Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Co-review: Breaking Dawn

(Warning - contains spoilers!)

Welcome to the first Red Hot Eyebrows co-review! It promises to be thrilling, especially since we have such different opinions about the book. But in order to have a thorough dialogue, we are going to need to talk about it openly, so if you haven't read Breaking Dawn yet and don't want us to give anything away, READ NO FURTHER!

Breaking Dawn opens a few days before Edward and Bella are to be married. Miraculously, nothing happens to postpone or interrupt the wedding and everything goes as planned. They spend an exotic honeymoon on a private island off the coast of Brazil, which is cut short when Bella discovers she is pregnant. And, as you would expect from a human-vampire union, this isn't any typical pregnancy. The fetus grows at an accelerated pace, and is so strong that it is hijacking all of Bella's nutrition and causing her intense pain when it moves -- even breaking bones. Bella refuses to abort the fetus, causing the first major conflict in the story since everyone who loves her believe that's the only way to save her life. Edward and Jacob develop something akin to friendship as they are united in their futile efforts to save her life. (In the process, Jacob has left his pack by claiming his birthright as the true Alpha). Bella gives birth violently and this act takes the last bit of mortal strength left in her. In order to save her life, Edward injects his venom into her heart and she begins the transformation process.

And that's just the first half.

The second half begins with Bella's transformation into a vampire. Through some supernatural quirk, she is able to exercise amazing self-control (funny how she couldn't do that as a human) and is able to make the transition to vampire quite smoothly. That's fortunate for the reader, since we didn't really want to see her through her newborn bloodlust stage anyway. There is still some concern about the baby, besides her horrible name. (Renesmee? Seriously??) And besides the fact that Jacob has imprinted on her. (Eww.) More worrisome still is the fact that Renesmee continues to grow and develop at a super fast pace, and no one is sure what the repercussions will be. But even that is overshadowed by the threat of the Volturi who, having been misinformed about the nature of this child, decide to come destroy her and the entire coven. This brings us to the final conflict in the book -- a showdown between the Cullens and the Volturi. Of course, Stephenie Meyer is nothing if not generous toward her main characters. They may suffer, but she works hard to provide happy endings for all, and Breaking Dawn is no different.

Caren: After the huge disappointment that was Eclipse, I had mixed feelings about reading Breaking Dawn. But after reading Stephenie Meyer's The Host and remembering the talent that made Twilight such a success, I began to get excited about the last installment in the saga. I was hoping for something fresh and unexpected, and in many ways that's what I got. I fully expected Meyer to postpone the wedding and/or Bella's transformation until the very end of the book, since I expected that those events would mark the end of the story. So I was very intrigued that she tackled them early on. And when Bella became pregnant, I thought, "Whoa. This is going a whole different direction than I expected." But I liked that direction. Meyer showed a lot of courage in bringing marriage and motherhood (arguably common and unromantic themes) into this story of vampires and werewolves without being afraid that it would derail the story. And it didn't. Maybe it's because I am a wife and a mother, but Bella had more of my sympathy in this book. She showed more maturity and understanding and seemed more like the Bella we first saw in Twilight. But that greater depth didn't make the book any less fun. There was still the suspense, the tension, and the uncertainty of "what next?" that kept me turning the pages. And while this conclusion wasn't the one I would have expected, it was still a satisfying resolution with enough freedom to know that the story would keep going beyond the last page.

Jenny: Here's my deal. Jacob got the shaft in this book. I honestly had hoped that Meyer would find him a worthy character to imprint on, not take the wimpy way out and have him imprint on Bella's baby. That was so icky and bizarre that it left me unsettled the rest of the book. Suddenly all those lovey-dovey feelings Bella and Jacob have had for each other is because they were destined to be in-laws?!

My other issue is that nothing is really sacrificed or earned for Bella's vampire-hood. She's an anomaly for newborn vampires with her self-control so she still gets to be around her family, she gets a miraculous baby, no more love triangle business, and a super-power to boot. Everything comes so easily. When the Volturi show up, she's able to use her powers perfectly, despite failing before (of course) and then when the bad guys leave without even a punch thrown, she lives happily forever after. It's just too easy. And I think I've pinpointed exactly why I despise how Meyer portrays Bella and her relationships with men, but I'll save that for later.

