Reviewed in the United States on June 23, 2013
Every single one of the books in this beloved series is absolutely stunning! This fourth and last one wraps everything up in a very satisfying way, while delivering a solid story in Meyer's signature style, which is so riveting, it continues to gain new fans for the series even though this edition of the last book was published in 2012. The last movie was shown in theaters in November of that year.
Edward and Bella's storybook wedding at the Cullen house, and their subsequent honeymoon on a lush tropical island off the coast of Brazil (Carlisle's gift to his wife, Esme), mark the very romantic beginning of the novel. Everything is deceptively peaceful....
Then Bella becomes pregnant, thus setting off the novel's central conflict, for the child grows very quickly, putting her life in danger. Edward and Jacob both want her to have an abortion. She refuses, enlisting Rosalie's help in keeping that from happening.
Of course I loved this novel! The details involved, Meyer's meticulous care to make sure all threads were neatly tied up in the end, are nothing short of masterful! As was apparent from the very first book, her characters are thoroughly fleshed-out, her settings beautifully described, and each event in the story seamlessly leads up to the next.
Bella finally comes into her own in this novel. All her clumsiness is gone; she is now as graceful as a gazelle. And, as a newborn vampire, she's also stronger than even Emmett, easily beating him in several arm-wrestling contests, much to his chagrin. Yet, she's still the Bella that all of us fans have come to know and love, who is heroically self-sacrificing, deeply cherishes her loved ones, and who now turns into a fierce protector of her unusually gifted daughter.
One of the things I especially admired in this novel was Meyer's depiction of a young woman who resolutely refuses to abort her baby, even though the pregnancy endangers her life. This is evidence of Meyer's very strong pro-life stance, with which I wholeheartedly agree. It's also beautiful to see how all the members of the Cullen family do everything in their power to make Bella comfortable during her unusual pregnancy.
In fact, the Saga's overarching theme is the sanctity of human life. The Cullens, just like the Quileute werewolves, are totally committed to protecting humans at any cost, each in their own way. Life is inextricably entangled with love, and this love is a living force that, in turn, makes life precious.
The setting of Forks -- which, in this book, is the only location in which all the action takes place -- is perfect for the unfolding drama. The lush, green forests, the meadows, the almost permanently cloudy skies....all form an appropriately turbulent backdrop for all the ensuing events in the novel. Furthermore, Forks is where it all began, in the first book, so this last novel brings everything full circle back again.
I think that Meyer's solution to the love triangle of Edward, Bella, and Jacob, which took central stage in the third novel, Eclipse, is absolutely brilliant. It's clear evidence of her inventive power, and ties things up very nicely. Some have criticized it as being a little creepy, but I totally disagree. Yes, it's unusual, and totally unexpected. But that's precisely why it's so very perfect. Also, it allows Jacob to go back to being Bella's best friend, which is what he was to her in Twilight, as well as at the beginning of New Moon, the second novel in the series. In other novels, such triangles have usually been resolved through the violent death of one of the people involved. In keeping with her overarching theme, Meyer has chosen a totally original resolution -- a non-violent one.
This was my third reading of the novel, and it surely won't be my last! All of these characters are now like family to me, and so, I feel very strongly tied to them. I love them all -- except for the evil Volturi, of course, although, as villains go, they are truly magnificently depicted. Thanks to Meyer's skillful, psychologically informed writing, I know them all so well -- their dreams, motivations, thoughts, feelings. I will always return to this book, as to the preceding three in the series, in order to become immersed once again in this lushly romantic, incredibly compelling story!