Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Read "Breaking Dawn"

So in my introductory blog, I mentioned that I will rant and rave and that I plan on doing it a lot. I think it only fair to begin with ranting about one of the worst books I've ever read in my entire life (and thus most likely spurn the wrath and argument of those that refuse to see the book in its true, non-sparkly light).

That books is Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer, a writer who I absolutely guarantee will probably get more than one blog entry here. Mostly likely, Breaking Dawn will get more than one entry here. I can't help myself. It's too easy.

Let me explain. I started reading the "Twilight" series on the recommendation of a friend who has rather good taste in fiction. Being an (early) thirty-something, I was intrigued at first. Granted, I could see the Anne Rice-isms. I could see that it wasn't exactly Pulitzer Prize quality writing but I was entertained. Though I'm jaded and burned from the men of my past, I could see the draw of Twilight. Who didn't want their own gothic hero when they were sixteen? What girl wasn't Bella Swann, awkward, clumsy and completely unsure of herself when she was sixteen? Though I couldn't get passed the fact that Bella was huge drip with no real personality, I kept reading because I still understood the draw. Then I got to Eclipse and realized that Bella was pathetic and even if I'd been sixteen when I'd read these books, I would still have thought so. She wanted to kill herself because her guy had left. Her life was over. Don't get me wrong... I got her despair, I got her depression. Stephanie Meyer did that part well- I competely understood how Bella felt, not knowing why life had any meaning, not knowing why she should respond to the continuing life around her. It sucks when that happens...but it does. But I HATE that it happened to Bella because of a boy. I hate that, at the age of sixteen, maybe seventeen, this girl felt that she couldn't live without the love of a perfect man.

I kept going. New Moon was silly. It made me laugh and not for the right reasons. Truth is, I can't actually remember what happened though I know it involved Edward, Jacob (Bella's alternate love) and some vampire daftness. It was mostly Bella wanting to give up her life to become a vampire and be with her Edward forever- romantic but kind of dumb when you examine her life in detail (Cliff Note version: Her life wasn't bad. She had too parents who loved her, human boys who (for undefined reasons) were crazy about her and the hope of an educated future).

Then came Breaking Dawn. And it was bad. No...it was horrendous. It was the indulgent whim of a writer whose agent and publishing company who forgot that a book was for the readers and, instead, saw dollar signs instead of the words. This post is getting long- WAY longer than planned- which means I'll have to continue later. However, here's the truncated version of Breaking Dawn.

  • Bella marries Edward. It's perfect.
  • They go to a perfect island that is on loan from Edwards 'mother', Esme. It's perfect .
  • Bella is still human yet she is so beguiling, she talks Edward into jumping her bones. They have sex and though it is supposed to be amazing, perfect and incredible, it is described with all the detail of a Victorian schoolmistress.
  • She gets pregnant despite the fact that vampires supposedly can't procreate. Edward is afraid and wants to get rid of the baby.
  • Bella decides not to discuss this with her husband and, instead, enlists the aid of Edward's 'sister' who, up until this book, has done little but glower at Bella and resent her for being human.
  • The narration suddenly switches to that of a previously secondary character- Jacob- even though, for the first three books, Jacob has been in the shadows. Jacob hates Edward. A lot. He says so. A lot. He loves Bella. He says that a lot too.
  • Bella is perfect during pregnancy even though she suffers greatly. She suffers silently because that is what Bella does. Her unborn child is too strong for her and almost kills her
  • The birth of the child begins with Bella spewing a fountain of blood and thus setting up a grisly scene. The child is fighting her way out. Bella is a weak human. She is dying from the birth but, fortunately, Edward is nearby and eats through Bella's uterus with his teeth to save the child (and yes, you read that correctly). How romantic, eh?
  • Bella MUST become a vampire or she'll die because, uh, the love of her life ate her uterus with his teeth and she's dying. This perfectly eliminates all those pesky "I can't turn you into a vampire because I'll be killing you!" doubts that Edward had until this moment. It's all rather convenient and noble of him to save her life by turning her into a vampire.
  • When she becomes a vampire, Bella suffers in a very noble silence while she feels as though she's burning to death. She's in great pain but our heroine doesn't want to be a bother and so she just lets herself suffer quietly. After a few days, she's fine and ready to be a vampire.
  • Bella becomes absolutely beautiful upon her vampire transformation. This makes up for the fact that she has a half-vampire daughter and her husband ate her uterus. Also, she's a near-perfect "newborn", strong, fast and yet doesn't crave human blood much despite the fact that even the strongest member of the Cullen family had a few years of bloodlust in which he couldn't be around humans. Bella doesn't need no stinking human blood.
  • Bella's husband gives her a perfect cottage in the woods for the happy vampire/half-vampire family to live. The cottage belonged to Esme, the giver of all places perfect. (see: Isle Esme)
  • The family live happily ever after because Bella singlehandedly takes on the evil vampires that threaten her family/friends and destroys them. Because she's perfect. And strong.
  • Oh, and despite the fact that history has no recollection of any vampire/human pairings, there are, apaprently, quite a few half-vampires living in rainforests and quite happily not killing humans. They just didn't reveal themselves until now. They pick the perfect time.
  • Oh, and uh, yeah- so not only does Bella and Edward's child have one of the worst names in the histories of fiction- Renesmee- but, uh, yeah, her 'uncle' Jacob, seventeen years older, is karmically intended to be the love of her life and mate with her forever. Tell me THAT doesn't have creepy "uncle Ernie" overtones.

That's it, in a nutshell. I'll write more later. I haven't even covered the major plot issues I have with Bella's father and his reaction to her becoming a vampire. Oh, and yes, the (over)use of the word "perfect" in my breakdown is intentional.

Breaking Dawn exhausts me. It's a wonderful exercise for us non-published writers in what NOT to do when you get the chance. Then again, it's probably a good exercise in what NOT to do, even if you are a published writer. But here's a tip- if you're gonna try to be romantic, having your beautiful hero tear his wife's uterus with his teeth is not, um, exactly endearing. It's actually rather disgusting and putrid. For the record, pedophilia is also gross, no matter how quickly your child grows up. I don't completely blame Ms. Meyer- I actually blame her publisher and agent just as much. This is a book that should have remained in a drawer for a year, or at least for long enough for Stephanie Meyer to reread the first three books in the series that she'd written, long enough for her to remember the personalities of the characters. Because, in all honesty, Breaking Dawn, in the opinion of Captain Monkeypants, is a disaster. It is a self-indulgent, piece-of-crap effort that wants money but cares little for the truism of the characters. Shame on you, Stephanie Meyer- listen to your characters, let THEM tell their story, don't try to give them the perfect little ending that YOU believe is right. You started their story, you should have let them end it.

But I'm tired...I'll elaborate on that later.

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