughout the books you saw the different faces of his personality. Everyone else's personality could just be classified with one or two descriptions.
I won't even get into Eclipse, because I can never remember what it was about.
Okay, from the beginning. What was with that wedding? The wedding was something I was actually EXCITED about. I thought "Oh, wow, I wonder how Alice is going to out due herself." Honestly, I don't even remember what anything looked like. Weren't the colors white and blue? That's probably wrong, but then again that's Stephenie Meyer's horrible descriptions at work. Most of the time I just imagine what everything and everyone looks like for myself. I didn't even KNOW Alice had spiky hair until the third book when Bella patted her head. "What? Alice has spiky hair? Since when?" And I didn't have a single clue as to what Jasper looked like besides that he had golden eyes and was blonde, and then after Bella becomes a vampire they mention his scars. Oh, and there's also the fact that Rosalie is gorgeous. Well, come on now, how descriptive is that? Gorgeous HOW? Like, pretty pretty model gorgeous? Or sophisticated gorgeous? Or seductress gorgeous? Meyer, come on girl, surely you can be more creative than just using vague descriptions about people.
Now, the honeymoon was nice and all, something I thought she could have skipped until I saw the purpose it held. Bella gets pregnant! Oh joy! Oh hell. She's 19, and she gets pregnant. What kind of message was Stephenie Meyer trying to send to the young audience that reads her books? At least Edward had the decency to call Carlisle and assure Bella they would get Nessie out of her. (I am going to call her Nessie, because I think Renesmee is a hideous name and Meyer should be slapped for even considering it for the girl.) But what does Bella do? She stops him. She suddenly gets an overpowering sense of maternal instincts and wants to keep her baby. Bella didn't even really like children, and before then she never had the slightest thought about wanting one. But now, she's suddenly ready to die for this thing that's sucking the life out of her. In plain text, Bella isn't the motherly type. I wouldn't trust her to take care of my dog, let alone a baby. Isn't this the same Bella who did dangerous stunts to hear a voice in her head? Isn't this the same Bella who, on a whim, thought it was fine to jump off a cliff in a rainstorm? Being pregnant doesn't magically make you a mom, or magically make you mature. It makes you utterly terrified. No matter whom you are or how old, for any woman who gets pregnant, her first instinct is to have her mom there at all times. But does Bella call Renee? Nope, she calls Rosalie. ROSALIE, PEOPLE. That makes SO much sense.
Another point about Nessie: Wasn't she just the PERFECT baby? I mean, she was disgustingly perfect. I mean, when at all did Bella ever show any true motherly characteristics? I was surprised at Meyer, because she actually does have children, and I wondered what she was thinking when she wrote about Nessie. When did Bella ever feel the horrible strain that comes with taking care of a baby? Nessie was way too perfect. There was no constant feedings every two hours, there was no changing diaper after diaper, there was no shopping for baby clothes and supplies, there was no Nessie waking up at 3 AM and crying - which was a surprise, considering the head-board destroying sex Bella and Edward have every night. You'd think it would wake her up - and there was not much of anything. The only time Nessie cried was when she wanted Bella, which I thought was just plain ridiculous. (So what, she never wanted Edward?) Now, I understand that sometimes there IS such a thing as a quiet baby. I was one myself, and I never cried unless something was wrong with me, but there is no baby that just doesn't cry at all unless it wants its mom. That just doesn't happen. (Did anyone else feel Alice's statement that Nessie had never been set down in her life laughable? When I read that, I didn't know whether to fall out my chair laughing or give myself a face-palm and chuck the book into the dirt where it belonged. Honestly, I was surprised Nessie could even walk.)
May we move on to Jacob's point of view? I thought it was going to be, like, Jacob traveling the world from Canada to Mexico to South America to Greece and such on a spiritual journey to find himself and realize that he really, really didn't need Bella. But again, I was wrong and expected too much. No, instead he hangs around Forks, determined to stay with Bella until she has her monster baby and they turn her into a vampire. Oh, but there's a solution! They can abort the baby, and then Jacob can have a baby with Bella the NORMAL way, so Bella can still have a child. Btw, this was Edward's idea. Btw, Jacob agreed.
Ew, much. Ew on so many levels.
But I guess Bella isn't THAT sick because he didn't agree. One of the smartest moves she's made this whole series.
Another thing, I hated how Bella skipped the newborn stage. I was actually excited about that, wishing, praying that Bella would turn evil and start killing off humans. Wouldn't that be so interesting?! Her, the heroine, suddenly becoming the evil villain, using her vampire powers for her evil deeds. And wouldn't it have been beautiful if the Cullens and Blacks and Volturi and whatnot had to, oh goodness, KILL her to preserve the secret and save humanity? I would have loved Meyer if anything remotely relating to that had happened. But, as I've learned, I always expect this woman to redeem herself and the whole series be worthwhile, only to be continually disappointed.
So, why did Bella skip the newborn stage? Oh right, because it was her state of mind. She didn't WANT to be one, therefore she WASN'T. Because Bella is SPESHUL, therefore she can DEFY the natural laws Meyer has set up. But since Meyer just wants all her characters to be happy, even if it means doing so in the most illogical ways, she decided to have the most sugar-coated fairytale ending I'd ever read in my life that wasn't in picture book.
So, Bella gets everything she wants, including Edward, a baby, a family, immortality and tons and tons of sex? Check. Jacob has someone, even though she's 2 months old and it makes him a pedo? Check. The Volturi are defeated without actually engaging them in battle, causing the most depressing let-down in the history of potential battle scenes ever? Check. Sugar cakes and muffins and gummy bears rain from a glittering sky and Carebears run frolicking through the meadows of innocence as the final ending? Check. Well, well, Meyer, you've outdone yourself if I do say so myself.
on August 13, 2008
To quickly qualify my review - I discovered the Twilight Saga about a month ago, so I have basically read all four books as one 2500-page novel. I'm in my fifties, and the series was recommended to me by a 20 something guy at a bookstore. Bottom line, I can't speak to the young adult audience for whom the saga was written, and I didn't have years between books to ruminate about how it would all end. Also, whether the laws of Meyer's supernatural world were bent or broken during the writing of this book is for other reviewers to debate.
As I read the Twilight saga, the two things that carried me were the romance and suspense. The romance (whether you're a member of Team Edward or Team Jacob) was palpable throughout. The works that inspired the first three books in the saga - Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, and Wuthering Heights - number among the great romantic stories of our time, and Meyer adapted them brilliantly to her story of first love in town of Forks, WA. In terms of suspense, big battles never seemed to be the author's choice. Tense moments were built more out of implication than body count. The final showdown with James in Twilight seemed to me the most graphic battle of the first three books. The scenes with Laurent and the Volturi in New Moon were suspenseful, but no blood was shed in either. Even in Eclipse, the confrontation with Victoria and her minions played out like the chorus describing an off-stage battle in a Greek tragedy (with a bit of head rolling tossed in for good measure). So, tense and dramatic, yes. But violent and filled with depictions of hand-to-hand combat, no.
Having said that, I think that Breaking Dawn needed more of the kind of "Cowbell" that made me a fan in the first place. All the heat of that torchy, end-of-the-world, young love was reduced to a patio-sized chiminea. The newlywed's preoccupation with sex was not a problem for me. After all, these kids had two years of pent-up passion to work out of their systems. Heck, I was almost as frustrated as they were by the time they hit that island. For me, the issue had more to do with the small amount of screen time given to Bella and Edward's great LOVE. It seemed as though the wedding guests were still picking rice of our their hair when Bella's first bout of morning sickness made an appearance. Where was the cuddling, the pillow talk, the connection between two young lovers who have finally become one? As for the other kind of Cowbell, i.e., suspense, there's a good reason that no one ever refers to The Merchant of Venice as real page turner. While the play includes a great bit of debate over a pound of flesh, I never for one moment thought that a pound of flesh would actually be extracted. Same here. I didn't expect a limb-tearing, flying-head, re-do of The 300. That's never been Meyer's style. What I did expect, though, was to believe that the characters believed - even for a moment - that they were really in danger. And I didn't.
