Book Review: Breaking Dawn

Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

So, yeah, spoiler alert. I usually don’t talk about the content of a book when I review it. That way people can read the review and decide whether or not the book is for them, but with Breaking Dawn, I don’t think there is another way to effectively discuss it. So, Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all, this book is a saga all in itself. Therefore, it’s easy, I think, to have several different opinions of it. Because with the scope of the thing, I’m fairly sure it could have been broken into two or more good sized books.

There has been a ton of talk about what people hated about this book. Some legitimate, some a bit petty, i think. So I’m going to start with popular criticism and give my take on them then move onto my own Likes And Gripes. 

 

Popular Criticism:

 

1. “Jacob imprinting on Bella’s daughter is creepy”: Yanno, I didn’t really think so. Stephenie Meyer went to great pains to explain to us why wolves imprinting on babies is not as yucky as it sounds. She prepared us in Eclipse with Quil and Claire. There wasn’t quite the outcry then. Imprinting for Jacob and Renesmee does not equal a romantic attachment. I see no ick factor as of yet. In fact, I thought his attachment to a baby was sort of sweet. I’ll admit that maybe we could term it “edgy” but “perverted”? I don’t think so.

2. “The book dragged”: Yes, it dragged and was long. There were a lot of story lines going on. To think that at the beginning of the book Bella was human and unmarried and then look back from where we finished? Yes, readers traveled too long a distance.

3. “The ending was too ‘pat'”: She was going for a fairytale feel. It’s a romance, people. We needed our Happily Ever After. That said, I can’t believe there was no fight between the Volturi and the Cullens’ forces. Are you kidding me? She’s already received criticism about dodging action sequences. I’d just finished praising Eclipse for finally including a fight scene. And then what does she do? She drags me through 600 pages just to tell me that there would be no climax? Goodness!

And because she avoided the fight scene, I had no sense of loss afterward. Sometimes a sense of loss can go a long way in making a series feel complete and satisfying. Is that morbid? No, I don’t think so. There is a price the hero and heroine should pay for their happiness. Usually that price should be the cost of friends. The last Harry Potter did that well. I was glad to see that Ron, Hermione, and Harry survived, but we lost some important players and that gave the series weight.

BUT, even if you don’t want to kill off good guys, my gosh Stephenie, could we kill off a bad guy? Please?

4. “Renesmee is a ridiculous name”: Yep. It is. It did grow on me though. But Renesmee Carlie? Wow.

5. “Edward faded into the background”: I like to think of it as Bella coming to the foreground. She finally had a character arc. She changed. She was his equal. Isn’t that what people had wanted all along? Guess not. As it turns out, women really do seem to like the feeling of being rescued, being vulnerable, and having a hunky boyfriend be all protective of them.

 

Ok, now here are my own personal gripes. It’s actually a short list:

 

1. Bella’s super self-control seemed a bit convenient. I kinda wish she could have gone through the awfulness that should have been becoming a newborn.

2. Why’s she such a martyr?

3. Getting the papers for Renesmee to get on a plane seemed like a pretty minor worry. I can’t believe that’s what Alice wanted to hide from everybody. I thought J. Jenks would be way cooler.

4. I felt a little misled that Edward could get Bella pregnant. I thought vampires had no bodily fluids? Why do they have semen and not blood?

5. Adding “Jazz” as a nickname for Jasper like it’s always been his nickname. That’s probably my biggest gripe.

 

 

Finally, reasons why I’d like to give Stephenie Meyer a high five:

 

1. Bella pregnant!? Didn’t see that coming.

2. Bella a vampire? Ok, I guess other people didn’t see this as a question after Eclipse, but I sure did. I thought surely the message wouldn’t be to throw your life away and potentially your soul. Granted, I don’t think she ended up having to do that in the end, but still. I at least thought that the entire storyline would revolve around whether or not she became a vampire and if she did I figured it would be the climax of the book. As it happened, it was pretty early on.

 

3. Jacob finally stepping up, becoming an Alpha, and finding happiness. I was always on Team Jacob, so that made me happy.

 

4. No sex before marriage. I’m not saying this because this is necessarily what I believe. I’m not going to say either way on the blog, so don’t speculate. But, a lot of people have been on her case about the fact that she’s pushing her opinions through her book and that we shouldn’t make it “wrong” for girls to have premarital sex. Um, guys, if you can’t push your views in your own novel then where can you? It’s her story! Plus, there are already sooooo many YA books with rampant premarital sex. One postmarital sex book is not gonna kill us.

 

5. I enjoyed reading this book. Despite everything. I wanted to keep reading. I wanted to know what happened. And I had fun doing it.

