Book Review 1: Breaking Dawn

As I mentioned on my new page (To Read or Not To Read) I’m trying to read a book a week and nearly succeeded in the month of April. I read three books and will begin with the first review of Breaking Dawn the last book of the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyers.

I feel as if I was forced to read the series because it has become such a pop cultural phenomenon. At the time that it became popular, I started to teach high school and wanted to know what my students were reading. I picked up book one and thought, “okay, not bad.” Not great, but not bad. Foolishly, I read book two. Had I been smart I would have stopped at book one and not felt like I had to finish the damn series.

Book three is, hands down, my least favorite.

So, here we are at book four.

When I finished Breaking Dawn I was relieved. Finally, I could stop worrying about it. I could sell my copies and move on with my life. When I love a book, I don’t feel like that. I often wish I could dive right back in and be part of the world I just left. I do not feel this way with the Twilight Saga.

As far as the plot goes, Meyers does move the story along well. She is clearly aware of the ADD adolescent audience who don’t seem to crave character development and are satisfied with partially rotund characters who don’t ever really change and have no arc. There was one surprising twist. Although after some reflection I should have seen it coming with all the references to Wuthering Heights by Bronte. I won’t divulge too much incase you haven’t finished the series.

While Breaking Dawn is a quick read, that isn’t enough. I need more from a novel. From the get go, Bella’s character has gotten on my nerves. I’ve been saying it for years, she’s good for nothing. All her character is good for is cooking and being obsessed with Edward and Jacob. Every semester when I ask  my students about their favorite books the Twilight Saga is always a favorite for many. Mostly, it’s girls who love the books. I can’t understand how girls can get so into this series (or boys for that matter). Bella has no redeeming qualities and her character doesn’t promote a good message to girls.

Bella is forced to change who she is in order to stay with Edward. She must literarily stop being human. Also, whenever there is a some kind of code to crack she is rarely the one to do it. While she does seem a little smarter in Breaking Dawn, throughout the series she’s relied on Edward and Jacob to give her the information necessary to solve any mystery.

My major issue with Breaking Dawn is Meyer’s attempt to rewrite Wuthering Heights using vampires. While, of course, there are variations on the classic Bronte novel, the love story’s foundation is very similar. Throughout, Meyers uses the classics to reinforce the love story she is telling. When the twist in the novel is revealed I almost threw my book into the fire place.  I didn’t because I had borrowed it from a friend and am deeply opposed to the burning of books.

It was a nice change to have a narration from someone other than Bella. Meyers uses Edwards and Jacob’s abilities to read minds effectively. In fact, I would say the telepathy was a nice relief from the crappy dialogue. It did help to not have to hear Bella’s voice for the entire 600 some odd pages.

Thematically, the whole “say no to premarital sex thing” has it’s positives. Maybe high school and middle school girls will think twice before banging the new flavor of week. Meyer’s does jam the theme down the reader’s throat, but the readers are young. I just hope they get it. They should get it since it was so heavy-handed. I know that if it had been workshopped a group of peers would have likely told Meyers to tone it down a notch.

While, of course, I understand the appeal of Breaking Dawn I just can’t get too into it. Meyers’s writing is cheesy and oftentimes cliche. She depends on quotes from Bronte and Shakespeare to portray and describe the connection between Edward and Bella. I was also hoping to get to the end of Breaking Dawn and see some kind of change in the characters. Some growth. It wasn’t there to the the extent that I was hoping for. More than anything, I’m just glad the series is done. That is until Meyers decides to resurrect it in about a decade. Edward is immortal, after all.

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