Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tackling Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part One

Hello, my lovely readers! So, in a fateful twist of events, I am writing this post two weeks after its intended publication date from a conference room in an apartment building in Nebraska. How's that for unexpected? But let us proceed. We're almost done with the series!

Just a note: this series, while marketed in and popular with the YA market, was originally intended for twenty-to-thirty-something married women with kids (according to Stephenie, the author). And even if the first three books are considered pretty acceptable and fitting for the majority of YA readers, this book is definitely a grown-up book. Marriage, kids, family drama -- the works.




I watched the first Twilight movie when I was at my grandparents' house and it was the only thing I could find on TV. When I decided to do this Twilight thing for real, I made sure to read the books before watching the movies. Except for Breaking Dawn. Why? Because the holds list for the book was like five people long and I was totally hooked. I couldn't wait that long to see what happened! (Of course, I watched it again shortly after reading the book to do a proper comparison.)

First of all: I was very disappointed to see that Bella and Edward telling Charlie about the engagement was not the beginning of the movie. I was then very excited to discover that it was, in fact, included in the book -- and it was just as hilarious as I expected. Renee's reaction was super sweet and I just love her to pieces. Alice is insanely excited and all over planning this epic wedding. The Cullens are totally on board, even Rosalie -- who, while not happy with Bella's decision to become a vampire, is still happy to see her brother being happy with the love of his life.


The wedding was gorgeous. I squealed and flailed and fangirled like a hyperactive gosling. The movie coverage of this wedding was fantastic. I am an over the moon new Twihard all about this wedding. Just adorable and beautiful and ohmygoshIjustloveweddings! 

The book didn't cover nearly as much about the wedding, which I found surprising and disappointing. Then I remembered the whole Bella-is-narrator and limited-to-main-character's-POV thing and realized that, while not any less disappointing, this did explain the lack of wedding detail. Bella, while completely in love and happy with Edward, is still not so much a weddings-and-marriage person. (Also: Seth is at the wedding and still an adorable lovable little ball of sunshine.)


There's an unhappy bump in the road at the wedding. Jacob shows up, which is great since he's the bride's best friend and she's dying to see him. But when he finds out the newlyweds are planning to have a "real honeymoon" without first changing Bella into a vampire... well, he doesn't take it too well. It isn't really any of his business, but he is worried about the well-being of his best friend. It's just a big mess.

Anyway, the happy couple are sent off on their honeymoon. It's lovely and sweet and very exotic and romantic. To be honest, after all the hype I've heard about this book, the more "adult" scenes were pretty much skipped entirely. It's not exactly a kid-friendly book, but it's not any worse than the sex scenes in many YA books today. Really, the movie went way further than the book. Besides, the real problem here -- yes, even my favorite book in the series has questionable points -- comes after the sex. Because, Edward being a vampire and Bella being a human, she gets pretty beat up. Which brings up all sorts of moral questions that, from a real-world vampires-don't-actually-exist perspective, are literally impossible to answer. It's more than a little iffy and a bit uncomfortable to read through. At least the movie really tones down the level of injury while leaving the level of Edward's concern and remorse just as high, making it seem a little easier to swallow.

Fast forward to the moment this book departs from a happy epilogue into its own story: Bella is pregnant. Totally, completely impossible and unfathomably dangerous and definitely unexpected (well, for anyone who read the book when it was first released, and for the characters). Not only that, but this is some sort of freak pregnancy (what else would you expect for a vampire-human hybrid?). The embryonic sac can't be penetrated to see what the baby even is exactly, and its growth rate in comparison to normal human babies is like bamboo to saguaro cacti. Edward and Bella rush home to get Carlisle's medical expertise on the case. Everyone can tell this pregnancy is killing Bella from the inside out, but Bella is determined to give birth to her child. Only Rosalie, in an interesting twist, is in her corner.

At this point in the book/movie, we switch to Jacob's POV. Since this whole series has been in Bella's POV, it's a little disconcerting to switch. I didn't like it in the book or the movie, but you get used to it.