 

 

So, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think people should take themselves too seriously while reading this book. We can talk about the editing here. We can talk about how Stephenie may have been rushed trying to write Breaking Dawn and The Host simultaneously. We can discuss all that. I think the main factor is just whether or not you enjoyed reading it. For many fans, I think they truly did not.

A final word: I think trying to return books to the bookstore because the customer didn’t like the story is a bit ridiculous. And I’ve actually heard this practice defended because “books shouldn’t be any different from other products that you aren’t satisfied with.” I beg to differ. Returning a book that you’ve already read is like wearing clothes to a party and then taking them back to the store. It’s not ok. If you want to do that, wait to get the book at the library.

 

Good talk. See you out there.

Status: Gotta get ready for a wedding!

Book Review: House of Night Series (Marked and Betrayed)

For those of you who were more than a little disappointed by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, I think I’ve found the answer. You can still have your insanely attractive vampires, teen girl narrator, and a splash of romance (Ok, so Twilight has more a tidal wave than a splash.) 

But, you can exchange the overpowering portion of teen angst, monotonous description, and Bella tunnel vision for a kickass heroine, a hilarious group of friends/sidekicks, and a healthy dose of action.

The House of Night series takes place in a world where vampires are no secret. Select teenagers are “marked” during their adolescence with a giant crescent tattoo in the middle of their forehead. If marked, a teenager must go live at the House of Night, a chain of boarding schools that train fledgling vampires and help them make it through The Change.

Marked begins when Zoey Redbird is chosen to become a vampire and follows her through her time at The House of Night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

You might think that after Harry Potter and the Gallagher Girls series, the boarding school premise is old hat. But P.C. and Kristin Cast douse it with religion and a matriarchical structure that has Girl Power written all over it and the device comes out shiny new. Plus, let’s be serious–who doesn’t love a good boarding school book?

And, if you were sick of Bella doting on Edward and thinking about him 24 hours a day, you’ll be happy to learn that Zoey Redbird is quite the opposite with her boyfriend(s)–especially in Betrayed.

Finally, one of the things that folks find a bit tedious about Twilight is the tunnel vision. There isn’t a whole lot of character development beyond Bella and Edward. In House of Night, Zoey wants friends and finds excellent ones. And, while I love the Twilight books, I think that that is a better message to be sending young girls.

 

For my review of Twilight check here. If you want something different, read my review of Wicked Lovely

To purchase Marked click here: Marked (House of Night, Book 1) and for Betrayed click here: Betrayed (House of Night, Book 2)

Status: Packing. Going away party tonight!!!!! I’m so excited, but I have so much to get done before then. I better get moving.

Book Review: Twilight Saga Continued–New Moon

I reviewed Twilight last week and as the release of Breaking Dawn grows closer I thought a review of the second book in the Twilight series would be fitting.

Like Twilight, I read New Moon in about 2 days. Again, it being summer, I’m going to evaluate in terms of its ability to force me to turn each of its 500 pages.

I really don’t know what it is about these books. The writing is repetitive. The description can be painful to read. And there is a whole heap of teenage angst. You’d think after the 900th time Bella gets dizzy or the 1,800th time Edward’s body is described as marble, I’d be thinking “Enough already!” But, no. It’s more like “Give me more! Give me more!”

Stephenie Meyer is a whiz at creating suspense. She creates hundreds of little moments that contain big suspense. Bella riding a bike. Bella walking around in an empty house. In Meyer’s hands, these down moments are transformed into scenes that keep the pages flipping. I thought the suspense in New Moon was better crafted than in Twilight, but while the action payoff was “cool,” but it was ultimately less climactic than in the first book.

I’ve heard that New Moon is the worst of the three books out and I’m not sure whether I liked it better than Twilight or not. I will say that the Romeo and Juliet alternative ending idea is fascinating and the conflict set up in the love triangle introduced during the course of the book is fantastic. It is one of those books that will make fans choose sides. Kind of like some people wanted Harry and Hermione to end up together while others were happy with Ron. Or Mychael v. Tam in the Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin. That kind of conflict makes fans and keeps them because it’s the stuff that drives discussion boards and fan sites.

While I don’t want to give away too much, I will say that I would have liked Bella to choose the opposite of her final choice in this book.

Finally, despite the edge-of-your-seat, my-eyes-hurt-cuz-I’ve-been-reading-so-long type of suspense found in New Moon, I find the Twilight saga to be incredibly relaxing to read. I think part of that results from the repetitive description that can be comforting to a reader in a book filled with adventure. Moreover, I’m going to stick with my theory that the repetitive description and lack of character development outside the few main characters is meant to mirror Bella’s tunnel vision and helps the reader to progressively fall for Edward.

