On Aug. 2nd, Stephenie Meyer's last Twilight book, Breaking Dawn, was released at midnight parties across the continent. The book has been much-hyped, and truthfully, greatly anticipated by her legions of fans (including myself), to the point of getting a lot of media attention in newspapers, on TV, and on the Web. Comparisons abounded comparing Meyer's success and fan base to that of the Queen, J.K. Rowling. Pre-orders and book sales were anticipated to be in the millions within the first 24 hours of the book's release.
My copy of Breaking Dawn was pre-ordered months ago. It still sits on the bookshelf at my local Chapters store, two days after the release date. For such an all-things-Twilight obsessed, self-professed fan-girl, this is no doubt surprising for some to hear. More surprising still, is the fact that I plan to get a refund on my pre-order the next time I'm able to get to the store. I will not in fact be buying the book, nor reading it at all.
The reason for this is simple. I believe in preserving things at their height of awesomeness. I believe in ending things on a positive note. Much like how an athlete should retire in his prime rather than at the end of his career, when his performance is an embarrassing shadow of its peak, I believe that novels should end at the height of their popularity, leaving the remainder of the story for the reader to complete in their mind. To endeavor to "wrap up" a series is always a dangerous ambition, particularly when the series has a rabid readership of very passionate fans. Only the most talented, the most prepared, and the most courageous (think Rowling, Tolkien, Lewis) can pull off the "final book" in such a way as to leave their readership satisfied.
Meyer is no such author. From all of the spoilers I have read about this 4th novel, both on Amazon and on discussion boards, I already know that to allow myself to read this last book would be to taint and tarnish all that I hold dear in the trilogy. All of the information I have gathered about the novel suggests that it is sub-par to the quality of story that Meyer's fandom has come to expect. Never before have I heard of most of the following acronyms and phrases, and yet these seem to be repeated in the hundreds of voices that are unanimous in their verdict of her latest book:
* OOC (out of character) - referring to every main character Meyer has created in her universe, as they appear in Breaking Dawn
* Epic Fail - referring to her attempt to "wrap up" her storyline, and doing so rather poorly
* Mary-Sue - referring both to the sanitized, Disney-fied "happily ever after" plot line and also the poor characterization of both Bella and Renesmee
* Violation of Canon - referring to the Twilight "operating rules and laws" that Meyer has appeared to break for the purpose of telling her story, even though it is poor practice to break one's own canon
* WTF (self-explanatory)
Other criticisms of the book focus their disgruntlement with the following:
- unrealistic plotline (think "V" the 1980's alien TV series)
- lack of true conflict (Bella gets everything she wants without any sacrifice or compromise)
- lack of action (the epic Volturi vs. Cullen battle does not actually occur, much to the disappointment of many)
- flat characterization and the general unlikeable nature of most of the main characters that readers have come to love
- lack of dialogue to build character relationships
- the disappointing "absence" of Edward and the "epic romance" that has come to characterize the series
- lack of a satisfying "sex scene," or even proper tension-building foreplay between Edward and Bella
- the gratuitous use of gory description in describing the birthing scene
- inconsistent voice in the writing of this book, relative to the other three
- misogynistic, anti-feminist messages and themes underlying the storyline
- bad fan fiction-like naming (e.g. Renesmee Carlie?!?)
...and the list goes on, and on, and on. Search as I might, but the only favourable reviews seem to be coming from those who are so adoringly committed to Meyer that there is a distinct absence of critical thought on their part. These reviews focus on the entertainment value of the book, or on their satisfaction with a fluff-filled "happily ever after" ending, or on the fact that the book does contain a lot of surprising "twists" to the story. Their arguments, when compared to the points offered by the other side, are unconvincing and a little pathetic, to be honest.
So, in order for me to preserve my love for Twilight and the Edward-Bella relationship, I will not be reading the book. In an attempt to protect myself from the bewildering disappointment that has overwhelmed other fans in the last 48 hours, I will choose to abstain from entering into Meyer's fictional universe to watch these beloved characters fall prey to Meyer's weak plot lines and even weaker characterizations. I will instead create my own vision of what happens to Edward and Bella, the Cullens, the wolves, and the Volturi. And I will be grateful for all of the fans who have deterred me from ruining a good thing the way that Meyer has.