Love Bites: The final book in a mega-selling series sucks the romance out of teen vampires.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Hand
Sunday, August 10, 2008; Page BW07

Origin stories are as important to bestselling novelists as they are to superheroes. J.K. Rowling hunched over a table in an Edinburgh coffee shop, scrawling Harry Potter in longhand while her baby napped; Stephen King sat in the laundry room of his snowbound trailer, banging out Carrie on an old typewriter. Readers want to believe there's something heroic, even magical, about the birth of the characters and stories they become obsessed with. Stephenie Meyer, author of the wildly popular Twilight series of young adult vampire romances, has her own creation myth: Her first book came to her in a dream about an ordinary mortal girl encountering a boy vampire of unearthly beauty. Meyer woke up and, after tending to her young children, began to write the story that became Twilight. So far it's sold 1.5 million copies. Last weekend, Breaking Dawn, the final book in the series, sold 1.3 million copies in its first 24 hours. Not bad for a night's sleep.

{Spoilers inside}

{Twilight (2005) had a simple, teen-friendly plot: plain, clumsy, dull Bella becomes the Chosen One of Edward, the hottest -- actually, coldest -- guy in high school. Much is made of vampire Edward's granite-hard, icy lips and chest, as well as the fact that Bella's scent drives him to a frenzy of erotic longing and bloodlust. But Edward and his adopted vampire family are "vegetarians"; they survive by hunting animals rather than humans. Still, physical proximity to mortals remains a torment to these vampires, and a dead end for humans. As a result, the 17-year-old Bella and immortal Edward can't even think of consummating their relationship, or progress beyond light petting. If Edward loses control of himself, Bella is in danger of losing her life and soul, along with her maidenhead. (Though it's never spelled out explicitly, the specter of unrestrained teenage sex haunts these books: The sequence becomes an increasingly bizarre allegory of sexual abstinence.) Meyer's prose seldom rises above the serviceable, and the plotting is leaden, but Twilight is really all about unrequited female erotic yearning. It's like reading a young teenage girl's blog, boosted with enough of Meyer's made-up vampire lore to give it some mild narrative and sexual tension.

 New Moon (2006), Meyer's second novel, was an improvement, largely because it centered on Bella's new love interest -- Jacob, a teen werewolf who acts like a real kid rather than a beautiful, unattainable love object. Problem: Werewolves and vampires are, like, mortal enemies. Whom will Bella choose? The answer will not be a surprise, unless these are the only two books you have ever read.

Book Three, Eclipse (2007), was a disappointment, never delivering an epic werewolf-bloodsucker smackdown, though it provides more of the vampires' backstory (ancient origins, ruling triumvirate who all resemble Star Wars' Emperor Palpatine, lots of ominous vampiric hissing, etc.). Jacob, so sympathetically portrayed in New Moon, unexpectedly morphs into an obnoxious thug who comes close to date rape in his dealings with Bella, who remains an insufferable bore. All she wants is for Edward to make an honest vampire of her, so they can finally get married and -- well, you know. }

Yet there's something distinctly queasy about the male-female dynamic that emerges over the series' 2,446 pages. Edward has been frozen at the age of 17. But he was born in 1901, and he doesn't behave anything like a real teenager. He talks and acts like an obsessively controlling adult male. He sounds far more like a father than a boyfriend, and Bella's real father remains a detached if benign figure. Bella consistently describes herself as stupid, accident-prone, unworthy of her beloved's affection. Edward incessantly warns her not to hurt herself, and indeed she makes enough trips to the emergency room that it's a wonder social services never investigates her home life. Her clumsiness leaves her bruised or bleeding (the blood offers a perpetual temptation to Edward); she's described as breakable, physically small despite her average height. Edward's habit of constantly pulling her onto his lap or having her ride on his back further emphasize her childlike qualities; she also faints easily, and during the course of the series is carried by various characters, male and female.

And there are constant reminders that she's not responsible for the effect she has on Edward or Jacob. This bland passivity has been excused as a way of allowing female readers to project themselves into Bella's place, but the overall effect is a weird infantilization that has repellent overtones to an adult reader and hardly seems like an admirable model to foist upon our daughters (or sons).

