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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

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It’s around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and the sun is just breaking out through the fog here in Berkeley. One daughter is off at a soccer tournament and the other is curled up on the couch, devouring the latest installment in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight trilogy.

This is the daughter whom I never thought of as a bookworm, who always turned to television, instant messaging, or her computer, rather than taking up a book. I could bring home stacks of books from the library, purchase the books with the largest print or glossiest covers from the store, but it was all for naught. The girl just didn’t enjoy reading.

Until she encountered Stephanie Meyer’s books.

I picked up the first book in the series, Twilight for her a few months ago while browsing at Cody’s Books. (yes, that late, much-missed Berkeley institution) I had been aware of its existence but didn’t seriously consider buying it until I saw that the New York Times had given it a good review.

I brought it home. Juliet started to read it, liked it, but then got bored and set it down.

When faced with a 10-hour flight to London, however, she picked up the book again. And couldn’t stop reading.

Forget the Tower of London. Forget Harrods. For the first two days in London all she did was read. When she finished the book, we went to the world-famous Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road to buy New Moon, the second book

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She finished that one in record time, although by that point I made her start to sightsee. Thank god for the Tube, though. Juliet could read on the subway between sights.

I couldn’t find Eclipse, the third book, in England, so when a friend and her daughter came to visit, they brought a copy. Even though Juliet hadn’t seen her best friend for two weeks, she buried her head in the pages. She couldn’t tear herself away from the book.

Naturally, we were all excited by the release of Breaking Dawn. Juliet was determined to get the book as soon as it went on sale, which was 12:01 a.m. on August 2. Since I had stayed up late many times in the past to go get Harry Potter at that hour, I had no trouble with this plan.

On Friday evening, we found ourselves in A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair. Kathleen Caldwell and the younger members of her staff (dressed in black) had gone all out for the occasion. There was a huge “casket” in the back room where fans could have their picture taken. There were bowls of candy and drinks, and buttons and stickers. Around 25 young girls, ranging in age from 10 to 17, were on hand. The staff ran a trivia game. Juliet came in third. (When she went to collect her prize, she actually chose a galley of the new book by Cornelia Funke. I consider that a good sign.)

There was a small contingent from Juliet’s school and a handful of people we knew from the neighborhood. Everyone was squealing and screaming and hugging one another as the books went on sale. Juliet immediately urged me to take her home so she could start to read.

Now I know these books are schlock. A friend of mine, Mya, whose daughter Eliza also loves the books, provided me this description:

“I've read all of them to keep a beat. (No literature - total teen candy. Addictive and empty calories that are probably not healthy.) Meyers puts the reader inside the head of the main character and in the throws of compulsive, obsessive longing for the love object. The heroine, Bella is so entranced by the looks of vampire, Edward (love object #1) that she spends the first book obsessing about him and fantasizing about the scent of his breath. The reader is trapped into her one-track compulsion, slogging through chapters of her longing to see him again or sit near him in science class. It's exhausting and a little embarrassing and after awhile the reader is broken, and like a good addict - gives in and accepts her as she ignores her friends, lies to her family and does lots of stupid slf-destructive things. (you just give up on knowing why the two are obsessed with each other - they don't really talk, just pine and swoon).

Book two, the vampire leaves Bella and after being comatose for several chapters and then on the verge of suicide (without him there is no reason to live), she finally distracts herself by getting into foolish and life threatening positions -- she hears Edward's voice whenever she experiences near-death. Bella pulls herself into the land of the living by befriending a native american boy, Jake who agrees to help her fix a motorcycle so she can ride fast without a helmet. He falls in love with her (enter healthy relationship #2) and vows to protect her. Then Jake turns into a ware-wolf along with a bunch of other tribe members. The arc - Bella jumps off a cliff and Vampire decides to kill himself - Bella tries to sacrifice herself to save Edward.

Book three - Everyone is back home safe and healthy. Edward is handsome, icy cold, chivalrous, refined and hairless. He cannot risk too much physical contact so there's lots of near-sex. On the other hand, the ware-wolf's resting temperature is 105. He's grown huge, strong and hairy and is fully developed into a man. Both love Bella. Edward wants to marry her. Bella agrees only under the condition that they have sex first. She begs him to make her a vampire. Lots of lying to Mom and Dad and prolonged flirtations with foreplay. Bella's life is threatened by a new enemy so the vampire and ware-wolf find a distant respect in their love for the same girl. One cold night the ware-wolf keeps her alive by laying with her semi-naked in a sleeping bag. End of book she gets confused; carnality might be worth more than immortality.

