Breaking Dawn (Book)
Reviewed 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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