By the way, your comment about her self-control "funny how she couldn't do that as a human" seriously cracked me up. And Renesmee? Gag. So white trash.

Caren: I have mixed feelings about Jacob in this book. On the one hand, he gets demoted to a secondary character once he imprints on Renesmee, and only plays a shadowy role for the rest of the story. That doesn't seem like a very fair way for him to get his happily ever after. But on the other hand, I was so sick and tired of his obsession with Bella that I was kind of glad it happened just so he would shut up about it! I just wanted to shake him for most of his narrative and say, "Get over her! Move on with your life! Have a real relationship!" And I wanted to shake Bella and say, "You've made your choice! Start acting like the married woman you are and quit trying to have it both ways!" (Who else was cheering for Leah when she chewed Bella out?) After Jacob's conversation with Leah and wanting to have a choice in who he loves, I was hoping that he and Leah would develop a friendship that could turn into something else later down the road so we could see at least one relationship that wasn't predestined in this book. But I guess that would have been the more predictable route so kudos to Meyer for doing something so unexpected (even if it was a little unsettling).

This Bella/Jacob tension was one of the subplots that didn't really ring true for me. I felt like the love triangle had been resolved at the end of Eclipse. Bella made her choice. Jacob left to nurse his wounds and get over her. I had hoped that he was going to move on and was excited to see what developed for him in Breaking Dawn. Instead it seemed like Meyer changed her mind and made them go through this all over again so that she could take the story a different direction than she'd originally planned, and poor Jacob was no more than a means to an end.

I disagree that Bella didn't sacrifice anything for becoming a vampire. True, everything does work out perfectly for her. But after what she went through to give birth to Renesmee, I sort of felt like she earned the right to become a vampire and have everything go smoothly. She gave up everything that was hers to give -- her body, her life, her future with her Edward -- in order to give life to their child. Of all the times she's played the martyr, this was the only time it really had any meaning and nobility, and after such a sacrifice I think she earned it. Some things were a bit too contrived, though, like how easily things were resolved with Charlie. And I do wish the conflict with the Volturi had had a bit more pizazz. It was building nicely to an intense climax, and then it just deflated. But in spite of some of those too-good-to-be-true aspects, I really liked Bella as a vampire. It was an interesting perspective and I was glad to finally see her acting confident and strong and being the powerful heroine she should have been all along.

So, do share your feelings about Bella's relationships with men. I have a few things to say about that myself!

Jenny: After the forced kiss scene in Eclipse, I lost most of my devotion to Jacob. It was too creepy. Honestly though, how much worse is that than Edward's constant manipulation of Bella? But I really thought Meyer would have him make something happen with Leah and I was rooting for it. I was also getting really sick of Bella beaming every time Jacob walked into a room. She's married, for crying in the mud! I loved when he even said the same to her, but then again, he wasn't exactly walking away from her either. Ugh. It's like a bad soap opera.

I agree that Bella went through great suffering to have Renesmee. Yikes, writing her name makes me want to use initials instead. If I was carrying my half-vampire spawn o' love, I would want to protect her and make sure she made it safely into the world. And her pregnancy and labor were spectacularly awful. She gets points for going through that. I actually did like the fact that Edward made her a vampire to save her life, instead of just getting a bite on the neck on the honeymoon. It settled with me better. I never really wanted her to become one in the first place, but I was okay with those circumstances.

What I didn't like is how frail and dainty and powerless Bella is throughout the series and then, when she finally is a vampire, she's powerful. It irritated me. Why couldn't she have been a stronger person before she became a vampire? Everybody was always carrying her around, protecting her from everybody else and herself, making decisions for her, forcing her to put herself into harm's way to get any leverage in a situation. Then she's a vampire and boom! she can create forcefields and jump higher, control her appetite better than anybody, yadda yadda. Am I just a raging feminist if I wanted her to be stronger, take better care of herself, find healthier situations to be in?

