First of all, let me just state that I had preconceived notions about this series when I began it. I have never read Fantasy until I discovered Lord of the Rings, and even then, LOTR and Harry Potter were about all I could handle. I am also not a huge fan of romances. For me, happy endings should have a little more depth than 'they all lived happily ever after.' I used to like romances. My favorite book in high school was The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman precisely for the neat and tidy lovey dovey ending. But I have different interests now, and vampires and romance are not high on the list.
However, I forced myself to read Twilight and New Moon, and they really hooked me on the series. I thought Eclipse was great. I was fascinated by Stephenie Meyer's take on vampires and werewolves, and I loved the way she took the conventions of what legendary vampires and werewolves are like and played with them, making them her own. And I have always loved Jacob Black. He is probably my favorite character in the whole series. So while I came into the series with preconceived notions, I came to Breaking Dawn with high hopes.
They have been dashed.
Bella Swan became boring for me almost immediately. Her personality in the earlier books was a little bit more pronounced - even when she was pining for Edward, even when Edward left her and went off to the Volturi, there were still glimpses into her personality that were unique, that made her a character and not just a name with a voice that spouts dialogue. And there was always suspense, a struggle, something going on that made you wonder whether she was really going to become a vampire. I think that was important too, because it made the reader question whether or not she would go through with it, and whether or not she should. I had serious doubts at the end of Eclipse. And I kind of wanted her not to go through with it. I wanted to see her choose to remain human in spite of her all-consuming love for Edward. Or I wanted some twist where she could compromise, or prolong her decision. Something.
What I got was a freakin half-vampire baby named Reneesme. WTF. No, seriously, there are a million ways this story could have gone that would not have pissed me off. A billion even! Bella, even when she didn't have a personality anymore, was at least kind of rebellious and her mom was a feminist, and she wasn't a bad role model for teenage girls. She was a flawed role model, who questioned her beliefs and the beliefs she was raised with. I could live with that. But from the moment she and Edward had sex for the first time, Bella became a disaster.
First of all, the bruises. I have to talk about the bruises. I get that the only reason having sex with Edward caused so much injury was that his body is a lot harder than hers. And I know he said he wouldn't do it again, blah blah blah. But come on! A young girl, all alone in a cabin with some guy, with bruises all over her body. In vampire-land, fine, it's an accident. But there are real teenage girls in this world whose boyfriends hit them, who are left bruised and making excuses - he does it because he loves me, he won't do it again, I like it when we're close - NO. The message there is just not right. If Edward loves Bella, Edward doesn't hurt her like that. And if he does knowingly hurt her like that, she needs to be traumatized by that. No boyfriend-inflicted bruises should ever be dismissed that easily by any woman, fictional or not, vampire or not. And I am the last person who normally gets worked up over these things, but MAN that got to me.
And then we jumped the shark. A few of them, actually. We jumped them like hurdles.
We lose Bella as a believable character when we discover that she is the only person who can do pretty much everything. Only human whose thoughts Edward can't read. Only human who can have a baby with a vampire. (Or one of the only.) And of course she's the only one who can shield her family from Aro & co. when they show up. She is a ridiculously perfect character in every way except that she is clumsy, and then it turns out that she's only clumsy because basically, she was born to be a vampire all the time. Oh, and that crazy newborn vampire stuff? She's immune to that too. Because she is immune to everything!
And then the whole Reneesme thing. I found this entire storyline to be totally unnecessary and unenjoyable. I was okay with the marriage part. I saw logical reasons as to why they had to get married, especially since Edward is very old-fashioned and he was stuck at 17 forever. They weren't getting married because Bella believes all women should get married. They had other reasons. But then, suddenly, she's married and it makes her want babies!? She doesn't think about babies at all, and then suddenly, she's having one, so she's fine with it. No woman is going to be fine with an unknown monster trying to break free from her womb. But do we get to see Bella's pain firsthand? Of course not. Just when you might see Bella Swan have to suffer for a second, we switch to Jacob's point of view.
And you know what, thank God for Jacob. His section of the book is the only truly well-written part of the entire book. And that's because Jacob really is flawed. Jacob acts without thinking, takes a stand at great cost, and spends lot of time whining and moping over what he can't have. It's annoying, but it's at least somewhat more genuine than Bella's fleeting moments of discomfort that are never fully explored. Jacob almost saved this book for me, until the ultimate 'jump the shark' moment. He imprints on Reneesme.
Are you kidding me?! First of all, in the rules of Stephenie Meyer's vampire/werewolf universe, imprinting is rare. But then she turns around and has every single werewolf we care about imprinting on some girl. Why say it's rare, then? Why not just have imprinting be a part of werewolf life, and let Jacob whine that it hasn't happened for him yet? And then she has him imprint on Reneesme!? I threw the book when that happened. I looked up from it, my jaw dropped, and I just shoved it away from me. I was done. From then on, I skimmed. I got through the ending, but I didn't care anymore. She had broken her own rules. I felt how I did when I read the HP epilogue. And JKR broke her rules too. Harry died and came back, when the rule of her universe is that the dead stay dead.
What a waste. What a waste of a perfectly good idea. I am just dumbfounded by how poorly she wrapped things up. It was a big mess of cliches and contrived crap, and I found myself tripping over all these problems just wanting to know how it ended. And the ending wasn't even satisfying. Of course it turns out that Bella's daughter will hit a certain point and then age. And of course Bella and Edward are happy and in love. Never mind how we're going to explain this to poor Renee, who was kept in the dark the whole time, or what happened to her soul. What happened to all those concerns about being immortal, about ruining her and sending her to Hell? Those went away because her boyfriend is sparkly and her best friend imprinted on her daughter?
I was ready to defend this book before I read it. Now I'm ready to chuck it in a dumpster....more