Here’s why it took me two months to finish Stephenie Meyer’s “Breaking Down”: I couldn’t stand it.
Fellow Idol Chatter blogger and “Twilight” uber-fan Donna Freitas wrote that some fans had problems with the “happy ending.” That was not my biggest problem with the book. I don’t discriminate against happy endings–I was happy when Bella and Edward ended up together to begin a new, fulfilling, immortal journey. I also had no problem with Bella becoming a super vampire; it seemed justified given her 18 years of clumsiness. For the first time, she was on an even level as Edward and she discovered she had a particular power that was latent even as a human.

My biggest problem with “Breaking Dawn” is that its narrative is way too overstuffed with melodrama. I kept rolling my eyes every time another problem appeared and escalated. I felt Meyers took two more books and jammed them into one in order to finish the saga and satisfy herself and her readers.
In the span of a year, Edward and Bella get married, Bella gets pregnant, Bella’s baby rips her way out, Bella almost dies, Bella is saved by Edward’s venom, Bella becomes a vampire, Bella learns to hunt, Bella discovers her baby’s own special abilities, Bella meets with Charlie and tries to explain her changes, Bella learns to use her power, Bella finally faces off against the Volturi and claims a triumphant victory. In between all this, the reader suddenly sees everything from Jacob’s point of view and we discover that, yes, Jacob is meant to be with Bella’s daughter, Renesme, who will reach maturity within just five years.
Perhaps there’s too much 21st century in me, but I cringed a little when Bella and Edward got married. I know they are soulmates, but I was surprised Bella still got married even after saying repeatedly that she was not “that girl.” Only after she married did she entertain the idea of going to college or having any ambitions. Then Bella became pregnant so quickly and everything spiraled into near-tragedy again; the baby began killing Bella and eventually tore out of her womb. The horror movie scene made me so queasy, I actually had to stop reading. The detour into Jacob’s point-of-view was almost a welcome relief, except it seemed like a completely different book stuck in the middle of Bella’s last saga.

Of course, once Bella becomes a vampire, more drama occurs: the Volturi is on the mission to destroy Renesme and the Cullens. This means Bella has less than a month to learn how to use her self-protective shield on others. Even the final confrontation was a let-down, slightly anticlimactic, all talk and not much action (even if it might have been Siobhan’s doing).
I just felt so unsatisfied at the end of the book, even after Edward finally “hears” Bella’s thoughts. Even though Meyers has stated the white pawn on the cover represents Bella’s transformation into a strong and powerful being, I had trouble seeing that. Yes, she became physically and mentally powerful, but she still seemed a little flat. Even though she was an extraordinary vampire in some ways, she still felt ordinary to me. Her life always revolved around someone else–Charlie, Edward, Jacob–as a human that to have her life revolve around Renesme once she became a vampire made me feel Bella was still overshadowing herself. I’m not saying that a mother’s life shouldn’t revolve around her child’s, but I felt Bella’s personality was still one-dimensional. Also, I felt the visit with Charlie was too rushed; Bella met him once and he became a periphery character because he didn’t fit with the narrative. Renee practically disappeared because Bella didn’t think her mother could handle the truth.

At least one good change was Bella’s insecurities and low-esteem mostly dissipated once she became a vampire. Every other drama felt so layered on top of each other that there was no room to breathe–so it was a relief that Bella finally stopped being negative about herself. I just wish Bella became a stronger character not because she got married, had a baby, and became a vampire, but because she was already a strong person who knew developing her inner strength outside of Edward was more important than relying on him for it.
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