Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Breaking Dawn: a few thoughts

on August 23, 2010

I’ve read it now, and I think that it was probably the best of the 4, although it’s quite difficult to compare with the other 3 because it’s so different!  Different in tone, different in subject matter, different in just about every way.  Here are just a few things I’ve thought about the book as I was going through it.

I feel I don’t have to worry about spoilers too much here as I recognise I’m probably the last person on earth to have read it (wonder how paperback sales are doing? – a quick google says they’re not out yet, the latest stats are from 14th August which wouldn’t include it).  With Bella and Edward’s wedding day fast approaching at the beginning of the book there is none of the “does he really love me?” angst (or even the “do I want to marry him even though it feels like I’m making the same mistakes as my mother?” angst) present in the other books.  In fact, Bella’s sense of security in her relationship is now so strong that I think those who criticised the earlier novels for being too teenage and soppy would have difficulty finding the same points of contention in Breaking Dawn.

The other three books all focused on Bella’s romantic feelings towards Edward (and Jacob, briefly) and her turmoil over how such a relationship could, and would, progress  when they were from such different backgrounds.  For many people this is not an interesting subject and is certainly in many ways rather juvenile (which is why so many teenage girls were so drawn to it – it’s exactly what they spend a lot of time thinking about.*)  However, this book seems much more adult in tone as most of Bella’s narrative (a short first section and a much longer third section) is focused on her feelings towards her child, firstly as a foetus inside her and then as her own living child.  Obviously she touches on her feelings for Edward too, and her delight that nothing can separate them once she has become a vampire, but again, her security in the relationship has coloured her feelings towards him and apparently lessened the intensity of them (although not the significance).  I was relieved, after the detailed first-person narrative of the first three books, not to get a full account of Bella’s wedding night and subsequent nights with Edward (!), although there was enough description of her feelings and their conversation to make it both believable and in keeping with her previous narratives.

If anything, I would say that Breaking Dawn is the story that stands most alone and could be read as an individual novel, if it weren’t for the fact that the reader has built up such a huge knowledge-base over the previous three books of how the supernatural world works (Meyer’s supernatural world, I mean, obviously).  There are the vampires’ special gifts, a theme which is particularly emphasised in this novel, as well as the way in which the werewolves are able to communicate – again, this is explored further in Breaking Dawn.   Meyer doesn’t patronise the reader by reiterating much of the explanation regarding these but relies on his/her having read and understood them in the past.  This means that the story can move on much more quickly, which in turn helps build the tension towards the climax of the plot when the Cullen family and assorted friends face the Volturi and their supporters.  These scenes really brought tears to my eyes, especially when Bella faces permanent separation from her child.  But the fact that this story is so different (and much more interesting, in a lot of ways) from the rest almost makes it feel as if Meyer has spent the first three books setting up the reader’s knowledge and understanding for this one!

The central section, which is told by Jacob (for reasons which become obvious), has a different feel although I didn’t enjoy it as much it was certainly a good was to move the story on as well as giving an important picture of Jacob’s motivation both then and later in the novel.  I’m not a big fan of the petty squabbling that goes on between him and Leah, or him and Rosalie, but I suppose it makes the whole thing more believable and demonstrates the tension between the various characters who all have their different reasons for supporting Bella.

Ironically, the drop in the intensity made it less of an emotional commitment so I didn’t feel quite as wrung out by the end, but despite that I still think I enjoyed it more than any of the others.  It certainly had a more “grown-up” feel about it, as I’ve said, which I liked a lot.

And now to get back to Austen!

*If you’re a teenage girl reading this and you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it then all I have to say is a) you’re very lucky, as although it’s quite obviously a very trivial part of life it seems to cause a lot of teenagers tremendous pain IME; and b) please don’t be offended at my generalisation but I’ve known a lot of teenage girls through work, general acquaintance and having spent several years as one myself and it’s true that many of them spend a lot of time thinking about boys and seemingly insurmountable romantic problems

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