Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: The Twilight Saga
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: April 2nd, 2008
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Supernatural
“Don’t be afraid,” I murmured. “We belong together.”
I was abruptly overwhelmed by the truth of my own words. This moment was so perfect, so right, there was no way to doubt it.
His arms wrapped around me, holding me against him… It felt like every nerve ending in my body was a live wire.
“Forever,” he agreed.
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, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?
To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.
Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella’s life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed… forever?
Due to my dislike for New Moon and Eclipse, I had prepared myself for a disappointing ending to the saga. I was astonished by how much I enjoyed Breaking Dawn, rendering it my favorite book in the series. Although I had been a bit apprehensive for the first 450 pages (as you were likely able to guess based upon my overjoyed status updates), the ending certainly solidified my love of the novel. There were a few bumpy patches along the way, but I have to admit, Breaking Dawn is now one of my favorite books. Granted, if you had asked me a few days ago when I was partway through the book, you would have received a very different answer.
After high school graduation, Bella upholds her compromise with Edward, marrying him in mid-June amidst a small group of family and friends in exchange for sex (despite his vampirism, Edward wishes to uphold his virtue). Despite her prior anxiety regarding the ceremony, as well as the concept of marriage in general, Bella couldn’t have been more happy with her decision. They travel to Isle Esme for their honeymoon (because obviously, Esme has her own island – you mean to tell me that you don’t?), where Edward is able to fulfill his end of the bargain. Bella’s delayed period leads to a flurry of events that comprise the majority of the story, resulting in the birth of her daughter, Renesmee, an unheard of half-human, half-vampire. Bella looses her life in the process, ultimately forcing Edward to change her. The Volturi, however, aren’t happy about Renesmee, believing her to be an illegal individual who was bitten as an infant and posed a series threat to those around her. With an impending hostile visit from the Volturi, the Cullens must prepare themselves for the worst.
The plot seemed to move in unpredictable spurts – one minute, there was nothing happening, and the next, everything was happening at once. The bouncing back and forth between boredom and chaos was my main reason for rating this book 4 stars, rather than 5. Breaking Dawn was on the long side at 754 pages; perhaps a shorter book would have corrected the erratically changing pace. The speed picked up significantly during the final chapters of the novel, which served as the climax for the series, but rendered me more than a little bored up until that point.
Bella finally escapes the stereotypical damsel in distress role when she receives her wish of becoming a vampire and quickly adjusts to her new life. Her extreme self-control and restraint is uncharacteristic of newborn vampires, sharply contrasting her previous dependance upon Edward for protection. I found her newfound independence extremely refreshing, especially when comparing Bella to her less-proactive contemporaries in other YA novels (America from The Selection, Katy from Obsidian, and Luce from Fallen, to name a few). I genuinely disliked Bella as a character in New Moon and Eclipse due to her special ability to irritate me to no end and her constant, unnecessary vulnerability, but she certainly redeemed herself in this final installment.
And now, moving on to Edward, who was so frequently described in terms of velvet that he may as well have been entirely composed of the substance. For the first time in the saga, Breaking Dawn provided insight as to Edward’s personal thoughts and emotions throughout the course of the novel. In previous books, he was portrayed as extremely closed off and somewhat unresponsive to the situation at hand. Breaking Dawn, however, highlighted his reactions and opinions as the events unfolded, showing readers a more human side of him. His rare portrayal of emotion throughout the novel painted him as a more realistic figure and converted his relationship with Bella from one of seemingly pure lust to one of genuine love and affection.
What better way to conclude the series than with the birth of Bella and Edward’s half-human, half vampire daughter, Renesmee? Couldn’t they at least have picked a better name for their child? I cringed every time I came across it. On a more positive note, Bella’s pregnancy and birth were two of my favorite aspects of Breaking Dawn due to their originality and creation of suspense. I had mixed feelings about Renesemee initially – after all, she was unintentionally inflicting pain upon Bella from within the womb and I was genuinely concerned for Bella’s life. However, after her birth, she seemed to be the final puzzle piece in Bella and Edward’s relationship, completing their happy little family.
Breaking Dawn was divided into several books, the second of which was narrated by Jacob. I’m not a particularly huge fan of Jacob, and I never have been. From his initial introduction in Twilight, he always rubbed me the wrong way – he seemed clingy and had the potential to fulfill the jealousy-driven, possessive girlfriend role in a relationship. Therefore, reading a fairly large section of the book from his point of view wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. I spent the majority of this portion crossing my fingers in the hopes that he would be miraculously killed in some horrific and tragic accident. Sadly, these hopes were crushed. It amazes me that, after repeated rejections, he continued to chase after Bella, as if he had any chance of winning her over. I still haven’t been able to determine whether this was optimism exercised to an extreme or simply foolishness. My gut is making me lean toward foolishness…
One of my major complaints was the lack of romance. Yes, Bella and Edward went on a honeymoon and conceived a child, but afterward, their romantic interactions crumbled into nonexistence. The remainder of the book emphasized the action/adventure appeal of the series, completely overlooking the more tender, emotional aspect that was present in preceding books.
The one final component that cemented my love of the novel was the suspenseful ending. Throughout the book, I was convinced that it would end poorly. I just couldn’t fathom a positive outcome based upon the course of events that were unraveling – I had been mentally bracing myself for the worst possible scenario. Despite my incessant worrying, I was shocked (and, I’ll admit, relieved) that it ended on such a favorable note. For once, one of my favorite series didn’t end in mass-destruction and the deaths of a quarter of the characters (thank you, J.K. Rowling).
Overall, I enjoyed Breaking Dawn much more than I had initially anticipated as a result of my dislike of New Moon and Eclipse and the unhappy grumblings of other reviewers. Many of the faults that I identified in the previous books were improved upon, facilitating my greater appreciation of the novel. The characters showed significant development for the better (at least for the most part), and I enjoyed the rapidity and suspense of the plot. And yes, I am currently preparing myself for the onslaught of anti-Twilight comments.