Welcome to book 4.”

Clearly, the literary value of the series is dubious. But I am not complaining. I just get a smile on my face when I think of my 13-year old curled up on the couch, her nose in a book.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am 16 years old and I am reading B.D. now. I LOVE these books so much and love the power in them!

Kim Fisher said...

I am 30 years old and to be honest I haven't picked a book up since the seventh grade mostly because I lose interest real fast, but the Twighlight Series sucked me in emotionally! I can still feel a deep emotion from the books. it's got to be one of the most overwhelming feelings I've felt in a long time I absolutly Loved them
From Kim Fisher in Federal Way washinton

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Texas! Just ran into this post while Googling for a picture of the book cover. Certainly, there are different ways of looking at the books; your friend pretty much boiled it down to the bones. I very sincerely hope your daughter continues to find fun and joy in literature, even after finishing the book. In my humble opinion, Breaking Dawn is the best of the four in the saga or tetralogy. .... I winced when you called it a trilogy. :)

kayti11 said...

I'm 14 and got the first two books while on holiday. Two days later, after finishing them i got the other two and finished them both in the next three days. stephanie meyers way of portraying the emotions of bella is amazing and i really hope she releases a fith book. Her series are definatly better than anyother books i've read in the last few years - better even than harry potter!!!!!!!!

Maddie said...

Im 12 and i am totally in love with these books! Like your daughter i also hate reading! That is almost exactly like the story i have but my friend got me hooked not my mom. deffinatly addicting.

Anonymous said...

I agree this series is totally cool. I read alot and this is my third favorite series. 2nd is the Eragon series (Inheritance Cycle/Trilogy)
But 1st is the Pellinor Series! This series is one to read before you die most definetly. WOW! I do want it to end! Watch out for me though. I am curenntly writing my first novel, which will be my second story that I have finished but if it is any good it will be the first entallment in a possibly 27 book long series! lol
BYE

Readerand Author said...

i'm 12, barly read last yeaar, but now, im hooked again, and back to a big favorite past time. Anyways, I only read Twilight, but i'm waiting for New Moon to come in. I am sooooo excited!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THESE BOOKS...I JUST FINISHED READY TWILIGHT AND I TOOK ME THREE DAYS. I COULDN'T PUT DOWN THE BOOK AND KEPT READY OBLIVIOUS TO THE WORLD AROUND ME...I'M 13 YEARS OLD. I WAS DEEPLY IMPACTED BY THE EMOTIONS AND THE DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS BOOK. I AM NOW UNCONDITIONALY IN LOVE WITH EDWARD CULLEN....I AM SEEING THE MOVIE TOMORROW..WHICH I DOUBT IS GOING TO BE NEARLY AS GOOD AS THE BOOK BUT WILL STILL BE GOOD...AND CAN'T WAIT TILL I START TO READ NEW MOON...TOTALLY PHYSCED LOVEDDDD THE BOOOK....

Anonymous said...

Goddddddd i can't express enough how i am completely in looooooooove with EDWARD CULLEN..the most romantic and wonderful guy in the whooooooole word.....i'm consumed by his very name....not even joking.....

Sarah ;) said...

Yes, I am one of those crazy teenage girls overly obsessed with Twilight. But Id like to think that I know what I'm talking about when I say that they really do have more literary value than that--there's a lot more to the books than what's talked about here. 14 going on 15, I am completely in love with the characters and story. But, everyone has a right to their own opinion, so I guess you think what you think. Read it for yourself before you judge it, though ;)
--Twilight Junkie

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! i loved the twilight series. i read twilight through eclpse last year and i read breaking dawn at the begining of the school year. i LOVE THEM!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

TWILIGHT IS THE BEST BOOK EVER BUT BREAKING DAWN TOPS THEM ALL!!!!!!!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Twilight movies and books are really fasinating. I am 12 years old and I can´t stop thinking about them. THEY ARE THE BEST!!
It´s a story i wish to live. It got me emmotionaly.

Anonymous said...