She also has terrible taste in men. Notice how all these men, including the ones she's kissing, act more like father-figures than peers? And her actual father is a pretty poor one? Being carried around, told what to do, sitting on laps and patted on the head like a toddler is not my idea of romance. The only time she ever had a real friendship-based normal-for-a-teenager relationship was with Jacob in New Moon and then he turned into a turkey in Eclipse and ruined it. It's all just so unhealthy that it gets me riled up. I can suspend reality and recognize that this is just fiction, but it bugs me.

About halfway through Breaking Dawn, I set the book down and cleaned my bathrooms. I couldn't take more of Bella being a martyr, Jacob moping around, and Edward fretting anymore.

One more thing: part of what made these books so compelling for me was the action. Breaking Dawn had a shocking lack of action. The ending totally fell flat and I was bummed. I was really hoping for some fireworks with the Volturi especially with all the build-up, but I was denied. Maybe that soured my opinion.

Caren: I agree that the ending didn't live up to its potential. She could have done so much more with it. But other than that I didn't miss the action in the rest of the book because I was so caught up in the rest of the story. Bella's personal journey was significant and interesting enough that I didn't think the book was lacking anything. I actually think her inner strength was part of her character all along, she just buried it for some reason I can't figure out. In Twilight she was brave enough to accept Edward for what he was, and later faced James on her own to save her mother's life. In New Moon she showed courage by trying new and dangerous things as a way of breaking her promise to Edward. (Stupid, yes, and partially motivated by her desire to stay connected to him through her hallucinations -- but it also showed a certain amount of rebelliousness and individuality. ) It drove me crazy when she was weak and spineless in Eclipse, and I was glad when her true strength emerged in Breaking Dawn. Did she have to become a vampire to discover it? I don't think so. But then again, sometimes we only discover what we're really made of after facing major watershed moments in our lives, and she certainly had plenty of those in this book.

Does your irritation with Bella's previous weakness make you a raging feminist? Feminist yes, raging.....debatable. More importantly, is that a bad thing? Heck no! Stephenie Meyer could do with a bit more feminism raging in her characters, I think.

We all want someone who will take care of us, but I think Meyer pushed that dimension too far until it was sickening and misogynistic. That's an interesting thought about her boyfriends being father figures. I hadn't really thought of it that way before and that makes it even more disgusting. (Thanks a lot!) But it's always bothered me and another reason I liked Bella better as a vampire was that now she and Edward could have an equal relationship instead of this victim/savior thing they had going on.

As a side note, I did like their relationship in the beginning and was reminded why it was good for them to be together. There was a sweetness to the wedding and the honeymoon that was very satisfying. And I really like that Bella finally realized that marriage (and later, motherhood) were not the horrible scary things that she thought they were. She understands that the marriage commitment brings more depth to their intimate relationship than she expected. After all her stupidity in Eclipse with trying to get Edward to have sex with her, I wanted to applaud her for finally figuring that out. Good job for growing up, Bella!

One thing I did get tired of was the dishonesty. I understood why Bella kept her J. Jenks mission a secret from Edward. But why couldn't she tell the truth about her transformation process? Why can't she just say, "Holy cow, that was WAY worse than I expected! And the morphine totally screwed it all up. What a nightmare! But hey, don't take it personally. It's over now and look at what a babe I am!"? I mean, seriously, intentionally misleading him about it.....not a good way to start out your immortality together!

Jenny: I think being strong and being brave aren't necessarily the same thing. It was brave of her to be such a daredevil in New Moon, but it wasn't strong. Being strong would have meant she got over Edward and moved on with her life. Maybe I'm being nickpicky. I think part of the problem is that I just don't like Bella and I am stubborn about going back on my initial feelings about people. I've decided that even though I despise Bella as a human, I might like her as a vampire. More nerve, less spinelessness. Maybe she'll learn honesty over the millenia. Too bad the books are done. I take that back. I'm glad the books are done!

