Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bewildering Dawn...


I finished Breaking Dawn about 14 hours after picking it up at exactly 12:01 am. I have waited this long to post how I feel about it for two reasons... 1. Because I didn't want to ruin anything for anyone (so if you haven't read the book and are planning on it, stop reading this now-- I’m going to spoil) and 2. I really didn't know HOW I felt about it.
To a point I still don't. It's all very confusing...

I really wanted to love this book. Guess what, I didn't. Plain and simple. I didn't HATE it, but I certainly didn't fall in love with it either. I just only (kinda sorta) liked it, and that makes me a little bummed. I figure I can keep trying to talk myself in to loving it, or I can just face the facts. To me, it felt like Meyer was more worried about finishing up and trying to please everyone that it reads like one big cop out. It seemed to be so untrue to the two main characters and felt forced in so many areas but, left us lacking in loads of others. Compared the other three books, this one had a completely different feel (and not just because of the switch in narrators.) I felt like this book took on too much too fast from too far out of left field, then never bothered to explore the characters reactions to what was happening only to try to write a happy ending for EVERYONE involved.

The more I go back and read the more I'm convinced this needed to be two books. Book 4 being the entire first section of the wedding, honeymoon and mutant spawn pregnancy culminating in the cliffhanger of Jacob's new little imprint (I refuse from here on out to call her by that ridiculous atrocity of a name, although I give mad props to the most awesomest nickname that ever was) and Bella's changing heart. That could have been followed by a book 5 of Bella's change, a reaction and exploration of her new role as a mother and then a REAL Volturi showdown.

I think part II (Jacob) was written very well, but there was still so much incomplete in there. We never get to hear the internal struggle of Bella on carrying this child (I don't care how much you love your vampire husband, I'm sorry--if your pregnant with mutant spawn that's causing your ribs to break and making you crave human blood--your going to be freaked out.) We also catch only the smallest of glimpses of how much this is tearing Edward apart. Pre-mutant birth, we only get to see through Jacob's eyes what's going on and post-baby vampire trauma, both Edward and Bella are too wrapped up in her transformation (and newly discovered sexual stamina) to ever once give us a reading on how they both feel about this new family of theirs. I found it SO out of character that Edward was not expressing to Bella his love and wonder and devotion for either her or the baby after all of it went down. He's never had any issue with expressing himself in the past, why so clammed up now? Vice Versa for our dear little Bells, she spent a month dying a slow and awful death just to get the Loch Ness Monster here, yet we get NO internal dialogue expressing her complete joy and wonder, nor any verbal expression of love to Edward about their child. To me, it almost seemed as if the child was an afterthought at all times for both of them.

Apart from our main characters complete lack of paternal love and inability to express themselves on a non-physical level, I had some major issues with the entire Bella section all together. Where were all our beloved vampires? Meyer seemed to sidestep all the Cullens (even Bella herself) to introduce us to all these new vampires. Was she bored with her characters and ready to move on? The third section culmination of the book was like watching the Lego towers my kids build tip over. It kept building higher and higher and higher until all of a sudden, CRASH, no showdown, no fight, no annihilation of Jane or Aro or Demetri,

Here's how I felt it went down:

Volturi: "Oops, your stronger than we thought. Sorry about that, we'll see you next year and the reunion!!"
Team Cullen: "No biggie! We don't care that you came here to destroy us and everything we hold dear--catch ya'll later!"
Team Wolf: "By the way, were not really werewolves, we're shape shifters! Hope that doesn't confuse anyone!"

Unbelievable. To be honest, I felt a little ripped off. Meyer built up this confrontation for what felt like ages only have it ripped out from under us. No great fight scene, no loss of supernatural immortal life, not even some deep wounding (I mean--they can put them selves back together again, couldn't SOMEONE at least lose a limb or two?)

I'm sure at this point you're thinking 'I thought she said she didn't hate it?' It's true, I didn't. I just didn't love it. But there were lots of little things that I loved. I loved Seth. I loved Leah. I loved the fact that, despite the fact that she was acting on complete and totally self-absorbed reasons, Bella found an unlikely ally in Rosalie. As I said before, I (being a die hard Jacob fan) loved every minute of his narration and it felt nice to leave Bella's love struck, overly-Edward-adjectived head for a little while. And, after quite literally crying and throwing things around my kitchen, I even loved the fact that Jacob imprinted with Nessie.