So, if you are looking for an incredibly fun read and you aren’t an analyze-to-death kind of reader pick it up! It’s always fun to be “in” on the series when new books and movies come out, so now is a great time to jump into Twilight.

To purchase Twilight click here: Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)

To purchase New Moon click here: New Moon (The Twilight Saga, Book 2) 

Not a Twilight fan, but need your vampire fix? I think you might enjoy the House of Night series. Check out my review here.

 

 

Status: Packing and working on moving stuff today. The query letter is up on a page devoted to SCOUT. I’m waiting to put artwork up until I have a little more to show you. I’m excited for you all to see, but I think that waiting is the right thing to do.

Nate will be here soon and we are headed to Atlantic City tonight. I’ve never been and this will be my first time gambling!

Friday Forecast: Let’s Talk Money

For today’s Friday Forecast I want to talk about money. A lot of people are disillusioned about how much *the majority* of writers make. What’s a typical advance? Do novelists live off their writing? What the heck is a “nice” deal and why is it different than a “good” deal?

All good questions. And here are you your answers.

For whatever reason–I’m guessing it’s decorum–the publishing industry has broken advances into categories:

A “nice deal” is defined as any advance equaling $49,000 and under (ex. Joy Preble’s Spark)
A “very nice deal’”is between $50,000 and $99,000 (ex. StarLit Productions’ The Break Up Code)
A “good deal” is $100,000 to $250,000 (ex. Lindsey Leavitt’s Princess for Hire)
A “significant deal” is $251,000 to $499,000 (can’t think of one right now)
And…A ‘major deal’ is $500,000 and up (ex. Anna Godbersen’s The Luxe)

(For some humorous descriptions of how these advance categories should really be labeled check this out.)

Most books advances for first novels fall between $5,000-8,000. Nice deals make up almost 50% of advances. The median advance is about $5,000.  Now remember that an advance is not a lump sum. The publisher will break it up into parts usually. At least some of it is paid on publication. Your agent can try to weight the money as heavily toward the front end as possible, but the insistence of publishers on splitting up the advance has become increasingly heavy-handed.

Don’t quit your day job. Until you’ve written more than one book and have begun to earn royalties, do not depend on your writing. Think about this: Ally Carter, author of the Gallagher Girl series just quit her day job this winter and she has two bestsellers, a couple adult books out there, a movie deal with Disney, and another couple books already bought up unwritten.

I always find it funny when people ask, “So, if your book sells are you still going to law school?” Yes, Yes, Yes! I am still going to law school. I am still completely law school. No matter what. Make the time to write. Work it into your life, but if you force yourself to depend on it, your muse might be too stressed out to appear.

 

Status: Later today I will be posting the artwork that goes with SCOUT. I still have not seen it yet, but my fingers are crossed an my hopes are high. Earlier this morning I finished New Moon. I guess it’s time to get Eclipse. I ordered in Story of  Girl by Sara Zarr at the library, too. Now, I’m working on a synopsis for SCOUT, which will be part of a proposal package should we get a request for more materials.

Thursday Pics: The Brains Behind This Operation

Just when you thought life couldn’t get any better, I’m here to tell you that this week will have a picture day double whammy. I know…almost too good to be true. Tomorrow’s extra picture day will not replace the normal Friday Forecast, but will be in addition to.

“What did we do to deserve an extra picture day?” you ask. Well, aside from being awesome and reading this blog, tomorrow I will be holding the concept art for Scout in my hot little hands! This is so exciting for me; I can’t even begin to explain. This will be my first time seeing what Ben has done with my story and I can’t wait to share it with you!

But today, I want to introduce you to someone special. She’s a fat, lazy, two-year-old and is a big (literally) source of moral support as I write. Ok, so actually she encourages me to nap with her, but I still love her.

Today’s pics are of…Sterling Marie.

 

 

 

Busted. Here she is writing my stories…

 

 

Sterling also answers to “The Ling” and “Sterle McMerle”…but I prefer the more proper Sterling Marie, of course.

 

 

Status: New Moon is really kiling productivity! This is why I don’t read while trying to write. I have gotten some helpful comments on the script over at Absolute Write SYW forums. If you’ve never used those forums, there are some extremely helpful people over there and you should definitely check them out.

In addition to SCOUT sketches. I will be making a page devoted to SCOUT attached to this blog and I will have my query letter and perhaps a few “Scout-isms” added now and then.

