Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking Dawn: A Big Ol' Review

I just can't write a thorough review on this riveting book without completely unveiling all of the major plot points and everything, so if you have not yet read Breaking Dawn (what is taking you so long?) and do not want to be spoiled, skip this post. In fact, just back away from the computer, pick up the book, and continue reading. THEN you can come back on. =)

Note: This is going to be LONG and probably full of spelling and grammatical errors because I'm sleepy and am probably not going to check over it for a while.
First and foremost, is whether I am happy with the ending to the Twilight Saga overall. My answer? Yes. Yes, yes, yes.
How do I even continue? There's was so much to absorb and now there's even more to discuss. I guess we'll just start from the beginning and go on from there.
The wedding. I like how Stephenie just jumped right into it. It may have been a little rushed, or maybe Stephenie just didn't think it was a very significant piece, but either way, I wish we'd gotten a little more from it. Actually, now that I think about it, the majority of the book seemed rushed. I think Stephenie could have used a stretch on the deadline to smooth out some of the finer points and all that. In fact, I think it would have been even better if it had been two entirely seperate books. But back to the wedding. Some more detail on what Bella and Edward both looked like would have made the moment all the more special, in my opinion. I was waiting for Bella to describe in intricate detail the pure bliss glowing on Edward's glorious face after seeing her and realizing that she, a beautiful girl despite what she might think otherwise, would be his and no one else's. But of course, even though that didn't end up being mentioned in that much detail, I could still easily imagine it. Jacob showing up to the wedding without any desire to crash it and actually seeming relatively happy for Bella was nice. But as we all know, the lack of tension couldn't last long and I saw that coming. Although, it didn't turn into an exchange of 'bloodsucker' and 'mongrel' like I'd expected. We got to just forget about Jacob as quickly as he came, and focus on the upcoming honeymoon. I was SO looking forward to that...
Their own private island - Isle Esme, to be precise - how romantic. Sadly, the rest of Edward and Bella's time spent there in that beautiful, roomy house didn't reflect the magic of the little island, except near the beginning when Edward and Bella went for an nighttime dip. The sex we've all been waiting for was there - but you wouldn't have known it if not for the bruises Edward inflicted on Bella (as well as the shredded pillows and broken headboard, which were wonderfully hilarious touches). They spent some time snorkling and hiking. Oooh, fun. Bella ate a lot of eggs. Finally Bella convinced Edward that they should try at it again. This time it happened without the injuries, but the magic was still seriously lacking for me. Honestly, I did not expect what I should have expected when Bella began getting sick after eating so darn much. Then when she held up her tampons to Edward (very classy, Bella) and declared that her period was late, I literally dropped the book. It just slipped from my hands and for a moment I couldn't pick it back up. I started muttering "No way, no way, no way" to myself repetitively and then I finally retrieved the book with sweaty palms and continued reading at hyper speed to make sure what I thought was happening was really happening. Sure enough...it was. Bella's eggo = preggo (to quote Juno, hehe). Did anyone else think that Bella's word 'nudger' was cute but slightly disturbing? Bella's reaction to the realization that there was a baby inside of her was very unorthodox to me. I enjoyed Edward's response - spot on. But I thought Bella might start running around the room screaming or demanding to the frozen statue that was her husband how the heck this was happening. Instead, she falls into instant love with her little nudger (very calmly) and then ends up calling ROSALIE, for crying out loud. When she did that, I started cussing.
When I flipped to the next page and was met by Book 2: Jacob I was prepared to despise the proceeding hundred or so pages. Jacob has always been a rather annoying, immature, and dramatic kid to me, and I didn't think this was going to be any different. How very wrong I was. First of all, Jacob's narrations were very candid yet thoughtful. I found myself grinning after reading each chapter title, one of my favorites being: You Know Things Are Bad When You Feel Guilty For Being Rude to Vampires. It was so refreshing to get some different problems other than Bella's recurring ones. Experiencing what it was like for Jacob to be a werewolf and finally understanding his excuses for how he behaved in some of the other books (I'm not saying they are good ones) was interesting and, well, fun. Having Seth (I adore him!) and especially Leah in there was good. We got to see Leah for who she really is, and I began to have a liking for her - so did Jacob, apparently. He matured a bit throughout his book and I was thankful for that. I think it was crucial for this part of the story to be told in Jacob's point of view because we got to see from an unbiased outsider how Bella's wacky pregnancy affected Edward and the rest of the Cullens. And of course, how it affected him as well. We were able to see a few different sides to the Cullens - Edward being the main one. No, I was not fond of how he asked to Jacob to give Bella the option of making babies with him if it would make her happy. But it showed us some important things. Firstly, that Edward does indeed have some flaws and that he was capable of irrational thinking in times of severe crisis. Who isn't? Secondly, that Edward would do anything, and I repeat anything, for Bella to just LIVE. The thing was killing her. Frankly, it would have been very disconcerting and tedious if the whole pregnancy process had been in Bella's view instead of Jacob's, although I guess I would