Stephenie Meyer. Little, Brown Young Readers, $22.99 (756pp) ISBN 978-0-316-06792-8
It ought to seem redundant to dismiss the fourth and final Twilight novel as escapist fantasy-but how else could anyone look at a romance about an ordinary, even clumsy teenager torn between a vampire and a werewolf, both of whom are willing to sacrifice their happiness for hers? Flaws and all, however, Meyer's first three novels touched on something powerful in their weird refraction of our culture's paradoxical messages about sex and sexuality. The conclusion is much thinner, despite its interminable length. Everygirl Bella achieves her wishes quickly (marriage and sex, in that order, are two, and becoming an immortal is another), and once she becomes a vampire it's almost impossible to identify with her. But that's not the main problem. 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. This isn't about happy endings; it's about gratification. A sign of the times? Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 08/04/2008