Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breaking Dawn

It seems like eons ago that I read about this book on one of your blogs, the last in the 4-book series by Stephenie Meyer, Breaking Dawn. It was the debate of readers that sparked my interest all those many, many months ago to read all four books.

I've shared my honest opinions of Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series as I've finished each one and as promised, here is my final opinion on her last book in the series.

A word of warning though...
  1. This is my OPINION - I don't want hate mail. Although all comments are welcomed, please know, I am not bashing Stephenie Meyer. I respect her success and her ability to do what I still dream of - becoming published.
  2. There WILL be spoilers.
  3. I might not agree with Meyer but that does not mean you are not allowed to still love this book. That would be your opinion and we are all entitled to that.

So, if you are a true die-hard Meyer fan, you might not want to read further. If , however, you are opened to a writer's debate - one writer trying to learn from a published writer - then read on; this posting is for you!

What I've Learned Top Three Count Down

3. Pacing. Don't have one day span over 100 pages (give or take)

2. Don't start from your MC's voice, get the reader completely going, set a fast, intense pace, and then BOOM kill it with a switch of POV and then let that new POV span the entire mid section of the novel. For me, this was "whiplash reading." I was jolted and disturbed and didn't want to read from Jacob's POV. Maybe I could have handled it better if it switched back and forth more frequently right from the start. But for me, the sudden switch in POV and then its lasting effect, was jarring and I had a hard time wanting to read after that. I did eventually get used to Jacob's POV. But the damage was done.

On a side here - Don't think for one minute that I don't like books that switch POVs. I do. The first to come to mind is "My Sister's Keeper," by Jodi Picoult. Or any of her books for that matter. She is the master of switching POV's and I find this technique powerful and fascinating both as a reader AND a writer. Maybe Meyer just didn't - for me - produce that technique well enough.

1. But the number 1 problem for me (cue drum roll please...) is NEVER and I mean NEVER promise your reader something and then don't deliver it. UGH!!!!!! Harrumph! *blowing bangs up in an angry huff* I think my exact angry, frustrated words when I was finished reading was "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????????? I DON'T GET IT! HOW DID NO ONE, NOT ONE EDITOR, NOT HER AGENT, NOT ONE PERSON SAY.... You know, you did promise the ultimate batter scene, and well, er... um... You really have only had "kind of sort of" battle scenes in your books. Maybe, just maybe, just this once you should really deliver a true battle scene to your readers. Ya know, just this once... NO ONE SAID THIS TO HER? NO ONE?" *growl*

So, in case you couldn't tell, this was infuriating for me, to say the least. What... since like book 2 we were PROMISED a battle scene between the Cullens and the Vulturi and this promise was echoed through-out ALL of the books.

Sorry to bring up JK Rowling again here folks for the umpteenth time, BUT JK promised for 7 books, not 4, not 3, but 7, a fight between Harry - a mere child and Voldemort - the ultimate evil prince of darkness. Did she have Voldemort cowardly back away? Did she set the stage and then tear it down? Was it hard for us, the reader, to imagine how JK would be able to deliver this promise and how Harry would hopefully triumph? WOULD Harry Triumph??? The world held its breath in anticipation.

THIS IS THE JOB OF A WRITER PEOPLE!!!!!!! To figure this out! To set the stage and then DELIVER! JK did it. And JK did it in a way I never imagined. She tied up every loose end, our hero remained triumphant, fought evil and won, and we, the reader, were satisfied!

But Meyer did not do this. Finally, the long, awaited ultimate battle scene was upon us. The Cullens were lined up with their friends and witnesses. The Volturi were lined up with their witnesses. Characters were taking dibs on enemies... "Leave her. She's mine..." etc. WE WERE READY! We were good fans. We stuck with book. We trusted the writer. We went along with her (most of the time). We earned our right for the final battle scene. We EARNED it! But did she deliver? NO. Sadly, she did not. Now, we've talked about this here before. And we've concluded that:

  1. She got away without a battle scene in book 1 because it was written in first person so if Bella was unconscious, we the reader had to be unconscious too.
  2. We realized these books were written based on a fairy tale paradigm and not a hero's journey.

But here's my beef! If you don't write battle scenes well, or you don't believe in violence because you're... I don't know... say, a Mormon... then don't write a book where battle scenes are called for!!!

I, for one, could NEVER write about harm coming to a child. I mean serious harm. Now that I am a mother, I just could not, would not, want to get in touch with those stories of kidnapped children or children who are killed. Maybe one day, maybe I will want to write a story like that, but for now I know I can't. To me, this is like if I started writing a story about a child being kidnapped and killed, but never really got to the telling of that part.

It would be like if I don't want to write racy love scenes but write a romance novel.

If I can't write a mystery, but set one up with no resolution.

A sci-fi novel taking place here and now with nothing sci-fi about it.

These are vampires, people. Vampires. The Volturi are blood-thirsty, murderous vampires who show no mercy and the Cullens are "vegetarian" vampires who have been known to show mercy. The Cullens were willing to fight, but the Volturi back away???? OK, OK, OK! I know what you are saying... The Volturi had never before faced a group of vampires that they couldn't out right defeat... OK. I hear you. I see that. BUT STILL!!!!!! I thought there would be a changing of the guards. The Cullens would be the new power in the vampire world. But maybe they wouldn't want that title. Perhaps they'd give it away... There was literally no battle scene. AGAIN.