have liked to see what internal conflicts Bella was really having beneath her calm, confident facade (Edward and Bella kind of did a flip-flop in terms of their attitudes, huh? I liked that) about having the murderous baby. Let's move on to Rosalie. I hated her. In Twilight, I didn't like her that much. In Eclipse, I felt some sympathy for her. She was growing on me. And then in Breaking Dawn, all faith in her vanished entirely. It was obvious she just wanted the baby for herself, regardless of whether Bella lived or not. Was that not obvious to Bella? There was absolutely no redemption, like I'd anticipated. None whatsoever. That was a downer. Rosalie, go die in a hole please. Thank you. In all the shocking and appalling turmoil (ew at Bella drinking blood from a sippy cup. That disturbed me to no end for some reason) Stephenie had room to throw in some good old comic relief. The bickering between Jacob and Rosalie? The blonde jokes? Jacob chucking a bowl at Rosalie's head and getting food in her hair (oh, the horror!)? Priceless! But, of course, it all had to go down, down, downhill from there. The cracking of bones and gushing of blood was [sarcasm] wonderful [/sarcasm]. I think the amount of bodily fluids and graphic images in this book was what gave it a completely different feel for everyone. I have to admit that while reading books one and two, I would put down my book for a snack break and then come back wondering if I had actually been reading a fan fiction this whole time. And I think that's because the fan fictions always have crazy, illogical plot twists. We had so many strong, preconceived notions about how Breaking Dawn was going to come together, that something as unexpected as a killer mutant baby inside Bella threw us all totally off balance. At the same time, Stephenie's voice and writing style never changed, so it wasn't as if I was doubting that she had written this book. I think it was just the shock of such a dramatic occurrence - and one that Stephenie had implied (implied, not confirmed) was impossible. Anyway, I'm veering from the story, here. Where was I? Oh, yeah, the gruelling birth. I so wish that Bella's transformation had begun with a sensual bite from Edward, instead of him stabbing a needle full of his venom into her heart after she was choking on her own blood and not aware what was even happening. I was glad, however, that Bella had been on the verge of dying before being vampified. That being said, I'm going to backtrack, and say that I actually think Stephenie was trying to show us something with the needle to the heart, the blood, the broken bones, the suffering. This book is full of people getting everything they want without a fight. But this shows that in order for Bella to get what she desired and become a immortal, she had to suffer immensly and the transformation had to be rough and painful in order for something purely good to come out of it. Which brings us to the next book...
Oh, wait, before that - Jacob is about to kill Bella's baby when lo and behold...he IMPRINTS. Right then and there. Suddenly, its as if everything is put into slow motion. I dropped the book again. I should have expected it, but that possibility never even crossed my mind. I wasn't creeped out by it, however. I didn't automatically think 'pedophile' like some people claimed to have done. No, it was explained by Stephenie before that imprinting wasn't always a sexual pull. Jacob was going to keep the baby safe and happy - a super protective big brother - until the time was right. It just wouldn't have been the same if Jacob imprinted on some random girl he met in the park.
My dream for Bella came true, and it couldn't have been done any more beautifully. She became a vampire. Her constant insecurities were getting extremely old, and in this book most of them disappeared in a puff of smoke. She suffered through the few burning days of transformation with the utmost self-control. And then when her heart finally stopped beating and she was reborn as the undead (heh), she felt as though she was seeing the world for the first time. I loved, loved, LOVED Stephenie's descriptions of Bella's sharpened senses. I love, loved, LOVED that her feelings toward Edward only strengthened with her new body and that as a vampire she thought he was even more beautiful. I was actually glad that she ended up having little to no trouble at all while in the alleged wild first stages of being a newborn. I didn't even consider the fact that it may have been too easy until people started mentioning it. There was so much angst and pain and suffering in the first couple books that it was such a relief to have nothing but magic and wonder in the beginning of the third book. I was so thrilled to watch as Bella discovered her knew incredible abilities - leaping over rivers, swinging from branches, racing among the trees, hearing heartbeats from a mile away, sensing things scitter from her power. It was INCREDIBLE. And I just loved how a new, only previously briefly exposed, side of Edward was emerging in reaction to Bella no longer being the clumsy, self-conscious, and breakable human. He was playful and joyous and it made me fall head-over-heels in love with him all the more. It comforted me to see him recover from that dark, insane-with-desperation period he was going through earlier (it had made me want to cry). Edward and Bella loved each other as much, no more, than before, and it made my heart swell.
Renesmee, also known as Nessie. Weird name, I know. But it grew on me. It was different. She was different. And she was cute. She never wanted to hurt Bella, but again, something so precious didn't come without a steep price. Stephenie was a genius when it came to her talent because she inherrited both Edward and Bella's powers and then totally turned them inside out. It was moving to see such an emotional journey from Bella - at first she couldn't even imagine having a baby, and now that she actually had one, she realized how beautiful it was. Birth is a miracle, whether you want to believe that or not. (But please wait until you're older, okay?)
