Megan Tingley Books, $12.99, ISBN 978-0-316-03214-8
Fantasy, 2010 (Reissue)
Breaking Dawn is the conclusion to Stephenie Meyer’s Bella & Edward: Mary Sue Pornography for Little Girls series. If you read this book without having read the previous three books in this series, only you will know your reason for doing so, as this book is the conclusion of the entire series.
In Breaking Dawn, it is pretty clear that Stephenie Meyer isn’t just a repetitive author who spends 600 plus pages in a book waxing endlessly over the stone-hard ice-cold hot body of her favorite vampire Edward Cullen via her proxy Bella Swan, she is also a terrible plotter. Any halfway decent author should know that, after building up her canon in three books, she should not break the rules she herself has set down, not without giving any good reason as to why these rules need to be broken.
And rules are indeed broken when Bella Swan gets knocked up by Edward after they get married. Is it because of Edward’s ice-cold penis? (How does it feel to make love to a guy who is as cold as ice anyway?) Is it because Bella is just so special that rules laid down by the author don’t apply to her? There is a long-winded explanation on the official website of the author that unfortunately tells me that Ms Meyer hadn’t been paying attention in biology class. Ms Meyer could have overcome all this nonsense by, say, setting down in paper as early in Twilight that perhaps there is some kind of prophecy that determines how Bella will be different from other mere mortals. Romance novels use this “magic vagina” trope all the time to explain how special the heroines are, so Ms Meyer could have used the same trope to explain Bella’s magic baby.
The baby is the central theme of the plot of this book. The baby, named Renesmee, turns Jacob Black from nice guy turned future date rapist into a pedophile. The baby gives Ms Meyer the opportunity to hate on more female characters who aren’t Bella because these women are all jealous and hateful bitches, especially if they are blond. Don’t get me started about poor Leah, who loses the only guy she adores – despite being the only female werewolf and therefore a genuinely special female compared to the pathetic Bella, she is still deemed lacking in Ms Meyer’s eyes and therefore in the eyes of the main characters in this book. This baby also makes it even more obvious that Bella is a Mary Sue because, if you think about it, what makes Bella so different from Rosalie, apart from the fact that Bella has at least 300 IQ points less than Rosalie? And yet, why does Bella get to have a baby when Rosalie can’t?
Perhaps this book won’t be so bad if there is an actual build-up and pay-off, like a grand confrontation with the Volturi, but Ms Meyer doesn’t even have the decency to provide that. Instead, the Volturi shows up to smite those jealous females before joining the Bella Swan Appreciation Society.
I can’t muster any sarcasm for this book because mocking it will be like mocking an ugly baby – the poor baby can’t help inheriting some unfortunate genes in the pretty department from the parents, after all. I think I’ve run out of energy to mock Stephenie Meyer at this point, because this is the last book in this series, and it’s like watching the plug finally being pulled on a long-suffering dying patient. I can only feel relieved that the whole ordeal is over.
And indeed, Breaking Dawn is an ordeal to read. It is nothing more than an epic tome of a little over 750 pages devoted to how special Bella is. A slight reprieve is had in the second act, when Jacob takes over the narration duties. By this point poor Jacob has become a poor man’s Edward in terms of being a creepy and over-possessive territorial jerk, but this act is actually very readable because Jacob displays some wry sense of humor and he has some focus in life that isn’t all about Bella. I can’t help thinking that it says something about Ms Meyer’s perception of gender if she can give Jacob a clear and coherent voice in a few hundred pages while she had Bella spent almost 2,000 pages in the entire series endlessly babbling about eye color, muscles, and sparkles. Jacob comes off pretty normal compared to Bella who comes off like a demented nymphomaniac who is inhibited from sleeping around by some weird hang-up about gender roles.
Much has been written about the bizarre and squicky delivery scene, but I’d like to think that this horribly misguided scene is just another excuse for Ms Meyer to give Bella what Bella wants without Bella having to take responsibility for that act. By this point, it’s pretty clear that Bella’s need to be turned into a vampire is a barely-veiled imagery for experiencing sexual pleasure. I think that, because the series has demonstrated that “good girls” are ones who are submissive and eager to please the menfolk without having any singular emotion or need of their own, Bella cannot be turned into a vampire without the act being initiated by Edward. Taking an initiative by, say, spraying cow blood around her neck or something, will be something those bitches Leah, Rosalie, or Irina would do. So Bella has to have a dire medical condition that forces Edward to turn her. Good girls aren’t supposed to put out, after all.
Bella doesn’t have to work to get what she wants. She becomes a mother, but she doesn’t have to experience the actual pains of carrying a baby (the delivery scene plot device notwithstanding) as the baby experiences accelerated growth. The baby’s accelerated growth also means that Bella can call herself a mother without having to actually dirty her hands by being one. In other words, Renesmee is the baby prop to Bella’s Goth Barbie. Bella becomes forever young just because she happens to meet and fall for a vampire. Her choice to become a vampire means that she gives up permanent contact with her human family members and friends whom she doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about. Bella gets everything she hopes for without having to think, make an effort, or make a decision.
And now that I think about it, how on earth are Bella and Edward going to last? His obsession with her seems due solely to the fact that her blood is his heroin or something like that as well as because she is pathetically weak. Bella is constantly adoring the men who protect her. Now that Bella is a vampire and needs no more protection, what is she and Edward going to do? They don’t know anything about each other. And let me tell you, someone as self-absorbed and narcissistic as Bella is going to hate her daughter, because Renesmee, as the first child conceived by a vampire, is genuinely deserving of being considered special and therefore Bella will resent all that attention given to Renesmee. Watch as Bella tries to “accidentally” stab Renesmee to death with a wire hanger one of these days, after failing to convince Edward to trade Renesmee for a puppy.
In my review of Twilight, I stated that I could see the appeal of this series – it is a Mary Sue story, the most potent form of pornography for young girls. Ms Meyer presents a woman’s role as girlfriend, wife, and mother in a manner reminiscent of a make-believe play session using Barbie and Ken dolls. Being a mother means having a baby, full stop, with none of the actual hardship that comes with the responsibility. Being a wife means being a permanently beautiful woman placed on a pedestal and worshiped forever by a sparkling man who is irrevocably devoted to her. Being a woman means being constantly coddled and protected by handsome men who will still be there no matter how selfish you behave. I don’t have any problem with such fantasies in fiction as escapism is a legitimate reason to read, after all.
My problem with this series lies mainly in the fact that Stephenie Meyer spent four books writing so poorly and repetitively, lacking any self-awareness when it comes to how shallow and hypocritical Bella is while punishing other female characters who behave even a little like Bella. She plots so poorly that Breaking Dawn is the culmination of all the mistakes she has made in the books following it. Her biggest mistake is to believe that “being special” is a good enough excuse to break her own canon rules when it comes to Bella. These are the reasons why the entire series is a chore to read and yet the author’s blunders are like a train wreck that I can’t look away from. But now that I’ve seen enough and have completed the series for closure if nothing else, I can go read something else.
Goodbye, Bella Swan. Some of the unintentional guffaws had been fun, but I’d rather that we do not meet again, unless it’s in a dead end alley and I have a chainsaw in my hand.