After 15 years, Stephenie Meyer has finally completed Edward’s take on Twilight in Midnight Sun, and here are my thoughts on it.
From the Blurb:
When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.
This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?
There are few surprises in Midnight Sun in terms of plot so, to avoid spoilers, I’m going to dive right into the other aspects of the book that stood out to me.
The writing is excellent. Stephenie Meyer brings Forks to life once again — this time through inhuman eyes that linger on details such as the smell of the forest, the cracks in the high school ceiling and which birds are in the immediate vicinity. However, the descriptions of scenery aren’t overbearing because they’re confined to small paragraphs here and there within a scene.
There is a small hiccup, however. Everything preceding the meadow scene is fleshed out in minute detail over the course of weeks/months, but then the time frame takes a sharp turn. The book’s conflict, rising action and climax all happen within five days, making them feel rushed and the book unbalanced. While this does fit the story, as the audience has similar experiences to the main characters, I would’ve loved more action or a drawn out chase.
One thing I noticed is that a lot of the book relies heavily on knowledge of Twilight. Edward’s narration often goes off on a tangent in scenes between him and Bella, so as not to make the book too repetitive. Meyer also weaves the Cullens’ personal history into the narrative in this manner. Small backstories pop up through the book to give more insights into the characters.
Getting to know more of the Cullen family gave me a more rounded view of the characters as a whole, especially the relationships. Meyer writes each couple differently, which adds dimensionality to the characters. On Bella’s side, the contrast between what Charlie and Renée said and thought changed my view of them. Charlie is a great father, if a little emotionally stunted, but Renée is a mess. Twilight paints her as a flighty but loving mother, whereas Midnight Sun shows just how much this impacted Bella growing up. All in all, the secondary characters make for an even more interesting bunch.
As for the main characters, Edward is especially well written. Half of the book is monologues of a self-loathing but still arrogant teenager — yet I never felt the urge to put the book down. As it progresses, he even starts sounding more and more like a teenager the closer he gets to Bella. Her character was also enjoyable. While Edward emphasizes her youth a lot, it was a delight to read her character development as she progressively comes out of her shell. Compared to the original, she’s happier and a lot more teenage-y.
However, I do have a few complaints on the characterisation. First, Edward’s behaviour and inner monologue. The first third or so of the book, he oscillates between arrogance towards other humans, and self hatred. These two emotions intensify the closer he gets to Bella, to the point that people in Bella’s entourage begin to feel like the villains, specifically Jessica and Mike. Given the age difference, this was ridiculous and unnecessary.
The second issue I had was how Rosalie was portrayed. There has long been criticism on this in the Twilight Saga, and Midnight Sun only reinforces that. Through Edward’s POV, she’s constantly obsessed with her looks and being admired. She’s criticised for this behaviour from the beginning, and is later compared to Bella and her humbleness, where the underlying misogyny becomes the most obnoxious.
A note on the Native American aspects within the book. The werewolves don’t come into play until the second book, but Midnight Sun does delve into it. Despite being heavily criticised for the warped legends she’s presented, Stephenie Meyer makes no attempt to rectify or even tweak them to address the issue. They remain vampire-triggered shape-shifters.
All in all, I enjoyed this book far more than I thought. It was a fun read and offers a deep dive into a series that dominated my teenage years. As an adult, the problematic aspects of the book stand out in stark contrast, but it was a nice bit of nostalgia in this otherwise crazy year.