Query Roundup

I’m still playing the agent waiting game with WEIRD TATTOOS and I’m about to start a new round with SCOUT. I figure a lot of you are also in the midst of your own games whether it be to hear from publishers, literary agents, or magazine editors. And I understand that patience runs thin within the first…oh, I’d say…2 minutes after you send that first query letter.

 

One of my favorite things to do while waiting for responses is try to act like I have some control over the process once the submission is out of my hand. I do this by researching the agent response times on Verla Kay Blue Boards, by learning more about the agent, by trying to figure out which days I am most likely to hear news. Do rejections come on Sundays while requests come on Thursdays? I’m the Rain Man of query letters.

I wish I had more data to go off of. When I query Scout my sample size will get much larger. Maybe y’all can add some data, too. But right now prepare to be amazed by my ultra-scientific, completely precise query submission survey.

 

First some sobering query statistics courtesy of Agent Nathan Bransford:

Nathan says that he requests more material from 5% of the queries he receives. From there, he requests one full manuscript per every 25-50 partials. That means he requests 2-3 fulls out of every 1,000 query letters!

Back to the survey:  

Tuesday is far and away the most popular day for rejections to come in.

Wednesday comes in second for rejections followed by Monday then Sunday.

Moral of the story? Beware of Tuesdays!

Friday is the most popular day for agents to request materials, but not by much. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are tied closely behind Friday.

TGIF takes on new meaning.

I have not gotten a request for material on Monday or Saturday.

Average response time for e-queries has been about 5 days. (If you want more agent response times, hop on over to the Verla Kay Blue Boards on my sidebar. They have a whole forum devoted to response times!)

I’m sure we could all come up with reasons why certain days of the week seem to garner more rejections of acceptances. Any ideas? Any data to add? I’m still waiting to hear back on several queries, so as I get ready to query SCOUT and hear back more on WEIRD TATTOOS I will be able to make even more exact predictions. Hard to believe, I know.

Do y’all engage in this obsessive behavior? Or do you actually possess patience as a virtue?

 

Status: Today is another crackdown day with my SCOUT script. I didn’t quite meet my goal set for yesterday but I did get a bunch of work done. Ben will be sending me some sketches of SCOUT to put up on the blog on Friday afternoon. Yay!!!!!!

New Moon came in for me at the library. It’s the sequel to Twilight. Nate bought it last weekend. We didn’t feel like we should purchase two copies, but usually having only one book between us that we both want to read is not a good situation. There was a Harry Potter incident in ’06. So, now that I have my very own copy you all can breathe easy knowing that my relationship with Nate will survive–at least until we are ready to read Eclipse.

5 People I Never Want to Meet

We’ll take a break from the scheduled Wednesday blog post on the process of writing because…

…I’ve been tagged!

 

This month, I’m participating in the Absolute Write June Blog Chain and Rosemerry has just passed the baton. Check out her blog post on People You meet Online who you Don’t want to Meet in Real Life.

Now, I have to take a theme from her post and create mine from it, so I’m going to generalize.

Here are the Five People I Don’t Want to Meet in Real Life…Ever:

1. Jay Leno’s wife–as far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t have one.

2. Kathy Lee Gifford–I’m mad at her for ruining the last hour of the Today Show and for dumbing down Hoda Kotb.

3. Roseanne–Just way too crass for me. I wasn’t made for that type of humor. Sorry!

4. Stephen Hawking–I don’t like feeling dumb and his brand of genius might melt my mind.

5. Denise Richards–Did you see her on E!’s “It’s Complicated?” She went on a blind date with a guy and made the poor man feel sooooooo awkward. It was just plain mean.

 

And that’s my completely comprehensive, not at all petty list of the People I Don’t Want to Meet in Real Life…Ever. Who would be on your list??

Now, it’s my turn to tag, so I’m tagging Soma at Rotating the Bear. Head on over!

 

 

Status: Today, I finished reading Forever by Judy Blume. It was a fun book and a quick read. As a YA writer, I’m pretty sure it falls under required reading. After finishing that, I headed down to the library and ordered I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter and Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Myers. I didn’t actually request the second Twilight book, but the librarian said I ought to have it thrown in for good measure. The librarian actually said to me: It’s ok, I like all of these books, too. Then I realized, I should probably feel kind of funny ordering so many tweeny books. Oh well! I also picked up Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

As I mentioned in my last post, I found an artist for my graphic novel. I’m excited about him. His name is Ben and I’ll be sending him a rough query, scene-by-scene synopsis of the first few chapters, and the first several pages of script today. So I’m a busy girl in the coffee house today.