Monday, May 23, 2011

Breaking Dawn is...broken

I'm recycling this post from my own blog, because a) it's pretty good and completely appropriate for this blog, and b) I have nothing else right now. My life is totally boring at the moment. I COULD talk about how excited I am for the new Harry Potter movie, or psyched over the casting for THE HUNGER GAMES movie (and I am unbelievably psyched). But you don't want to read about that, do you.

My book tour is still going on though, and if you'd like to follow along, the tour page is up at :
But in the meanwhile, enjoy and discuss the following...

Okay, look. I'm not a huge TWILIGHT fan. I didn't totally hate the first one; liked it enough to read NEW MOON. I wanted to shove Bella off a cliff myself by the end of that one, but after a pause I went ahead with ECLIPSE. That surprised me in that I liked it best, I think, enough to read BREAKING DAWN. 

And it all fell apart like a wet paper sack.

I'm not a hater. There were things I liked about all of the first three books. She obviously has some talent and is telling a story that people want to read. Her writing is simple and easy to follow, descriptive enough in places that I get a good image. It was entertaining and I've definitely read worse. I really do like the movies, better than the books in some cases. I don't want to bring down the wrath of Twi-hards here. I'm only speaking as a reader and author, and not bashing the story itself, which has merit. My problem with BREAKING DAWN is that it failed to live up to the expectations the author set out for herself and her readers. Let me explain, and I will be spoiling the book, so if you haven't read it and don't want to be spoiled, stop here.

The wedding: Once again, Bella gives in to whatever her family wants to make them happy instead of making herself happy. It's a character flaw that has bugged me since the beginning. I can't really complain, though, because it was in character for her to do that. I guess I  can't fault that too much, but it was annoying.

No real stakes: Okay, so there WERE stakes for Bella and her baby. Bella could have died either by childbirth or the wolves. But we knew she wouldn't, because Edward would save her and then the wolves wussed out (though I did like it when Jacob took over as Alpha. That was cool). She's the POV character, it's not a great leap to think she would live. I really never had any doubt, and I SHOULD have, I think. 

But let's move on to Bella's transformation into a vampire. She knows what it feels like to have the venom inside her, after James bit her in TWILIGHT. It was excruciating and I believed it then. This time? It was glossed over and weak, to be precise. I wanted her to scream, I wanted to feel her blood burning in her veins like fire. But the author took the cheap way out by having her paralyzed with morphine. Really? It's like she didn't want to hurt her characters, a theme in this book.

No consequences: Bella's a vampire. She's ready to be a newborn-- a bloodthirsty, raging monster with unequal strength. The author took a good chunk of ECLIPSE setting this up for us, and then dropped the ball. Our Bella Sue wakes up like a princess in a fairy tale, ready to greet her new life with open arms. UGH! I would have liked to have seen her dive at someone. Give me a reason to CARE, to make her fight for this new life. Bella can resist, like magic, the lure of human blood, even when she's been drinking it for weeks (ugh again). So Bella never has to deal with the consequences of her actions. She's like a decades old vampire as a newborn. Please. Let her bite one human (make up a red shirt!) and let's see how she deals with it. MUCH more interesting. With all that setup beforehand, it's the old "if you show me a gun in Act I, it had better go off in Act III." Words are precious; don't waste them showing me things you have no intention of using later.  It was a twist that fell really short.

Nothing bad happens:  I have done horrible things to characters. I've had them nearly eaten by Minotaurs, Basilisks, and Chinese serpents. Hang by their fingertips from buildings, die and come back to life, set on fire, and stabbed. Think about all the stuff that happens to Kat in THE HUNGER GAMES. You are rooting for her because everyone loves the underdog. NO ONE loves the person who gets everything they ever wanted without trying and without trials. Bella has NO TRIALS. Life is perfect, the end. There are no hurtles, no obstacles to make us pull for her to win. Except the Volturi, and I'll get to that.