Book three continued in a rather uneventful manner, but somehow it was still extremely enjoyable. More so than its overly-eventuful predecessors. Although, I do have one complaint about this portion of the book and that is that it felt like there were a bit too many characters present. You had Bella, Edward, Renesmee, Jacob, Seth, Leah, Rosalie, Carlisle, Esme, Emmett, Alice, Jasper, and Charlie, and I felt like because of that, you didn't go as deep into the characters, even the significant ones like Edward, Renesme, Jacob, and Charlie. Speaking of Charlie, I thought it was sort of weird how he 'found out'. It happened really suddenly, almost as if Stephenie needed to just get it out of the way somehow. Oh, Jacob went over to Charlie and decided to show him what he really was out of the blue, that's all. And Charlie accepted it with nothing more than a beet-red face. I mean, it's no biggy. Yes, that was kind of oddly done for me. Another strange and completely unrelated plot line was the whole J. Jenks thing. I'm sorry, but what did that have to do with anything besides Bella getting some illegal documents for her daughter? I guess it kind of assisted in showing Bella, as well as us, how different it was to be in public as a vampire. But that was about it. And I didn't even understand how Jasper really tied into that, either...
The Volturi. I knew they had to come in somewhere, it was only a matter of time. Tanya's (oh, oh! On the topic of Tanya, she wasn't nearly as sleazy as I was imagining her to be. In fact, she was perfectly kind and tolerable of the whole Bella and Edward relationship. Weird) sister Irina happened to see Renesmee jump about ten feet in the air to catch a snowflake and then dashed to the Volturi to tattle on the Cullens, making the Volturi believe that Renesmee (I refuse to call her Nessie, I really do) was one of the 'forbidden children', or something along those lines. Alice sees them coming on a day when the snow sticks. Naturally, they all start freaking out. Then, unnaturally, they all become impossibly calm and devise a plan. Then Alice and Jasper run away forever. Then Bella devises her own subplan. Then the Cullen house turns into a vampire club - as if there weren't enough characters before now we have about seventeen to add to that list. I didn't quite like how everyone, Bella especially, remained so cool and collected even with the knowledge that they would all be destroyed if it came to a fight with the Volturi weighing down on their shoulders. We're all gonna die? That's coo'. (Suddenly that song It's the End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M comes to mind.) But I suppose Stephenie felt that more fussing and worrying would just be too much, and she's probably right.
Bella's whole 'shield' talent was cool. I predicted her talent to be something similar. And the fact that she could project it over others was even better. She deserved a gift that made her feel strong and useful. It was also fun to learn about all the other vampires' neat-o talents. Distracting others by forcing them to see things, shocking those who touch you, being in control of the elements, and so on and so forth. Makes me want to be a vampire.
Finally, the Volturi come and everyone is prepared in that chillingly calm mindset. They emerge like a grey cloud of smoke from the trees, go ooga-booga, discuss some things that, frankly, none of us care about, some more ooga-booga, the murder of Irina, some impressive self-control, more intense discussions, some bickering, Bella figuring out with glee how to make the most of her new talent, Alec and Jane's failed attempts to handicap the good guys, some hissing and snarling, some yawn-worthy speeches, Alice and Jasper returning followed by another half mortal half immortal being, some voting, and finally...all is resolved peacefully and the Volturi leave. What?! No connecting foot with bottom, no ripping limbs off, no karate moves, nothing? Aw, come on, man. I have to say, that ending was just a tad extremely anti-climactic. Yes, I am a girl, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a serious vampire rumble. I was so hoping that Jane at least would get pwned by Edward. But no. Nothing. A "thank you, old friend" and then nothing. Oh well.
The very, very ending was beautiful though, and it made me tear up a bit. Bella discovers a form of her talent that's even more wicked: she allows Edward to read her mind, see all of the wonderful human memories of them together, feel the sheer love that Bella felt, by projecting her shield away from herself and around Edward.
And they live happily forever after. The end.
Yes, there were some mondo weird plot twists that felt unreal and left me dazed. Yes, the characters weren't as defined as they were in the other three books. Yes, parts of the book had a completely different feel, one that didn't seem to belong to the series. Yes, there wasn't as much Bella and Edward magic that we've come to know and crave. Yes, occasionally the story seemed perhaps a little rushed. BUT, here's the thing. We've been fraying our nerves awaiting this book with the utmost anticipation for months upon months. We've been creating so many theories on what would happen for so long that they started to feel real. Once the book was finally in our hands, we were expecting SO MUCH. That caused a lot of people (myself included, probably) to be way overly-analytical. I mean, if you want to get persnickety, I would be able to come up with truck-full of criticisms for the other three books. Edward was so excrutiatingly protective here, this was too sad there, Bella took that way too calmly just then, why did Jacob have to be so darn pushy in this part? Ending such a beloved series in one book is an enormously difficult task, and I think Stephenie Meyer did a fantastic job. She gave the characters what we all hoped they would get, and it turned out happy in the end after an emotional ride. Certain things are supposed to make you angry or sad or shocked, that's what reading a story is all about. The characters are going have to go through intense phases of their lives and then they are going to change as they grow. We should be on our knees thanking Stephenie for even writing these books for us. I know I am. And I for one loved Breaking Dawn. There's just one more question...
When is Midnight Sun being released? :D

Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, Midnight Sun, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, vampire, Edward Cullen, Bella Swan, Twilight Movie, Stephenie Meyer, Edward's point of view

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