Yeah, so spoiler warning and whatever.
So, I finished the latest book in the Twilight saga in the wee hours of the morning. I just had to get it done. As with a lot of other reviews I've read, my thoughts continually contained the word "gag". I found myself tearing through the pages, but not because it was so captivating, as is the case in general with a "page-turner", but because I couldn't wait one more second to have it out of the way. A lot of people have wondered why I continued reading when it was causing me such nausea. This is a VERY good question, and I have a few answers: a strange sort of morbid curiosity, wondering just how she's actually going to end it all; the compulsive need to finish a series, and not end partway through; to try and understand the hype and the "phenomenon"; the desire to have an informed and educated opinion so I can discuss it with strangers online (so important, I know); etc. I have so many thoughts about this trainwreck, it's hard to tell where to start. But I'll try. First, though, there are two things I would like to point out. A friend has posted some thoughts outlining some of the many inconsistencies between these books and the Church's standards on her blog, and Cami has also posted a lengthy and BRILLIANT review about the danger behind the hugely popular books with such salacious content. As far as the explicit content goes, let me just say that I was startled several times. I really don't mind if the characters get married and go on a honeymoon, but for heaven's sake, do we need to be treated to a detailed description of the activities involving the bridal bed and the magical cottage in the woods? It eventually became sex for sex's sake (violent and nauseating to boot), which is tacky and tasteless in a book that pre-teens are reading (apparently, Meyer asked that a warning and age limit be printed on the book--oh, how magnanimous--but the publishers declined). While I wouldn't classify this book as pornography, per se, I will say it has some pornographic aspects (yes, I totally went there, because, after all, so did the author). She did try to throw in a muddled moral statement at the end (delivered by a bland, faceless, underdeveloped character no less), but it just didn't come across.
Okay, now I'm going to talk just a little about the problems I have with the fundamental nature of the book and style of writing, which seemed completely like something straight out of the fanfiction vaults, all moral mish-mash aside...
First, and I know I sound just like everyone else, but... RENESMEE?!? It has Mary Sue written all over it! (Although, upon reading the wikipedia definition, Bella herself is a canon Sue.) The second I hear of a baby named Renesmee by a fangirl, I'm going to seriously lose it. Nessie isn't much better, but it's infinitely preferable to the other. And then, as if to add insult to injury, her middle name is Carlie (cross between Carlisle and Charlie, her two "dads"). Heck, if she's going the make-up-stupid-names route, adopting the idiotic practice of mashing names together, why not 'Charlisle'? Besides being hideously named, while Renesmee was supposed to be irresistibly charming and magically endearing, I found her creepy and annoying, bothered every time she opened her freakish mouth. Wups.
Second, as has also been said, the rules and standards of the Twilight world that have been built up since the very beginning are now out the window, instead leading to a lot of drippy, fanfic-ish events put in there just in attempt to make it more dramatic. The characters are completely different than they started out, and it's almost like SM went to fansites to glean ideas about what would happen, and then tried to contrive reasons they could be possible, since she has already stated they couldn't be (interesting also that there's a chapter near the end called "Contrivances"). Some examples: The smell suddenly doesn't really bother the werewolves all that much--sorry, shape-shifters, my bad; Jacob and Edward suddenly become BFFs (and yes, that term IS used in this book); some vampires have a virtually painless transformation; vampires actually CAN sire a child, despite the fact that they have no bodily fluids whatsoever; etc. Bella suddenly becomes the most typical of fanfiction characters: A character who is unprecedentedly remarkable, even for the world they are placed in, who suddenly and without preface gains powers that are beyond everyone else's and saves the day, and while being written poorly, is adored by all. It's just poor character development. And how convenient that Jacob imprints on Bella's child, cutting his bothersome obsession with the mother and switching it to the child, so everyone can be one, big, happy family. To quote a friend, "Imprinting: My loathing knows no bounds." And as for the all-important and oft-discussed topic of what happens to a vampire's actual eternal soul? Oh, just sweep it under the rug.
