Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn: A Review

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This book, just out, sold more than a quarter million copies in the United States on its first day. It has sparked huge Internet debates between members of Team Edward and Team Jacob over how it resolved the lives of its characters in this fourth installment. For those of you late to the party,

Breaking Dawn

is the final book (well, other than the official guide coming out in December) of the young adult Twilight series written by Stephenie Meyer that tells the story of high school student Bella and her two loves: Edward the vampire and Jacob the werewolf.

This book is heftier than the others, 754 pages of narrative and it’s slow going at first with Bella’s pre-marriage jitters. Hadn’t we already been through this in the earlier books? Anyhow, she’s about to be married to Edward, the frozen-in-time 17-year-old who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage. He also doesn’t drink human blood, but is part of a local coven whose members have redirected their energies toward large wild animals. Meanwhile, signs are up all over town for the missing Jacob, although his own father doesn’t seem too upset about his disappearance.

Bella’s leading concerns are how she’s going to never see her parents again if she becomes a vampire – it’s a secret and you’re not supposed to let anyone know outside the vampire world – and how to somehow renew her ties to Jacob.

Bella does marry Edward and it’s when they go on their honeymoon that the book takes off and finds its rhythm. Without spoiling the story, let’s just say that Bella’s life is first threatened by Edward’s actions, then by what develops from that and finally, of course, their old foes, the powerful Volturi coven that sets and enforces the rules for vampires.

Jacob, does return and, in fact, the middle part of the book is told through his eyes, not Bella’s.

Throughout the series, Meyer has done a good job of tapping into the sweeping romance and sexual tension of teenagers in love. It’s hard to avoid thinking that her Mormon background must have had some effect on her view of when sex is appropriate, when marriage and other developments in life are appropriate. And it’s hard not to see the reflection of a Mormon temple marriage “sealed in eternity” in what life may have in store for Edward and Bella’s commitment to each other.

Above all, though, in this series (read by many adults as well) and in her bestselling adult novel The Host, Meyer has proven that she can write great stories, filled with all sorts of plot twists, adventure, action and unusual circumstances. Breaking Dawn is difficult to put down and even if you are among the minority, as I was, that wishes this book had ended a different way, it has kept me thinking about it, and I expect will do so for a long time to come.

-- Margaret Downing

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