Breaking Dawn is the fourth and final novel in the Twilight series by 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. 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, 1.3 million were sold in the first 24 hours of the book‘s release, setting a record in first-day sales performance for the Hachette Book Group USA. Breaking Dawn is split into three separate parts. The first part details Bella‘s marriage and honeymoon with Edward, which they spend on a private island, called Isle Esme, off the coast of Brazil. Two weeks into their honeymoon, Bella realizes that she is pregnant with a half-vampire 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. Edward, concerned for Bella’s life and convinced that the fetus is a monster as it continues to develop with unnatural rapidity, urges her to have an abortion. However, Bella feels a connection with the child and refuses.
The novel’s second part is written from the perspective of werewolf Jacob Black, and lasts throughout Bella’s pregnancy and childbirth. Jacob’s Quileute wolf pack, not knowing what danger the unborn child may pose, plan to destroy it, also killing Bella. Jacob vehemently protests this decision and leaves, forming his own pack with Leah and Seth Clearwater. Bella soon gives birth, but the baby breaks many of her bones 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, who was present for the birth, almost immediately “imprints”, an involuntary response in which a shape-shifter finds his soul mate, on Edward and Bella’s newborn daughter, Renesmee.
The third section of Breaking Dawn shifts back to Bella’s perspective, finding her 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 allegation 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. Upon confronting the gathered Cullen allies and witnesses, the Volturi discover that they have been misinformed and immediately execute Irina for her mistake.
However, they 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 confrontation, return with a Mapuche called Nahuel, a 150-year-old vampire-human crossbreed like Renesmee. Nahuel demonstrates that the crossbreeds pose no threat, and the Volturi leave. Edward, Bella, and Renesmee return to their home in peace.
The title, Breaking Dawn, is a reference to the beginning of Bella’s life as a newborn vampire. 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 plays The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream both influenced Breaking Dawn. 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 Bella’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.”
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 decided to include the pregnancy in her story while she was researching vampires and came across the legend of the incubus, a demon who could father children.
Meyer states in regard to ending the series that:
“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.”
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. Reception of Breaking Dawn was, at best, “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. 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 is to be split into two parts, the first of which is scheduled for release on November 18, 2011. Bill Condon will be directing both parts; The Twilight Saga author, Stephenie Meyer, will co-produce the film along with Karen Rosenfelt and Wyck Godfrey. In July 2010, Summit announced that the movie will be shot in Vancouver, Canada, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.