|Cover artist||Gail Doobinin (design)
Roger Hagadone (photo)
|Genre||Paranormal romance, young adult fiction|
|Publisher||Little, Brown and Company|
|2 August 2008 (USA)
4 August 2008 (UK, AUS)
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Audio Book (CD)
Breaking Dawn is the fourth novel in the The Twilight Saga by American author Stephenie Meyer. Divided into three parts, the first and third sections are written from Bella Swan's perspective and the second is written from the perspective of Jacob Black. The novel directly follows the events of the previous novel, Eclipse, as Bella and Edward Cullen get married, leaving behind a heartbroken Jacob. When Bella faces unexpected and life-threatening situations, she willingly risks her human life and possible vampire immortality to undergo the ultimate transformation from a weak pawn to the strong queen with unique powers to fight the final battle to save all those she loves.
Meyer finished an outline of the book in 2003, but developed and changed it as she wrote New Moon and Eclipse, though the main and most significant storylines remained unchanged. Little, Brown and Company took certain measures to prevent the book's contents from leaking, such as closing forums and message boards on several fansites and providing a special e-mail address for fans to send in links to leaks and spoilers online.
Breaking Dawn was released on August 2, 2008 at midnight release parties in over 4,000 bookstores throughout the US. From its initial print run of 3.7 million copies, over 1.3 million were sold in the US and 20,000 in the UK in the first 24 hours of the book's release, setting a record in first-day sales performance for the Hachette Book Group USA. The book was highly successful, selling over 6 million copies in 2008, and was the third best-selling novel of 2008 behind Twilight and New Moon.
Unlike the series' previous two entries, Breaking Dawn received mixed reviews from critics. It is also the most controversial book of the series, as adult themes and concepts are explored more directly than in its predecessors. However, the novel was awarded the British Book Award for "Children's Book of the Year". It was translated in 38 languages with rights sold to over 50 countries. The book has been adapted into a two-part movie, with the first part released on November 18, 2011 and the second part released on November 16, 2012.
Breaking Dawn is divided into three separate parts. The first part details Bella's marriage and honeymoon with Edward, which they spend on a private island that Carlisle bought and gave to Esme, Isle Esme, off the coast of Brazil. Two weeks into their honeymoon, Bella realizes that she is pregnant with a half-vampire, half-human child and that her condition is progressing at an unnaturally accelerated rate. After contacting Carlisle, who confirms her pregnancy, she and Edward immediately return home to Forks, Washington, where the fetus continues to develop at an abnormal speed.
The second part of the book is written from the perspective of Jacob Black, a werewolf who had also fallen in love with Bella. A month after the wedding, Bella calls her dad, Charlie Swan, and says that she is sick. Charlie relays this to Billy Black, Jacob's dad, and Billy relays it to the pack. Jacob thinks that Bella is actually a vampire now and attempts to lead an assault on the Cullens for breaking the treaty. When he arrives, he discovers that Bella was sick, but it was from her pregnancy, not a disease. Jacob begs Bella to abort the fetus and save her life, but Bella is determined that she will live long enough to have the baby and be transformed into a vampire. Jacob runs off in his werewolf form and keeps thinking of what Bella had said. This accidentally reveals Bella's condition to the pack, and because they think the baby will become a monster, the pack decides to kill the baby and Bella immediately. Jacob refuses, and when Sam uses an alpha command to force Jacob, Jacob accepts his bloodline as the true leader of the pack and breaks free of Sam's control. He runs off to warn the Cullens of the pack's plan to kill Bella and the baby. However, while en route, Seth Clearwater, one of the younger pack members, joins Jacob and makes note of the fact that neither of them can hear the others' thoughts and that they had formed their own pack. They warn the Cullens and take up patrol around the Cullens' property. Leah, Seth's older sister, joins them shortly afterward. After a chance remark by Jacob, they discover that the baby simply craves blood, and Bella has to drink it out of a cup for the greatest effectiveness. Bella gets better, but the fetus in Bella's body grows swiftly and the timing of birth is unknown due to the lack of any related medical knowledge on human-vampire births. Carlisle, the experienced doctor, is out of the house to replenish blood supplies from a hospital blood bank when Bella falls, detaching the placenta and inducing labor. The baby breaks many of her bones, including her spine, and she loses massive amounts of blood. In order to save her life, Edward changes her into a vampire by injecting his venom into her heart. Jacob, thinking that Bella is dead, and blaming Bella's daughter Renesmee as the cause, tries to kill Renesmee. Instead, he "imprints"—an involuntary response in which a shape-shifter finds his soul mate—on her.
