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Monday, May 03, 2010

Breaking Dawn

I hate you Stephenie Meyer! I am so damn tired. I have stayed up late too many nights, reading your books! Last night I read Book 1 of BD, and skimmed through at least half of the rest of the book, to see what happens with the baby and with Bella's post-transformation relationship with Edward. (I know Suzanne did not approve of this final installment, but it's been a fun read so far; pretty sexy, though not explicit - I approve - and it reminds me a little of being young and in love - that seems like a long time ago now . . .) Please don't write any more books about these characters so I can get some rest!

ADDENDUM 5/14/10

I finally finished Book 2. I have to admit, I got a huge kick out of it, and I didn't really expect to (partly because Suzanne wasn't impressed). I've always liked books that had chapters written from the perspectives of multiple characters. I liked hearing Jake's "voice," especially regarding Edward. Probably my favorite paragraph was the one where he says "I'm just a child, I'll have to live a long time to experience what I'm seeing in Edward's face" (that's not a direct quote, just the essence of what he said) - I found it was quite moving, that he could still be empathetic (or at least perceptive) about the feelings of someone he disliked so much.

And I like the stuff about the wolf pack and their relationships and dynamics. It feels like Stephenie worked hard to flesh out that storyline and make it credible.

I also loved the chapter titles, which I thought were hilarious, like Too Much Information Alert and Good Thing I Have a Strong Stomach and Why Didn't I Just Walk Away, Oh Yeah, Because I'm an Idiot. So different from the Bella chapter titles, usually just one word.

It feels like a long book already and I'm barely half way through. I can't imagine how they can cram this whole book into one movie without leaving out massive amounts of important stuff or making it 5 hours long. It was bad enough with the first book/movie [whole chapters reduced to a minute or two of screen time]. I actually really loved that What the Buck review of New Moon - since I'd read the book, I had no trouble following the movie, but he made a good point about not knowing what the heck is going on most of the time. BD will be much worse.

And I know there's a lot of conjecture about how you maintain a PG13 rating - you can sanitize the sexual content [which is pretty minimalistically portrayed anyway - one of the major fan complaints], but how can you show the birth scene? Almost impossible, because if you sanitize it, it misses the whole point. Hmmm.

ADDENDUM 9/15/10

I never actually finished this book - I read all but the last couple of chapters. Weird, I'm not sure why. But now they're working on the movie and I've been thinking about it more. I've gone back and reread some sections, especially the honeymoon, and the scenes where Jacob visits the pregnant Bella, and Charlie's first visit (I love all that emotion roiling about).

Suzanne and I also talked about this final installment. Here's part of what she wrote on goodreads.com, which I think is valid:

" . . . there’s just too many transformations of Bella in this book. She goes from love-struck teenager, to courageous mother-to-be, to newborn vampire with the strength of a transformer robot and the looks of "a freakin' supermodel". So far so good but the changes keep coming. Bella has no identity crisis and every human in her path is safe. Too bad. She is gifted and fortunate in so many ways **and** is destined to save her family and liberate her kind from tyranny of the ruling clan. Really? It gets harder to recognize the inward & lighthearted teenager we knew from book 1. Plus she gets lost in the crowded cast who takeover this book."

She also mentions that Alice disappears early in the book, which was odd. I actually thought Alice in BD was almost unrecognizable - she was surly and bossy and obsessed with appearances in a way that I thought was completely at odds with her character in the previous books. I wondered if SM needed a female antagonist, since Jessica was gone, and just refashioned Alice to fit the bill.

Stephenie Meyer has said that she decided to invent Renesmee for the final book because she thought Bella was difficult to "relate to" once she transforms into a vampire (she wrote a final sequel called Forever Dawn which was never published; in it, Edward and Bella get married but do not have a baby). I have children and found the experience of becoming a mother to be very intense emotionally. But I thought Renesmee was kind of an excuse, and I found the whole baby thing a little over the top. Bella's perspective on Edward and her new perceptiveness after she changed, etc, etc, were very interesting, and I had no trouble "relating" to her - this is what she's wanted for 3 books - I was right there with her. As I was reading BD, I was wondering why someone whose primary (though not only) audience is girls and teens, would basically promote early (and accidental!!) motherhood. Bella doesn't want to get married throughout the previous book - she knows everyone will assume that she's "knocked up," but then the author knocks her up the second she gets married? I thought it was odd and a little, almost, hypocritical. I think the book could have been just as interesting if she'd skipped the 1-month pregnancy and icky birth. I thought at the time I was reading it that she needed a sufficient reason for Edward to change Bella (a really compelling reason for him). But to be true to the story, I think he should change her because he promised to do it if she married him. Why not follow that narrative thread instead of going off in a totally new direction? I wanted her to focus more on Bella's feelings for Edward now that they are both vampires - instead, much of the emotion in the book revolves around this brand new character who is completely phony (e.g., she can communicate perfectly even as an infant, by projecting her thoughts into everyone's heads) Also, she creates a completely artificial method of resolving the Bella-Jacob relationship. I really disagree that SM needed to create sympathy for Bella - after 3 books, the audience adores Bella and I really can't imagine that any readers would have been put off by a lack of sympathy for her. But who am I to say the author is wrong - she tried it one way (in Forever Dawn) and decided she needed to go another way. I have to respect that. But I still thinks she's wrong to think her audience wouldn't relate to Bella. In fact, I'm willing to bet that more people couldn't relate to the baby storyline than would have had trouble with Bella the supermodel. For example, I loved the scenes where she went to get papers from "J" and she's aware of how him and his sidekick see her - as so beautiful and magnificent. Could I "relate"? Of course not, but it was still fun to read.

Suzanne said that she thought SM rushed the final installment and that she should have taken the time to create a book that really satisfies the fans and finishes the story the way it deserved. I enjoyed BD, but I do wonder about what another version would look like.

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