September 3, 2008 | Comments ()

By Miscellaneous | Books | September 3, 2008 |


I’ve been waiting for quite a while for some profound meditation on the nature of love and sacrifice, or, failing that, the merits of romance in literature, to occur to me so I can kick off this review. But you know what? Meyer doesn’t try, so why the hell should I bother?

Breaking Dawn, the fourth and (supposedly) final book in Stephenie Meyer’s inexplicably popular vampire romance “saga,” is exactly what Meyer has been gearing up for throughout the Twilight series. As usual, there are pages and pages following two insipid characters repeatedly declaring their everlasting love for one another, including enough masturbatory angst to wet a young girl’s panties, until about 20 pages from the end, when both conflict and plot suddenly show up only to disappear two pages later when the villain simply changes his mind, allowing the story to wrap up in an eternity of supernaturally perfect happily ever afters. The only surprise twist this time around is how surprised fans have been at the craptastacle on display here.

This entire series’ only claim to literary significance is the amount of challenging questions raised that require a good, hard think.

As someone with even a passing level of interest in the workings of the human mind, I am really curious as to what attracts people to this series.

Is it the extra large font with wide margins; good for eyes of all levels of ability?

Maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment one gets after reading a 500+ page novel. And this is the kind of 500+ page novel anyone can read — the books are filled with so much repetitive fluff that if you read one word per page, you’d probably get the gist of it, unless you were unlucky enough to catch 700 repetitions of the word “grimaced” instead of any actual story.

Perhaps the men among the readership enjoy the books for their handy wooing tips: watch her while she sleeps; tell her you’re dangerous, but you can’t live without her; after she declares her undying devotion to you, act insanely jealous of every teenaged twerp who looks in her direction; if she disagrees with you, use your superior strength to get your way; remember: you know what’s best; if you’ve still got some time left over, be sure to be ridiculously gorgeous, brilliant, rich, and talented, but under no circumstances must you exhibit any trace of an actual personality. It’s best to go for gorgeous girls with low self esteem, inner-ear balance problems, and a complete lack ambition. Absence of personality also a plus (note to writers: klutziness is a characteristic, not a personality trait).

The women, presumably, read the book for the hero, the man who embodies the traits mentioned above: the revoltingly perfect Edward Cullen, vampire in question, and, after about two weeks of knowing her, sworn love of heroine Bella Swan. This is where Meyer looses me. It’s one thing to write a harlequin vampire romance novel for teens and young adults, but it’s quite another to write one for two such noxious limp noodles who are so head over heels for the concept of soul mates that they wouldn’t know “true love” if it came and chomped them on the neck.Why are these books so popular? What is going on here?

Then again, my first literary crush was on Ford Prefect, just so you know who you’re dealing with.

Oh, and there are also some questions raised about undead sperm, but the less said about that the better.

On its own merits, Breaking Dawn shares similar strengths and weaknesses with the previous novels. It’s strangely addictive if vampire romance is your cup of tea; the prose is decent, although it teeters far too close to purple’s edge; the cover art is pretty; and the rampant sexism that would put the entire decade of the ’50s to shame is nothing new. But objectively speaking, it’s probably the worst book of the series. The themes of choice and sacrifice that Meyer spent a good forest or two floridly building up are dismissed almost immediately. Spoilers Ahead: Bella gets her lover, she gets her friend, she gets her family, she gets special vampire super-powers, she gets a child she didn’t know she wanted, and a happily ever after that goes far beyond anything a bejewelled Disney princess has any right to expect. Ultimately, she gets everything she ever wanted and more, she doesn’t have to give up a single thing, and no one dies. The end.

On the other hand, criticizing this book, or the series as a whole, is a bit like criticizing the Bush administration. It’s too easy. It’s done. It’s played. It’s on its way out. Again, I have to ask: Why bother?

All that being said, I actually found the fourth the least objectionable. After binging on the first three books in order to give Breaking Dawn a proper review, I wish I could do it justice. Unfortunately, by the time I got to book four, I actually found myself enjoying the series. I think it just wore me down. It was either keep getting angrier and more perplexed until I gave myself an aneurysm of confusion and rage, or go to my happy place, where everything is rainbow caterpillars and warm fuzzies.

Because truly, getting offended over this book is like getting offended over fried pudding prepared by Peg Bracken — yes, it’s gross, and Bracken isn’t much of a cook to begin with, but what the hell is the point in getting worked up over it? It’s fried fucking pudding, for Christ’s sake. What the hell did you expect? You’re getting exactly what you paid for. Pudding that is fried. By Peg Bracken.

Donna Sherman works in a bookstore, and is now writing book reviews. She predicts she has two more months before she gives up on English and begins speaking in tongues, and she can’t summarize to save her life. Contact her at dropoffmymail@gmail.com.

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Dum dum dum dum dum (as in South Park's Mormon Song)


Breaking Dawn (Twilight Series) by Stephanie Meyer / Donna Sherman

Books | September 3, 2008 | Comments ()




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