Review: Breaking Dawn – With Spoilers

Posted August 5, 2008 by Holly in Discussions, Reviews | 20 Comments

Review: Breaking Dawn – With SpoilersReviewer: Holly
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #4
Also in this series: Eclipse, Eclipse, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, Twilight, Twilight, Twilight

Publication Date: August 2nd 2008
Genres: Young Adult, Horror & Ghost Stories, Love & Romance
Pages: 768
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three-stars

When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?

To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife have led her to the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.

Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating, and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life-first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse-seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?

The astonishing, breathlessly anticipated conclusion to the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn illuminates the secrets and mysteries of this spellbinding romantic epic that has entranced millions.

Below is a follow up to my review (you can also read Thea’s non-spoiler review at The Book Smugglers here) of Breaking Dawn, but with full spoilers (Thea’s full spoiler review here). Please beware, if you don’t want to know what happens in Breaking Dawn, don’t read any further.

Part 1

Written from Bella’s narrative. Bella and Edward get married. She still has some concerns about going through with it, but she’s determined to just get it over with. She turned the whole thing over to Alice, so all she has to do is show up. The wedding itself was beautifully written and I like that Bella realized during the ceremony that she and Edward belong together and she was silly for worrying about the wedding.

During the reception, Jacob comes back and dances with Bella. She’s overjoyed to see him, as usual. She mentions something about her honeymoon with Edward and the fact that they plan to be physical and Jake freaks out, because he fears for Bella’s safety. He ends up storming off in a huff and they get back to it.

Edward has kept their honeymoon destination a secret from Bella. Directly after the wedding reception they leave and Edward reveals that they’re going to Esme Island. Apparently Carlisle had given Esme her own island and she graciously offered it to the newlyweds. Bella is anxious to begin their physical relationship, but Edward is still hesitant.

Eventually he gives into her and then immediately regrets it, because she’s bruised basically from head to toe. This part was kind of emotional. It was Bella’s first time. She doesn’t realize that anything bad happened (we all know the girl is oblivious) and she wakes up happier than she’s ever been, only to have Edward completely rain on her parade and ruin the moment for her. While I understood where Edward was coming from, I felt it was handled very, very badly on his part. And He never did apologize for making her feel bad and insecure.

Because he feels awful, Edward resolves to never be physical with Bella again. Or at least not until she’s immortal. Bella, as you can imagine, isn’t very happy with this and resolves to change his mind. Except he runs her into exhaustion so she’s too tired to press the issue. After a few days (maybe a week) of this, Bella decides to try a different tactic. She bargains with Edward, telling him she’ll go to college and put off becoming a vampire for another year if he agrees to resume their relationship. He eventually caves in.

Up until this point, I was really enjoying the story. Sure, it’s a bit..predictable and even kind of laughable how perfect everything is, but the writing was strong and Bella wasn’t at all annoying. She was just a young girl enjoying being married to the man of her dreams and on the perfect honeymoon. The dialogue between she and Edward was well done and I was mostly left with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Then Bella got pregnant. Yes, I said pregnant. Now, this wasn’t a surprise to me. A huge disappointment, but not a surprise. I had a feeling from the way things happened in Eclipse and the conversations Bella had with Rosalie – and the way Edward acted about wanting Bella to have a child – that this was going to happen. It still made me very angry. But I’ll get into that later.

The problem with this is that Bella is less than three weeks along and already she’s moody, tired and suffering from morning sickness. Oh, and she’s already got a baby bump. Naturally this freaks her and Edward out – though for different reasons. Alice calls and puts Carlisle on the phone and Bella explains that she thinks she’s pregnant. Edward and Carlisle decide the best thing is to terminate the pregnancy, because it’s obvious something is wrong.

Bella isn’t happy with this and calls the one person she knows will help her keep the baby. Rosalie.

Part 2

This is written from Jacob’s narrative. Having the novel broken up like this was an excellent call on Meyer’s part. Not only did I enjoy his “voice” but it also gave us a chance to breathe after the first part.

