Breaking Dawn is the fourth and final installment of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. Breaking Dawn was released just after midnight on August 2, 2008, and celebrated by a series of concerts and book parties all across America. Within the first 24 hours, it sold a staggering 1.3 million copies. Shortly thereafter, though, a huge controversy flared up in the fan world. A number of fans, unhappy with the book, contemplated burning it, because they considered it untrue to the characters and badly written (source).
Another point of contention was that the material in this book didn't seem right for the teenage audience that had been reading the first three books of the Twilight series. In fact, even Stephenie Meyer's editors asked her to tone down the violence in Breaking Dawn. Meyer stated:
I was for an age limit of 15 or 16 and a warning […] I think the content is just a little harder to handle, a little bit more grown-up for really young kids. I have 9-year-old readers, and I think it's too old for them. Some of it is the violence, and some of it's just mature themes. (source)
Another criticism, launched at the book by fans and critics, focused on the build-up to the final battle scene…that never happened. Maybe the book cover should have given fans a clue – after all, it's a chessboard, not a battlefield. According to Meyer, the battle in Breaking Dawn is all about the victory of strategy over physical combat (source).
Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter who has been collaborating with Meyer on the screen versions for the saga, defended Breaking Dawn in public. Yet, she didn't describe the book as a legal drama: "[Meyer] just completely went wild. I just think that that's such bold storytelling. She turns the series upside down" (source).
So which is it? Legal drama or racy fantasy? Read on and decide for yourself.
Entertainment Weekly: “Human Bella is so normal, and vampire Bella is so maternal. To whom do you relate more?”
Meyer: “Human Bella. […] I realized writing the first draft of this that Bella was going to lose her relatability when she became a vampire. […] Her side of the story needed to come to a close.” (source)
In a 2008 Interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stephenie Meyer discusses Breaking Dawn and how she chose to end the famous Twilight series. In her mind, Bella’s total transformation into a vampire means that readers can no longer relate to her or see themselves in her.
Before we decide if we agree with her, let’s pull out some examples of other books that involve characters who straddle the human world and another world – there seem to be many. For example Harry Potter, of the Harry Potter series, is a wizard by blood, but he grows up in the “muggle” or human world unaware of his powers until his eleventh birthday. Similarly, Percy Jackson, of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, doesn’t have a clue about his half-god heritage until he's twelve years old. And then, of course, there’s always Matilda Wormwood, of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and her rad psychokinetic powers that allow her to move things with her mind – she’s your average little bookworm, but with a superhuman twist.
We could dig up lots more examples of literary characters who are not quite human but to whom readers have been relating for years. So, what do you think Meyer means when she talks about Bella losing her relatability? Can you relate to a vampire? Are vampires so different from wizards, demi-gods, or eerily smart little girls that readers won’t be able to identify with them? What makes Bella different from these other characters? Can you picture yourself in the vampire Bella's shoes? Do her inhuman beauty, grace, and strength make us lose a bit of interest in her? Do we simply like our protagonists a little more flawed? A little more like us? As you read Breaking Dawn, think about how Bella's character changes, and whether those changes make it harder for us readers to connect with her.
Official Stephenie Meyer Website
For all books of the Twilight series, this site should be your first destination for learning more (aside from Shmoop, of course!), as it features an author FAQ about each book, as well as other insider goodies.
Twilight Saga Wiki
This site contains tons of info on both the books and the movies, plus character bios and news.
TwiFans.com is a social networking website devoted to all things Twilight. This is a place where you can obsess, complain, cheer, chat, and add photos about the Twilight series on your very own Twilight page. Phew, where to begin?
Breaking Dawn, the Movie
In 2011, the first part of Breaking Dawn landed on the big screen featuring Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Kristen Steward (Bella Cullen), as well as other main characters of the Twilight saga.
Breaking Dawn, the Movie Part 2
With so much story to pack in, the movie production split the final Twilight book into two full-length movies. The second part premiered in 2012.
"Did 'Breaking Dawn' Ruin the Twilight Series?"
A New York Magazine review of Breaking Dawn.
"'Twilight': A snap judgment on 'Breaking Dawn'"
A comparison between Stephenie Meyer's last installment and J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter book.
An Entertainment Weekly review of Breaking Dawn.
"Stephenie Meyer Answers Your Burning Breaking Dawn Questions"
An MTV interview with Meyer.
"Ten reasons why 'Breaking Dawn' should not be made into a movie"
The LA Times blog "Company Town" discusses the problems with bringing Breaking Dawn to the silver screen.
Breaking Dawn Fan Trailer # 2
Another take on how Meyer might take Breaking Dawn to the big screen.
"Stephenie Meyer on Breaking Dawn"
A ten-episode video interview with Meyer on Breaking Dawn, published by Entertainment Weekly.
Breaking Dawn Audiobook
Purchase and download the Audiobook from Random House Audio
Breaking Dawn Original Book Cover
Note the chess pieces that, one could argue, depict Bella's transformation over this novel and the whole series, from pawn to queen.
Breaking Dawn Fan-Made Book Covers
Devoted fans don't just get so creative. Check out this slideshow of fan-made book covers.
Breaking Dawn Fan-Made Movie Poster
A stab at the movie poster as well.