Christy's Reviews > Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
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Dec 30, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: young-adult, science-fiction-and-fantasy, romance, vampires
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and Breaking Dawn a few weeks ago but haven't been able to bring myself to actually write a review of Breaking Dawn until now. It has taken me some time to overcome my dread of re-visiting the book enough to write about it, come to grips with the awfulness of the book, and begin to recover from the experience of reading all 754 pages of it.

Breaking Dawn is most certainly one of the worst books I have ever read. The only book that has ever equaled it in terms of making me feel disgusted and dead inside while reading was Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho--but in that case, the effect was intentional and artfully constructed. Breaking Dawn is disturbing for an entirely different set of reasons, one of which is its complete lack of either skill or redeeming factors. It is not redeemed by an incisive sociopolitical critique (like American Psycho) nor is it redeemed by the unintentional humor that pervades Twilight. Breaking Dawn is, even though much more actually happens here than in Twilight, a thoroughly dull book.

Where a skilled writer's ability might approximate a chisel (or some other tool capable of fine, detailed work)--able to create unique and significant details to identify and enrich characters and to guide the reader through narrative developments without flashing every plot development a hundred pages in advance--Meyer's writing ability approximates the delicacy and complexity of a sledgehammer. The characters lack any kind of human complexity and the plot is utterly, utterly predictable. Cory didn't even read any of the books, just listened to my frustrated summaries as I read, and he was able to predict several major plot "twists" in advance. In Twilight, perhaps Meyer's instrument was smaller if still blunt, an instrument that allowed for the occasional odd or funny moment; Breaking Dawn clearly represents a move to a larger instrument, however. Perhaps, through some manipulation of time and space, she used a copy of her own monstrous book to beat the story into its blunt, awkward, and unwieldy shape.

Or perhaps she just sucks.

In lieu of an organized review of the details of Breaking Dawn, this will be a rant in list form. Here are some of the things that I hated about the book.

1. One of the features of the werewolves in the book is that they imprint on a person and fall completely, irreversibly in love with that person, no matter who they are or how old they are. Some grown werewolves imprint on children and then proceed to just hang out with them (like babysitters), waiting for them to be old enough to get involved with romantically. Creepy much?

2. Edward and Bella finally have sex. To this I have two objections. The first is that Meyer is a tease. She has led us on for three gigantic, horribly written books, waiting and waiting for them to get married so they can go ahead and get it on. And then when they're finally married, honeymooning, and they have sex, Meyer doesn't describe it. I suppose I can understand her not wanting to turn a series for young adult readers into erotica, but she could've given us something. The second is related to the violence of the consummation of their relationship. Because Edward is a vampire (superstrength and all) and Bella is still human, he practically breaks her during sex. She awakens the next day bruised all over. The only way he was able to avoid killing her was by tearing apart the bed instead. Their responses are telling: Bella continues to not be concerned about her own physical safety and wants to do it again; Edward simply avoids it and refuses to have sex with his bride, even though she wants it.

3. Bella gets pregnant with a monster baby, immediately falls in love with it, and won't let the vampires help her or get rid of it because she knows it. At this point, the book becomes a very weird statement on pregnancy. Even when it's dangerous and life-threatening, the narrative seems to say, motherhood and maternal feelings trump all. The mother's safety matters not all compared to the sanctity of the life inside her, no matter how small or how monstrous.
When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give your beloved, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?
This quote from the preface illustrates pretty clearly the book's position on Bella's relationship with both Edward and her child. Her love for them is so soul-encompassing and all-consuming that her own well-being, her own life, matters not at all. Now, I'm not a parent, so I will not presume to speak on the subject of the protective love a parent feels for his or her child, but to attach this kind of self-denying love to a fetus (which Bella does) is, I think, taking it too far.

4. Bella finally becomes a vampire. As it turns out, this solves all of her problems. Instead of dealing with the change in a complex way, focusing on what she has to give up or the pains of adjustment, she turns out to be awesome at being a vampire, leading the reader to wonder why we shouldn't all want to be vampires. She's not glittery and beautiful like the rest of them, she has superstrength and speed, she can see so much more clearly how beautiful Edward is, and the sex is incredible. Plus, as a vampire, she is totally able to save the day at the end of the book when the bad vampires come to kill her family.

5. There is plenty more of Bella being googly over Edward. Before she figures out what her special vampire power is, she even thinks to herself that maybe her power is to love Edward more than anyone else could, ever ever ever! And she thinks that's okay. ::barf::

6. As for the big showdown at the end of the book, can anyone say anticlimactic? It takes forever to lead up to, with way too much attention paid to intervampiric politics, and then when it finally arrives, it's mostly a bunch of vampires standing around talking at each other for a really long time, followed by . . . nothing. Bella is able to effectively protect her vampires and werewolves and so the bad vampires just go away. No fighting. No killing. Everyone lives happily ever after. Boring! I was really ready to see someone die at this point. Preferably Edward or Bella. Instead, I get this conclusion:
And then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever.
I guess if you like the characters, this is a good ending, but I thought the characters were flat, vapid, and quite frequently disturbing. They would've benefitted from a death or two in the family.
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Brooke Yes. They definitely would have.


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