If I'd been Meyer's editor, I'd have advised her to go for more romance (with a capital R) between Bella and Edward, less Shylock and more Buffy on the battlefield, and I'd have given that vampire UN (like the U.S. Congress) the rest of the summer off. I wasn't Meyer's editor, though. I was just one of her many readers. And as one of her readers, I have to say that I had a pretty bitchin' summer thanks to the Twilight Saga. The story kept me turning pages for about a month, and I can't remember the last time I did that much reading without a thesis paper due at the end. Also, I think Meyer does a great acknowledgements page and, based on her recommendation, I discovered the band Muse. If it's possible for music to "sound like" a book, Muse actually evokes for me memories of the Twilight Saga. Pretty cool, eh?
I hope that the negative reviews of Breaking Dawn don't keep people from making a stop in the town of Forks. It's actually a pretty interesting place with some pretty interesting people -- and an inordinate number of really cool cars.
on December 12, 2008
UGH. This whole series was a travesty really, but like any good masochist I plodded through. By the time I got to Breaking Dawn I knew I was in it just for the laughs but sadly, it failed in that department too. I can honestly say this is one of the few books in my life that I've literally had to refrain from throwing against the wall in sheer frustration. There are just so many things WRONG here that it's hard to sum them all up succinctly.
Reasons why this thing almost ended up as wall fodder ( **warning, spoilers below**)
1. Our heroine barely out of high school really REALLY wants to have sex with her sparkly boyfriend. Okay, whatever. There's a catch though. Sparkly boyfriend wants to wait until marriage. Bella doesn't want to get married, in fact the idea utterly repulses her. But sparkly boyfriend just won't let it go and our fearless heroine ends up "caving" because she really, really wants the sex that badly. The whole "engagement" scene amounts to Bella trying to jump him and getting denied, then accepting the ring with a lackluster "sigh....FINE. If that's what It takes to get laid then I'll do it. Give me the ring that I don't want to wear already, damn!!" Really Steph?? That's the best you can do for two people who are supposedly passionately in love?! Nice.
2. Oh and screw college while you're at it. Because who needs an education when your ultimate goal in life is to marry a rich vampire and spend 24/7 with him. What a message to send to your target audience.
3. The Pregnancy. This has to be the saddest excuse of pro-life propaganda disguised as sexy YA fiction ever. If that's your cup of tea then great, you'll really like the first half of this book. If not then be prepared for massive headaches caused by excessive eye-rolling.
4. The Birth. I find it fascinating that the author tiptoes gently over the whole implied sex thing, yet goes above and beyond (wayyyy above and wayyyy beyond) to make sure the Miracle of Childbirth is depicted in a way that would make the makers of the Saw movie franchise proud. If the readers were expecting no less than a monster bloodaholic baby to come out of this romantic union, then this delivers (no pun intended). I will give Meyers credit in that she definitely has a promising future in the horror/scifi genre.
5. A Dingo Ate My Baby? No honey, that's just the werewolf imprinting himself on the newborn. But the Cullens have more important things to worry about, like keeping Bella away from her newborn lest she find the Bundle of Joy appetizing. To her credit though Bella isn't exactly down with the whole imprinting thing at first. That is, until she realizes that having your kid get engaged to the family dog means a built-in babysitter and thus more time for sex with Edward. Awesome.