I have read all these books including the 5th copy on the enternet. For your friend to say all that with a negative attitude, well honestly i feel sorry for her child to have a mom like that. Teens will do as they please and some may or may not make the same choices as Bella and Edward do. Your friend shouls be supportive of something her daughter wants to do, not down on it. I am only 17 so i dont understand this form a parents point of view. But as a teenagers view its honestly a great book. and im very glad you let your daughter read it every child needs some sort of imagination and something to realize about the reall world. No its not always a happy ending, and yes teenagers do get sexually active and lie and do all that fun stuff, and im pretty sure you did it to when you were young, your friend as well.

Anonymous said...

I Am 100 percent hooked on twilight i have read each of the books four times in about two months. I love all of the characters and i am amazed at the conection that i feel with them. This is my favourite series ever with no doubt. My favourite character is Alice. I Love her visions and she is always so happy. Plus i also am really glad with a character that no one ever thinks about....... Phil. If he had not mariied renee then the story would not have happened. And My other Favourie Characters are... Renesmee, She is so beautiful and i am happy that smeyer brought her into the books,Bella, for finding edward and persisting her love for him, Carlisle and esme, for loving their children and bringing them into the vampire world,Edward, For Being with bella and being kind to her and trying to do whats best for her, Jasper, for being with alice because alice needs some one to love her, Jacob, For keeping his love for bella strong and for finally finding his renesmee, Emmett, For being funny and kind to bella, Rosalie, For Sticking by Bella when she was pregnant with renesmee, charlie, for letting bella move in, renee, for letting bella go, sam emily and the rest of the were wolves, for looking after bella when edward was not there, Victoria James And Laurent, For making the books more intresting by nearly killing bella, The volturi, for demanding that bella become a vampire, the denali clan, for standing by the cullens when they are faced by the volturi. Okay So I love preety much all the characters... But can you blame me??? Thank you soooooo Much Steph, Thankyou for writing your books. You hae made me sooooo happy :) I can't put them down. And thankyou Catherine HArdwicke For turning the twilight book into a film and thankyouart, Robert Pattinson, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone,Elizabeth Reaser, Peter facinelli, Rachelle Leferve, Cam gigandet, edi gathegi,ect. For being in the film, and showing the beloved twilight characters very well.



Love From "Twilight Nutter"

Leila said...

I'm 14, and honestly, from the time I read Twilight at age 11, I did not like it at all. I felt the story was cliche, Bella was extremely weak, and Edward was emotionally abusive and domineering in their relationship. Each book just got worse and worse, to the point where I couldn't finish the final installment, Breaking Dawn. Just research it a bit. It contains sex, DISTURBING violence (a baby rips its way out of her body), pedophilia, and much, much, more. It's okay for you to be entitled to your own opinion, but I am quite sick of people calling Twilight 'the best book ever'. It has obvious flaws in both writing and plot (if you can even say it HAS one), and besides, how can you say it's the greatest book ever if you've never read them all? ;) Anyway, just a heads up to any curious parents reading this now: Don't let your young children get hooked on Twilight, at least not until they're much older. It can end in a lot of emotional scarring.

Anonymous said...

i'm 13 and i've read twilight, new moon, and eclipse 3 times. i've read breaking dawn 4 times :) i can't help it. i'm obsessed... :P

jacob's girl said...

i love the twilight saga. its awesome. i was in the store looking for a book to read when i came across Twilight. i picked it up n read the back. and i had to have it after that. a week later i went bak to the store to get the other two books(BD wasn't out yet) and the store didn't have them. i freaked out . i just had to have them. luckly christmas was a month away and my parents bought them for christmas from a different store. i was school shopping on aug. 2nd. when i walked past where the books where. and i just happened to see BD on the shelf. i couldn't remember the release date so i didn't kno it came out that day. but im happy i decided to go with my mom after all. i started reading BD at 9:00 that night. i didn't put the book down till after i finished it at 5:30am. i LOVE them. i cant wait till the movies come out. and i rele hope stephenie publishes all the books from edward's point of view. 8-D

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm 11 and I've just finished Breaking Dawn today. It only took me a week to read all 4 books! I've read lots of books before but Stephenie Meyer is absolutley brilliant. I've also seen the Twilight movie and I can't wait to see New Moon and Eclipse when they come out!! I would recommend this book to al teenagers and all people of other ages too!! STEPHENIE MEYER ROCKS!! KEEP ON WRITING! Love xTWILIGHTxCRAZYx

Anonymous said...

i luv twilight ive read dem all last year it self.dey r 2 gud. i luv edward cullen he is soo gorgeous. well stephenoe meyer books roxs .ive gt dem all.