I'm not going to lie, that one through me for a loop. I wasn't prepared for some sort of blood craving, pelvis cracking half-Bella, so I certainly wasn't prepared for my Jacob to imprint on the cast off Bella 2.0. After finishing part II (and before moving on to part III) I was pretty sure that I was going to hate Meyer forever for doing that to my most loved character. But soon, after it began to develop in part III, I wasn't mad anymore. I really believe that Meyer set us up for that for a LONG time. That Jacob's emotions and life NEEDED to be intertwined with Bella's up until that point so he would feel enough for her in order to spare her life (and that life of the baby's) when he made the stand against Sam. Think about it, Jacob has known since New Moon that Bella never felt the same for him, he knew through Eclipse he was fighting a losing battle, but he kept coming back for more. The universe had something else in store for him, and it really had nothing to do with Bella at all, she was just the vessel.

I loved the fact that I totally called Bella not having 'newborn vampire' issues and (although it was horribly explored) I love that her ability to be as strong and powerful as she was stemmed from the fact that she CHOSE to be this- and I love the idea of exploring empowerment through agency and choices. I also love the ultimate message I believe that Meyer was trying to get at; that there is a universal unseen force at work leading you to where you belong. It's the ultimate for any romantic (closet or die-hard.) If you look at all the back stories of each of the couples; Carlisle and Esme, Jasper and Alice, Sam and Emily, even Rosalie and Emmet, the story of Bella finding Edward and Jacob finding Ness are really quite beautiful and lend another level to each other. It seems to me, that despite bizarre cross breeding of species and semi-creepy age differences, Meyer is ultimately sending us the statement that love and fate cross all kinds of lines. It makes me think of other well loved classic romantic stories such as the ones she herself reveres so much. As far as the ending, the girly-girl deep down in me loves the happy ending. Why shouldn't everyone be happy? What's so wrong with a happy ending? The biggest "wrong" I see is that there is no sacrifice. Without that, I don't quite see the reason for all the previously angst-filled installments.

See what I mean, she's just left me confused...

I'm still a big fan of Stephenie Meyer. In no way am I anywhere close to the legions of fans who are either returning or burning their books this week and washing their hands of her and her series forever (and it appears as though there's a lot of them.) I still love the series as a whole and will pick up whatever she writes in the future because I do believe she is a talented writer with an almost genius knack for telling a story. I just think this one didn't quite live up to its potential but, it was never my story to write, so I hope Meyer proves us wrong somehow in the future.

I've decided that, although this book is unfulfilling and confusing as a final installment of the series, it is right on the money for a preview of a continuation. By the end of it, we have no resolution with the Volturi, only a stand off due to the Cullen's new found powers of the Super-Bella, Edward and his vampire bride have become a boring (albeit lusty) married couple and everyone (including Charlie) seems to skip, or at least limp, into the sunset. However, there are enough unanswered questions to make us wonder where it will go next... like, what about Leah? What will happen to Jacob and Ness? Why is it all of a sudden important that the wolves are NOT werewolves but actually shape shifters? If imprinting is for breeding purposes then what in the underworld is going to happen when Jacob and Ness settle down to have some human/vamp pups? And finally, there is still the Volturi--NONE of that was affected. Edward and Bella's story might have been tied with a big blood-red bow, but Jacob and Nessie's futures remain far from over. It just makes me wonder if what we were REALLY reading was part one of series two...

11 comments:

Sarah said...

You got it spot on. I think every point you made is definitely an issue with me. The term "sell-out" is what I've been using to tell people how I feel about this book. I, too, feel that this could have easily made more sense and made more readers happy were it to be two books. I feel she left too many holes in an attempt to appease everyone. Nothing was resolved, really. I reviewed this on iRead (facebook) and said that she left this with so many open ends that the cash cow she's created will allow her grandchildren's grandchildren to not worry about life. I'm one of the people who shamelessly returned my copy. I stand on the premise that if I'm not satisfied with the end product I am more than entitled to a refund. I also am done and over Stephenie Meyer, but moreso for her writing than anything else. If I have to read another conversation where people "murmur" after they "grind [their] teeth," "hiss," and "grimace" at each other, I'll scream! I plan on never reading about people "blushing," and then, in return, "not being able to blush, but if [she] could, [she] would," and then vicariously blushing through that hideous spawn of a character that I NEVER connected to.

Poor main character support, too many new people, huge letdown after building up the ultimate showdown since Hogwarts v. Death Eaters. Poor choice to hybridize not 2, but four names for a beastly freak of... whatever.

As for the sess, I'm married. She's married. We all know that's not how it really goes. Especially after there's a kid thrown into the mix.

Aah, I feel much better now.

allyn said...

of course i didn't read this book, but i can't believe that you didn't like it. i am sorry that you were so excited about it and that it didn't live up to your expectations. major disappointment. i am happy that you had something bad to say about the book, though. very pessimistic of me. sorry. have fun at bookclub. i will read the blog to see if anyone else felt the same way.

Amylouwho said...

I haven't read it yet nor the comments here. I'm going to get to it this weekend!

I left you a little something on my blog - you'll have to go check it out!

bumblebeebags said...

Ok, I ruined it for myself, you told me to stop reading and I didnt listen now I know what happens in book 4. Thats ok though....I still go buy it and read it, Im totally hooked.

Sara Walker said...

OK, so I'm only through book 2, so I only read as far down as that, and will finish your post after I finish the book, but Vanessa can I say that I am so glad you felt this way and that we can still be friends. To me, this book has been laughable at times, and SO predictable!!!! It's nice sometimes to have a book that you don't have to think too much and that ends the way you want, but it's just been pretty boring and predictable for me. I think Twlight was the only one worth reading -but how can you not keep going? I'm glad I didn't buy the book.

joanna said...

So what is going to be your next series???

RhondaLThomas said...

I still don't know how I feel about this book. But I have to agree with Vanessa (completely) and Sarah (to a point). Not fed up enough to never read another SM book or to return it outright, but I am quite disappointed in this one. It really and truly ought to have been two books and not just one stuffed haphazardly with tons o' stuff. It felt like she was caught up in the whole Twilight vortex and wasn't able to focus on getting the story right. And if that meant breaking it into two books, and selling Book 5 to someone else, so be it. But she needed to get this one right and it missed.

I really appreciated that Jacob was written to step up to his rightful place, to man up and stick around. And I appreciated how the Clearwater sibs were written. But I thought everyone else was left hanging.

Siiiiiigh ... well, I have more, but at the risk of this turning into a redundant ranting missive, I'll stop here.

Debbie said...

WOW!!!! Like Allyn I have never read any of her books and I'll say, I am sorry it was such a disappointment.

Meaghan said...

I finally finished the book. I wasn't sure if I would be able to. I put it down when Bella became pregnant in disgust and it took me awhile to pick it back up again. I had to come check your blog to make sure I wasn't crazy. So many people told me they liked it. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was terribly disappointed.

The Guiness Family said...

I totally agree with you Vanessa. I really wanted to read about a cool fight scene and I did not like that fact that Bella got pregnant. It diminished the whole argument about the "choice" she had to make between a "normal" life and that of a vampire. She just can't have it all at 18! Give me a break! I can go on, but I won't...

Amylouwho said...

I just finished it last week.
My expectations weren't that high to begin with . . .

I was only mildly interested through the 1st half of the book. I didn't really get into it, and as much as I like Jacob, I don't like reading in his 'voice' (maybe I just didn't like the way she wrote him sounding like a dumb-a).

After she became a vampire I thought things got MUCH more interesting. One, she wasn't a spineless wishy-washy girl anymore. I think that was always my biggest complaint. And I loved not having to hear how he was an Adonis every other sentence - this time only every other paragraph.

I guess because my expectations were low, I really ended up liking it for what it is - a fantasy story full of fluff. Kind of like whipped cream - unneccessary but yummy!