 Jacob finds out Bella called Charlie to tell him she's sick, so he storms to the Cullens to find out what's what. He and Bella have a nice visit, under the circumstances, before he and Edward have a heart-to-heart. If I thought the mountaintop camping scene in Eclipse was weird, this one just takes the bizarre-triangle-scenes cake. Edward is literally going insane trying to keep Bella alive and safe while she insists on continuing a deadly pregnancy -- with a baby he's convinced is a monster, not human. He starts making all these crazy suggestions for ways they can make Bella happy and give her a baby like she wants and still get her to abort this one. He even talks about sharing Bella -- like, being Bella's husband while she has normal human kids with Jake. What?? Anyway, this is just another of the creepy whyyyyy scenes in this series, and I think it's definitely a good thing the movie cut most of it. At least Jake and the readers can realize that, while Edward is 100% serious, he's not really in his right mind during this conversation.

The wolf pack hears about the monster pregnancy through Jacob, and Sam decides they need to kill it before it can be born and terrorize the town. Jacob is all for destroying the baby that's killing Bella, but he's so not on board with killing it while Bella's still carrying it. As the genetic natural alpha of the wolf pack, he manages to defy Sam's alpha orders to fight with them and breaks out of the pack. I love that Jacob is coming into his own and becoming a man and all in this book, even if I don't like the tension breaking apart the family structure of the pack. Seth, a friend of Jake and Bella and the Cullens alike, leaves Sam to follow Jake. His sister Leah, sick of being Sam's "pathetic ex-girlfriend" and wanted to stick with her brother, does the same. Jake's not happy about it, but he's not about to order people around like Sam does, so he goes with it.

Jake's pack becomes the "guard dogs" surrounding the Cullen residence and protecting them from Sam's pack. Meanwhile, the Cullens are doing everything in their power to get Bella through this pregnancy. They have a breakthrough when they realize the reason the baby is starving Bella is that it needs more than just human food. Bella starts drinking blood, which is just as gross as it sounds to read, but it works -- they finally have some hope. Then Edward starts to hear the baby's thoughts like he can everyone else's, and things really start to look up.

Of course, the danger's never really gone, and when Bella goes into labor, everything changes. They don't have time to wait for painkillers to kick in, because the placenta is detached and the baby can't breathe. They can't deliver the baby normally, because only vampire teeth can cut the vampire-skin-like embryonic sac. They can't wait for the doctor, because Carlise is out with Esme and Emmett hunting. And they have limited help, since of the vampires Edward is the only one besides Carlise who can resist all of Bella's blood in the delivery room. So Bella delivers a beautiful baby girl with a strong set of teeth and a hummingbird-fast heart, with her husband on one side and her best friend Jake on the other.


And then she dies.

Rosalie takes the baby, stepping into her new role as doting nanny. Jacob breaks down and storms out. And Edward panics, injecting venom and biting her all over in an effort to change her so he won't lose her.

Sam's pack shows up right after Carlise and Esme and Emmett return, so Jake's pack and the vampires (sans Jake himself, Edward, and Rosalie) have to fight back to protect themselves and the family. Jake charges in to the house to kill the creature that killed Bella, but -- surprise! -- imprints upon making eye contact. I was still totally weirded out by imprinting up until the moment Jake imprinted on Renesmee, and suddenly I understood why all my Twilight-fan friends never thought it was that creepy. It really isn't. It's a little weird, but it's sweet and beautiful and precious.





Edward leaves venom-infused Bella unconscious on the delivery table to join his family in fighting the wolves -- but not before hearing Jacob's post-imprinting brain and throw his arm out of its socket tossing him into the wall. I'd feel bad for Jake, but considering his wolf-strength and super-healing, it's really just hilarious. And right when it seems all hope is lost and Sam will tear this whole family to shreds, Jake comes running out and phases so he can alpha-wolf-mind communicate his imprinting to Sam. (Still don't quite get how that works? It's cool, though.) Because of wolf rules, nobody can harm an imprintee. Because Jake imprinted on Renesmee, Sam's pack can't touch her. And so their fight with the Cullens is over.

The family cleans up unconscious Bella and dresses her up for when she wakes as a vampire. And after three days of firey internal pain, she does.


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