Stephenie Meyer,
Twilight #4: Breaking Dawn
(Little, Brown, 2008)

What began as a small, young-adult series aimed primarily at teenage girls quickly spawned into the biggest thing to hit the book industry since, well, Harry Potter. It's the Twilight saga, which officially "ended" -- I'll get to the quotations later -- with the Aug. 2 mega midnight release of book four, Breaking Dawn (1.3 million sold in its first day alone). Described as a clash between the romance novel and vampire lit, the Twilight saga chronicles the strange, teenage love affair between human Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen.

Throughout the series, it has been Bella's quest to not only "have" Edward (read: jump his bones AND be with him forever), but also to be fully immersed in the dangerous world of vampires by becoming one herself. And in Breaking Dawn, 18-year-old Bella is, for lack of a better term, hornier than ever before, which is ambitious of author Stephenie Meyer considering the young demographic the series is presumably geared toward. So horny, in fact, that on the couple's honeymoon on a remote island, Bella and Edward engage in sexual activity that quickly leads to a pregnant Bella.

Yes, you read correctly. Marriage. Sex. A baby. And not only a baby, but the potential birth of a crazy half-human, half-vampire baby. It's certainly a storyline that turned off many avid readers of the series, but one I enjoyed immensely.

Breaking Dawn, actually, is very much like reading two novels in one. Not just because the book weighs in at more than 750 pages, but because with Breaking Dawn author Stephenie Meyer has penned a story with two distinct climaxes, where the ending of the first part complicates and heavily influences what happens in the latter half. Specifically, I am referring to the one-of-a-kind demon baby being housed inside Bella's body. Unconditionally loving something she has yet to even see, Bella makes up her mind that she would much rather die so her mysterious baby could live. And the fear of death here is very real, since the baby, growing at a phenomenal rate, slowly soaks up the life of its mother with each passing day.

For me, I really started to have troubles with the second half of the story, where the deadly Volturi family in Italy ventures to Bella's hometown to have a look at her creation (with intentions to kill it, since they do not take kindly to a young version of a vampire who could present a danger to their world when it attains maturity). It's here that Meyer's writing turns a bit sloppy, and where the author decidedly messes up on a satisfying end to her saga, three years in the making.

There is, however, probable life after Breaking Dawn (ergo the quotation marks I used above). Meyer next has plans to publish Midnight Sun, which tells the same story as the series' opener, Twilight, but from Edward's perspective and not Bella's. Books following the events of Breaking Dawn could also be in the cards, though they would be set outside the perspectives of both Bella and Edward.

review by
Eric Hughes

20 December 2008

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