This ick factor goes through the roof in Breaking Dawn, which is, frankly, dreadful. It's difficult to imagine teenage girls identifying with 18-year-old Bella's marriage to Edward shortly after her high school graduation, especially when the wedding is followed by an extended soft-focus honeymoon sequence, which is almost immediately followed by Bella's sudden loss of appetite and puking in the bathroom.

Yes, she's pregnant. And because conception occurred while Bella was still mortal, the fetus is a vampire-human hybrid, growing at an unnatural rate and gifted with such supernatural strength that when it kicks inside the womb, it breaks Bella's ribs.

It gets worse: Breaking Dawn has a childbirth sequence that may promote lifelong abstinence in sensitive types. And it becomes downright surreal when the lovelorn lycanthrope Jacob gets romantically imprinted on Bella's newborn daughter, Renesmee, a blood-slurping newborn nicknamed Nessie (for the Loch Ness monster). This imprinting is a werewolf thing: Jacob's 14-year-old friend earlier imprinted on a toddler, with the implication that she will eventually become his mate.

Reader, I hurled.

Breaking Dawn's last 100 pages attempt to create yet another epic showdown, this time with the ancient vampire hierarchy. But even this ends in a damp fizzle. The most devoted readers will no doubt try to make excuses for this botched novel, but Meyer has put a stake through the heart of her own beloved creation.

My Turn.

*Ooh. This hits the bull's eye. At least someone's not afraid to tear this book up. Seriously, I am slightly embarrassed for being ecstatic and thrilled while waiting for the release of this book. I reread Twilight again, and I was astounded by it sounding totally like a girl's blog.
I need a life.
Okay, back on topic. What she said generally sums up what I've been trying to say to myself while reading the book but was afraid to admit. It sucks that I easily get swayed by the whole myriad of fans for the book but I'm working on it.

Reader, I hurled.
I loved the random Jane Eyre reference. Now there's a book about a forbidden romance. Also because Jane Eyre is about a truly passionate love that the heroine manages to restrain for her own good.

Quite the OPPOSITE of Twilight.
The imprinting thing is so wack. It's basically saying "If you can't be with the woman you love, binding yourself to her daughter's soul is the next best thing." 

A reader's comment on the book:
"Jacob loves Bella, right? So he's like 'oh, well, at least I can have her daughter'?! WTF x INFINITY."
I agree chica. I agree. Poor Jacob.

Breaking Dawn is just like Britney Spears.

Unanimously trashed up but just can't seem to stop talking about it. Well her, in reference to Britney.
My friend Carla said she overheard someone at a local bookstore (of course selling Breaking Dawn) saying:
"Ok someone give me the link to breaking dawn. I want to read it but there's no way I'm paying for what I know will be a piece of shit."

Ditto. Got my copy of the e-book online for fear of wasting money.

And here are some excerpts of the Childbirth scene which is not only gross but hideously written. What happened to SMeyer's "magic"? This makes me SO SAD.

" A half second later, Bella screamed.

It was not just a scream, it was a blood-curdling shriek of agony. The horrifying
sound cut off with a gurgle, and her eyes rolled back into her head. Her body
twitched, arched in Rosalie's arms, and then Bella vomited a fountain of blood. "

< " Her hand came down on Bella's stomach, and vivid red spouted out from where
she pierced the skin. It was like a bucket being turned over, a faucet twisted to
full. Bella jerked, but didn't scream. She was still choking."

" Another shattering crack inside her body, the loudest yet, so loud that we both
froze in shock waiting for her answering shriek. Nothing. Her legs, which had
been curled up in agony, now went limp, sprawling out in an unnatural way.
"Her spine," he choked in horror. "

"I heard the soft, wet sound of the scalpel across her stomach. More blood drip-
ping to the floor.
The next sound jolted through me, unexpected, terrifying. Like metal being
shredded apart. The sound brought back the fight in the clearing so many months
ago, the tearing sound of the newborns being ripped apart. I glanced over to see
Edward's face pressed against the bulge. Vampire teeth – a surefire way to cut
through vampire skin. "

See? Even I can write better than she can. Seriously.
And as I bid farewell to my incomprehensible Twilight fanaticism, here is a photo for you guys.

Click image to enlarge

Au revoir Twilight. But will watch the movie. For the LULZ.


lol, awesome review. ya, breaking dawn was a complete failure.

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