"BREAKING DAWN," by Stephenie Meyer, Little, Brown and Co., 754 pages, $22.99

Was the two-hour wait in line for a copy of "Breaking Dawn" worth it? Yes ... and no.

Stephenie Meyer's fourth and final book in the Twilight series is exactly what fans will expect — an epic love story full of twists and turns.

The Twilight universe revolves around the relationship between humans and mythical creatures — specifically vampires and werewolves — living in the small town of Forks, Wash., located on the Olympic Peninsula.

The werewolves, who are actually young men or women most of the time, exist to protect humans from vampires. But the pack living on a reservation near Forks has a truce with the Cullen family, "vegetarian" vampires that feed on large animals rather than people.

Contrary to the nature of their respective species, Bella Swan, a human, and Edward Cullen, a vampire, are inexplicably drawn to each other. Their bond becomes so strong that they are willing to defy all "societal rules" so that they can be together.

The first three books, "Twilight," "New Moon" and "Eclipse," follow the couple as they fall in love, try life without each other and ultimately find that they cannot have separate lives.

"Breaking Dawn" opens a few days before Bella and Edward's wedding. Alice, Edward's sister, is finalizing all the details, and friends of both the bride and groom are arriving. Jacob Black, a werewolf and Bella's best friend, is still missing, and Bella is more than a little concerned about him.

Adding to Bella's concerns is her impending change from human to vampire — which is set to happen following her honeymoon — and the Volturi, a group of vampires from Italy who enforce a code of rules that has taken a deep interest in the Cullen family.

"Breaking Dawn" starts out a bit clunky. Explanations of how Bella got to this point in her life seem a bit out of place. Because reading the first three Twilight books is essential to understanding what happens in "Breaking Dawn," those little summaries are unnecessary and slow things down.

Meyer, however, has an incredible ability to grab readers' attention and make them care about her characters. Although there are still way too many references to Edward's perfect body and his liquid eyes, it's not as nauseating as previous books. And once Meyer gets past the back story, she hits her stride.

Fast-paced and easily accessible, "Breaking Dawn" is hard to put down. It's full of the tension, unexpected events and one mythical twist that will knock some readers off their chairs. If readers can get past this fantastical part, they'll be in for a fun ride.

Meyer excels at telling a love story. And, as with the other books in the series, sexual tension and physical desires play a large role in "Breaking Dawn." Though nothing is described in graphic detail, concerned parents may want to read Chapters 5 and 6 before handing the book over to their children.

Despite its flaws, "Breaking Dawn" is a fun read. Meyer manages to tie up all her loose ends, which makes things seem too convenient in some places, but diehard fans will be happy with the outcome for all of their favorite characters, including Bella, Edward and Jacob.

While "Breaking Dawn" is enjoyable, it's written for young adults, and that comes through in the writing. If you've never read any of Meyer's books and want to see what all the hubbub is about, read "The Host." Written for adults, it's a multilayered and compelling story without all the teenage angst.


E-mail: jharrison@desnews.com