"This ick factor goes through the roof in Breaking Dawn, which is, frankly, dreadful. It's difficult to imagine teenage girls identifying with 18-year-old Bella's marriage to Edward shortly after her high school graduation, especially when the wedding is followed by an extended soft-focus honeymoon sequence, which is almost immediately followed by Bella's sudden loss of appetite and puking in the bathroom.
Yes, she's pregnant. And because conception occurred while Bella was still mortal, the fetus is a vampire-human hybrid, growing at an unnatural rate and gifted with such supernatural strength that when it kicks inside the womb, it breaks Bella's ribs.
It gets worse: Breaking Dawn has a childbirth sequence that may promote lifelong abstinence in sensitive types. And it becomes downright surreal when the lovelorn lycanthrope Jacob gets romantically imprinted on Bella's newborn daughter, Renesmee, a blood-slurping newborn nicknamed Nessie (for the Loch Ness monster). This imprinting is a werewolf thing: Jacob's 14-year-old friend earlier imprinted on a toddler, with the implication that she will eventually become his mate.
Reader, I hurled.
Breaking Dawn's last 100 pages attempt to create yet another epic showdown, this time with the ancient vampire hierarchy. But even this ends in a damp fizzle. The most devoted readers will no doubt try to make excuses for this botched novel, but Meyer has put a stake through the heart of her own beloved creation. "
And this is just the beginning.
During the loonier stretches of the novel, Meyer wisely turns the narration over to Bella's old friend Jacob, a warmhearted werewolf who has always been sweet on her. He becomes our tenuous anchor to sanity, as outrageous new plot twists sprout like kudzu. "I felt like - like I don't know what. Like this wasn't real. Like I was in some Goth version of a bad sitcom," Jacob confides before he too is swept up in the narrative mayhem. So do we, Jacob. So do we."
It’s virtually impossible not to draw parallels between "Breaking Dawn," the concluding installment in the “Twilight” series, and the final “Harry Potter” book. Both involve revolve around mythic worlds and young, ill-prepared protagonists headed toward a supernatural showdown between good and evil.
The problem is Stephenie Meyer is no J.K. Rowling. We who’ve enjoyed the work of both authors have known this since we picked up “Twilight.” (I like Edward too, but there’s only so many times I can read how “beautiful,” “perfect” and “dazzling” he is.) But with these final chapters, in which both authors really swung for the epic, Meyer’s bunted.
Things looked promising at first. The pace is swift and the curve balls surprising and frequent: Bella and Edward finally get busy, we get inside Jacob’s head, Bella joins the Cullens in immortality, Jacob finds his mate.
But all the while, a larger story arc is missing. The love triangle is, sadly, summarily dealt with, and once the romance is over we’re left only with Edward and Bella’s child Renesmee -- even the name, well, it’s no Hermione is it -- and all the conflicts she so quickly and disappointingly resolves. Edward versus Jacob? Over and done with. Vampires versus werewolves? One big happy family. Bella being a ravenous newborn? She’s not going to eat her kid!
So what to when you’ve written yourself into a corner? Meyer is forced to more or less start over and she spends the second half of “Breaking Dawn” going for outright thriller. The second half of the book singularly involves the mystery of Renesmee and shielding her from the threat of the Volturi, an enemy initially so full of literary potential. Bella, Jacob, Edward and the rest of the “Twilight” characters become little more than Renesmee’s anxious protectors.
Bogged down in the new, too convenient mythology -- Bella’s new power is the only one that will matter -- the book winds up faltering under its own weighty aspirations. Bella’s covert operation, the additions to the Cullen camp, the unique powers of the new vampires are explained so thoroughly yet serve so little dramatic effect that “Breaking Dawn” could easily have trimmed off 200 pages and reached the same anticlimactic ending. What’s worse, the new guys are there merely to populate the side of good for a battle that -- the big spoiler -- never happens. That's right. No blood shed. No deaths of loved ones to kill readers in the gripping way Rowling did in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
At least when you get to page 735 -- where you’ll find the resolution neatly tied up -- it’s more a confirmation of what you saw coming rather than simply a letdown. And as for the final scene, Meyer writes this one like she's already imagined it on the big screen, with the swelling of sappy love song and a fade to black.
We would have much preferred the whole thing to end in book three, "Eclipse," with yes, some happiness for Bella, but also some angst, some heartbreak, and a dark, ominous future looming.