I'm running out of steam here. I think part of my overall dislike is that I'm not a fan of romances. I like romantic elements, but not romance as a genre and these books are most definitely romances. I got caught up in all the cool vampire/werewolf elements and did my best to ignore the melodrama, but it was just so fraught with it. Also, what was up with Jacob's section being in his voice, with the rest of the book being in Meyer's usual wordy prose? I loved that, especially the chapter headings. Hilarious. I would have loved more of that in the other books, or maybe doing that with Bella. We get her viewpoint, but not her voice. I stole that observation from my friend, Rachel, by the way.

Caren: What do you mean by "romances"? Do you mean romance as in a love story (like Pride and Prejudice or Romeo and Juliet)? Or do you mean romance as in capital "R" and sleazy pictures and literary porn? I do think these last two books had way more sensuality than is appropriate for a teenage audience, but I wouldn't go that far.

I disagree that Bella's narrative voice wasn't really her voice, but I agree that it's hard for Meyer to move out of that voice (as we saw in Eclipse when she told stories from Jasper and Rosalie's perspectives and there was no change in the voice or style). So I was pleased that she did Jacob's as convincingly as she did. And I'm so glad you mentioned his chapter titles! Too funny!

Jenny: I guess by romances I mean dramatic, drippy, pathetically inert female characters who are swept away by dashing men with cloudy pasts. If the Romance Spectrum ranges from Danielle Steele to Jane Austen, these books would fall somewhere mid-to-Steele for me.

Caren: Really? Danielle Steele? Yikes! I've never read any Danielle Steele (shoot me if I do, please), so maybe that's more accurate than I think. But ouch! That hurts!

Ultimately I think that each of these books gets more and more about the characters and less and less about the action, so if you're hanging on for the action you're bound to be disappointed. But I still like the characters even with their imperfections, so it was a satisfying ending for me.

Jenny: I don't have to have all action all the time, but she does include an awful lot of it in the other books and not in this one. I was just expecting it. Thanks for playing, Caren! I feel like I saw this book a bit better through your eyes, even if I still don't like it. Can't wait until next month!

Caren: It's been fun, Jenny! I can't wait to do this again!


  1. phonetically, how is that baby's name pronounced?

  2. I think I blocked the name Renesmee out of my head before I did my own review or I would have mentioned it. It sounds like a soap opera name to me. I liked the whole "co-review" idea. It was like listening to a discussion. Caren, it was good to hear why you liked it. I've heard mostly negative things, so I like that I got to hear the other side of things. Jenny, you know I'm with you. I felt like Bella was a totally weak character and that her relationship WAS really unhealthy with Edward, as great as Edward was made out to be (the whole sitting in the lap, boo hoo I'm not as good as you thing got really old). Anyway, you've read my review, so you know what I think, but I just wanted to say this was a fun review to read!

  3. Annie - It's a combination of Renee and Esme and is pronounced Ruh-nez-may. As stupid as her name is, I liked that all the other characters thought it was stupid too. That tells me Stephenie Meyer wasn't oblivious to the fact that it was lame.

    Rach - I feel the same way about that aspect of Bella's character, and that's what drove me crazy about Eclipse (I didn't think she was that bad in the first two). So I liked that Breaking Dawn didn't have those elements as much. Personally, I think that the problem with these later books is that Twilight was so successful. When Meyer wasn't trying to please anyone and was just telling the story in her head, she turned out an imaginative story (Twilight) with genuine characters and fun action. She still tried to stay true to the developing story in New Moon, but then the fans freaked out which resulted in the forced, pandering-to-the-public Eclipse that lacked the original story's integrity and sincerity. I think some of that was regained with Breaking Dawn, but by then it was too late to really get the characters back to their genuine beginning. I hope she never tries to do a sequel to The Host for that reason, unless she learns how to maintain her characters' integrity in the face of public opinion.

  4. Thanks for the review, it was so fun to read your back-and-forth. And I'm grateful that I don't have to read it now. I'm one of "those" that love romance novels, but I'm glad for Jenny's take on the saga. I really don't think I would have liked the books overall and I'm glad I didn't get sucked in. I can't wait for the next co-review!

