The suspense was killing me and so I broke down and bought Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And I am so happy I did.
I did not read any reviews of BD before I read the book because I didn't want to have any influence on my opinion. I'm glad I did because there's quite a few negative reviews on Amazon. I'm actually a bit sad at how many people seem angry at the ending. I have no idea why--it was a freaking HAPPY ENDING, people! It was as if some reviewers wanted a great tragedy....why, you crazies? Why?
The story picks up with Bella preparing for her wedding and honeymoon--and then a few chapters later, the story takes a totally unexpected twist. A new character is introduced that transforms the rest of the book and shapes Bella's destiny. Plenty of closure is given, as necessary.
Here's what I liked about the book: Bella finally becomes Edward's equal. She's not whiny or indecisive. That was also a major complaint about the series--but no longer. She's matured greatly from the girl in Twilight. She can handle the challenges her new life is presenting her. And finally she and Edward can be truly together (and Jacob gets his happy ending, too! Seriously, I gasped out loud when he imprinted but I love how it works out).
We all know that I really admire Meyer but honestly, I liked the ending. It was thoroughly happy. It's an author's right to end a series how she likes--if she wants it to be perfectly happy, isn't she allowed to do that? And seriously, how do you think the legions of teenage girls who live and breathe this series would handle a tragic ending? I read an interview with Meyer and she's had the ending planned out for years (literally). The story is fantasy; happy endings can occur in fantasies. Real life can suck; I want my books to be joyous.
Here is an excellent review of the book from All About Romance Novels. It sums up my feelings nicely.
(Spoiler: the only reason why I'm giving it a 9.5 instead of a 10 is the last 100 pages or so--the story is building up to a fight, which I wanted, but then it just doesn't happen. It was a bit anticlimactic. Other than that, it was soooooo good.)