I’ve always liked a happy ending. I like a tidy conclusion, and I like the threads of a story to be all wrapped up. I hate those movies or books where you have to sort of guess what might or might not have happened.
But, recently, I’ve realized that sometimes the non-happy ending is what gives a story strength. After Breaking Dawn came out, I went back and reread the first three books (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse). I’d liked Jacob a lot the first time around, wishing, almost, that Bella had picked him instead.
This time, however, I realized that I didn’t feel that way. Eclipse was powerful and moving for me because she didn’t pick Jacob. Because he was left alone to deal with the pain of unrequited love. Because Bella discovered that she loved him, but not enough to leave Edward over. The pain in that last few pages of Eclipse was deeply real to me, because real life is like that. Because there is always disappointment and rejection and deep despair in real life, even when life is simultaneously full of joy and love and excitement.
And I think that’s the reason that Breaking Dawn fell flat for me. It came together too neatly, too tidily. In every way, but particularly in regards to the Jacob/Edward/Bella triangle, the book was too easy. The struggle and the pain of Eclipse was gone, replaced with just happy puzzle pieces fitting together just right, with zero pain for anyone.
Bella does love Jacob – for good reason, since he is so lovely and wonderful and real to her throughout New Moon and Eclipse – but she chooses Edward instead. So, when Jacob imprints on Bella’s daughter and suddenly everything between Bella and Jacob was just friendship again, I didn’t buy it. Seriously? She was so in love with him that she considered, however briefly, breaking up with Edward for him and then suddenly that’s gone? And she’s just happy Jacob is happy?
I don’t believe it. I think it undermines all the realism and strength that came through at the end of Eclipse. And frankly, that ruins it a bit for me.
For once, I wanted an unhappy ending. I’d have been happier if Jacob ran away again, always unhappy, always wishing Bella had made a different choice, than for everything to fall easily and painlessly into place. Pain for a character, over an unhappy ending, is better than nonchalance at a contrived resolution.