TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Ok, I have to break my own rule and reveal spoilers in this review. I just can't see any way to write a meaningful review without bringing up some critical plot points. But I'm warning you right now, in advance, so hopefully you won't be heartbroken, surprised, appalled, etc.
HERE COME THE SPOILERS!!
"Breaking Dawn" is split into three sections, or books. The first, and clearly the weakest, is narrated by Bella and details her wedding to Edward, their honeymoon, and her subsequent … er … alright, there's no easy way to say this. It discusses Bella's pregnancy. I know! Worse yet, this is a "Rosemary's Baby" style pregnancy, where the fetus is apparently some kind of tiny monster whose very existence is destroying the mother and threatening the world. I cannot begin to adequately describe how awful this first section of the book truly is. Much of the dialogue between Edward and Bella sounds something like this:
E: "I love you so much, Bella."
B: "No, Edward, I love you so much."
And on, and on, and on. Also, leaving aside the fact that Bella's pregnancy violates Meyer's own vampire mythology — Edward's not "alive," biologically; didn't we establish that in the lab class back in "Twilight"? — I could live without the tired cautionary tale (sex = pregnancy + death!) that used to be such a staple of teen novels. Haven't we moved beyond that? Sheesh.
The second book gives us Jacob's narration, and the improvement is noticeable and immediate. In my view, Jacob is the only character throughout the saga who displays any level of complexity. He's honorable, weak, impulsive, brave, loyal, angst-ridden, and joyful, often all at the same time. In contrast to the Cullens' cold perfection, Bella's constant awkwardness, and Charlie's one-note bluster, Jacob has depth and shading. No wonder following his story of heartbreak, pain, and ultimate hope is so much more fulfilling.
Long story short, Bella has a perfect baby girl who is half-vampire, half-human. To save her life following Renesmee's birth, Edward makes Bella a vampire. (Note: he literally tries to pimp her out to Jacob first, as a last ditch effort (?!?), which is so wrong on so many levels that I cannot even begin to comment.) Turns out the baby is an absolute jewel and not a monster, so hooray. But, wait, the Volturri have a strict law forbidding vampire children, and now they're headed to Forks for a big showdown.
Except, not so much. Yes, the passages detailing Bella's vampire transformation, in which all her senses are heightened to extraordinary levels, are full of magic and wonder. They're delightful to read. And I'm all for a thaw in the Jacob-Edward relationship, which is long overdue. Other good stuff? Vampire folks from far and wide circling their wagons and prepping for a Volturri smackdown. There is genuine excitement in these scenes, in which the sense of impending terror is palpable. Finally, yippee, Bella is at last strong and powerful instead of the weak girl following Edward's every order. Brava! It's just the entire, rather lengthy book builds to a climax that goes absolutely nowhere. Talk about fizzling out! The whole ending felt like a college debate and not the grand finale of an epic series. What a letdown.
I realize all "Twilight" fans will read this, and some will overlook the flaws while others, like me, will be terribly disappointed. Either way, perhaps we can focus on the biggest positive to emerge from this saga, which is that teen reading — for girls! — has finally become a big news story and a viable force in mainstream culture. For that, I'll always be grateful to Stephenie Meyer, despite my failed expectations here.