  5. Princess Jen - If you love a good love story, definitely read Twilight. You don't have to read the others if you're worried about it being ruined. But Twilight is a fun read, and if I remember correctly even Jenny liked it. Just think of it as a vampire fairy tale and you won't be disappointed in the happily ever after!

  6. Jen, I completely agree with Caren. Read Twilight. It was a rockin' fun ride. Then you can make an informed decision on whether or not to continue on. I'll probably even pay money to see Twilight. Most likely not in the theater, but maybe from Netflix. So, like a buck or two.

  7. Caren read these books to me; I doubt I would have picked them up out of my own volition. Having said that, I enjoyed the books well enough. The premise was interesting (who thinks of a mortal falling in love with a vampire—what's next? the swamp monster?) I also like the fact that she moved away from the typical vampire lore and made her own up (garlic anyone?)

    I'm glad we finally were able to see Bella in vampire mode. That was so much more interesting than the constant distress she was in during the first 4.5 books.

    Oh, and Meyer really should have folded the entire wedding/honeymoon/pregnancy into Eclipse and ended it as Bella is dying. That would have been a great way to interject some interest into a book that otherwise was pure dreck and would have allowed Dawn to explore some more interesting elements (read: fight scenes) into the story.

    One last thought: it's true that you can't judge a book by its cover. I thought the art on all three books was brilliant and the typography was nothing short of inspired. I wish the story had been as compelling.

  8. I LOVED the book! There were several things about it that made it the perfect culmination of a series of books that I sometimes had a love/hate relationship with. Now that I'm done reading I appreciate the whole series better. I think Stephenie Meyer did a great job of wrapping the whole thing up, and making me now love everything about the ride since Twilight. I have lots and lots of things I could say about it, but mostly just wanted to say I'm a true blue fan!

  9. I noticed that November's books is going to be "Odd Thomas". I can't tell you how much I love those books. Odd Thomas has got to be my all time favorite fictional character. If he were real, I'd adopt him! Not for the faint of heart, though, so just know that about this best of the best of all of Dean Koontz's books. My favorites, though. Andrew, leave it to you to notice the artwork and the typography! :) Your less-than-appreciative comments about the story are an example of why we won't let Dennis read the 3rd and
    4th books! I love you anyway :)

  10. I'm trying to strongarm Joan into sharing more of her insights about the themes developed in this book. She has some very insightful interpretations of Stephenie Meyer's treatment of family, maturing into adulthood, fulfilling your potential, etc. that gave me fresh things to think about. So I hope we'll hear from her in more detail. (hint hint, Mom...)

  11. I do have to say that I liked that Bella finally had a noble reason to be all martyr-ish. That's one of the biggest things that's driven me crazy about her character, but I felt like Breaking Dawn finally matured that tendency into something that actually had some substance. I read the majority of the book while nursing my two month old so there were some things about her experiences as a new mother that I was just sharply reminded of all over again. Her willingness to do anything to give that baby life (even if she gave her a stupid name) and the fact that she loved that baby from the moment she learned of her existence. Even getting the gender wrong was something I could relate to (0 for 3 now for me!) and which just seemed funny to me. It bothered me that Edward had such an aversion to the baby, but it was really satisfying to me when he finally recognized the form of life that he and Bella had created together as having some worth. I loved the idea that the baby was aware of her mom and adored her already. What mom wouldn't want that? We've finally entered the smiling stage with our baby, and there's very little I wouldn't do for that little bit of recognition from him! Anyway I really enjoyed the book a lot. I know a lot of people are disappointed with how it turned out, but I'd heard so much negative that I was really pleasantly surprised. I thought Bella showed a great deal of maturity in this book which I'd been hoping throughout the earlier books to see her develop into. I know I hope that people don't forever remember me as an 18 year old. I'd like to think that I've grown and matured since then (right?--please tell me it's true!) so I was really hoping that Stephenie Meyer was going to head in that direction with Bella. Time to do some growing up honey! Anyway I was just happy to see that and I really enjoyed the book. So thanks for giving me another reason to talk about it!

