Saturday, August 9, 2008

Breaking Dawn Fall-Out

While I haven't read Breaking Dawn, which is the latest installment in the freakishly popular Twilight series, the book has been an endless source of amusement for me and my friends at the bookstore. In the months leading up to the book's release, we would sometimes get onto the bookstore's official website to read the supposed reviews of Breaking Dawn written by Stephanie Meyer's adoring fans. Most of these reviews were simply shout-outs to characters (i.e. "Edward ROCKS!!!!"), but my friends and I got a kick out of the fact that there were literally hundreds of reviews giving the not-yet-released book five stars.

However, in the week since the book's actual release, something very interesting has happened. Twilight fans read it, but their reaction has been decidedly less enthusiastic. While the majority of reviewers have given the book the maximum number of stars allowed at (according to the current statistics), a surprising and significant amount of readers have cried "Foul" at Meyer's book. Even though Entertainment Weekly put reader disappointment into some perspective by noting that, given the fan base's intense investment in the characters, it would be nearly impossible to satisfy everyone, the magazine's review of Breaking Dawn gave it a solid "D."

On a semi-related note, the latest issue of EW also printed Meyer's response to people who see Bella as a bad role-model for teenage girls. (Spoiler alert - if you haven't read Breaking Dawn and want to know nothing about it, then don't read any further.) Meyer's told EW that "If you want to be a mom more than anything, you should get to." I agree with Meyer's basic sentiment, but I think that she's missing the main problem that people have with Bella. Bella's issue is not that she wants to be a mother. Instead, it is the fact that she is a damsel-in-distress, cookie-cutter heroine who is passive, needy, and more than a little desperate that I (and perhaps other people) balk at. Furthermore, as my sister (who has kept up with the books but has only read Twilight) noted, Bella's desire for a child isn't really evident (or perhaps even existent) in the earlier books.

Finally, Bella seems to have absolutely no understanding of the consequences of her desire to become a vampire. While Edward and his family understand that living forever has more than its share of problems, this does not seem to register with Bella at all. In fact, when compared to a character facing a similar decision (such as Winnie in Tuck Everlasting), Bella's lack of understanding is truly amazing, particularly when you consider the fact that, in the book, Winnie is younger than Bella. Frankly, this only shows that Stephanie Meyer is a little clueless about how insane Bella truly is. Perhaps Meyer got too caught up in the supposed perfection that is Edward to get around to little things like character development and nuance.