Thursday, June 30, 2016

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer | Book Review


First Published: 2008
Young Adult, Fantasy
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, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife to reach 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?

Breaking Dawn is my second favorite in the Twilight series. It's a return to form of sorts. When it comes to Twilight, I don't shy away from the fact I love the series. But loving something and having no issues with it is not the same thing, and books two and three in the series are actually kind of meh when you get down to it.

Breaking Dawn brought back the things I loved most about Twilight, and added its own little spin on things. 

The story is divided into three parts: the first is told from Bella's pov as we've come accustomed to. The second is actually told from Jacob's pov which was great for many reasons, and in the third we go back to Bella. But a better Bella.

Because what Breaking Dawn does is redeem Bella. Finally, after two books that made me despair of her, she's back and better than ever. She's active. She makes choices. She fights and protects what's important to her - first by proxy when she's too physically weak to do it, and then by sheer bad-ass-ness.
She is useful. She is important to the story and the action. For once, without her (actively) they won't even win the battle. Her relationship with Edward is still the reason those conflicts exist, but she is finally an active part of the solution.

Then there's Jacob. While I was still majorly pissed by him (and Bella's reaction to him) in the first part of the book, the second gave much needed insight into his head, making him a character I could like again - which hasn't been the case since he became a major one. So we got to see the depth of his feeling, his sadness, his sort-of loneliness, his inert leadership. Clever move, Meyer.

Another clever move was making Jacob so damned funny. Seriously, Jacob in this book has a sense of humor and I LOVE it! And pairing him up with Rosalie, even just as a comedic pair, is brilliant. Every time this unlikely due was together on page, I laughed. It added some levity to a somewhat dire situation, and gave us a new dynamic to observe, and it worked beautifully.

Speaking of Rosalie... She was not one of my favorite characters in the books, in fact she was the only Cullen I disliked, but this book did a fantastic job at endearing her to me.

Now, what Breaking Dawn does that I haven't seen often in YA is moving from those young adult themes into some more mature ones such as marriage and parenthood, which I loved. Even if it had its creepy parts.

I was thrilled that this series found a way to include these, after basically "sealing its own fate" with the seeming sterility of the vampires. I am the type that loves seeing the couples I love live on in children, or think of the possibility of it, and I always get sad when it's impossible. I guess Meyer is the same way.

Now, the THING that truly creeped me out in this novel, and made me pause and be like
is the imprinting. Holy shit that was soooooooooooo creepy. Like, I get it - we needed to "excuse" Jacob. We needed him to get his happy ending (or not, really. I wouldn't have minded Jacob a lonely old man tbh). And Meyer did try to soften the blow by describing imprinting as more an indication of your other half and not necessarily "love" but holy fuck, looking at a one-hour old baby and being like "that's my future wife" is freaky no matter what you say and what you do and JUST NO. 

Can you imagine Jake talking to his children? 
"Daddy, how did you and mommy meet?"
"Well, you see, that's actually a funny story. I was in love with your Grandma, and your mother had just been born, eating her way out of your grandma's womb. Naturally, I went to kill her. But when I saw her tiny, beautiful, blood-covered, wrinkly fifteen-minutes old face, I fall instantly and irreversibly in love with her."
I do not envy these kids. Also, awkward Thanksgiving dinners ahead.

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