  12. Jenny I have to say (because apparently I didn't say enough before?) that your comment about despising Bella as a person, but maybe liking her as a vampire totally made me laugh.

  13. I was a 100 percent fan of this book. No reservations. Hands down. Totally loved it and everything about it. Even some of the things I thought I wouldn't love, Stephenie Meyer won me over and I can't imagine the story any other way.

    I, too, was a little disappointed about Jacob and Leah not getting together at first, but in the end I was really pleased with how their relationship had developed and changed and become more positive for them both. It's good to have "extended" family for support in your life and that's what Leah and Seth became for Jacob. And he for them. I thought it was sad that Leah would never be able to mate and have children. That nearly broke my heart and I was so hoping for a "fix" for that, but she dealt with it and that particular thing made it so that Jacob really needed to imprint on somebody else because he needed to have a family to continue the "race", so to speak. I was caught off guard by Jacob imprinting on Renesmee at first, but noticed myself thinking that it made that sometimes-inappropriate connection between Jacob and Bella finally make sense. I also liked that Jacob had to finally become who he was born to be. That he was an Alpha Male and needed to fulfill his destiny. Kind of like what we're all trying to teach our children, right? Think Aragorn... :)

    I liked Caren's comment that marriage wasn't the "happily ever after" ending, which is why I liked having it come first, and that you could imagine more happening in their lives after you closed the book.

    Since finishing the book and thinking about it, I realize that I would have been greatly disappointed by the predictable outcome if there had actually been a fight with the Volturi. Anybody can fight over their problems. It takes great leadership, diplomacy, strategy and strength to stop a war before it ever gets started, without giving up the things most precious in your life. In response to the criticism that the Volturi wouldn't have responded in that weak, face-losing way, I say that they really had no choice at that point. They'd been publicly "called out" for the lying, scheming bullies they really were and when the sentiment of their own witnesses changed, they would have lost too much power by annihilating Carlisle's family. Okay, who didn't love Garrett and his awesome
    "revolutionary" speech! Three cheers for Garrett! It was fun to have him and Kate and the other "sub-characters" to cheer for and, we could cheer then on and love in addition to all the big stars. I thought there was a tremendous amount of tension leading up to that final climactic scene in the meadow and I loved how it became more about living what we believe in rather than dying for it, which really is the greater part of valor, in my opinion.

    Garret's comments about Carlisle's coven being a family seemed to state the whole underlying theme of this entire story to me. What made the "Olympic coven" a family was their willingness to live a higher law and to make sacrifices for each other and the greater good of humanity and to help each other live that higher order they had chosen. There were only a few of them, maybe only Carlisle really, who could have done that on their own. They had individual weaknesses and issues and unmet needs that couldn't have been controlled or strengthened by themselves, but as a family they could do anything. Also, functional family life was something Bella had never really had, so they taught her some powerful lessons about family and real love.

    Bella obviously learned to become more other-centered through all the ways we've discussed, but look at the growth in Jacob who was a fighter by nature. When it came down to doing the right thing for Renesmee, he was strong enough to walk away and not fight. I appreciated the strength of character and maturity in these formerly young, immature, self-centered humans. Which is the point of growing up, right? The idea of maturing is learning to love unconditionally, and create strong families, right? I also liked that Stephenie worked it out so that Charlie could be part of their lives without knowing too much. His involvement created another family tie that would strengthen the whole. We don't always get to understand the people we love, but when we truly love people, especially in a family setting, we accept them without conditions and strings, and he was able to do that. That added a good grounding influence to not only Bella's life, but her daughter's and her vampiric family's as well. As a grandmother
    I nearly wept when Charlie met his granddaughter for the first time. Plus, who doesn't love that Charlie and Sue found each other???!!!!

    I also really enjoyed the section of the book that was Jacob's viewpoint. His caustic sense of humor and his viewpoint seemed necessary to me in order to get a true look at the mighty change he underwent. Also, the twist about Jacob's clan being shape shifters and not werewolves, was awesome! I accepted as a gift without realizing I wanted it!

