Background: It took me a couple of weeks after the publication date to get to the conclusion of Stephenie Meyers' Breaking Dawn. First I was on vacation, and I don't like traveling with bulky hardcovers. And then I knew that the publisher would be sending me a copy, so I waited a few days for that. But it hadn't come, and I finally purchased a copy. It wasn't so much that I was dying to know how the series ended, but it was getting difficult not to read spoilers. And of course the day after I finished reading it, the publisher's copy showed up. But I'm sure that my library will be more than happy to have a donated copy.
In truth, I don't see much point in reviewing this title at all. Is my review going to be the thing that entices some particular reader to pick up the book, in the face of the media firestorm, and the 2400+ reviews already available on Amazon? It seems hardly likely. And I try very hard on my blog not to reveal details that will spoil anyone's reading of a book. But this is a book that calls out more for discussion than for review. So, I'm offering an informal, mini-review, as spoiler-free as I can make it, with a goal of helping anyone on the fence to answer the questions: "should I read it or shouldn't I, given the polarizing reviews out there?".
Review: I know that a lot of people were disappointed by this Twilight series finale, and/or are up in arms over various aspects of Breaking Dawn. But personally, I enjoyed it. Although Breaking Dawn is quite long, I found it a fast read, one that kept me turning the pages. I thought that Stephenie Meyer handled the whole "will she or won't she become a vampire question" in a way that was true to the series as a whole, and true to Bella's character. Ditto the Edward vs. Jacob question. It seemed clear to me that Meyer had mapped out the whole series when she wrote the first book, and remained consistent to her vision of Bella's story. A couple of things were explained that needed to be explained (why Edward couldn't read Bella's mind, and why Jacob was so drawn to Bella, even though though he didn't imprint on her, for example). And the ending, if lacking a bit in dramatic conflict, felt to me for the most part like the right ending for the characters. If anything, I think that some of the disappointment that people have had with Breaking Dawn stems from a certain feeling of inevitability - it's hard to fulfill things that have been set up through four lengthy novels and simultaneously surprise the reader.
Addressing a little of the controversy about this book: yes, Meyer's vision for this series was doubtless influenced by her own religious views. But so what? They're her books. If you have a problem reading about teens who choose not to have sex before marriage, then don't read the books. If you have a problem with hyper-traditional gender roles, in which the girl is repeatedly saved by the boy (or boys, in this case, given Jacob), then don't read the books. As has been pointed out elsewhere (see Original Content, for example), these books are at heart romances, and as such, follow certain conventions. And let's face it: this is a series about a girl who falls in love with a vampire, who loves her back. It's escapism. If you find that human/vampire match-up creepy (you know what I'm going to say), then by all means don't read the books.
I certainly have things that I could quibble over (though I can't do so without spoilers) in Breaking Dawn, especially in relation to the conflict with the Volturi. But ultimately I'm satisfied with Breaking Dawn as the conclusion to the Twilight series. If you've read the first three books, then I recommend that you get out there and read Breaking Dawn. Do it soon, before someone spoils the book for you. And try to remember that it's just a book, not some sort of huge social commentary that strives to address all of the world's ills. Then settle in when you have some free time, and immerse yourself in Breaking Dawn.
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Publication Date: August 2, 2008
Source of Book: Bought it, and also received a review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Too numerous to mention
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.