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Breaking Down "Breaking Dawn"

When on the same morning,  I read two different LJers posts that deal with a book I just finished last night, I have to do a post of my own. 

So, what did I think of the Twilight trilogy + 1?  Yes, Breaking Dawn is the fourth book, but my daughter (18) says she's going to think of it as a trilogy.  She and her friends loved the first three books enough to do the midnight madness thing, to buy the fourth book as soon as it was released.   They hate it.   One even returned it.  

I thought all the flaws of the first three books were exaggerated in the last.   Characterization: good.   These are people you can grow to like (or love, if you're younger than I).   Voice: good.   With some lapses, the characters talk and act true to their nature, and the tone of the books is consistent.    Realism: fai to abysmal.   The side characters are the most believable.  Bella and Jacob are fairly believable  Edward and Carlisle are paragons, inhumanly perfect.  The rest of the Cullens and the shape-shifters are well-painted figures that can seem real while reading but when you put down the book you realize they were only cardboard cutouts.  Plotting: dear gods it sucks.   Especially in the fourth book.   Emotional involvement: high.   This is where the frenzy comes from, that Meyers knows how to write about quandries and hopes and fears and self-doubt and self-justification in a way that rings true to anyone (alright, any female) ever uncertain about what life is trying to do to her and what she should try to do about it.  But four books is a bit much of it.

And the fourth book is really pretty bad.  I heard somewhere that the author admitted that she'd been too caught up in the excitement over the first books and the movie deal, but she was on contract and had to get something out.   It reads like the author's notes for two or three possible sequels all jammed together in the hopes that enough excitement will distract from the lack of complete thought. 


It starts with the wedding.  Since the third book ended with the engagement, this feels a mite rushed.   After following the expected genre pattern for so long (amazing girl with minor flaws to make her seem normal is suddenly attractive to amazing guy, some misunderstanding or outside influence breaks them apart, complications and uncertainties ensue, but true love triumphs and they get back together) Meyers breaks the expectation that this book would have something awful happen that is only resolved by the end of the book and the book would end with the wedding (and some sort of indication that Bella will or won't transform).   No such luck.  Instead, the wedding begins the book and we're already put off by the plotting.

Bella gets pregnant on the honeymoon because she convinces Edward he's not going to break her by having sex.  Which is another indication of what kept creeping up on me during the previous books:  Bella is really quite selfish.  She goes through a lot of inner anguish over how Edward could possibly love her, how Jacob could possibly love her, but when it comes down to it, she pushes her ideas of other people's perfection onto them to force them to live up to -her- idealized views.   Edward isn't going to kill her because he loves her and she trusts him, she says.   That he doesn't want to take the risk. doesn't  matter.  That he might be so worried about hurting her that it colors the entire act for him, doesn't matter.  Bella wants it this way, as if she has to keep proving to herself (and us) just how amazing Edward is. 

There's some inner speculation over why vampire females aren't fertile.but vampire males are.  Skip it.   It doesn't make sense, it will only disengage you further from the story.   And there's a horrible mention about chromosones.  Humans have 23 pairs, werewolves have 24 pairs, vampires have 25 pairs (huh?!? for werewolves, we know it's genetic, but for vampires it's a venomous transformation and that's hard enough to accept but it also changes the chromosone structure?  it's as bad as mitachlorians!).  This is to placate us with a shred of excuse for why the pregnancy advance so quickly, so that Bella gives birth in about 3-4 weeks.   The fetus is vampiric enough that there are problems with nutrition and with a moving baby breaking her ribs.  There is no indication why Bella's skin doesn't rip apart and her organs don't fail just by reason of the sudden growth and dislodgement.   

The baby is born, Bella must be turned into a vampire to survive, and the last half of the book (yeah, that only took the first half) is about getting ready to defend the kid against the Volturi.   Pacing sucks.  Bella has little to no problems with the aftereffects of transformation, i.e., doesn't turn into a ravening monster.  Pity.

I did enjoy the section from Jacob's point of view, since by then I was sick of Bella's selfish sanctity.  (When they realize the type of pregnancy, Edward wants it removed to save  her life.  Bella, of course, refuses, not from any reasonable discussion with the father of her child but just because it's all going to work out somehow.  Oh, and when the kid is born, it's a girl, even though she's always thought of it as a boy.  Does this cause her to doubt her inner feelings in any way?  Of course not.  It's enough that she whines over them, we're not supposed to notice that she then does what she wants anyway.)

The best scene is Bella confronting Jacob over how he feels about her baby after it's born.  I'll admit the book is almost worth reading just for those lines. 



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
I haven't heard anything good about this book.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )