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Breaking Dawn (Book)



Breaking Dawn reviewReviewed by Morgan Elektra

Written by Stephenie Meyer

Published by Little, Brown Young Readers

***WARNING- This review is absolutely rotten with spoilers. Don’t worry, it’ll only hurt for a second. ***

Unlike the rest of the “>Twilight saga, which I read after they’d been on the shelf for awhile, I had to wait for the release of Breaking Dawn like everyone else. Granted, I only had to wait maybe a week or two from the time I completed Eclipse for the first time, but still… I’m not known for my patience. Given that fact, and the high level of anticipation Meyer leaves the reader in at the end of book three, I was chomping at the bit, or whatever your favorite metaphor for experiencing extreme levels of impatience may be.

I am a fairly pessimistic person. My first instinct when I am anticipating something highly is to think that it will more than likely not come anywhere close to being as good as I’m hoping for. And it’s usually not. Nothing ever can be. But some things come close. And to be honest, right off the bat, Breaking Dawn is one of those things.

If you’re a teenage girl or a giddy romantic of some other persuasion, then you will no doubt be in fits over Bella and Edward’s elaborate dream wedding that starts off the book, followed by paroxysms of glee when they embark on their honeymoon. (In case you’re wondering, yes, they do have sex… and no, it’s not graphically depicted.) But if you’re someone who’s less about wine and roses and more about action, don’t worry. Things go from lovey dovey to holy shit pretty quickly when Bella realizes she’s pregnant. And I have to say, though the development comes as a surprise, once it happens, you realize the foundations for it were laid in earlier books pretty soundly.

Breaking Dawn is divided into three “books”, the first (which covers the pre-wedding, wedding, and honeymoon, up to the discovery of her pregnancy and return home) told from Bella’s point of view as per usual. But as a treat, the second book is told from Jacob’s perspective. We get some really great chapter titles, too, which often voice thoughts the reader can relate to completely – like chapter two, which is titled “Sure As Hell Didn’t See That One Coming”. They’re both comical and heart-wrenching at the same time, mirroring Jacob’s perspective.

He learns of Bella’s return, and believing she’s been turned into a vampire (which violates the ancient treaty between the Quileute and the Cullens), he heads to the Cullen’s house to take them all out in retribution for killing Bella – which is how he sees her being turned. He’s torn up and disgusted to see Bella pregnant with Edward’s child; a child that is rapidly killing her. And he’s not the only one. Edward and Carlisle have tried in vain to convince Bella to abort, but she’s refusing, and with the help of a rabid Rosalie (here’s some more of that subtle setup from earlier books), she’s staving them off. But everyone’s worried.

The baby inside is not human, of course. Bella goes from conception to nearly full term in less than a month. She’s unable to keep any food down at all, and even IV fluids aren’t doing her much good. Carlisle can’t do an ultrasound either, or an amniocentesis, because the amniotic sack containing the infant is made of a substance similar to its father’s skin: rock hard and nearly impenetrable. Aside from its rapid growth, the baby is abnormally strong, too. Bella’s stomach is a mass of dark bruises, and as the pregnancy progresses, it breaks her ribs, too. As you can see, Meyer has gone a lot darker, more grim, and adult for this outing. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The three previous books have all had surprisingly little blood flow given the nature of its hero, but that’s not the case here. The delivery scene itself is not only soaked in the grue, but nearly physically painful to read – not to mention really gross at times (here’s a hint, remember how I mentioned the amniotic sack was nearly impenetrable, like vampire skin? Yeah… pretty much the only thing that can tear vampire skin is vampire teeth. Think about that for one hot minute.) Meyer pulls absolutely no punches in what she’s willing to subject her heroine to.

And I don’t just mean the pregnancy and delivery. Bella finally gets what she’s wanted since the beginning: She gets turned into a vampire. But if the readers had any romantic, sensual ideas about what it’s like to become the undead, Meyer drives a stake right through their hearts. Bella’s transition is painful and long, and we get to experience every minute of it. Of course, like Bella, we get the payoff once it’s done. Vampire Bella is just as much a joy as fragile human Bella. Having gotten to know her so well over the last several thousand pages of story, it’s a lot of fun to see her reactions to her newfound abilities.

I’ve always had problems with Meyer’s pacing in the previous three books; some parts drag unnecessarily long while others race by with seemingly no rhyme or reason to how or why they’re moving that way. But I can honestly say that’s not the case here. Meyer throws us down a steep slope a mere hundred or so pages into the book, and we continue at a break-neck pace right up until the book’s Happily Ever After. (Of course it has one; did you expect any different?) There’s so much going on it was very difficult to put down.

And once again, Meyer conveys emotions so well it’s easy to feel what the characters are feeling and relate. And despite the fantastical surroundings and situations they’re put in (Jacob refers to the whole situation rather aptly in an earlier book as a Goth sitcom), those characters feel very real. Breaking Dawn stretches the limits of belief in its storyline, but you find yourself willing to go there because you believe in and like these people.

