Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Stephenie Meyer's "Breaking Dawn"

by Sariah S. Wilson

SPOILERS ARE INCLUDED IN THIS BLOG - IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK AND DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED, PLEASE STOP HERE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

So, I read "Breaking Dawn." My reaction? Meh.

I will admit right now to coming from a place of small bits of author jealousy. As much as you want other authors to succeed and are happy for their successes, sometimes (for me at least) a small part of you feels jealous. I've always had this sort of awestruck/envy thing for Stephenie Meyer, particularly since we're the same age, went to the same school, have the same number of children (similar ages), same faith, both writers, etc. I wonder if I could ever reach the level that she has, if I could ever write a story that would grip people by the throat the way "Twilight" did.

With that disclaimer in mind, my thoughts on "Breaking Dawn."

First off, Renesmee is quite possibly the stupidest name EVER. Seriously. Hard to say, tough to look at - I would trip over it every time I came across it. And Nessie was not much better - I kept getting Loch Ness images in my mind.

Jacob imprinting on a baby, which felt like a total cop-out to me so that the Jacob/Bella issues didn't have to be resolved, grosses me out. I was grossed out when Quil did it. I don't care how she tried to explain it or justify it or make it okay, it wasn't okay with me in the last book, and it wasn't okay with me in this one. Particularly since ew...he was madly, totally in love with Bella. They kissed. He warmed her up while he was naked. Mommy used to kiss your husband? Your husband used to fantasize about mom and wanted to be with her? That just doesn't fly with me. I know it's a fantasy, I know it's not real, but again I say ew. (I actually wanted Jacob to imprint on that female werewolf (Leah?) because it would have resolved a lot of pain for both of them.)

I was a little surprised with characterization - how Bella was so adamant against marriage, yet when she got pregnant, hey, no big deal. No need to worry or fret or think she might be too young for something like that. I'm pregnant, it's growing at a superhuman rate and killing me, but it's cool. I think Publishers Weekly summarized it better than I could - "Essentially, everyone gets everything they want, even if their desires necessitate an about-face in characterization or the messy introduction of some back story. Nobody has to renounce anything or suffer more than temporarily--in other words, grandeur is out. This isn't about happy endings; it's about gratification."

I think probably my biggest issue with the book was the final battle (and you know how I like me some ancient weapons and fight scenes!). The entire book, as the family gathers up allies to testify for them against the Volturi, we're introduced to all sort of mutant abilities. On the good guy side, one has the ability to force everyone to see illusion. Another can conduct electricity. A third can actually manipulate the elements (but he isn't that good at it yet). Bella discovers that she is actually a shield and can create a forcefield to protect her allies from whatever the bad guys may throw at them. The werewolves (who have the ability to destroy vamps) show up in greater numbers than ever before.

On the bad guy side, the Volturi have spent millennia gathering up the most special/talented vampires in the world. One Volturi has his own personal shield to protect him. Another vampire can manipulate emotions/attachments. A third can daze and confuse. Another can cause unimaginable pain with her mind. Someone else had the ability to control fire.

So as we're building to this great battle, as I'm waiting for the big X-Men/Fantastic 4/magical powers blow-out, what happens?

Nothing.

Seriously, nothing happens.

For pages and pages and pages and pages as we watch the vampires use their powers and prepare and discuss strategy, as Bella prepares for an outcome where she won't survive, everything is leading up to this final conflict.

Now, while the real world solution of nobody gets hurt and nobody dies and the bad guys just go away is a nice one, it's not a very exciting one after you got me pumped for a giant vampire smackdown. I read that, literally shaking my head and flipping back to make sure none of my pages were stuck together. For me, you can't build up to a climax you have no intention of delivering on.

Particularly since I think the Volturi will always be a threat to the Cullen family because they covet the Cullens' abilities, it would have been nice to see them wiped out rather than out there as a constant worry.

Speaking of the final fight - Alice not telling Bella about her visions was also dumb. Obviously Bella could keep a secret from Edward (as she did with what little information Alice gave her) and so there would have been no way for the Volturi to find out. A whole lot of hoopla for nothing.

I wanted to see Bella dealing with Renee. Didn't happen. I thought that would be fairly significant with her new lifestyle choice. I was also bothered by how important Rosalie had been to protect Bella and the baby, but dropped from the story after Bella was vamped.

I wasn't engrossed in this one as I wasn't engrossed with "Eclipse." I could put it down and walk away from it. So much of what made "Twilight" and "New Moon" so enjoyable for me, the themes, the characterizations, all of it was just gone with the last two. I'm glad that Bella got her happy ending (I did think there was a chance that Meyer might actually kill Edward and Bella in the final battle and let Jacob the Yucky Imprinter raise their little girl), got her baby and got her man and gets to live happily ever after (literally).

