Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Book Review
Title: Breaking Dawn
Author:  Stephenie Meyers
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: August 2, 2008
Pages: 768
ISBN 10 – 031606792X
ISBN 13 – 978-0316067928
Stars:  4.0

I read Stephenie Meyer’s mega-bestselling Twilight and New Moon last year and then like millions of others, went to see the movie Twilight upon its release. It’s embarrassing to admit as a 45 year old woman, but Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of Edward Cullen totally jammed my radar for days afterwards! He truly is supernaturally beautiful as Edward and Kristen Stewart’s uncomfortable, awkward, worried and accident prone, but beautiful Isabella Swan is an equally perfect depiction of Meyer’s “Bella”.

The Twilight saga is a world-wide phenomenon (as of February 2009, over 28 million copies had been sold!) that has made author Stephenie Meyer a superstar in her own right and she deserves every bit of her success, as did J. K. Rowling before her. They have both created unforgettable characters that we care about so much that they feel like family and their stories are set against the most magical backdrops imaginable. They transport us out of our dreary, mundane, mortal lives to a place where absolutely ANYTHING can happen and remind us why we have an imagination.

I completely understand the appeal of the Twilight series. A contemporary story (inspired by a dream) in which the writing flows effortlessly, the character development is superb and the characters bring to life every human emotion imaginable; in particular, young love and its all-encompassing allure. This is not a vampire/horror novel in the archetypal sense (Meyer’s main vampire characters don’t feed on human blood and live in peace among the humans of Forks, Washington), it’s a romance inspired by classics like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. Anyone who is a fan of true love cannot help but be completely mesmerized by Bella & Edward’s story.

I have to say that my favourite books are Twilight and Breaking Dawn because I am more interested in Bella and Edward than I am in Jacob and New Moon just didn’t have enough Edward in it for my taste. I found the relationship turmoil between Jacob and Bella in Eclipse to be a bit overblown at times and some of the dialogue between them was almost nauseating (I found myself thinking, “If Bella apologizes one more time, I’m going to scream!”) but I understood its importance in the grand scheme of things. I just finished reading Eclipse and while I enjoyed it thoroughly, I couldn’t wait for what I was sure to discover in Breaking Dawn and so I picked it up right away and continued reading.

A couple of weeks ago I had about an hour long discussion one evening at my best friend’s family cottage with her 12 year old son, Jacob, who is a huge fan of the books. Jacob is an exceptional child (whose favourite character is Jacob Black, of course!) and had read all four books within a week! I was amazed that he could remember the story in vivid detail and quote the last line of Breaking Dawn word for word! I didn’t mind in the least that he confirmed the outcome for me before I read it. He told me that Breaking Dawn has at least six major surprises in it and it does (even though I’d already guessed at most of them, there was one really big surprise I wasn’t considering!). The book made me sigh heavily more than once. This is the epitome of fairy tales!

“A very, very small part of my head considered the interesting conundrum presented in this situation. I was never going to get tired, and neither was he. We didn’t have to catch our breath or rest or eat or even use the bathroom; we had no more mundane human needs. He had the most beautiful, perfect body in the world and I had him all to myself, and it didn’t feel like I was ever going to find a point where I would think, Now I’ve had enough for one day. I was always going to want more. And the day was never going to end. So, in such a situation, how did we ever stop?

It didn’t bother me at all that I had no answer.”

See what I mean?!

I languished over and savored every chapter of Breaking Dawn, stretching it out for as long as I could. As an adult, I was quite disappointed with the scene in which Bella and Edward finally physically consummate their love as it translated to something you’d see on network television: a passionate kiss, followed by a fade to black and the next morning the couple are in bed together with their clothes on and everything that happened between them is assumed. (I wasn’t surprised to discover that Meyer comes from a Mormon family.) However, the last few chapters were incredibly intense, suspenseful and had me hanging onto every word that was written. I won’t give away the story or its surprises for anyone who hasn’t read it yet but I will say that its elemental themes are love (in all its forms), family, loyalty and living in peace and with tolerance for those who are different from us. If you’re a fan of vampire or werewolf/shapeshifter stories or simply a great, adventurous romance with a huge heart, this series is definitely for you.

Most members of the Cullen family are an integral part of the story: Carlisle, Rosalie, Jasper and particularly, Alice who is my favourite character after Edward and Bella. Although Esme and Emmett didn’t play quite as a large a part, you can’t imagine the Cullen family without them. Jacob’s steadfast loyalty, as well as the collective allegiance of his wolf pack (Seth being the most obvious) is equally important. The addition of many different vampire covens from all over the world in Breaking Dawn, added to the intrigue of the tale and the fear of their confrontation with the Volturi ancients was palpable.

It seems to me that there is plenty of room for more vampire and werewolf stories where this one concludes and I know I will read every book that Stephenie Meyer writes from now on. I didn’t want Breaking Dawn to end, although it did, and for now, Stephenie Meyer says it’s the last book of the Twilight saga written from Bella’s perspective. She was working on Midnight Sun, which was to be Twilight from Edward’s perspective but, due to an unfortunate leak of a draft copy on the Internet, it remains to be seen whether the book will ever see the light of day.

No matter what Stephenie Meyer chooses to write for her next book, it will undoubtedly be another bestseller and although she admits she’s still an amateur writer in her own mind, she should have a very lengthy career in which to evolve into an expert.

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