Jacob is home in La Push waiting for the news that Bella has died. The Cullen’s have been in touch with Charlie – Bella’s dad – and are claiming she contracted some dread disease while on her honeymoon and she now has to be quarantined. Jacob knows this is just some story they made up to cover the fact that she’s being turned into a vampire. He discusses it with his pack and they decide not to retaliate against the Cullen’s for breaking their pact. In a fit of rage, he rushes over to their house to kill them himself.

Only when he gets there things are not what they seem. Bella is, in fact, deathly ill. And not because she’s been turned or about to be turned. She’s now hugely pregnant. Hugely. Apparently the fetus is growing at 10x the normal rate. Even though she’s only a month or so along, she’s the size of a woman who’s 9 months pregnant.

The worst part is the baby is slowly killing her. It rejects all food and beverages, so she’s slowly wasting away as the baby steals from her body to nourish itself. The entire family – with the exception of Rosalie – is desperate to save Bella. But she refuses to allow them to take the baby early, knowing it will die. Rosalie has become her bodyguard, refusing to allow anyone to be alone with her and constantly by her side.

I can truly say I hated Rosalie during this part. She wanted the baby, and didn’t care what it did to Bella or anyone else to get it. At one point Jacob speculates that Bella is nothing more than a means to an end for Rosalie and Edward agrees. It was disturbing the way she was willing to do anything to ensure the life of the child, even if it meant taking Bella’s.

Edward is broken. To see Bella suffering so much, to know he’s the cause..well, he’s barely hanging on. He begs Jacob to talk to Bella, to convince her to save herself. Jacob knows it won’t do any good, but he reluctantly agrees. Edward, close to madness at this point, tells Jacob to offer her a child if that’s what she wants. Yes, Edward told Jacob he could get with Bella to give her a child if that would save her life.

I have to tell you, this is the most emotionally compelling part of the entire novel. Seeing just how broken Edward is, feeling the animosity the entire Cullen family (sans Rosalie) has toward the fetus, witnessing Jacob’s anger at how horribly sick Bella has become…this really got to me. I cried several times during this part. I also have to say..I truly hated that fetus right along with the rest of them. At the end of Part 1 my sympathies were entirely with Bella, but my tune changed.

While part of me understood Bella’s reasons for insisting on carrying the fetus to term, another part of me was furious with her for being so selfish. I have to give mad props to Meyer for this part of the novel. She did an amazing job of writing this so I, as a reader, was just as conflicted as the characters. Brilliant.

Jacob goes back to his pack and Sam (the alpha) decides they need to take out the Cullen’s, and Bella, to protect their families against this unknown abomination. Jacob disagrees. Though he wants the fetus dead, he doesn’t think all the Cullen’s should die because of it. Sam tries to force Jacob into obeying and Jacob ends up breaking from the pack because Jacob is the true Alpha. Seth and Leah join him.

The biggest concern at this point is how Bella will survive until the birth, since she isn’t able to keep anything down. At one point Jacob thinks to himself that the fetus is nothing but a “blood sucker”. Edward hears the thought and suggests that perhaps the baby needs blood, being that it’s half vampire. That ends up being the case. So Bella drinks blood. As a human. And likes it. Because that’s what her baby needs. Weird.

Anyway, they’ve decided Bella will be ok during/after the birth because Edward will immediately transform her. I have to tell you, this severely pisses me off. Throughout the entire series, Bella has waffled back and forth about whether or not to become a vampire. Sometimes she wants it, sometimes she doesn’t, but it’s always been one of the major conflicts of the story. For the choice to be taken from her, for her to be absolved of all guilt in the making of the choice..well, that was a cop out by Meyer, plain and simple.

Meyer had the opportunity to really delve deep into the psyche and build upon the morality of the choice between life and the living dead, and instead she chose the easy way out. Yes, I’m still pissed about this.

Of course, I’m even more pissed off about what happens next. This wasn’t a surprise to me. Not even a little bit. As soon as Bella turned up pregnant I knew the following was inevitable. That doesn’t mean I like it. So what happens?

Jacob imprints on Bella’s baby.

Yes folks, you read that correctly. The reason Bella and Jacob were so attached to each other was really because Jacob was destined to imprint with Bella’s daughter. Once again, Meyer takes the easy way out. What had become an interesting love triangle turned into something straight out of a soap opera.

Part 3

Once again from Bella’s narrative. First, let me tell you about Bella’s daughter, Renesmee. Yes, Renesmee. you know, like Renee and Esme together. headesk She is not your average child. She grows at 5x the normal rate, is extremely intelligent and can communicate by touching your face and showing you her thoughts. She’s a miracle baby. Oh, and she has the ability to wrap every adult in a 100 mile radius around her little fingers.

Ok, so now you know that Bella had the perfect baby. Now let me tell you about Bella the perfect vampire. She was transformed (though it was touch and go there for a minute) directly after Renesmee was born and spent 3 days changing. She was doped up, so although she could feel every horrible second of it, she couldn’t make a sound. Then, she the morphine wore off, she refused to cause Edward more suffering by yelling out her pain, so she suffered in silence.

Once she was able to get up, she finds she can control the bloodlust and she isn’t really one of those newborns like she thought she was going to be. She’s graceful, beautiful and in complete control of herself. Oh, and she’s extremely powerful too. Even stronger than Edward. Wow, look at her go.

Then Irina (another vampire) sees Renesmee, Jacob and Bella out hunting and mistakes Nessie (as she’s called by everyone but Bella) for an illegal being called an immortal child. As it turns out, centuries ago, vampires were turning children and they were completely out of control, so now all immortal children are sentenced to death immediately. It’s one of those, “Kill first, ask questions later” type of things. The Cullen’s decide they need to gather reinforcements to witness for them that Nessie isn’t an immortal child, but Edward’s biological daughter.

They call on all their friends and the wolves and prepare to stand against the Volturi. Bella realizes that she has a super special “talent” and can actually create a protection shield that she can put around herself and anyone else who’s in danger. Do you see where this is going?

Actually, rather than going on any further, I think I can sum this up pretty quick:

Bella becomes the perfect vampire with the perfect husband and the perfect daughter who is perfectly content in her perfect little world because she’s friends with all the vampires and all the werewolves and she gets to keep in touch with her human family because she’s selfish like that.

Oh, and because Jacob and Nessie have imprinted, there’s no longer any tension between his pack and Sam’s pack, because they can’t endanger someone’s mate.

What I’m saying is: All the internal and external conflicts are resolved, quite easily and with as little fuss as possible. Bella becomes perfect. She’s able to keep her human family, her wolf family, her friends, her child, everything. Cheesy, neat, textbook, total cop out all the way around.

Very disappointing.

You know, I might have given this a higher grade than it deserved, looking back on it.

There you have it in a nutshell. Thoughts? Feelings? Agree or disagree?

On the other hand, this is marketed as a young adult novel. So perhaps things happened exactly as they should?

three-stars


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20 responses to “Review: Breaking Dawn – With Spoilers

  1. web

    Just a tangent – malnourished pregnant women are prone to “pica” – eating all sorts of inappropriate things, like sand – so Bella liking the blood makes perfect sense.

    Gotta say, it sounds kind of creepy, but I’m curious to read it.

  2. Web,
    You have a point, but I think it was very oddly done. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts. I hope you’ll come back and share them with me when you’ve finished.

  3. Excellent review, Holly–and as you know, I wholeheartedly feel your frustration with Breaking Dawn.

    The most frustrating aspect definitely is that Ms. Meyer negated all those events, the angst and the conflict from the first three books here with trite plot mechanisms. Cookie cutter, textbook cheese indeed!

    I *hated* what she did to poor Jake, who was my favorite character of this series. The imprinting on Nessie is uncomfortable to begin with–adult-infant or daddy/daughter dynamics here are just not cool–but then additionally this manages to sever any complications to the love triangle completely without doing any of the dirty work? GAAH!

