Friday, August 22, 2008

Did You Not Read the First Three Books?

Avert your eyes! I know, you're sick to death of hearing people talk about Breaking Dawn. I can't believe I'm doing this myself. But I've been looking at the question below --and many other comments-- and, well, I can't stand it anymore.
EA, I'd be interested to hear your take on all the glowing reader reviews and angry reader reviews of the Stephenie Meyer book, Breaking Dawn. Do you think her editors simply didn't edit -- so many plot points that dragged on and on without going anywhere... 180 degree turns for a lot of characters...the whole weird Renesme thing taking over what should've been a LOVE story... OR, do you think no matter what S. Meyer would've done, she was bound to disappoint half her fans anyway, so she was screwed from the get go?
all the glowing reader reviews and angry reader reviews...
Ok. I pretty well agree with the things that are being said about this book, but I don't understand the "angry" part. Seriously, did you guys not read the first three books?

Do you think her editors simply didn't edit...
I can say that I think I would have edited the books differently. But that's an extremely hypothetical thing to say, because there are many, many considerations that may have led to the books being published the way they were. Until you sit in an editor's chair, it's hard to imagine how many different adversities you do sometimes have to contend with. If you're unsatisfied with the way this turned out, imagine what may have gotten cut.

so many plot points that dragged on and on without going anywhere...
You mean like in the first three books?

180 degree turns for a lot of characters...
Yes, but absolutely no change of direction for the author. She has been entirely consistent in her attitude toward her characters and her story-- i.e., her character's happiness has always been more important to her than whether they get to grow as people, or whether the story is a satisfying one narratively and thematically. Just as you could see... in the first three books.

the whole weird Renesme thing taking over what should've been a LOVE story...
It was a love story. Where some writers would have given Bella a chance to know and love herself, a chance to change her life and the world around her, Meyer sees the greatest gift she can give her main character as the chance to experience perfect friendship love, perfect romantic love, and perfect mother love.

You guys knew the author is a Mormon, right? Do you know any Mormons? For many Mormon women, there is no more important thing they could do with their lives than to have and protect a family. They take the Biblical injunction to Go Forth and Multiply very seriously. So I had an inkling going into the book that Meyer might work in a pregnancy. And once she did, I was frankly surprised that she was able to stop herself at one vampire/human abomination-to-nature.

I know, I know. A lot of you were hoping that Meyer was one of those authors who makes you wait (and wait) for the character and plot payoffs so that they're more meaningful in the end. You were hoping that as the clouds gathered on the horizon and the thunder got closer and closer, it meant Bella was going to have to face a real storm. But honestly, what books were you reading? Meyer's idea of a happy ending is not that her character weathers the storm and emerges changed, but that she suddenly realizes she had an umbrella in her bag all the time.

15 comments:

EJ McKenna. said...

Nice post. The backlash is truly scary. It's all 'you wrote a bad book, you go to hell and die'.

So she wrote a bad book? From what I can gather, she didn't run over anyone's puppy, she didn't plagiarize and she didn't commit troops to a land war in Asia.

I like my characters to see the storm coming, be scared of it, try and flee, then dig deep and face the storm and come out a better/stronger/changed person for it. If a book I read doesn't do that, I close the covers (Radical!) dump book on the floor (Heresy!) and open the next book in the pile.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Thank you for the breakdown of the 'angry' points. I haven't read her books yet, but they're on my 'to read' stack - still.

David Macinnis Gill said...

"Meyer's idea of a happy ending is not that her character weathers the storm and emerges changed, but that she suddenly realizes she had an umbrella in her bag all the time."

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, some of us Mormon woman authors are working real hard to have and protect a family AND write narratively and thematically satisfying stories where characters get to grow as people.

Please keep an eye out for my manuscript, and kindly disregard the jam stains...

Dana said...

Finally, someone has put into words, far more eloquent than mine, what I had been thinking about "Breaking Dawn." Was it disappointing? A little, but was it surprising? No. I wasn't surprised at all by the sunshine and roses ending. I was a little surprised that she didn't manage to add in some unicorns or something though... :)

Susan said...

I'd resisted buying the first ones simply because it's just not my type of story.

...now you've got me interested again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my quetion, EA. And a very soothing, diplomatic answer, I might add.

I'm generally even-tempered and happy for anyone's success. I didn't adore the book, but was glad I read it. But those Amazon message boards (not the reviews, per se) were so completely hostile my jaw dropped, and I only read a handful.

Have to say I don't agree with your reasoning behind the "baby thing." Bella is not Morman -- kids were never her focus; and part of her sacrifice in choosing to love Edward was that she couldn't have kids with him, and then suddenly, there was one.


--CC

Editorial Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:14-
I know you are. And just for the record, I too see great value and nobility in the aspiration to be an outstanding parent, so the family-orientedness of Mormonism is something I admire.

But Meyer wanted something more for herself-- she wanted to be a writer-- so I don't quite understand why she didn't want something more for her character. Goodness knows her readers did.

chellej said...

I agree with almost all of your points. But funny, I've never heard anyone say of Shannon Hale, "Oh, well, she's Mormon, what did you expect?"

Add me to the list of Mormon women who say that these books have very little to do with my religion. I was expected to get all the education I could, make a difference in the world, and yes, love my family. Not devote myself to creepy stalker marble-lipped guys...

ChrisEldin said...

Great post, and I love your last line.
I just finished her first book, and while I personally think it was badly written, she appeals to a wide audience.
But I do like that there were no meta-issues to worry about. It's story, pure and simple. It's like beach reading. I don't know...
I won't be buying any more of her books, or trying to emulate her in any way. But I can understand the appeal.

Kimberly Lynn said...

I haven’t read the books yet, but my stepdaughter has. She absolutely loved them and so did ALL of her friends. So who is angry? Adults or the age group the books were originally written for?

Anonymous said...

Re: edits in general...

A-list, best-selling authors must have tons more leeway than other authors in this aspect of publishing. It seems when a publisher pays 400k for ONE book (what Little, Brown is rumored to have paid for Breaking Dawn) the chance of the author/editor relationship being equal is dismal, at best.

Spend that kind of money on a book and you've got to keep that author happy. And rather than producing a more streamlined book -- which would take more editing, more work on the author's part, parts of a book which would ordinarily make an editor go, WTF? get overlooked.

(I'm not suggesting that this is what happened to SM's latest book -- as you stated, we have no way of knowing what kind of edits DID get implemented. But I can see where this could happen easily. I mean, James Patterson doesn't even write half "his" books, yet he's just released another YA series, oh, the joy...)

Simon said...

Say what you will, but "Whoops, I guess I was actually in love with your left ovary all this time" has to count as one heck of a plot twist.

Anonymous said...

ITA! The first three books were mediocre. Characterization was unrealistic, plotting long and dull-- and people expected the last book to be a work of genius?

Stephanie Meyer has never been the most excellent writer in the world. So why are they shocked suddenly that her book sucks?

BuffySquirrel said...

I read the first book for EE's Book Chat, and really wished he'd picked something else. I think you pretty much summed up why.