Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn is the much-anticipated conclusion to the Twilight series from Bella, the narrator of the other three published books, point of view. It succeeds bestsellers Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse.

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In Twilight we are introduced to Bella as her mother is dropping her off at an airport, where Bella is board a plane to the rainy town of Forks, Washington to live with her dad. Her motivation, it is later revealed, is to allow her mother greater opportunity to move around with her new husband, who is a minor league baseball player. It’s not long before Bella is drawn to the sexy, reclusive Cullens – a coven of older teenagers described as seductively beautiful outsiders. Apparently, the attraction is mutual and she is soon approached by the chivalrous Edward. Their ‘relationship’ soon mounts in intensity, and Bella is unofficially integrated into the Cullen family. Twilight is followed by New Moon, where Edward leaves her “for her own good” after an accident involving a paper cut and broken bones, thus opening a window of opportunity into which Jacob, a Native American from a local reservation and Bella’s childhood friend, quickly steps. Like every other fertile man in Forks, Jacob quickly falls for Bella – a fact which, in addition to the appearance of werewolves within the reservation, complicates the relationship between the two central characters in the third book, Eclipse. This, then, quickly builds to encompass territorial disputes between the two mythological creatures (coincidentally, vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies), as well as an approaching army, headed by the bitter vampire girlfriend of Twilight’s villain. Eventually, all the conflicts are brought to a close – the evil vampires are bested by cooperation between the Cullens and the werewolves, Bella acknowledges but denies her love for Jacob, and Edward and Bella end up engaged.

And this is where Breaking Dawn picks up – the book opens on Bella in a new car, reflecting on her impending wedding. Through the first few chapters, the reader is fully subject to alternating bouts of angst, low self-esteem, idolatry based on Edward’s utter perfection, and uncertainty about the wedding. However, this ‘conflict,’ like all others in the Twilight universe, is quickly absolved as soon as Bella is fitted in her wedding dress and sees her gorgeous husband-to-be. From here, Meyer proceeds with the wedding and then a swift transition to the happy honeymoon, where, after two books of repressed lust, Bella and Edward finally consummate their relationship. Unfortunately, it turns out that Edward is still fertile, thus leading to an unexpected (and potentially unhealthy) pregnancy.

Directly after the tumultuous conclusion of the happy couple’s not-so-happy honeymoon, Meyer switches point of view to Jacob – the bitter ex-almost-boyfriend who harbors an acute grudge against Edward which, somehow, extends to the rest of the Cullens. After a solid block of angst and forbidden lust, Bella goes into a very violent and bloody labor with her demon spawn, at the end of which, in conclusion to Jacob’s turn at narration, he “imprints” (the creepy werewolf equivalent to “love at first sight”) on Bella’s barely-born mutant baby.

From here, Bella picks the narration back up and the reader is subjected to a clumsy definition of what it is to be turned into a vampire. Meyer, apparently, knows no other way to describe it than having fire (the magical venom that has replaced all of the normal bodily fluids in vampires) running through her veins – which is how she illustrates it for an entire chapter. Bella has been hastily turned after her painful delivery to save her life (in a sense, at least). The story quickly dissolves into poorly disguised wish-fulfillment, featuring a cottage in the woods, a beautiful baby, an effortless transition to life as a vampire, superhuman strength of will, and ridiculously awesome sex. At the end, Meyer, much like in Twilight, throws in some contrived conflict featuring evil Italian vampires – all culminating in a thoroughly unthrilling action sequence succeeded by an excruciatingly gooey epilogue.

In Breaking Dawn Meyer continues in her proud tradition of poor storytelling, fully outfitted in amateurish prose, holey plot, and spotty conflict. As in the three prior books in this proclaimed “saga,” she builds a shaky structure, which she then proceeds to slather with an excess of sweet, and unrealistic, nothings between her two lovers. The universe is built around her characters (a typical trait in poorly written fanfiction) – the world reacts to them, instead of them reacting to the universe. The plot is built around the whims of her characters, all of whom are startlingly one-dimensional, and furthered by a series of unexplained and illogical coincidences. At times, Meyer even sees fit to directly contradict both the laws she’s set up for her universe as well as the rules of science and logic. Bella is impregnated by Edward, but this should be impossible both because all of Edward’s sperm should have died and, according to the laws of Meyerpires, all of his remaining sperm should have been turned into vampire venom.

Furthermore, the same misogyny is on full display throughout the narrative. Although Bella, through her transformation to a vampire, has become less physically helpless, she displays the same weakness of mind and character that was her single defining characteristic throughout her story. Similarly, the surrounding female characters, such as Esme, Alice, Rosalie, Leah, and Renee, have been weakened even more to compensate for the minimal improvement on Bella’s part. Alice, once a promising and interesting character, is reduced to a shallow, superficial, weak character with the mindset and attention span of a slightly below average teenager, despite her century-long lifespan. Esme, similarly, is depicted as a stereotypical housewife, her mind entirely absorbed with decoration and housekeeping. Rosalie, the only character not actively depicted as evil to express dislike for Bella, is shown as a bitter, hard-hearted, jealous bitch who cares only for the opportunity to care for a baby that she was robbed of with her transformation to a vampire – similarly, Leah, the only female werewolf, is depicted as a lovelorn and physically inferior harpy who only expresses care for her brother and her violent, cheating ex-boyfriend Sam, the head werewolf. Renee, Bella’s flighty, inconsistent mother, is given little attention but is shown as negatively as ever.

Stephenie Meyer has repeatedly proven herself to be a technically inept amateur writer who, intentionally or not, pumps her cheap stories with dubious moral and intellectual messages. In that respect, this book does not disappoint. The action is frighteningly tame, her characters are sexist, her romance is clumsy and forced, and her writing is as novice as ever. Breaking Dawn is a complete failure of a book, not even good for a few cheap laughs because of the seemingly endless stream of insipid narration the reader is subjected to for over seven hundred pages.

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