6. Vampire p*ssing contest. What happens for the rest of the book is pretty much pointless, as the whole thing gears up to to be one big showdown that never amounts to anything. Basically the leaders of the vampire underworld, the Volturi, aren't down with Bellaward's freaky kid and plot to destroy them all. So the Cullens gather their frenemies to lead into battle Lord of the Rings style. Except the battle doesn't happen, except in Bella's and the Volturi leader's minds. Because now that Bella is a vamp she has super awesome magical powers like an invisible shield that she spreads over the frenemies to protect them from an equally freaky vampire that can make them pretend they are in pain. And then they all live happily ever after. Not joking.
on December 9, 2008
Sorry about the length of this, but I am absolutely livid about this book. I am angry at myself for reading the trash, but exponentially more furious at Stephenie Meyer for writing it. This book is an insult. If you are a fan of the series, over the age of 12 and/or have an IQ above 50, then DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. PLEASE listen to me. Thank God I didn't spend a penny on it.
Everything that made the romance between Edward and Bella so great has absolutely been destroyed. Gone are the cute, innocent teenagers who fall into an impossible romance in the cafeteria. I don't think I can ever read or watch Twilight again. I mean, I always slightly cringed when it was obvious that a modern teenager had nothing to do with any of these books. (ex. "Holy Crow?" Even my GRANDMOTHER doesn't say that.) Or the sometimes over-the-top sappy exposition and dialogue. But I could deal. But this BOOK. It was like watching my childhood stuffed animal get... um, defiled. It was that horrifying.
I understand the concept of author's prerogative, but ANY author has a responsibility to 1) Keep leaps of logic to a minimum, which definitely excludes some weird, mutant child of the corn, 2) Keep the plots and characters consistent throughout the series within the framework which the author has set up, and 3) Follow basic rules of writing and editing a novel designed for an intelligent audience. All 3 of which were shockingly snubbed in Breaking Dawn.
Please, please, please. Do yourself a favor and stop reading at Eclipse, or better yet, at New Moon or Twilight, and fill in the very few blanks for yourself. I will never criticize an author for having an ambiguous ending again. Just click on "Most Helpful Reviews" and you will see the many, many people who feel the same way.
*SPOILERS AHEAD, but you should probably read this part anyway to realize just how awful this book is*
Here are a few of the many, many problems I have with this book:
1) So Edward and Bella get married and that part's pretty cute, even though I think it would have made more sense to transform her first, since that's how they're planning to spend their marriage. They get married at the very beginning of the book, and Bella doesn't even really want to. She agreed because she wants to get laid. Wow, warms the heart.
Then begins the vomit-inducing 700 pages.
2) Edward and Bella have sex. A lot. Effectively ruining the innocence of their cute romance and turning it into some trashy, thinly-veiled-porn novella you buy at the airport. Sex is at the very least alluded to in almost every scene they have together. They like it. We get it.
But that's not the worst part. Even while she is HUMAN. Um, Edward is a creature who literally turns iron into dust and moves as fast as a speeding car without breaking a sweat. And she wants him to have SEX with her as she is?! How the HELL would that be 1) Enjoyable for him, and 2) Not life-threatening for her?! Not only does Bella whine, manipulate, and cry her way into doing this outrageously stupid and selfish thing (totally decimated my respect for her character), but then Edward, totally out of character, gives into her crap and agrees to TRY. TRY?! Why don't I just TRY to juggle chainsaws?! And for what? So she can GET SOME a little bit ahead of schedule? She can't bear to have her first time unless she's worried about Edward breaking her in HALF?! If I was Edward, had Bella even suggested such a thing I would have first laughed myself silly, then run screaming in the other direction from such a reckless lunatic. That whole thing really pissed me off.
3) Pregnant. 17-year-old vampire Edward and 18-year-old human Bella. Ew. Ew. Ew. I can accept the marriage, because Edward will never get older, and they love each other. But when I got to that part, and both of their reactions to it, I wanted to scream I was so angry. It is just so small and stupid, so out of place in the story, and CONTRIVED. Ugh! As so many other people said, I thought it was Fanfiction I was reading, not a published work, let alone from the actual author. I'm curious as to what Meyer was smoking when she thought this was an appropriate plot line. But it got worse. What suspension of disbelief I had left broke, and I became permanently removed from the story. I began to hate Bella, and resent Edward's cardboard characterization.
4) Their weird mutant spawn literally kills Bella slowly. And she couldn't be more thrilled about it.