Next, the writing is just sub-standard. So many times I found myself absolutely lost, for whatever reason, and not caring in the least what the characters think or feel. SM has been lauded for her ability to write the mind of a teenage girl with realism and depth, and while that might have been somewhat true in the first one or two novels, now the twisted mind of Bella Swan Cullen is a complete and total mess to try and understand. She is her usual self-depracating self, at least in that way true-to-form, but now she has troubling shades of ever-so-endearing masochism, insatiable sexual "cravings" and violent moodswings. What a darling girl. Even worse, when SM switches to Jacob Black's point of view in the second part of this novel, she tries (bless her) to switch gears and write the mind of a teenage boy, and trust me, that is another animal altogether (pun intended), which animal SM almost seems not to even pretend to understand. Jacob's Book, while totally randomly written and placed, was more interesting than Bella's sections before or after, but only because we were spared the painful, gushy, ubiquitous descriptions of Edward and his freakin' lips every five seconds. We get it... Edward is just amazing. And for some inexplicable reason, so is Bella. Next time, try to actually get into the characters' minds instead of focusing on their anatomy. (For this reason, among many others, I don't think I can handle Midnight Sun... A poorly-written Edward gushing about Bella's scent and hair and eyes and lips and WHO KNOWS what else??) Inconsistent characters, laughable, unnecessary, unexplained plot "twists", I kept finding myself quite grateful when I was reading along and something even minimal and uninteresting FINALLY happened! Well, at least something happened!
Also, this book could also have EASILY been 200 pages shorter. There were so many parts when some shocking event was hinted at or threatened (Abortion! Wife swap! Premeditated murder and requested homicide!), only to be mused about or anguished over, and then forgotten. But why? Shock value? Well, some of it WAS shocking. Many events that took dozens of pages could quite easily have been condensed to one paragraph, and sometimes even one sentence--example: Bella goes to Seattle to buy forged legal documents for Jacob and the child (I just can't write the name again), and then back to Seattle to pick them up. These events could have been trimmed rather simply, or even cut completely! Instead, they are long, drawn-out passages where Bella whines and broods even more, and thinks of the unbearable hell that would be living without Edward's lips. And I didn't even terribly mind the ending (the neat wrap-up and half-baked conclusion was to be expected, after the rest of the contrived plot, even though they spent pages and pages building up to something I just had a feeling would never happen, which it didn't), although as with all the other books so far, nothing REALLY happened until the last 75 pages, and even then, nothing REALLY happened. At least that much was consistent. She threatened to make things happen, however horrific, but then, alas, she decided to brood and pine and muse instead.
*sigh* So, I didn't like it. There were one or two moments when I thought there was an interesting turn of phrase, and I do think Jacob USED to be interesting, but the rating on the right is impossibly higher than it deserves. There is a certain type of people for whom this book seems directly aimed (you all knew them in high school), and it's just a hopeless, gothic, morally askew fantasy of what they wish would have happened to them in school. I guess dissatisfied fans are trying to persuade large groups of each other to return their books to the stores, and SM is "hurt" by this. Perhaps she should have thought about this before she wrote a stupid, trashy book. What can this woman be thinking? Where are her standards? Literary AND moral? Did editors even get their hands on this thing? If so, they missed quite a bit. And if the Jacob/Nessie chronicles make themselves present, I'm going to throw things. AND, if I hear/read one more person comparing these nightmarish books to Harry Potter, I am likewise going to lose it. The only ways they can possibly be compared is in hype and popularity, but in style, story, content, anything else, it's just a joke! And surely SM must feel a bit embarrassed when they call her "the next J.K. Rowling". Gag. A lot of people (yea, even LDS) are calling this book harmless and exciting. To them I say: Dare to actually think about what you're reading! Just THINK about it!!! And think about who else is reading it. Do you really want your young loved ones to read a book with the following sentence?: "The only person I'd ever had sex with was a vampire, for crying out loud." Yikes. So wrong for so many reasons. If I have anything to do with it, my future children will not touch this book while under my roof. So many misdirected morals, it's scary.
After I finished, I picked up a random Series of Unfortunate Events book, and immediately the frustration I felt vanished. I laughed, I smiled, I slept soundly.
It feels really good to get all of this off my chest. Now I'm going to start reading something more worthwhile (read: anything else).