Friday, August 22, 2008
At long last, a Breaking Dawn review
Jeremy finished reading Breaking Dawn last night, so now I can finally talk about it (at last! It's been released these 2.5 weeks now).
For those of you who haven't read it yet but plan to, here is a completely spoiler-free, generic opinion. I liked it. A lot. And for what it did for the series as a whole, I loved it, as a part of that whole. But I liked Eclipse better. I've mentioned here before that in general, I am not a fan of vampire books. More than any other book in the series, though, Breaking Dawn is about vampires. Vampires we know and love, sure, but vampires nonetheless. The romantic tension from the rest of the books is still there in Breaking Dawn, but it takes an unexpected (or at least un-looked-for) direction. In sum, it's a wonderful end to the series, but I can't promise that everyone will love it, or at least love every element of it, even those who loved the other three books. Consider yourself warned.
And now onto the spoilers, for those of you who have read it or who don't care about the books but still feel compelled to read this review. I can't help but address here some of the criticisms I've heard about the book, but I'll try to include some stand-alone analysis as well.
First, I think we can all agree that Renesmee is a stupid name. But you know what? I think it's kind of a Utah-Idaho-Arizona thing, maybe even a Mormon thing, this combining of names to make new ones. It's a practice I don't agree with, but it's also one that I understand and have seen before. So to see the name Renesmee Carlie was not as revoltingly shocking (shockingly revolting?) to me as it appears to have been to some readers. I got over it fairly quickly.
Second, and perhaps I should have mentioned this first: going into it, I had no idea how Stephenie Meyer was going to resolve things to any kind of satisfaction, let alone the satisfaction of her millions of fans. However, I had absolute faith that she could do it. Perhaps it was foolish to have such complete trust that she would appropriately address pertinent issues such as Bella's aversion to marriage, the idea of Bella and Edward being destined for each other, Bella's continued feelings for Jacob, even after marriage, etc. Fortunately, this trust was not disappointed.
Anyway, Breaking Dawn was an engaging book that finished off the series beautifully, and I mean that very sincerely. For a series that has often been bleak in mood and outlook, not to mention weather, it was refreshing and affirming to have an ending that was so satisfying and positive. Unrealistic? Maybe. It's hard to say when we're talking about a book that deals with vampires and werewolves. But what better conclusion to Bella's story could there be than that she finally grows into herself and is able to save the ones she loves? Some may call it teenaged-girl wish-fulfillment; I would call it the natural progression of events and a perfectly logical extension of Bella's human talents - talents that were not always able to be displayed when she was a mortal. Here we have what has been the series' weakest character - weak in the sense of the actual character, not characterization - turn into the champion, and I can hardly believe we have people complaining about it.
As for the final battle-that-never-was, that was fine with me. I preferred the mental and strategic battle rather than a ripping-and-burning-of-vampire-flesh melee. But that's just me - I can see where other people would feel cheated.
Lest I become a complete Breaking Dawn apologist, I will say that there were two lines of the book that I thought were so dumb. One was when Bella and Edward started laughing, and the other was what Garrett said to Kate during the battle. Speaking of Garrett, again, probably because I am not a big fan of vampire novels in general, I could have done without the extensive characterization of all the random vampires. Interesting? Yes. An essential element to further the story? Probably not. Intriguing ideas for possible spinoff sequels? Definitely, and then I'll decide to care about their stories.
Another area of dissatisfaction for me, but one that I knew was coming, was that Team Jacob lost. I was almost positive that was going to happen, but that didn't keep me from hoping things could somehow turn out otherwise. The way they did turn out was just about as happy as can be expected, considering the circumstances. I do hope that we get to read Jacob and Renesmee's story someday, if for no other reason than to hear Jacob's hilarious narrator voice again.
I said Breaking Dawn was beautiful, and nowhere was that brought home to me more than in the last few pages when Bella was able to allow Edward to see her thoughts at last. I found that scene to be very moving and it also did a good job of tying all the books together as we were able to relive key moments in Bella and Edward's relationship. Sigh. Just lovely.
Now there's nothing left to do but wait for the movie, which is coming out a bit earlier now. Woohoo!