The other three books are entertaining, and I’d recommend them for a quick (depending on how fast you read, they are all bulky) but fun read on their own… but really, the whole reason to read them is so you can get here, and read THIS book, because it’s so worth it. At one point in Breaking Dawn, shortly after Bella becomes a vampire, Edward and the rest of the Cullens present her with a gift… a cottage in the woods for her and Edward that reminds Bella of something out of a fairy tale. That, finally, is exactly what Meyer has created – a wonderfully dark fairy tale for those of us who prefer our princesses with a bit of bloodlust and our princes more brooding than charming.


5 out of 5

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The Shape of Water Review: A Quirky Mix of Whimsy and Horror That Does Not Disappoint



Starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stulbarg, Doug Jones

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

“True Blood,” Beauty and the Beast, and Twilight aside, the notion of romantic love between humans and otherworldly creatures has been a popular theme throughout storytelling history. The ancient Greeks told tales of Leda and the swan, while stories of mermaids luring sailors to their lusty demise were met with wonder worldwide, stemming from Assyria c. 1000 BC. To this day, there’s Creature From the Black Lagoon fanfic that’s quite racy… for whatever reason, some people are fascinated by this fantasy taboo.

The new period film from co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water, dives right into the erotic motif with the tale of how Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) fell in love. (While I personally could have done without the bestiality angle, I do applaud del Toro for having the balls to show what’s usually implied.) Having said that, The Shape of Water is about more than just interspecies passion.

The Shape of Water is a voluptuous, sumptuous, grand, and melodramatic Gothic fable at times (there’s even a lavish 1940s style dance routine!), but mostly it’s an exciting and gripping adventure, pitting the good guys against one very bad buy – played with mustache-twirling (minus the mustache), bug-eyed glee by Michael Shannon. Shannon is Strickland, a sinister and spiteful Cold War government operative who is put in charge of a mysterious monster captured in the Amazon and shipped to his Baltimore facility for study. When using cruel and abusive methods to crack the creature’s secrets doesn’t work, Strickland decides to cut him open to see what’s ticking inside.

Elisa, a lowly cleaning lady at the facility, has meanwhile grown fond of “the Asset,” as he’s called. She’s been spending time with him on the sly, not even telling her two best friends about her budding tenderness for the mute and isolated alien. She relates to him because not only is she lonesome, she’s unable to speak (an abusive childhood is alluded to – which includes water torture). Using sign language, she first tells out-of-work commercial illustrator Giles (Richard Jenkins), then her co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), about the need to rescue her waterlogged Romeo from Strickland’s scalpel. Needless to say, it won’t be easy sneaking a classified government experiment out of the high security building.

The Shape of Water is vintage del Toro in terms of visuals and accoutrement. The set-pieces are stunning to say the least. Elisa and Giles live in cozy, cluttered, age-patinaed apartments above a timeworn Art Deco moving-pictures palace; Strickland’s teal Cadillac is a collection of curves and chrome; and the creature’s tank is a steampunk nightmare of iron, glass, and sturdy padlocks. DP Dan Laustsen (Crimson Peak) does justice to each and every detail. Costumes (Luis Sequeira) and Creature (Legacy Effects) are appropriately stunning. The velvety score by Alexandre Desplat (“Trollhunters”) is both subdued and stirring.

While the film is a fantasy-fueled feast for the senses, it’s really the actors who keep you caring about the players in such an unrealistic, too-pat story. Jones, entombed in iridescent latex and with GC eyes, still manages to emote and evoke sympathy as the misfit monster. Jenkins is endearingly morose as a closeted gay man surrounded by his beloved cats and bolstered by the belief his hand-painted artwork is still relevant in an ever-more technical world. Spencer is the comic relief as a sassy lady who’s hobbled by her station in life but leaps into action when the chips are down.

Del Toro cowrote the screenplay with Vanessa Taylor, whose credits in the television world are numerous – but she’s probably best-known for her work on “Game of Thrones” – which adds an interesting and feminine perspective. The story definitely feels more comic-book than anything, which is okay I guess, but I prefer del Toro’s deeper delves into history and character (The Devil’s Backbone is still my fave). But, for those who love del Toro’s quirky mix of whimsy and horror, you will not be disappointed.

The Shape of Water is a dreamlike, pulpy adult fairytale that dances on the surface of reality while remaining true to the auteur’s vision.

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Secretions Short Film Review – Anyone For Some Blood and Guts a la Carte?



Starring Zia Electric, David Macrae, Chris Savva

Directed by Goran Spoljaric

Only a select few know the true horrors of one’s basement (hell, I’ve got one that floods regularly) – but in director Goran Spoljaric’s extremely “juicy” short film, Secretions – we see just what lives in a grimy cellar…and what it craves in order to sustain. Anyone have any sanitizer? We’re gonna need it for this one.

Alone and held captive in a dirty-subterranean room, a woman is literally fighting for her life, and due to her being chained at the ankle, it’s painfully obvious that she’s here for the long haul. On the first floor of this residence, a deal is being made, and it’s one that will either help or harm a hopeless addict.

