After some marathon reading yesterday, I am happy to say that I have finally finished Breaking Dawn (2008), the last book in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. And now that I know the entire story, my opinion hasn't changed too much. The books are quick and easy to read and pretty addicting once you get started. Although they're pretty empty and meaningless in the long run, they simply do not inspire enough energy for me to hate them.
**Now that I've finished the series, I think I might be discussing the plot of the entire series with no care for spoilers. I'm not sure if there's anyone out there who could possibly care at this point, but if you do want to read the books, it's definitely better to know as little as possible because wondering what would happen is what kept me going.**
I was annoyed with Meyer at the beginning of this last novel. Here I had been giving her praise for Bella being smart and independent and as soon as I started reading Breaking Dawn, Bella is suddenly eighteen years old, pregnant, and married. Her husband is about 100 years older than her with all the corresponding knowledge and wisdom that entails and Bella is ready to give up her life for him and her child. That seems a little unhealthy and unbalanced to me, and I can see how Bella could be a bad role model for young teens. The love interests of Jacob and Bella are also frustratingly unreal. Edward doesn't have much of a personality besides "loving" Bella, protecting her, and doing whatever will make her happy. And Jacob is the exactly the same way once he "imprints" on Bella's daughter (which basically means that Bella's daughter is in something of an arranged marriage from birth).
I thought Meyer might be making religious allusions when she said that the Cullens' family bond was stronger than other vampire bonds because the Cullens made the "sacrifice" to refrain from (sin) human blood. It also felt like a bit of a cop-out that all of the difficulties that would have made turning into a vampire so difficult sort of disappeared once Bella became immortal herself. Bella didn't have uncontrollable cravings for human blood, she did not lose her friendship with Jacob, and she did not lose touch with her father. She didn't end up sacrificing much at all. Finally, Bella named her daughter Renesmee (after her mother Renee and her mother-in-law Esme), which I think is one of the worst baby names in the history of the world. I'm hoping she doesn't start a trend.
On the other hand, the plot kept me moving throughout the series. My guess after reading the third book was that Bella would somehow avoid becoming a vampire, Edward would somehow die, and Jacob would end up with Bella. I wasn't especially happy with the married and pregnant route, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Bella actually became a vampire. I was curious what Bella would be like as an immortal and her change had something of the excitement of comicbook superheros acquiring their powers. Once Bella successfully became a vampire, though, the rest of Breaking Dawn lost a little of its edge because it was obvious that everything would end well. And I feel a little ambivalent about the ending. On the one hand, it's cool that Bella uses her powers to protect her family and avoid a fight, but on the other hand it's kind of anticlimactic. One pretty much unknown character is killed and any other kind of fighting is avoided. It could have been more exciting, but on the whole I enjoyed reading these books more than I had expected.