Thursday, December 3, 2009

Breaking Dawn

      Don't worry, this blog won't be all about Twilight. Eugh. SPOILERS if you've never visited the web before.
      "Breaking Dawn" is the well-known conclusion to the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Intriguingly enough, many fans who stuck through Meyer's drab prose in the first three books dropped out after this book. Thought the Twilight books are both universally adored and loathed (almost equally) Breaking Dawn by far got the worst of the scathing reviews and comments. 
      The book is her largest, at over 700 pages, and wraps up the "adventures" of Bella and her vampire boyfriend Edward, who, until this book, have remained staunchly abstinent. Now, in this book, instead of the exhausting, blaring theme of "no sex!" it changes to "once you're married and 18 have sex but never abort!". Yes. Bella gets fertilized by the dead vampire, though Meyer has made it common knowledge that her abstaining "vampires", along with drinking animal blood and having no flaws (they sparkle in the sun) that they have no liquid in their bodies. Maybe it's a magic dust that comes out of a special wand?
      The book continues its pattern of setting feminism back 50 years, and ends with no bang whatsoever. Bella's beautiful. She has both Edward and Jacob in her life. And she has a demon child who grows up extra fast with a horrible name. It's all she's ever wanted.
      There are many flaws in the series alone, and it would take a long time to outline them. But I'll go with the main things that bugged me:

1. Every character got everything with no struggle.
      Stephenie Meyer fell into one of the popular traps of any beginning novelist - love and dote on your characters, and sprinkle them with roses. This may be nice for the author - hey, who wants to see their brain child suffer?
      We do. The readers do. It's what keeps us interested. When the main character struggles to find love and meaning in their lives and succeeds against all the things you've thrown at them, we feel victorious with them. When a main character gets rainbows tossed at them and sunshine sparkles, no one cares. It's boring. It's slightly irritating. The reader begins to let their mind wander, and eventually tosses the book aside. 
      This mistake also presents itself when, at a point not near the end of the novel, the character gets everything she wants. She has a baby. Her friend. Her husband. A family. And it's not the end. Never, ever let your character get everything they want. Always leave something out until the end. 
      Take this into mind, reader, or future writer. Kill your characters. Toss obstacle after obstacle in their way. Let them find exciting ways to climb over it. Let them win. Let them die.

2. No climax.
      The story "builds" (I put this in quotes as it is a very meager attempt to build suspense) towards a battle that, when the enemy comes, doesn't happen. Bella & Co. are worried that their demon child named Excrement (oh, sorry, it's the unique and adorable "Renesmee") will be killed by the vamp version of the not-very-scary Mafia. They're Italian. They are almost all male. They come over to show Bella and Edward what's what, only to be faced by... what's this? A shielding power? IT'S SUPER EFFECTIVE. Actually, if you've ever played Pokemon, you know that only losers keep the stupid defensive powers. Only losers.
      The Mafia - sorry, the Volturi stand there. Then Bella & Co charmingly explain that "No... it's all a misunderstanding!" And the Volturi smile and say "Okies!" and leap away, frolicking here and there as they do. Oh yay! No consequences, and no climax! The end. Which leads to...

3. No consequences.
      There are no main character deaths in the series. This goes back to the "no suffering". I, personally, was hoping Edward would die. I felt like it would have been a chance for Bella to step forward and exercise any semblance of personal strength she hides underneath undying devotion and obsession to this immortal god. But nothing happened. And I have tried to read it again, but haven't been able to. 
      The other example of the lack of consequences is imbued in Meyer's description of vampires themselves. Vampires used to burn in the sun, have fangs, drink human blood, and be tortured, flawed beings. Yet they were immortal, and still brought fascination in that flawed personality. Meyer took everything interesting and attractive about a "vampire" and created a species of immortal, un-flawed demi-gods who happen to be under the misnomer of "vampire". She did the exact same thing with werewolves; taking the large flaw that made them werewolves, and making them shape-shifting boys. Do they change with the moon? No. It's at a whim. 
      People say Twilight is a vampire novel for people who don't like vampires. Well, yes, considering it takes normal vampires, puts them in a machine and sands off any and all flaws, leaving a sparkling hunk of a man who has super powers and never grows older and lives forever. Did I mention he's sexily pale and doesn't get hurt? Vampire? I think not.
      Anybody who knows anything about fantasy should know that everything must come with a cost. Magic can't come unlimited. There would be no bounds, or restrictions. In the "Magic or Madness" trilogy by Justine Larbalestier, the author gives her characters powers with an ultimatum - if you use this "unlimited" magic, you end up using all that life force and you die young. However, if you don't, you go insane. Clever, no? But the vampires get anything and everything. No set backs at all.

What I would have liked to see...
      Depth. Actual character development! How about Bella leaving Edward? Making a tough decision? Bella dying to protect her child. Edward dying to protect his family. Anyone dying, really. Jacob to protect hideously named wart of a baby, or another of the Cullens. Anything.
      Well, I would have preferred to read something that didn't sound like a badly written fanfiction I'd tried to avoid immediately after seeing "Warning - Preg" in the summary. We would have thought, "What are you doing? Vampires can't do that! You're insane, that's a wild, horribly written fanfic!"
      And again, to appease the inflamed, over-the-top Fanpires. (Twihards sounds like an STD) I will say why Twilight is so popular, why it is so beloved. Vampires have always drawn fascination - immortality and eternal beauty are things everyone wants. It's very attractive to live forever. Extremely, extremely attractive.
      Want to know why?
      The same reason why overweight and obese girls love to daydream about magic pills that make them drop all that fat. The same reason depressed girls wish for a quick-fix, why anyone wishes for a quick fix.
      Everyone wants a magical way out of their flawed, imperfect lives. People dream of an impossible world where everything will be just so. Twilight is a series about a flawed girl with self-esteem who meets a boy, and that boy hands her the key to eternal beauty, eternal love, immortality, eternal grace, eternal family, and eternal happiness. In short, he poofs away all of her flaws with just a stab of his magic venom. Oh, yeah, Bella goes through "pain". Right. Anyone feel bad for her? I didn't. It was just kind of annoying. 
      Twilight is a magical happy-ending fairy tale for all the people who want one. I'm not going to lie; I want a magic cure-all for my flaws. Don't we all, just a little?
      Up Next - Fangirl to Hater - Huh? It's a story of how I went to an (early, mind you) fanatic, but then turned into one of the advocates against Twilight. Mind you, I'll write stuff in between and post it; I'm just on a Twilight roll right now. Also working on all the hate for Twilight. I'm sure not all the people hate it because it's anti-feminist and horrendously written. Gender of most Fanpires? Female. Gender of most haters? Male. Hmmm...



  1. oh goodness, thank you! you finally put in writing what has always bothered me about the whole twilight series.
    love your blog! it puts a smile on my face ;)

  2. Thanks so much! :) Your comment made my day.

  3. True fairy tales never end happily ever after.