I'm glad that after all the hemming and hawing that Bella did finally become a vampire (although at the point she became unrelatable as a normal, typical, average girl), and that she was happy. But I was frustrated with the book; I think Meyer could have done better (and has).


30 Comments:

At 8/23/2008 9:39 PM, Blogger Christopher Bigelow said...

So, from what I've read about this book in various places, is it safe to say that Deseret Book is showing incredible hypocrisy to stock this book but be so thin-skinned about other fiction?

I guess it really is just about the money with Deseret. Or can someone defend it in a way that makes Deseret look consistent and logical?

(And does Seagull carry it?)

 
At 8/23/2008 10:41 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

Christopher-I have seen Stephenie Meyer books at Seagull, right next to Mickelson.

Sariah- I agree with you on all those counts. I have to say that I extremely enjoyed the Jacob chapters. I loved the long, funny titles of each chapter. I loved Jacob's POV, and then was disappointed to go back to Bella's. The book was made tolerable to me by the Jacob portion of it, but completely agree with you on the other stuff.

 
At 8/23/2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Chris,

What fiction are you referring to in particular that was rejected? Hypocrisy, to my way of thinking at least, requires that a person or company says one thing and acts another way.

In order for DB to be showing hypocrisy, I think they would need to reject a work for a reason that they should also have rejected "Breaking Dawn."

A book with a character that was LDS but acted the same way as characters in “Breaking Dawn”, would not count, as DB clearly holds LDS characters to a higher standard than non-LDS characters. So what national novel did they reject for reasons that would also disqualify "Breaking Dawn?" I assume you are not referring to Zarahemla’s vampire novel, as I don’t think the two even compare as far as acceptability to mainstream Mormons. Both are well written, and have vampire characters, but that’s about all they have in common.

In answer to your second question, of course it is about money--at least to some extent. I've never heard DB claim to be a not for profit company. Why would it surprise anyone that they stock books that will sell a lot of copies?

As far as your third question. I don't know if Seagull carries it or not? Why would that matter? Seagull has its own rules, and buyers. The two chains are run as separate entities.

 
At 8/23/2008 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris:

Just leave it alone. You make your decisions. Let them make their decisions. And stir no more the pot of accusation.

Ly

 
At 8/23/2008 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...And Chris:

I wrote that with a smile, but it doesn't sound smily anymore. You should know that I love your writing, your blog, your wonderful books, and all your projects. You are a gifted writer. What I meant to say was leave it alone, you jealous free lance writer who secretly wishes he owned Deseret Book and could make all the decisions himself.

When is the next best seller coming out?

Ly

 
At 8/23/2008 11:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...And Sariah:

Sorry, girl. I think Vampire movies and books are goofy. People realy read that stuff?

Okay, so I eat garlic chip dip when the subject of vampires comes up. But they're still goofy.

Ly

 
At 8/23/2008 11:15 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Come one, LY. You know you would be all over the novel if the vampires played soccer.

 
At 8/23/2008 11:16 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Vampires are not goofy. Buffy rules. End of story. ;)

 
At 8/23/2008 11:17 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Marcia, I did like the Jacob chapters (and agree with you about liking the long titles). I just didn't like how his story resolved.

 
At 8/23/2008 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sariah, Sariah, Sariah:

I was just about to write something on the Sariah the intelligent academic. And then you mentioned Buffy?

Ly

 
At 8/23/2008 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, Sariah. I think you're the frog!

Ly

 
At 8/23/2008 11:58 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Amen!

 
At 8/24/2008 11:28 AM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Everytime I see the title of your blog, I read it as "Stephenie Meyer Breaking Down." Subconscious hint or what? :D

 
At 8/24/2008 12:39 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Hey, you can be intelligent and still heart Buffy. Where's Karlene when I need her?

 
At 8/24/2008 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sariah:

I'm really starting to worry for you. You need Karlene to defend your buffyness?

I think you should stand on your own two fangs, admit your adolecence, and come clean. You think Ammon was a vampire.

Ly

 
At 8/24/2008 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seagull does carry Breaking Dawn...I work there. And it's actually not as big a seller as we expected. People generally seem to share Sariah's POV, that Meyer has lost her touch to some extent and that Breaking Dawn was a book meant to gratify demanding readers. We've had quite a few people upset with this last addition to the Twilight series.

 
At 8/24/2008 6:55 PM, Blogger Weston Elliott said...

Is there NOONE who can become uber-famous without selling out???? Good grief!

Thank you for the spoilers - it saved me from reading a book that would have put a hole in the drywall on the other side of the room!

 
At 8/24/2008 7:47 PM, Blogger Pat said...