The fact that Meyer had made the ridiculously immature, but lovable and relatable teenager Bella PREGNANT was bad enough. But then it is with some weird, unknown mutant parasite, that saps all her strength, breaks several of her bones (including her SPINE) and causes various bruises, and makes her drink HUMAN BLOOD. During Bella's pregnancy, I was literally shuddering with disgust on almost every page. That is not an exaggeration. And I'm 19.
No joke, I was rooting for the wolves to attack the Cullens and kill the thing. Bella and Edward's characters fly so far off their character rails that you can't even see them any more. Bella whole-heartedly embraces the thing while it slowly kills her, and Edward does nothing but hopelessly mope about it.
5) The birth and Bella's transformation.
UGGGGHHHH. This was hands-down the most disturbing passage I have ever read. I had to put the book down to take some deep breaths several times out of anger and disgust, and then wrestle with myself about whether or not to keep reading multiple times on one page. My Edward and Bella. Who fell in love as lab partners, and cutely fought because of their stubborn personalities.
Here, Bella, dieing and screaming in agony, vomits blood while the mutant baby inside of her destroys her body, internal organs and spine. Edward uses his teeth to bite the baby out of her uterus. Bella dies and then Edward injects vampire venom into her heart with a syringe.
This is how Bella starts her new life with him. TOTAL Slap. In. The. Face.
I was ready to drive to Arizona, find Stephenie Meyer's house, and burn it down.
6) Renesmee. This is what Bella names their child. Ruh. Nez. May. A combination of Renee and Esme. Seriously?
Seriously, Stephenie Meyer?
Why didn't you just sell a book that just says, "To all my fans: F%*# YOU."
When Bella tells her father that the baby's middle name is Carlie, I thought, "well, that's not so bad." Then she says that it's a combination of "Charlie" and "Carlisle."
Again, I considered driving to Arizona.
7) Bella as vampire. One of the things that made this series so great was how seemingly-impossible and different the relationship with her and Edward was. She literally had to give up her humanity, her family, and her whole life, in order to have a future with him, but she decided that the love of her life was worth it. It's a difficult, heart-breaking choice and I really liked that. But no. All of a sudden, Bella has it all. She is infinitely more beautiful, graceful, powerful, inexplicably becomes supermom at 18, and still retains all the parts of her humanity she was afraid to lose. She has a child, she stays in Forks, and tells her family. There are mentions of her carrying wads of five thousand dollars like it was chump change, which is BEYOND out of character. Waiters "gasp" at her beauty. She also becomes sickeningly vain. Then they run off to a little storybook cottage her new family has just given her for free, and Edward and Bella "make love" in it like rabbits every chance they get. If Bella had any relatability left, especially for teenagers, she lost it. This also applies to the believability of the story as a whole and the complexity of the Twilight characters.
8) Jacob and Renesmee.
Jacob, the cute and friendly guy (but also rapist-in-training in Eclipse) who is painfully in love with and loyal to Bella, imprints (falls in love with) on her newborn BABY. This is beyond sick and pedophilic. But it's ok. He's willing to "share" the baby with Bella and Edward. Bella and Edward quickly realize this whole thing is great. WHAT the F#*%?!
If it weren't bad enough that this annoyingly perfect child that absolutely everyone in the book ADORES exists, she is destined to be with JACOB. At the end of the book, Edward calls Jacob SON. I just shuddered again WRITING that.
9) The climax, or lack thereof.
After several stupid and pointless pages, and GIANT letdowns with weak plotlines about secret messages and hidden motives that go nowhere, nothing happens. Bella puts up her magical, super-scary mental shield around everyone and all of a sudden the infinitely powerful and wizened vampire royalty runs away, peeing their pants.
In conclusion, Breaking Down is not only literary trash that should have returned from the editor's office soaked in red ink, but it also completely destroys the story as a whole. It makes me sick to my stomach what this book did to Edward and Bella in my mind and everyone else's. I will never read a single page of this absolute rubbish again, and hopefully I'll forget about it in a few years. I pray this book will never make it into theaters.
