Full article (with spoilers!) under the cut.
So Breaking Dawn is out. 754 pages of Cullen-lovin' goodness. I'm on record as a Stephenie Meyer fan, but even a fan can flex his critical talons. In fact the Twilight fan community seems to be pretty much up in arms about this book. So here goes. Spoilers follow. Mega-spoilers. Seriously. If you're not into these books, or haven't read Breaking Dawn yet, you don't want to go to the jump.
First, since there's a lot of one-star reviews up on Amazon, let me say up front: I loved Breaking Dawn. I felt like after Eclipse Meyer had kinda written herself into a corner. After three volumes of foreplay, I'd had just about all the flirting I could stand. Meyer -- in the most enjoyable way possible -- had taken all the easy shots there were to take. But I wasn't completely sure she would step up her game and break her own rules and take the hard shots. Who knows, maybe she'd just string us along until a storybook wedding on page 747, then fade to black, and we'd have to be happy with that. She could have gone that way and still gotten paid.
But she didn't. Marriage? Bang, they're married by page 50. Sex? Page 85. Nothing coy about that. Where do you go from there? The answer, of course, is a half-vampire baby -- which could have been lame, but I thought she gave it a real high-stakes horror feel, with its impenetrable uterine sac and its breakneck, almost tumorous growth, devouring Bella from within, bruising her belly and cracking her ribs and her pelvis. And Bella gulping blood to keep it alive! This is a kind of mature, shocking writing I don't think I've seen Meyer do before, even in Host. You can see she's been through childbirth, and she's seen the ugly side of it.
[But I must pause at this point to say: Renesmee. Worst...name...ever. And some sick Twilight fan somewhere is going to name their child that, I just know it.]
And just when dying pregnant Bella was starting to get old, the baby starts ripping its way out of her, and another sacred cow falls: Bella converts to vampire. And again, Meyer steps up her writing: she really takes on the task of writing from a vampire's point of view. Her vamps are so powered-up that it's no mean feat, but you really get a sense of what it would be like to move that fast, and think that fast, and see that clearly.
And then Jacob imprints on baby Cullen. Too too funny.And yeah, I thought the business with the Volturi was a bit of a cop-out. They show up en masse, all hell-bent on taking out the Cullen clan...then they just decide not to? But honestly, it's always nice to see those dudes, and Meyer has a good feel for their particular brand of cruelty, I thought. And I know, I know, everybody's annoyed about the happily-ever-after ending. What did you want? It's not The Brothers Karamazov. (And you know, if Father Zosima had risen from the dead as a hungry vampire, would that book have been any worse?) I for one was tired of Edward being Mr. Perfect Immortal McHotty and Bella being all clumsy and human. Now it's finally even-steven. Now they're both perfect and immortal. How do you get an unhappy ending out of that?