The third section shifts back to Bella's perspective, describing Bella's painful transformation and finding herself changed into a vampire and enjoying her new life and abilities. However, the vampire Irina misidentifies Renesmee as an "immortal child," a child who has been turned into a vampire. Because "immortal children" are uncontrollable, creating them has been outlawed by the Volturi. After Irina presents her allegations to the Volturi, they plan to destroy Renesmee and the Cullens. In an attempt to survive, the Cullens gather other vampire clans from around the world to stand as witnesses and prove to the Volturi that Renesmee is not an immortal child. Edward telepathically connects with Jacob and his Quileute pack, with the full realization of Jacob's imprint on Renesmee forging a new family connection of an unbreakable bond and mutual pact of protection between the Cullens and the Quileute, ending hatred between the races. As local and foreign vampires arrive, the Cullen house becomes the headquarters and training ground for the assorted vampires and the Quileute wolf packs. Information pieced together from the many visitors reveals the Volturi's ulterior motives for power through the acquisition of vampires with special abilities, turning the gathered vampire witnesses into self-aware rebels intent on defending their freedoms. Faced with the Volturi's ruthless killing of numerous vampires, many of the guest vampires reveal secret talents, which they know the Volturi will demand to control, or seek to destroy in fear of the powers being used against them. The transformation of each person from human to vampire alters their characteristics, physically and mentally, with traits in human form enhanced in vampire form and particular skills heightened, sometimes into a supernatural power. Since no two minds think alike, although similar, no two powers are identical and some powers require time to develop or improve. The majority of special abilities are mind-based, with exceptions occurring in powers that are physically related. At the Cullen home, various abilities and strategies are worked on individually and collectively, with exceptional talents displayed by notable vampires such as:
- The Cullen coven: Edward's telepathy, Alice's precognition, Jasper's pathokinesis, Bella's mental shield, and Renesmee's tactile thought projection and mental shield penetration.
- The Cullen Allies: Eleazar's ability identification, Kate's psychic electrokinesis, Maggie's lie detection, Siobhan's outcome manipulation, Zafrina's mental visual projection, and Benjamin's elemental manipulation.
Bella's human ability shielded her from psychic powers, but as a vampire she learns she can project it to shield others in a wide radius, a secret weapon that neutralizes most of the Volturi's powers. Renesmee's hybrid human-vampire gifts show that gifts can be hereditary, passed down genetically from both Edward and Bella. Upon confronting the gathered Cullen allies and witnesses, the Volturi discover that they have been misinformed on Renesmee's identity, and execute Irina when she refuses to make a claim against the wolves for killing Laurent, trying unsuccessfully to instigate a full battle. Additionally, Caius brings up the Cullens' pact with the Quileute as allying with the vampires' sworn enemy, the Children of the Moon, but it turns out the Quileutes are "shapeshifters" that chose the form of giant wolves, and not Lycans. The Volturi remain undecided on whether Renesmee should be viewed as a threat to vampires' secret existence. At that time, Alice and Jasper, who had left prior to the gathering of the Cullen's allies, return with a Mapuche called Nahuel, a 150-year-old vampire-human hybrid like Renesmee, and his biological aunt, Huilen. Huilen tells of how her sister fell in love with a vampire and became pregnant with his child. She also shares that when Nahuel was born, he bit her and made her immortal. Nahuel demonstrates that the hybrids pose no threat, and the Volturi agree to leave the Cullens alone. Before the Volturi leave, he also informs them of his father, Joham's intent to create more hybrids to produce a "super race." While allowing them to deal with his father, Nahuel begs the Volturi to spare his sisters. The Cullens and their allies return to their homes in peace, accepting that the Volturi may one day return. When Edward and Bella are alone, she shows Edward a skill she has worked on, enabling him to read her mind for the first time, and sharing her feelings about him from her human and vampire memories.
Originally, Meyer wrote a book titled Forever Dawn, which was a direct sequel to Twilight. While the basic storyline remained the same, Forever Dawn was narrated completely from Edward's point of view, the werewolves and Jacob were "only sketchily developed", Victoria and Laurent were both alive, and there was an epilogue. Meyer went on to say that she "may post some extras someday if I ever have time to go back through the Forever Dawn manuscript—it's just as long as Breaking Dawn."
The part that took Meyer the longest time to write of Breaking Dawn was the half-chapter describing the 3 months after Bella's transformation into a vampire because "the amount of time per word put into that section was probably ten times what it was in any other part of the book" and Meyer liked to write minute by minute, but didn't think it would be exciting.
Meyer decided to include the pregnancy in her story while she was researching vampires, early in 2003, and came across the legend of the incubus, a demon who could father children. Bella's insistence to not let her child die was inspired by Meyer's reaction when asked if she would let one of her children die so she could live, which was to deliver the child no matter what the consequences were. Meyer said in an interview with Shannon Hale, published in The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, that the birth scene published is a little less grotesque than the one she wrote before editing due to her editor, agent and publisher's requests to "tone down the violence a little". She stated that Bella's pregnancy and childbirth, for her, were "a way to kind of explore that concept of what childbirth used to be" in the past and acknowledged that they were "taking Bella in a new direction that wasn't [as] relatable for a lot of people." Concerning the subject of the relatability of Bella, Meyer admitted that she lost some of her relatability to the character when she became a vampire and said, "every point up until that point in the story [the transformation] I would say I could step into this story right here and I could do everything she could do which made it really fun." Meyer wanted to experience Bella's vampiric experiences and "enjoyed very much" writing about them and wanted to end the book from her perspective, but still thought it was "a little bit harder" as she couldn't step in into the story anymore.
In regard to Renesmee's unique name, Meyer wrote that she "couldn't call her Jennifer or Ashley. What do you name the most unique baby in the world? I looked through a lot of baby name websites. Eventually I realized that there was no human name that was going to work for me, so I surrendered to necessity and made up my own."
Meyer states in regard to ending the series:
The Twilight Saga is really Bella's story, and this was the natural place for her story to wind up. She overcame the major obstacles in her path and fought her way to the place she wanted to be. I suppose I could try to prolong her story unnaturally, but it wouldn't be interesting enough to keep me writing. Stories need conflict, and the conflicts that are Bella-centric are resolved.
The plays The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare both influenced Breaking Dawn. Meyer decided that Alice would write her instruction to Bella on a page from The Merchant of Venice to give a clue that the final confrontation at the end of the book would be a mental one—not a physical battle—like the one at the end of the play. It also hints that the novel would have a happy ending for the couples, as in The Merchant of Venice. Originally it was the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë that Alice tore a page from, but Jane Eyre had nothing to do with the story, so Meyer changed it.
The idea of imprinting, which existed in Forever Dawn, was inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream. Meyer described it as "the magic of setting things right—which doesn't happen in the real world, which is absolutely fantasy", and decided to introduce it earlier–in Eclipse–so she wouldn't have to explain it later.
Meyer described the cover as "extremely meaningful" and said that she was "really happy with how it turned out". The cover is a metaphor for Bella's progression throughout the entire series; she began as the physically weakest player on the board, the pawn, but at the end she becomes the strongest, the queen. The chessboard also hints at the conclusion of the novel "where the battle with the Volturi is one of wits and strategy, not physical violence."
The title, Breaking Dawn, is a reference to the beginning of Bella's life as a newborn vampire. Wanting to add a "sense of disaster" to the title to match the novel's mood, she called it Breaking Dawn. Another reason for giving the book this particular title is that it matches the book's plot, which centers on "a new awakening and a new day and there's also a lot of problems inherent in it".
Entertainment Weekly magazine released an excerpt of Breaking Dawn on May 30, 2008. Stephenie Meyer also revealed a 'Quote of the Day' from Breaking Dawn for about three weeks prior to its August 2, 2008 release. The first quote was released on Stephenie's website on July 12, 2008. The first chapter of Breaking Dawn, "Engaged", was released in the special edition of Eclipse. Breaking Dawn was officially released on August 2, 2008 through midnight release parties in over 4,000 bookstores, most of which involved costume and trivia contests, crafts, and face painting.
Godiva also made a Twilight-themed chocolate bar, which was released in Barnes & Noble book stores at the release parties. A four-city Breaking Dawn Concert Series, featuring Stephenie Meyer and Blue October's Justin Furstenfeld, coincided with the novel's release. The concert series sold out three of its four locations on the day that tickets went on sale, selling out in under an hour in one city.
Prior to the novel's release, the first three Twilight books had already sold 8.5 million copies throughout the US and over 2 million copies in the UK. Breaking Dawn was one of the most anticipated books of 2008 with The Guardian noting, "Teenagers across the world are anxiously awaiting the next instalment of author Stephenie Meyer's vampiric series of novels." To meet the high demand, Little, Brown Books added a printing of 500,000 additional copies just prior to publication of the title, bringing initial print run to 3.7 million.
The book sold 1.3 million copies in the US and 20,000 copies in the UK in its first 24 hours of release, as well as 100,000 copies in Canada during its first weekend. Breaking Dawn debuted at #1 on USA Today's top 150 best sellers list and has gone on to spend over 58 weeks on the list. It was also the biggest-selling children's book of 2008 with over 6 million copies sold.
A special edition of Breaking Dawn was released on August 4, 2009, containing a DVD of the Breaking Dawn Concert Series and an interview with Meyer.
Critical reception of Breaking Dawn was mixed. Lev Grossman wrote, "First, since there's a lot of one-star reviews up on Amazon, let me say up front: I loved Breaking Dawn." Cara von Wrangel Kinsey of School Library Journal responded with a positive review, describing the book as "captivating" and noting, "While this novel is darker and more mature than the earlier titles, Meyer's twists and turns are not out of character." The Charlotte Observer agreed and called the book "pretty darned good", but criticized the book's length saying, "I wish [Stephenie Meyer] hadn't felt compelled to pack so much into one volume. It should have been two books." Mary Harris Russell of the Chicago Tribune also responded with a positive review and hailed the book as a "fun read", noting that Stephenie Meyer "continues to produce witty writing about families, teenagers and popular culture", while Time called the book "a wild but satisfying finish to the ballad of Bella and Edward" and gave it a rating of A-. An article in The Daily News Tribune said of Breaking Dawn, "Some of the dialog is a bit stilted,... but, if you stay close to Meyer's rich and prodigious narrative, you too might fall in love with its suspense and moving sensitivity".
Publishers Weekly stated that the main problem with Breaking Dawn was that, "Essentially, everyone gets everything they want, even if their desires necessitate an about-face in characterization or the messy introduction of some back story. Nobody has to renounce anything or suffer more than temporarily—in other words, grandeur is out." In an article by The Associated Press, journalist Sara Rose wrote on NewsOK.com that fans of the series would love "engaging characters, great humor, a distracting obsession with beauty, focus on the minutiae of emotions"; however "casual readers may be disappointed with a lot of build-up and little action." The Independent called the book, "shockingly, tackily, sick-makingly sexist" and said that "Bella Swan lives to serve men and suffer." Entertainment Weekly graded Breaking Dawn with a D, criticizing the birth scene and Bella's "unwavering passion for Edward" and having no other goals. The Washington Post also responded with a negative review, making comments such as, "Meyer has put a stake through the heart of her own beloved creation," and "Breaking Dawn has a childbirth sequence that may promote lifelong abstinence in sensitive types."
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Meyer responded to the negative response of many fans to the book and called it the "Rob Effect"; she said that the fans need time to accept the ending of Breaking Dawn, just as they needed time to accept Robert Pattinson playing the role of Edward in the Twilight movie.
Awards and honors
Breaking Dawn was the recipient of a British Book Award for "Children's Book of the Year". In the 2009 "Children's Choice Book Awards", the novel was chosen as "Teen Choice Book of the Year" and Meyer won the "Author of the Year" award.
Summit Entertainment announced in November 2008 that they had obtained the rights to the fourth book in Stephenie Meyer's series, Breaking Dawn. The studio greenlit an adaptation of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn in April 2010. The film was split into two parts; the first part of the film was released on November 18, 2011, and the second part was released on November 16, 2012.
Bill Condon directed both parts; Stephenie Meyer co-produced the film along with Karen Rosenfelt and Wyck Godfrey. In July 2010, Summit announced that the film would be shot in Vancouver, Canada, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Maggie Grace plays the part of Irina in the film, while Mackenzie Foy plays Renesmee, Edward and Bella's half-vampire, half-human child. It was filmed at the Canadian Motion Picture Park Studios (CMPP)
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