Do yourself a favor and don't buy this.
on August 29, 2008
My 21 year old daughter bought me the entire set of books. She is enamored with Edward. I understand. He's a very compelling character - he's beautiful, perfect, brilliant, protective, inhumanely strong and agile, enigmatic, the ultimate bad-boy with a heart of gold, and he has an amazing backstory and an inhumanly beautiful, loyal and loving adopted family. I get it - he's every adolescent girl's dream. And wonder of wonders, he never ages. The series is more or less about the inexplicable attraction of soul mates, inexplicable because I cannot for the life of me figure out what makes Bella attractive aside from the fact that Edward can't read her mind and she smells enticing.
Perhaps it's my age, but I believe three things - the first is regarding a work of fantasy - an author must stay true to his or her fantasy. You cannot break the your own rules to give the reader what you think the reader wants. A fantasy is exactly that, make-believe...a dream, but even so, as a writer you must stay true to the rules you establish for your own fantasy. Ms. Meyer breaks her own rules.
Second, characters must develop and mature. There must be a larger reason for events in a story and that larger reason cannot simply be so the hero can constantly save the heroine - which is the case here. It gets very old. Bella does not change and grow. From beginning to end she remains the same apathetic, cynical, whiny, helpless, martyred female she was when she arrived in Forks. Except when she's with Edward and then she superglues herself to his side in a manner that seems much more like the way a drug addict needs a fix than true love. She gets her happy ending but I'm left wondering what she will do with it. Anything redeeming? I very much doubt it.
Third, I want my characters fleshed out. In my opinion, Jacob was the most three-dimensional character in the entire series and at times he was written in such a way that he became almost repellent to me. Throughout all four books, the same superficial descriptive words, the same sappy love-sick-puppy feelings that are supposed to pass for mature, timeless love, the same scenes are repeated ad nauseam. I would have liked to see the Cullens, other than Carlisle, do more with the their eternal existence than simply repeating experiences and 'hunting'. Oh, and saving Bella for some unknown reason. I assume they became attached to Bella because they loved Edward and he loved her, so as Laurent said to Bella in the second book - she was kind of a pet of theirs. I expect more from my female leads. Through four books I wanted Bella to mature, to become more 'human' than she was when the series began. But I'm sorry to say she never did. Edward always seemed more human and more compassionate to me and his character was diminished as the series went on.
If you can get past the flawed writing, the concept works, especially in the first book. Other than Jacob Black, I was disappointed with the remainder of the story. Vampire world ain't all that exciting. From what I could tell, their larger society consisted of a bunch of overgrown, temper-tantrum prone, immature, super-powered children (I'm including the ancient vampires with the papery skin) who murder a lot of people. Their rules are simple - keep the secret. That's it folks. Would it be too much to expect that after living for millennia these vampires might develop some special perspective or philosophy greater than - we don't eat the neighbors?
Okay, rant finished.
on September 22, 2008
By tradition, I have to say SPOILERS ALERT here. By opinion, I have to say the book is spoiled already.
I don't think I've ever seen a worse case of missed opportunity than Breaking Dawn. While I practically ate up the previous three novels - especially the first one - I had to force myself to even finish this last installment. Twilight was unquestionably the best of the series, and while the following two novels were interesting, I don't think I'm the only one who could see a steady decline in storytelling, leading up to this extremely disappointing conclusion to the series.
The first three novels set up a scenario with, I think, four primary things we, the readers, were looking forward to seeing get satisfactorily concluded.
1. BELLA AND EDWARD FINALLY PHYSICALLY CONSUMMATING THEIR RELATIONSHIP.
Wow, were we ever strung along through 3 thick books of desire and denial, passion and restraint with these two characters. Didn't we look forward to some level of intimacy being introduced in this finale? But what do we get? A barely-insinuated get-together with a rather rapid fade to black, then it's the next morning for them. I had to go back a few pages, thinking, "Wait... What? Did they do it or not?" OK, I understand the delicate situation here for a writer, seeing as her audience is primarily a younger generation. But that's no excuse. If you compare this situation to that of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and I hate to, as it insults that show), which was also begun aimed at a young, teenage audience, the writers realized that as that show grew and matured over time, so did its audience, and thus, the show gradually became more adult in its themes. Stephenie Meyer had the perfect opportunity here of giving young girls some hint of what they should expect from newly discovered intimacy, and how they should be treated in such a situation. She could have handled it subtly - at least have a passionate kissing scene leading into the fade to black. Something MORE than the bland, empty scene we got. But apparently she thought that would be too mature for her audience.
Yet having a scene where Edward bites through the fetal sack of Bella's bone-crushing parasite baby, with blood splattered all over the place was better?
2. EDWARD MAKING BELLA A VAMPIRE.
Again, we were strung along. Bella pleaded for this through three novels. She insisted it be Edward who make her one of them, thus setting up the idea that, despite the fact becoming a vampire would be very painful for her, all of that would be preceded by some intense and passionate moment where he actually bites her. Isn't this the whole point of a romantic vampire novel? The girl actually and finally gets bitten?! I think we were also curious as to how that would play out. Would he be able to control himself and not kill her when he did this?
Instead, what did we get? Edward injecting her with a venom-filled hypodermic, after a particularly horrid scene of childbirth.
3. SEEING WHAT BELLA WOULD BE LIKE AS A VAMPIRE.
We were led up to this point, with the warnings she might be a monster. I don't know about you, but I was looking forward to seeing sweet, clumsy, awkward Bella becoming a complete nut for a while. I thought it also plausible - and even a fascinating idea - that she might become the major threat in the last novel. The "villain". How cool might that have been? The Volturi would come to try and stop her, but with her powers of resistance, even they would have a difficult time bringing her under control...
Instead, Bella was tame, unaffected. In fact, she became BORING. Or maybe just MORE so.
4. DECISIONS, DECISIONS. WOULD BELLA CHOOSE EDWARD OR JACOB?
There was really no question she'd choose Edward, but what would happen to Jacob? How would that be resolved? Would he give himself over to the wild completely, or die to resolve this?
The answer we got: Have him imprint on Bella's BABY, for crying out loud! Even though we'd previously been given the distinct impression he'd already imprinted on Bella, and there was no way around that.
CONCLUSION: I have a hard time imagining how true fans of this series were happy with this last novel. Even the characters didn't seem like themselves, to the sad point where I felt like the chemistry between Bella and Edward was completely dead. As I was reading this book, I sometimes wondered if some other (bad) author had written it, because it was just so incredibly inconsistent with the character development, wit, and dialog style of the previous books. (It's really suspicious to me how many people have said it's like SMeyer didn't even write it, especially considering another novel by her was released about the same time. Have we been duped?) It makes me sick to think of all the GOOD writers out there being rejected repeatedly by publishing companies, while this tripe goes through and SMeyer gets rich off of it. There is no justice.
MY RECOMMENDATION: Quit with the first novel, Twilight. Pretend that last scene in it is Edward biting her and just drop it.
Addendum: My sympathies go out to the screenwriters who had to deal with this garbage and turn it into a script.
on July 24, 2009
I got introduced to this series by a friend of mine that teaches high school. All of her students were into it. I teach elementary school and I also have 2 teenagers, a daughter and a son. I think I related to this story more from a parent's point of view. I really liked the first 3 books, although I did see the criticisms that others saw and articulated. There were some abusive tendencies, Edward was controlling and Bella did wrap her whole life around a man.... still, I liked it til the last book. I was sooooooo disappointed! In fact, I have never written a review or even read reviews much. Generally, If I disliked a book, I sat it down and that was that. For some reason , this time, it bothered me. I was really looking forward to Bella maturing and growing up some and that didn't happen. I felt like she solved all of her problems by becoming a "Cullen". I had questions like...
1. Why did Edward have to "buy" her way into Darmouth? Hadn't she been in advanced classes? Wasn't she smart enough to get accepted into a good school? Couldn't she have gotten a scholarship to pay her tuition? Perhaps this would have been a good time for Bella to introduce Edward to a great concept known as "earning your way" rather than getting everything you want by being gorgeous, rich and manipulative.
2. If she were so clumsy and accident prone, how did she get through life all those years w/o Edward running interference? One would think this girl was not capable of going to Walmart by herself.
3. Wasn't Bella capable of picking out a prom dress, wedding dress, honeymoon attire etc. without Alice having to do it for her?
4. Why did they always consult with Edward's family about major decisions, but not with Bella's? Weren't her parents intelligent and caring too? She never gave Charlie a chance. In fact, I think the best advice that she got in the whole series came from her father. He told her after Edward came back that she should have a balance in her life and not allow him to become her whole life again. She did not take his advice, but it was very, very good advice. Wouldn't her parents care enough about her that she could tell them about her future plans? Afterall, if Edward could trust Bella with his secrets, couldn't they trust her parents too?
5. Didn't Bella have any talents before she became a vampire? I mean, Edward was a gifted musician, he could dance like Fred Astaire, he spoke Spanish fluently, He was at the top of his class, He was the fastest runner in his family and had self-control like only Carlisle. In fact, he helped Carlisle in his practice. He delivered Bella's baby and came up with the idea of injecting his venom into her heart versus biting her. Couldn't Bella sing well, dance well, write well, was she good in photography???? Something!!!! That part of her character was not developed until she became a vampire.
6. And lastly, wasn't Bella already beautiful before she became a vampire? Wasn't that what attracted Edward to her in the first place? He had been around beautiful vampire women for decades, but didn't find them attractive. He was attracted to Bella because she was smart, caring , funny, insightful etc. etc.
I don't want to be overly critical because I realize that it's just a book. It's not supposed to define the next generation. It was written to entertain.. and it did that. I was just disappointed in the ending. I didn't like the way she changed the characters. I wanted Bella to find the beauty in herself and see that she was wonderful just the way she was and Edward was equally as lucky to have her in his life. Instead, I felt that her problems were solved by making her a cullen- complete with designer outfits and Ferraris.
I also thought she made total wusses out of the men in the story. Jacob was smart, funny, handsome and good with his hands. Bella's a great gal, but she's not the only fish in the sea. Surely there are other girls in their area that would appreciate a great catch like Jacob. I hated watching him turn into this big desperate wuss! ... and that imprinting stuff--creepy! I was so tired of Edward in agony and moaning-- get a backbone Edward!!! and lastly Charlie- who was sensible, and responsible and who has dealt with crime and behavior as a police officer for years... "Don't tell me anymore than I need to know"-- What?????
Last comment, that baby stuff was ridiculous and way over the top!!! Couldn't Bella have just had a difficult pregnancy and perhaps had to stay on bed-rest?? Did we really need all that blood and gore?
Thanks for allowing me to vent!!!
on August 4, 2008
Okay, I'm not going to lie: I am addicted to Twilight. I own actual, physical copies of the first three books and the copy of Breaking Dawn I ordered from Amazon is on the way (I read an online version). But I really cannot understand why anyone, ANYONE, can treat it seriously. The entire series is filled with convenient plot devices, shallow, one-dimensional characters, and Meyer is not a very concise writer, which means that the books are long. Really long.
I'll admit the initial plot is engaging: deadly yet benevolent vampires, a forbidden love. All very marketable and appealing. What bothers me is the lack of skill with which the stories are executed. Meyer's writing is not bad, it's just amateurish. Quite honestly, I think I or any other of my friends could have written it the way she had, and I'm not even out of high school. Everything in Breaking Dawn slots neatly into place, making all the fuss that precluded it practically useless. What was the point of building all that up if it's just going to resolve it anyway?
I hear people comparing her series to Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice, and wince. I sincerely hope that the masses don't feel this way, or else I'll lose faith in society's ability to judge quality forever.