Stephenie Meyer made our 12-year-old dreams come true. She gave us another book.
The Twilight Saga — whether you loved it or hated it — became a nationwide obsession in the early 2000s. In case you weren’t born yet (the only plausible explanation for the ignorance), Twilight is a four-book saga, with each book produced into a widely popular movie. With a controversial love-triangle between a weak human, a stalking vampire, and a hot werewolf, every teenage girl dreamed of being a seemingly average Bella, the object of fascination amongst Edward and Jacob.
The last movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2, was released in 2012, so a lot of (us) Twilight fans settled for simply rereading and rewatching the saga since then. That was until 2008, when Stephenie’s working book Midnight Sun was leaked online. After that, she put the writing on hold, and it wasn’t until 12 years later, during the summer of 2020, that it was available for preorder.
As a desperate, slightly embarrassed die-hard fan, I was able to order one of the last signed copies. And I waited, and waited, and waited, through an entire pandemic, until the 658-page novel was in my hands, ready to be devoured.
I know what you’re thinking. “Doesn’t Vik have anything better to read?” No, in fact, I do not.I owe this to my 12-year-old self. She would kill me if I didn’t read this book. And besides, I’m sure you’re a fan of something embarrassing. This is my something. Stop judging!
When the box finally came in the mail and I was able to hold the heavy black-bound book to my chest, I felt a wave of nostalgia. It reminded me of my fifth-grade self, who proudly carried the book around for a month because I thought it made me look smart.
I read faster now, but it still took me an entire week to get through Midnight Sun (I was distracted by a kitten and a summer internship).
If you’re considering whether or not to splurge for the hardcover, I’ve included some opinions and recommendations to help you out.
So: How was Twilight from Edward’s perspective?
Well, it wasn’t a disappointment.
Honestly, just opening the book was exciting enough to make it the best part of this miserable summer.
Midnight Sun had peculiar parameters. Stephenie knew she couldn’t stray too far from the original plot without complaint, but she also wanted to reward readers with some new scenes. She stayed faithful to the main scenes and famous lines, but she did alter the timeline a bit. I personally appreciated her focusing on Edward’s feelings towards Bella, because I already knew the plot and didn’t need to reimagine the Forks High School setting. The author emphasized how a vampire brain worked, how useful yet torturous mind-reading was, and gave us some history that Edward had kept from Bella. Stephenie gave us more insight on Edward’s first interactions and impressions, and we finally got an explanation for his convulsed face during the first biology class. She also showed us a new perspective on Bella, however after watching the movies we already had access to that third-person view.
I think that Midnight Sun, a different version of the Twilight, was a strategic way to satisfy fans. A prequel or an additional sequel had potential of ruining the plot, and it would’ve been practically impossible to produce a movie with the same actors and directors. With Midnight Sun, there’s no need for an adaptation or a different, unsatisfactory plot.
The actors formed the characters.
Typically, an author calls the shots and orchestrates their own characters, and then it’s the job of the casting director to find someone that matches the fictional character. However, Twilight grew in popularity due to the actors themselves, and Kristen Steward, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner weren’t just actors in Twilight, they WERE Twilight.
This wasn’t a problem before, because the books had been written before the movies. However in this case, Midnight Sun’s characters had to align with these actors, or else fans would have been fairly disappointed.
Therefore, my brain was forced to fight a battle between imagining the characters as they were described, and imagining the characters as the actors. Ultimately, the actors won out, and there was no potential for me to imagine a different kind of Bella, even if she was described from a new perspective. This aspect was frustrating because I like to have my own mental pictures. But, I also feel grateful for Stephenie’s loyalty to Robert Pattinson because he was the perfect Edward, and it would’ve been odd to read about someone with different physical features.
I don’t reread books very often, so anticipating a familiar plot is not a familiar feeling. While I was reading, I knew exactly what would happen, and how it would happen. Therefore, the motivation behind reading was, uniquely, not finding out what would happen, but to find out more about the characters– like doing deeper research on a known subject.
Midnight Sun was a good book. Stephenie’s description of facial features and landscapes is formidable. Edward’s perspective, thought-process, word-choice was realistic. The mood throughout the novel was a bit somber though, as it was Edward’s internal battle between doing what he thought was right and what felt right. This battle was exhausting at times, but as an over-thinker myself, I was sympathetic. Stephenie also tried to defend Edward by acknowledging that his peeping-tom activities weren’t ethical, and he felt remorse for them. However, in my opinion, she was still unable to completely defend a relationship that was toxic in nature.
As I’m no longer a fifth-grader who believes in secret vampires, I couldn’t find myself yearning to be Bella again. My good ole 20 years have engraved the importance of a healthy relationship, so it was difficult to admire the intensity of Bella and Edward.
Nonetheless, I really do enjoy this story. It’s a reminder of the giddy excitement I used to feel about mythical creatures and boys and high school. It’s an odd feeling having gone through those things (without a vampire prom-date, how disappointing), and reading Twilight as a realistic adult. Yet, something about making the impossible work is still addicting, and Stephenie Meyer gave the addicts more words to read. For that, I am grateful.
I would recommend this book to the Twilight-devotees who have watched the movies at least three times. Everyone else: you’ll probably hate it just as much as last time.
P.S. I may or not be rewatching Twilight as I type this.