As is the case with many others, I have been anticipating the release of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer since reading the final pages of Eclipse last August. And like others, I eagerly devoted hours last weekend to finishing the series I’ve so enjoyed to this point. And like others, I was a bit disappointed with Breaking Dawn. However, I am not as vehemently disappointed as other readers. I’ve read reviews that have talked about letdowns and missed opportunities on Meyer’s part. And I would agree that it doesn’t quite work the way I thought it would. But when everything is said and done, I still liked the story. And I don’t think it’s as big a drop off from the other novels in the series as some have said.

This review will contain spoilers. I wanted to avoid them, but they’re out there as it is, and there are a few specific things I want to address. If you’re not interested in being spoiled, read no further.

Contrary to many other reviews, I don’t find Bella’s behavior and actions to be inconsistent with the previous novels. Bella behaves impulsively in the previous novels. This is particularly true of New Moon when she deliberately does dangerous things (speeding a motorcycle she purchased on a whim, jumping off a cliff, etc.) in the hopes of hearing what she believes is Edward’s voice. Additionally, Bella’s desire to protect her baby is not out of character either. Though she hadn’t shown any interest previously in having children, she is something of a natural caregiver; she provides an almost parental care to her own parents- providing stability for her mother, cooking and keeping house for her father. It doesn’t surprise me that, once she does become pregnant, she gives in to her maternal instincts. Nor does it surprise me that she is able to project the shield of her mind onto others around her. It’s consistent with the fact that vampires with the ability to read minds were unable to read hers as a human.

That’s not to say I don’t find fault with some aspects of this book. Bella’s pregnancy was nearly impossible to believe (and I know many others had this problem as well). I didn’t necessarily care for the section told from Jacob’s point of view. It just didn’t sit too well with me. I can see why she did it, but I thought it would have provided a little more insight into the initial reaction of the Cullens to Bella’s pregnancy, as well as Rosalie and Bella finally bonding and finding a connection. Also, like many others, I didn’t care for Jacob’s imprinting on the baby at all. I’m not denying that Jacob has the right to be happy and in love the way Bella and Edward are, but it seemed too odd to me. And I didn’t at all believe that Bella was capable of adapting to a vampire lifestyle so quickly. Even with everything she had been told to prepare her for the change, there’s no way she should have been able to overcome her basic instincts so quickly. But then, perhaps that was Meyer’s way of showing Bella coming into her own. Beyond that, the final confrontation was a let-down: as a good friend of mine said, Bella should have had to fight. She and Edward should have been forced to defend their unconventional little family; it’s what Emmett would have wanted (Emmett is a character that I think was deeply under-used throughout the series).

I wish the humans of Forks had received a little more mention: Angela and Ben were good friends to Bella, for example, as was Mike, and they achieved little more than a brief acknowledgement at the beginning of the novel. I understand that this is predominantly about Bella, Edward, and Jacob, but it just seems like Meyer could have found a little more room for them in the 754 pages. In spite of my dislike of Jacob as a narrator at a crucial point of the story, I thought the development of the relationship between Jacob, Seth, and Leah was great. I find Leah to be fascinating, to tell the truth. She comes across as a bit of a whiner, but I think it’s understandable, all things considered. She just may be the strongest female of the bunch, in more ways than one.

When everything is said and done, I don’t think this is the best novel of the series (Twilight and Eclipse are the superior books of the series, in my opinion). But I don’t think it’s as bad as critics and reviewers have made it out to be (Entertainment Weekly was pretty harsh in its review, for example). As I have said many times before, Meyer’s books will never be high literature. But she is still a quality storyteller, and at the end of the day, the books are what they are: young adult romances with supernatural elements that tip the scales into fantasy. And while I’m not a fan of romance or fantasy as a general rule, this hybrid series intrigued me from start to finish.

Rating: 3 stars
Pages: 754
Publisher, ISBN: Little, Brown, 9780316067928
888 Category: Books Released in 2008

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