You people are all too funny!

I felt the same way about the book.
When I finished it my reaction was something like, "you've got to be kidding."
I felt that Miss Meyer had just had a good laugh at all of us.
....All the way to the bank, that is...
;P

 
At 8/24/2008 10:36 PM, Blogger Christopher Bigelow said...

Well, don't you remember the big Richard Paul Evans thing, when he published a national novel that implied that a married lady spent a night on a riverbank with some other man, but with no sexual content, and Deseret pulled the novel, and the resulting kerfluffle in the media was so big that Deseret started their "What Matters to You Matters to Us" campaign to trumpet their new, more careful book-stocking policies?

I just looked up the book. It was called "The Last Promise." It sounds way tamer than this Meyers stuff. From Wikipedia: "In 2002 The Last Promise, a novel by LDS fiction writer Richard Paul Evans and published by Dutton, was rejected by an LDS Church-owned book retailer, Deseret Book. The retailer explained that a scene of extramarital affection in the book implied adultery. Evans denied this. Lampooned by some non-Mormons who supposed that the rejection reflected excessive church puritanism, defenders argue that it shows how seriously LDS book retailers take their self-imposed mission to sell "uplifting" narratives."

 
At 8/24/2008 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read The Last Promise, and I read Breaking Dawn. The Last Promise (which consequentially is an absolutely fantastic novel) is a thousand times tamer than Breaking Dawn. But maybe because Breaking Dawn is kind of in the fantasy genre, it can get away with more?

 
At 8/25/2008 12:27 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

When I heard that DB pulled The Last Promise, I promptly went out and bought it.

Yes, I'd agree with anon. The Last Promise is mild compared to any of the Twilight series books, esp Breaking Dawn.

 
At 8/25/2008 1:23 PM, Blogger Charlie Moore said...

I've read these comments about the two bookstores. If we're worried about what they carry or what they ban perhaps our focus should be recentered on what the Lord would accept or ban. Afterall, we're commanded to be obediant to the Lord. I haven't read either book referenced here, but suspect both are written to appeal to a target audience. My point is that Deseret Book and Seagull are not affliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we should not treat them as such. When you select a book to read or you begin to write a manuscript ask one simple question, "Would my Savior be happy with this?" If you're comfortable with how you feel that is all that matters.

Charlie

 
At 8/25/2008 1:43 PM, Blogger Janice said...

I predicted that Bella would have a baby and that Jacob would imprint on it. I was hoping that Bella would be immune to vampire venom and end up alone. She annoyed me. Most of the book was too happy - except for Leah, who was never resolved. Too little conflict and no one lost anything. No one grew. No bad guys were destroyed. I also thought it was way too long. I wonder if she's planning a spin off series based on the kid with the terrible name and Jacob.

 
At 8/25/2008 1:48 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

I should probably also mention that I wanted to like this book. I wanted Meyer to redeem herself after the last book. I felt like I kept trying to find the good in it...but it just kept disappointing me.

And I'm with Janice - I'm also upset that Leah wasn't given some sort of resolution given the awful situation she had to go through.

If there is a spin-off, I'm saying now I won't read it. It was bad enough getting through one book with that awful name - I won't do a whole bunch of them.

 
At 8/25/2008 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comment Charlie. I don't remember ever making any covenants with Deseret Book. And I wasn't baptized at Seagull. I'm fairly certain none of my home teachers have ever reccomended any fiction that will save. And the Old & New Testaments, D&C, Book of Mormon and PofGP anre the only books marketed, sold, or reccomended by God.

Ly

 
At 8/25/2008 5:51 PM, Blogger Jennie-O said...

I just find the whole series lame and cheesy.

 
At 8/28/2008 12:06 AM, Anonymous Hilary Blair said...

Wow. I totally agree with you on all of this. Especially the ending fight scene!!! I couldnt believe nothing happened!! I was so mad. I cant believe I went at midnight to get this book...

~Hilary

 
At 9/03/2008 6:31 PM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/12/2010 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's funny that you talk about 'good guys' and 'bad guys' when they're all the same to me. I don't think a vampire or a werewolf is 'good' by any means. How could you explain your pov? Are your standards relaxing? You also said it's just a read, not real, however, there are too many women (of all ages) who seem to think otherwise. It's almost over however. Good riddance to this awful saga.
ilovedigitalscrapbooking

 
At 7/18/2010 11:50 PM, Blogger Christine Pakkala said...

Dear Anonymous,

What is real in Meyer's books? The idea that death cannot steal away love.

For someone like me, who lost her mother at an early age, Meyer's books are comforting. And comforting isn't the right word.

To write beautiful sentences, a beautiful story, and have this powerful message. Her imagination and her generous spirit astonish me!

 

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