Clearly, Meyer does not write battle scenes. She does not believe in violence and she does not want her beloved Cullens to rise to power through violence. That's all fine. I completely agree. But why then, why, ever seed and promise one???? Her story, her premise, her vision of vampires were new and fresh and existed fine on their own. She never needed to make such a promise. Teen age girls would have still loved the story. They would have still loved Edward and would have still wanted to be Bella. The Volturi, or at least a promised battle between them, was not necessary at all!

So, I am going to add a new number to my list of what I learned....

Write what you write well.


PJ Hoover said...

I'm heard this complaint before.

I have yet to read book 4. Not sure why, but it's pretty low on my TBR list. Maybe someday I'll pick it up and devour it.

Have a great weekend!

Sheri said...

Thanks for stopping by PJ and I'd have to say, don't rush to read it.

Tabitha said...

I picked up this book right after its release, got fifty pages into it, then set it down and haven't picked it back up. And, I will usually avoid spoilers so as not to ruin my enjoyment of the book, but in this case I find I'm seeking them out. I think that says a lot about Meyer's ability to craft a novel, at least in my opinion. :)

I will eventually finish the book, but there are so many other books I want to read...and the direction she took this book hasn't been tempting me at all. Shame, really.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on all these books. :)

Sheri said...

Hey Tabitha,
Perhaps Meyer has her way of crafting a book, but it is just not something that works for my tastes.

I have heard that Hoast is a whole lot better!

Amy Tate said...

Thanks for the tip, I think I'll pass on that one. I know what you mean about reader let-down. There's one other element that is just as bad as not delivering, and that's being too predictable. I absolutely cringe when I figure it out by chapter two.

Sheri said...

Yes, Amy! I totally agree. An easily predicted story is also very frustrating!

beth said...

Thanks for the review. From what I've heard, you're so right on all points.

Very rarely does a review make me decide finally to NOT read a book. Even books people tell me not to bother with, I still usually at least check them out. But I've had so many negative reviews of this one that...well, I might see the movies, but I don't think I'd invest time beyond that.

But I AM going to get the new book, The Host.

Emily said...

Hi mom,
I'm your blog because I am bored and waiting for you to visit my blog!
I put 2 new posts and a lot more things!
No one leaves them!!!
Don't you feel sorry for me?
Anyway please visit me!!!

PS: Please?

Sheri said...

beth, Iv'e heard from losts of people that Host is a whole lot better in terms of writing, technique and promises made. But I can't speak from expereince as I haven't read it.

I'm reading Eggs by Jerri Spinelli now and loving it and I am not a huge Spinelli fan. I like some of his books and not others, but this one, so far is my favorite. Really good writing.

Sheri said...

Hang on pb&J, I'll be right there!

LEEZY said...

This was a very interesting post. I haven't read any of the twilight series and even before Sheri's rant, i didn't really care. I am curious about what the fuss is about and maybe I'll get to read them one day. I guess someone 'out there' likes them. I'll be on the look out for all these factors when I do get around to the, so Sheri thank you for sharing your thoughts. V. interesting, as I said.

BTW: If anyone is interested in reading a book that spans 24 hours over one day and switches between two points of view for the entire novel, check out 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I got half way through the book reading it on and off, then all of a sudden couldn't put it down until I finished it. It was an enjoyable read. Maybe not "Oh my gosh, this is the most brilliant book EVER" way, but enjoyable in a "this is a clever and interesting concept for a book" way.

Gum Street girls, then Holes is next on my reading list. Oh and if anyone cares about beautiful, well written Picture Books, take a look at Elena's Serenade by Campbell Geeslin.

Kelly H-Y said...

I've heard a little bit of what you said ... of course, not from my 13-year old niece who would wear her 'Twilight' t-shirt every day if she could. Anyway ... I thought your review was great ... well thought-out ... made sense ... and was hilarious. Your "*blowing bangs up in an angry huff*" comment made me laugh out loud! :-)

Sheri said...

Leezy! hey! Hole is a great book. REad it so long ago it doesn't count anymore. The movie is a great adaptation too with Sigourney Weaver... A real illustration of the point of no return for a main character. When he... well, I can't tell you because you haven't read it.

Still really loving Eggs and can't wait to post about it.

Think I've definitely heard of the Jay Asher book, but also have not read that yet... *sigh* so many books. So little time.

Kelly - glad to make you laugh out loud! Score one for me! As a writer, don't you love knowing when you words have cause someone out loud emotions, whether laughter or tears, or holding their breath - well that one wouldn't be out loud, would it? but you know what I mean, right? Just knowing you affecting someone with your words is such the high we writers chase!

Fred said...

Sheri --

I'm the Fred you knew years ago. I just read the first "Twilight" book out of curiosity. Since you are a writer, I was curious what you thought of the "Twilight" books.

I read the first 50 pages of the second book just in case it got better, but gave up. I must say that "Twilight" has to be some of the worst writing I've ever read.

You can add a few more things to your list of things that writers should not do. DON'T have your characters change moods several times in one page, EVEN if they are teenagers. DON'T take a centuries-old concept like vampires and completely change it (Vampires do NOT sparkle!). DON'T endlessly repeat dialogue ("Please, Edward, I want to be a vampire." "No!" . . . "Please please make me a vampire!" "No!" . . . How long can this go on?)

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous