(NOTE: The following post(s) include discussions of plot points from a bunch of books already published but that have not been made into movies yet, much of which can be considered SPOILERS. So no carping at me for not doing inviso-text or something.)
Quick preview/summary of the following spiel: Holy. Shit. What a disaster. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this (supposed) last act to "Twilight" actually makes all the prior novels slightly more attractive in comparison. I think the last time I saw a work of fiction go so completely awry in it's final moments it was "High Tension." But before I get going...
...in reading and reconsidering this series, I've tried to pinpoint what it is exactly that I found so off-putting about Stephenie Meyer's writing. What I think of her subtext is a seperate matter, I'm talking about the mechanics of storytelling. Finally, I think I have it: 'Twilight' reads like it's it's OWN fan-fiction. By that I mean, the bigger IDEAS at play here aren't all inherently bad - in fact, many of them have been GOOD many, many, many, MANY times before in other vampire books/movies/etc. It's a style/execution thing, in other words. Reading through, I was occasionally aware that - did I not know any better - I'd be inclined to assume that "Twilight" was actually some other, more interesting franchise and what I was reading was an "imaginary tale" composed by a 14 year-old fan to accompany the heavily manga-inspired pencil-sketch of various characters "doing it" she'd uploaded to DeviantArt. In any case...
Breaking Dawn: I observed before that the series is at it's worst whenever it tips into it's own mythology. Unfortunately for me, Book #4 is ALL mythology, ALL the time. The human supporting players either vanish, die or get brought in on "the deal;" so now it's ALL superpowered magical/mythic beings and their attendant whys and how-tos ALL the time. To be a little inside-nerd-baseball about it, the best descriptive I can find is that it reads like someone doing a near-perfect parody of Chris Claremont... except it's not meant to be funny.
To the story: Edward and Bella get married and jet off to experiment with vampire/human sex before she officially switches sides herself. The attempt ends with her waking up looking life a used pinata but accepting that it's her own fault for wanting sex in the first place - a position the book seems to agree with her on. Really.
Sidebar: Before we get any further, just so it doesn't have to keep coming up let me put down for the record that - seperately from my opinion on it's literary merits - on a purely THEMATIC level I loathe and despise every single archaic, hyperreligious, feminist-backlash bone in this series' body. Taken as a whole narrative, "Twilight" is basically all about taking a female lead who's essentially independent and cautiously-cynical about romance and teaching her (frequently by violence) the virtues of submissive co-dependency. All joking aside, fuck this.
So, in short-order, all that 'experimenting' unexpectedly leads to Bella getting knocked-up with a half-human/half-vampire baby that's apparently draining her life-energy en-route to making it's exit Chestburster-style. How exactly did this work, anyway? Three books have been spent telling us how ramped-up the vampires various physical attributes are AND how little self-control Edward has in these situations, so... look, it's been a long time since I read all the way through "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" (look it up) but instead of a fetilized egg shouldn't she instead have an exit wound somewhere in the vicinity of her tailbone? Whatever. The male characters mostly want her to get rid of it before it kills her (do coat-hangers even COME in pure silver? will it need to be blessed?) but she refuses even under threat of death because the fetus is talking to her and doesn't want to be "killed." Yeesh. Thus, we now have an answer to the question: "What if Sarah Palin had written 'Alien?"
A series of character-contrivances set up a big combination brawl/birthing/turning-Bella-into-a-vampire sequence (which if filmmed could potentially rival "Flash Gordon's" football-fight for what-am-I-watching high camp) capped off with Edward performing a C-section with his teeth. Huh. Okay, well... four books in, the male lead FINALLY does something cool. The resulting baby is a rapidly-maturing telepathic... well, "Daywalker" basically for those of you who've seen Blade (though in the Twilight universe having "none of a vampires weaknesses" means she'll have to apply her OWN body-glitter) and Jacob the werewolf falls in love with her while she's about an hour old via the werewolf "life-partner imprinting" thing. ...Yeah. Somehow, I imagine that a lot of heated Twilight fan-discussions of "imprinting" on the interweb end with one of the parties being surprised by Chris Hansen.
One Deus ex Moronica misunderstanding later, though, and the Volturi (bad guys) are making a beeline for some baby-vampire extermination (it's against the rules, or rather looks like something else thats against the rules.) Good guys' solution: call in favors from all the OTHER good vamps they know and meet the baddies with a joint good-vamp/werewolf army for a showdown. Alright, THAT I can get behind. Two teams of good and evil vampires lined up for combat throwing superpowers at eachother. Pretty hard to fuck THAT up, right?
...and then a character we've never met or heard of before shows up out of nowhere, explains that it's all a big misunderstanding to the bad guys, the bad guys go "oh, okay. Our bad," waste ONE extraneous bit-player for good measure and then take off. And that's it - it's over. No, really. That's the big finish to this: The villians shrug and walk home, the good guys get back to playing house. No major status-quo changes, nobody important dies, nothing.
Yeah, I wouldn't even know where to start to "wrap up." Suffice it to say, this last one is the one I'd most like to see as a movie just on the basis of how silly it all gets. Overall, I can say that gaining a better "understanding" of this series didn't actually help me LIKE it any more. It starts out boring, flirts with becoming interesting towards the middle then crashes and burns at the climax... not much more to say of it than that. In the end, I'd say this "experiment" made for amusing blogging. Maybe I'll do it again sometime... if I find myself in a situation where I can blaze through another similar inexplicably-popular series. Did "Left Behind" officially end, yet?