    And Bella’s overnight change from flawed young girl to perfect happy family wife was a huge let down as well. It didn’t even sound like Bella anymore.

    I’m curious–would you (or anyone else?) read another book set in the Twilight universe? I’m a little torn now. And how do you feel about the upcoming movie?

  4. Thea,

    I’m actually VERY anxious to read Midnight Sun, Twilight from Edward’s perspective. I believe you mentioned in your review that it was odd to have something from Jake but not from Edward, and I believe that’s because she plans to release all four books again, but written from Edward’s POV. I meant to mention that earlier and forgot.

    Otherwise, I’m not sure. I think I’d be willing to try, but I think I’d try to keep my expectations low.

    As for the movie, I really can’t say at this point. I’m already disappointed in what I’ve seen (movie posters and trailers) because I don’t know that they actually stayed true to the novels. But perhaps. I think I’ll wait until a few reviews come out, then decide. I’m not much for seeing a movie on opening weekend anyway.

  5. Oh, coolness! I will definitely give Midnight Sun a read when it comes out…I feel like of the three main characters, Edward is someone that is still a mystery. Besides that he is completely devoted to Bella, I would like to see what goes on in that sparkly vampire head of his.

    And I feel ya on the movie–I was already iffy on it (have you seen the 12 yo actor for Jacob and his god-awful hair?!). I’ll still watch it, but my expectations are pretty low.

  6. You can read more about Midnight Sun here, including the first chapter.

    Actually, I think the part of Jacob was perfectly cast for this movie. If you remember, Jacob was nothing more than a young boy in the first book, still gangly, awkward and much younger than Bella. So I think that part is right. Edward I think was cast wrong. Or at least he’s been portrayed wrong so far in the posters/trailers. I guess we’ll see, though.

  7. Dev

    AAAAggh!!! Sounds like all the loose ends were conveniently tied together in a pretty little bow and given to us to swallow. Can’t say I’m happy. She took the easy way out, as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m still going to read it though.

  8. Maered

    Even though this is a YA novel, I think teens can handle not having everything wrapped up in a perfect little bow.

    I don’t know what Meyer was thinking – no fight, after all that build up with the Vulturis(?), there was no fight because “perfect Bella” saves the day. Oh, and because all bullies are basically cowards. *shakes head* A total and utter cop-out.

    And I didn’t like Jake imprinting on Nessie because it was like she was throwing the Jake/Bella shippers a bone. Jake can’t have Bella, but don’t fret! He can have the next best thing – her daughter! That’s what I find a little sick. The fact that a month before Nessie was born he was imaging her MOTHER naked…

  9. Dev,
    I feel she did take the easy way out. In every situation. There was no conflict, no angst, nothing, really. Sad.

    Maered,
    I don’t want to think about the Jacob/Nessie relationship too deeply, because I’m afraid I wouldn’t ever recover.

  10. Hmm, doesn’t sound great. I’m happy I never got into this series… Have to say though, it’s weird that she’s going to re-released all the books with Edward’s POV…

  11. web

    I read some of the Edward’s POV story at her website and loved it. He’s so mysterious in Twilight.

    BTW, I would hate to have people think that neat resolutions of all conflicts are expected of the young adult novel. There are some incredible books coming out in that genre right now, intelligent, creative thought-provoking books.

  12. Web,
    Oh, I know that not every YA ends happily all tied up in a pretty bow. But looking back on it this series really wasn’t headed anywhere else.

    Sweet,
    They don’t tell Renee or Charlie about the pregnancy/baby. The Cullens tell Charlie that Bella has caught a disease and is quarantined all during her pregnancy.

    Afterwards, Jacob tells Charlie that Bella and Edward have adopted a child, and tho he suspects that isn’t the case (she has Bella’s eyes) he says he doesn’t want to know.

  13. I found your blog and just want to say that this is a YA novel. Its supposed to end that way in YA novels. Plus thereis no other way she could have made everyone happy. It had to be perfect.

  14. Finished Breaking Dawn!

    Have to admit, I like a nice clean ending, but SERIOUSLY she copped out of a LOT. Bella was still annoying – but hey, at least she’s consistent. And Renesmee – HATE the name.

    I think Edward’s perspective could be interesting – once. If she tries to do the whole series again, omg.

    Overall, I liked the series. They books are not some literary masterpiece, but they kept me entertained.

    Thanks Holly!

  15. Redshoes595,
    I think in Meyer’s head you’re right, as a YA novel this couldn’t have ended any differently than it did.

    Missy,
    I’m glad you finished the series and enjoyed it. No, it’s not a literary masterpiece (aren’t you glad I warned you about that before you read them?) but they weren’t the worst novels ever written, either.

    I think Meyer copped out in this novel, wrapping everything up prettily. But she does have a strong writing voice and all 4 novels flowed well. Plus, parts were entertaining.

  16. Hi Holly et. al.,
    As you saw on my blog, I finally finished Breaking Dawn after having let my daughter read it first and came back to comment. 🙂

    I agree with many, if not all, of the points in your review, but am probably still less critical. I think partly because I do love a story with a fairy tale ending where everyone is happy. But having said that, I do acknowledge that in order to achieve that in Breaking Dawn, Meyer did take an awful lot of short cuts and in the end shortchanged her readers of that roller coaster ride so indicative of her first three novels.

    Interestingly, I didn’t necessarily view the Jacob-Renesmee imprinting thing as Jacob getting the next best thing to Bella. While it was a “too neat” of a solution to the pain Jacob was in at not having Bella’s love reciprocated, as I got to get to know Renesmee, I actually think he got something better than Bella in the end since she seems to have captured the best traits of both Edward and Bella that we all love so much. Confidence, intelligence, compassion and perseverance. I kind of like her. 🙂 I’d love to read a story of these two after Renesmee has grown up some more. I actually guessed that Jacob would imprint on a child when we were introduced to Quil and Claire. Maybe I was a bit more emotionally prepared for that kind of arrangement?

    I was really saddened by the lack of denouement in this novel. The last part of the novel sort of just puttered to the last page without any real tension or excitement. A few emotional words were exchanged when Bella turned Renesmee over to Jacob thinking the Volturi were going to wipe them out, but that’s about it. 🙁

  17. Anonymous

    Ummm…I have to disagree with their final assessment of the book. I have read all of them twice and am about to finish Breaking Dawn for the second time….Bella does NOT get to keep all of her friends and human family. She gets to keep Jacob for reasons which are clear, and oh yeah he is not human. She only gets to keep Charlie as long as he doesn’t ask questions and never knows the ‘truth’, Renee could never handle it so Bella has to let her go. So she loses her mother. There is no more Mike or Angela or Jessica or any of them. They make the happy ending in this book look like a bad thing. I don’t think it is a bad thing at all…considering everything they had to go through to get there. I wish someone had really handed it to Leah, Jacob & Rosalie. I certainly wouldn’t tolerate the crap any of them pulled….why should supernatural beings who are made out to be bada**es put up with it?? I want to see Edward put them in their places and defend his family like the fierce vampire he is made out to be! That’s probably the only thing that really irritated me about the books…other than that I love the entire saga! Can’t wait for New Moon to come out in Nov.!!

  18. Rissa

    Honestly, the main reason I like reading is because I like to go to better places than the real world once ina while. So for me everything being wrapped up ina neat little bow is nice. That way the fantasy isn’t spoiled and I can relive it without having to remember “oh yeah. This ends badly.” And I think it should’ve been expected from book 1 that Bella and Edward we’re gonna have a baby seeing as Edward’s main problem with Bella joining his world is that she won’t be able to have human experiences. I could go on and on about this book, its one of the few series in which everything works out and there aren’t those little loose ends that keep you up at night.

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