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Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

Last week was an exhausting, stay-up-late but fun kind of week, rendering me just about useless for the weekend. With this in mind, I decided that it was a great time to go on an all-weekend Twilight bender. I had read the first book in the series earlier in the week and was impressed by many parts of it - and I don't generally gravitate toward the paranormal genre. So why not continue?

First of all, the second book was quite a disappointment for reasons I won't get into right now. Suffice it to say that if they make Cliff Notes on young adult vampire romances these days, skip the book and get the essential plot developments from the summary. The third book is an improvement, but it's really in the fourth book - mostly the second half - that Meyers makes her comeback. So let's just jump right to it... without too many spoilers, I promise.

Bella and Edward are facing many ticking clocks: Bella's impending immortality, pressured by the Volturi coven from the outside and complicated issues around sex from the inside. Their honeymoon is then cut short by a surprise and rapidly developing pregnancy that almost takes Bella's life. I bet you can guess how she's saved. Then the story takes an intriguing twist: The new norm is fun to watch, but the Volturi soon put an end to that. Their coming arrival means new revelations about the vampire world as well as an emerging new Bella, one that I liked and respected much better that I had in the previous two books.

What should the reading writer look for in this book? First, in this book Meyers gets back to one of the things she did so well in the first book: stringing the reader along with little snippets about what it's like to be a vampire and, more specifically, what it's like to be a vampire in love. I enjoyed how she draws out our interest, posing questions and giving half answers that keep us searching. We went into that book with a lot loose ends in both the plot and the romance to tie together, and Breaking Dawn does the job very well, especially the second half.

Another thing for the reading writer to consider is the fact that up until this book, the most the couple has done is kissed... and yet, we're still reading. Though this book inspired some books that are really, really not made for the young adult audience, Meyer keeps the romance very innocent physically while developing the relationship emotionally. And though they stop at kissing in previous books, Meyer builds tension to suggest that when they do decide to step over that line, it will be seriously hot. Now we're there, so it's interesting to take a look at how she deals with sex.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity of the ending. While many romances, especially after four books, tend to peter out in the end, this one ended strong - in fact, the latter half of this book rivals book 1 for the best part of this series. Nice job, Ms. Meyers.

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