Likewise with all the characters. Bella could have-- SHOULD HAVE-- broken one man's heart into powder, and then both would have had to heal. We LIKE THAT. But the author copped out again, creating the imprinting bond between Jacob and Renesmee (*snort*), so that Bella was completely off the hook (!) and Jacob could just *poof* let go of her without any pain whatsoever.  I was not creeped out at all by that relationship, by the way. The author did a nice job of setting that up ahead of time with Quil and Claire, showing us it was not icky. It was a good connection. 

But characters NEED TO SUFFER. It helps us relate to them and makes us cheer when they eventually do win. There was no suffering here. I mean, they did suffer a little, having to choose between lives and duty and love, but it wasn't strong enough and then it was over, tossed away.
Finally, and my biggest problem: What was with that whole Volturi build-up, just to have it turn into a gab fest? Not one drop of blood was spilled, Bella suddenly has control over her 'shield', and the bad guys go back to Italy with a wink and a nod?  


Not that I enjoy character deaths, but come ON! The author could have, SHOULD have, sacrificed a few characters. JK Rowling did this in a superb way; not gratuitous deaths, but deaths that were meaningful, and I cried over them, as I'm sure she did when she wrote them. The epic Battle of Hogwarts is the reward to the reader for sticking with the series, hoping and praying that their favorites made it out alive. This thing?? Huge letdown. There was no cost to them for facing the Volturi, and it came out weak -- with a whimper instead of bang.

I was watching Armageddon the other night, and though it's completely cheesy, it made me think about what it has that BREAKING DAWN did not: challenges. An asteroid is going to destroy the earth. Drillers, untrained, go into space. They stop to refuel and end up blowing up a space station, nearly losing a member of the crew. They DO lose crew when the other shuttle crashes, but amazingly three survive. Broken drill bits, fighting among themselves, reunion, triumph, and then sacrifice when Harry has to stay behind to blow up the bomb. They won and it was hard-fought. And it came with cost.  

For BREAKING DAWN, I agree with the Publisher's Weekly review: All the characters got everything they wanted and gave up nothing to get it. 

Booooo-ring. Three books of buildup for that?


  1. Okay, I do agree, but that's the writer in you talking. I believe as just a reader it's okay and still enjoyable. Sure, it could have been even better but as is most readers see it as a great ride since they are focused on the love story of Bella and Edward.

  2. Well, reading over some of the comments on Amazon, a lot of the readers felt the letdown too. Not the hard-core fans who see no wrong, of course. I really didn't hate the first three books and I didn't completely hate parts of this one either; I only felt disappointed because by the end, well, I just didn't care. About any of it. I wanted her to have to work to get what she wanted not have it all handed to her.

    I would rather have liked to have cried for someone, felt for someone, and I didn't. The love story was even kind of easy in this one, where it wasn't in the others.

    Meh. I really like certain characters all the way through, like Alice. I totally adored her, because she had substance and was totally into her life. Bella always seemed like a spectator to her own life.

  3. To me I was very disappointed in the last book. Also the book seemed like a mixture of different voices. I think that could have been taken care of with another edit but who knows?

    You know how I felt about the imprinting thing between Jacob and the baby. It grossed me out more than the birth itself.

    Also the ending was too tied up nicely. It was mega anti-climatic for me.

    Plus, I felt it was very unbelievable that Bella's parents didn't get more concerned about her turning into a vamp or were clueless.

    I still think Meyer is a good storyteller and I loved TWILIGHT. Just was disappointed.

  4. That's what it is - I was all geared up for an epic ending and it was a letdown. The only character in the whole story that died was one I barely cared about in the first place.

    I wanted someone's life to actually be in danger, and I didn't get the feeling it ever was.

  5. Now I understand why I was so disappointed in the last book. It was too easy. I didn't like the imprinting with Jacob and the baby either. I thought it was creepy.

    The Hunger Games, now that one kept me wondering who, if anyone, would survive.

  6. It was hard to pinpoint until I thought about it. I felt so unsatisfied.