I have to admit that when Hachette Book Group sent me a review copy of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, I first had to read through books one through three in the Twilight series before I felt qualified to evaluate this fourth and final book. From the sheer volume of internationally bestselling Stephenie Meyer fans out there, with millions of copies sold, I imagine I’m one of the last on the planet to read Twilight, soon to be made into a major motion picture.
After reviewing Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and giving away free copies of the novel through both my Damian Daily blog and Blogcritics Magazine, I was looking forward to delving into Meyer’s work in more depth. I’ve read a geek-load of science fiction and fantasy fiction, and this phenomenon of fanatically popular young adult vampire novels intrigues me. I am thrilled to see teenagers eagerly anticipating all 756 pages worth of an author’s next novel, preordering their copies so that they can have it in their hands on the date of the book’s release, and then barely putting the book down until they have turned the final page.
I am pleased to report that I enjoyed the teenage urban fantasy Twilight series — Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. The characters and carefully plotted alternate history were significantly developed. My main criticism was that the nature of the main character, Bella Swan, was a bit weak and whiny, almost a mundane stereotype of a teenage girl. While I grew attached to many of the characters around her, I had a hard time sympathizing with Bella herself, even though the stories are conveyed in the first person narrative from her perspective.
I have a few criticisms about some of the plot details included in Breaking Dawn, but I can not provide specific examples without spoilers. (Please feel free to comment with your email if you’d like more detail.) There are a few finer points that I would change if I had the chance. Ultimately though, I was relieved to discover that my biggest criticism, Bella’s feeble character, found in earlier books was in fact resolved in Breaking Dawn. Avoiding any of those spoilers for those of you who have not yet read it, suffice it to say that Bella truly comes into her own in more ways than one in this final novel. She is a much stronger and more likable girl. The other characters — vampires and werewolves alike, who fans have grown to know and love through the first three books in the series — continued to develop in new ways, diverging from the anticipated plot line to include some new twists.
Though many Meyer fans who identified with Bella’s original nature may disagree with me, I felt that Breaking Dawn was a satisfying conclusion to the Twilight series. Meyer managed to stay true to her strengths — the ability to create a suspenseful ride coupled with the yearning, joy, and pain of young love.
Edward was beside me in the same second, his hands clamped down hard on the tops of my arms.
“Don’t breathe,” he cautioned me urgently.
I tried not to panic as I froze mid-breath. My eyes were the only things that moved, wheeling instinctively to find the source of the sound.
For those of you who are sad to see the series come to an end, take heart in the fact that the storyline still leaves several doorways open to potential sideline series that may stem from these rich characters, should Stephenie Meyer so choose. While the third book, Eclipse, concluded with a short epilogue told from the viewpoint of Jacob Black, Breaking Dawn in fact incorporated roughly one-third of the book told from Jacob’s perspective. Perhaps it is merely wishful thinking, but I could certainly envision future possibilities that might include books told from the perspective of any number of recurring or even recently introduced characters from the Twilight series.