    While these books are written for young adults (jr. high and older) girls, I'm not sure I'd want my jr. high aged kids reading them until they were older. Personally I loved the honeymoon parts and the passion, which was very tastefully done if you are old enough to understand the beauty of committed, marital passion, but not necessarily things I'd want my jr. high, or even young high school aged kids reading about. I have girls in my 13 year old Sunday School class who are reading the books--not at my suggestion--and I'm a little concerned that maybe their mothers don't know about those parts!

    Crystal, I appreciated your comments about having a baby and becoming a parent. I'd forgotten those parts and they were important to the story. I think a lot of men could probably relate to the way Edward felt at first. My husband saw the morning sickness, the dizziness and the really negative things that are part of pregnancy, so his feelings were probably indifferent toward the baby at best, and maybe even antagonistic about watching me suffer on behalf of a "stranger" who doesn't really seem real. I think that as the baby manifests itself through the enlarging of the womb, making movements, responding to touch, it might become more real, but Bella's pregnancy was nightmarish, and I wasn't a big fan of that freakoid baby for a while either. I had to keep reminding myself that she had dreamed of a beautiful, beloved child that she wanted to protect, and I didn't think a mindless, murdering monster would be able to engender those feelings in her later on. I thought it was fairly realistic that Bella was portrayed as going through all those awful things with a willing heart because she'd had a vision of what was to come and you just feel that way when new life is growing inside you. If you can just survive the process! And what a way to give some depth and create some empathy for Rosalie's character! To know something more personal about her and watch it change and shape hers and Bella's relationship was a great addition to the story, I thought. I really liked Rosalie after all that. I also loved that moment when Edward "connects" with the baby and knows that it's potentially a good thing and from that moment he can go to work figuring out a way to save both their lives.

    I also agreed with Stephenie's
    treatment of Bella's transformation from human to vampire and here's why: First of all, none of Carlisle's family had ever been turned unless it was a matter of saving their lives. Every single one of them had that in common. How completely would Bella fit into that family if she were "turned" in a way completely against everything Edward's family believed in? So much of their strength was derived from their various pasts and their commitment not to kill humans. Secondly, Bella was beginning to want to postpone making the change. She was afraid to give up the life she knew because she was afraid of what she would lose. I have to admit that I was wary of the transition stage, too, all through the books, until it happened and then she discovered that all of her emotions and experiences were enhanced, not diminished. Hmmmm, kind of like fearing the after life because all we know is mortality. Thirdly, I think it was good that making the change was prompted by choosing to save her life, not by her willingly ending it, nor Edward having to bear the burden of taking it. In a theological setting ending your life is a sin, so in that way it happened just like it should. Because of my own value system I was much more in favor of Bella's change being the right thing to do in order to save her life and not as a form of suicide/murder.

    Overall, I have to say that I loved Twilight and I loved Breaking Dawn--equally I think--and was less enamored with New Moon and a little annoyed with Eclipse, but I would like to think that our Miss Stephenie knew what she was doing in the overarching epic-ness of the story. You love Bella. You're irritated by Bella. You love or hate Jacob--doesn't seem to be much middle ground there. Everybody loves Edward. The thing is that having finished the story I can see, whether she meant me to or not, the process Bella went through from beginning to end. All the complaints we've had about her during the middle of the story are things we've all been through ourselves. Admit it, we've all been immature and whiny and self-serving like Bella and Jacob, but few of us are ever as completely unselfcentered as Edward was while we're teenagers. Or maybe even as adults. Teenage-hood is not a stage of life conducive to being self-sacrificing, but it is the stage that eventually leads to it and it's important to experience it. Like learning to crawl before you can run--it's less mature, but absolutely essential. Falling in love with your soul mate and becoming a parent changes your perspective and your ability to sacrifice for people you love "more than my own life". Maybe just by having those less-than-Edward moments we grow and become better as part of the maturing process. I feel strongly that teenagers are metamorphosing(?) and really can't be judged by the same standards we judge adults by.

    Sorry this was so long, but I had all these thoughts finally gel in my mind so that I could articulate them. I probably needed it for myself more than anything, so this was a great space to do that in!