It involves a little handy-work down in the basement, and although it might seem like a light job considering the circumstances…nothing is as easy as it initially looks – anyone for some blood and guts a la carte? The imprisoned woman contains something inside of her that is particularly satiating to the habituated, but it comes at a painful price, which begs the question: what would you risk to scratch an itch?

Spoljaric’s direction here focuses on the victim – and while you’ll probably be wondering exactly who that is during this quickie’s 11-minute duration, it doesn’t detract from its powerful display. Gritty, grimy and ultimately gruesome – these Secretions are the ones that simply cannot be washed off – maybe I’ll give a little turpentine a shot, as something’s got to get these damned stains out – YUCK.

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Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date



Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross, Sonny Valicenti, and Cameron Britton.

Directed by David Fincher, Andrew Douglas, Asif Kapadia, and Tobias Lindholm.

A few weeks back Netflix premiered all ten episodes of David Fincher’s new serial killer series “Mindhunter” on their streaming service. Being that Fincher is one of our favorite directors we added the series to our queues as soon as possible. And this past week – after recapping and reviewing all 9 episodes of “Stranger Things 2” – we were finally able to sit down and enjoy the (much) more adult thriller series.

What did we think? Find out below…

First off we should get a few things like plot and background out of the way. “Mindhunter” is based on the best-selling non-fiction novel of the same name by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The book was optioned by none other than David Fincher and Charlize Theron and quickly thereafter snatched up by Netflix. The series is executive produced and (mostly) written by Joe Penhall.

The plot follows a young FBI agent played by Jonathan Groff who, after an incident in the field, is set to be a teacher at Quantico. Kinda boring. Especially for a guy under thirty. Quickly, however, the young agent joins forces with a seasoned pro, played by Holt McCallany (Fight Club) in a star-making performance, and together the two tour the country educating local police on the proper protocols established by the FBI.

That is, until the day that our young agent gets it in his head that he wants to interview Ed Kemper. Yes, That Ed Kemper. From there the series becomes the story of the FBI and its very beginnings of psychological profiling. The series even goes so far as to lay out the tale of how the term “serial killer” was first coined.

In the hands of any other filmmaker, this semi-procedural thriller would have, most likely, not been our cup of tea. But in the hands of master director David Fincher, “Mindhunter” is quite possibly the most riveting police procedural to ever hit the small screen. Hyperbole, we know. But come on, have you seen Fincher’s Zodiac?

Yeah, now picture that motion picture spread out over the course of ten glorious hours and you’ll have somewhat of an idea of how much fun(?) it was to spend the better part of our free time last week in the grips of such as series.

First off special mentioned needs to be thrown at the killer cast of “Mindhunter.” Each actor is phenomenal. From our hero agents played by Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv, the series only gets better with powerhouse after powerhouse performance hitting us from the likes of Jack Erdie as Richard Speck, Adam Zastrow as a lonely (possible) rapist, and Joseph Cross and Jesse C. Boyd as a pair of (possible) ladykillers.

Oh, and Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper. Oh, boy. Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper.

I could spend this entry review telling you guys about how chilling, disturbing and utterly riveting Cameron Britton’s performance as Ed Kemper (aka The Co-Ed Killer) is, but you really need to see it for yourself to get the full picture. The series has more than it’s fair share of spine-chilling moments, to be sure. But none are so chilling as any and ever given scene which features Britton as Kemper. Give this man all the awards. Today.

Given the tight performances by the entire cast – including solid turns by the lowest day player – “Mindhunter” would be a crowning achievement for Netflix. But add in some of the top directors working today (including, in addition to Fincher, Andrew Douglas, Asif Kapadia, and Tobias Lindholm) and beautiful 2:35 cinematography by Erik Messerschmidt and Christopher Probst, and you have a series so jaw-droppingly cinematic, you’ll be amazed this never played in theaters. And was never meant to.

Overall I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this new Netflix original series.

Well, maybe one thing: Hannah Gross as Debbie Mitford is a dull character. This is not a jab at Gross as an actress. But her mostly one-note, under-developed character is forced to spend the majority of her screentime merely portraying “the girlfriend.” Which in a series like this means she merely functions, for a majority of her screentime, a receptacle of exposition once our hero returns home after a long day.

But other than that one aspect, this Netflix original series is top quality from end to end. From the spooky pre-credits insights into the growing storm that is Dennis Rader aka the BTK killer to the season’s finale sequence set in Kemper’s ICU room, “Mindhunter” is a chilling – and frankly scary series that you won’t be able to shake for months.

And most, if not all of the scares, come courtesy of long dialogue scenes – which are anything other than boring.

In the end, Mindhunters is a series that we cannot wait to see continue forward come season two. Fincher has reportedly stated that Charles Manson will play a pivotal role in the second season, and we are actively counting down the days until we can visit that character… From the comfort of our Netflix account.

“Mindhunter” is a must-see. Get ahead of the game. Watch the series tonight.

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