Curiosity can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Without it, I wouldn’t have subjected myself to the 658-page of sluggish storytelling that is Midnight Sun.
A companion to the 2005-hit Twilight, Midnight Sun dives into the brooding, dark depths of Edward Cullen’s mind. This long-winded retelling of the Twilight series’ first novel, in so many words, is essentially a tale of Edward battling between wanting Bella for the snacc she is and also wanting Bella for, well, a snack.
Unfortunately, while Stephenie Meyer’s prose may have seen improvement in the last 12 years (let’s not forget the literary gem New Moon gifted us with: “Aro started to laugh. ‘Ha ha ha,’ he chuckled.”), her storytelling remained limited within the tweenie romance ambiance she cultivated through Bella’s POV.
Readers gain some insight into Edward’s internal instinct-versus-morality turmoil as he crosses one line after another to get closer to Bella. Through horrendous invasions of privacy including a mix of eavesdropping and “mind-dropping” on conversations plus a ton of breaking into her house, Edward becomes more and more infatuated with her, an obsession he dresses up as love and finds fueled by his adoptive family.
Meyer clearly wanted to explore the “inhuman” POV, disentangling Edward’s actions from morals we, as humans, subscribe to.
He is not someone who follows human rules.
“I feel like you get the sense of him from the perspective of him not being someone who follows human rules. And the worst of it isn’t that, you could say, he spies on her. Really he’s just like a very curious animal who doesn’t think of it that way. But really the real problem is that he’s murdered a ton of people — that’s the worst thing, right, that you’re a murderer many times over,” Meyer said in an interview with The New York Times.
Not being human seems like a flimsy excuse to hang Edward’s transgressions. Arguably, souls are intrinsic to humanity and Edward’s capacity to feel guilt and any other emotion speaks to it. So, outside of different biology, how inhuman is he really?
It’s these notions that make me see Midnight Sun as a missed opportunity. While exploring Bedward’s origins, the book would have been the perfect platform to introduce the intricacies of vampire folklore and delve deeper into the dynamics and histories of different covens, and really play around with bigger questions to layer the entire series further.
I especially enjoyed learning more about the sibling dynamic among the Cullen “kids” and how Edward, Jasper, and Alice’s powers played out. These are details we didn’t have access to from Bella’s POV.
Yet, each scene was colored, and overshadowed, with Edward’s growing obsession with Bella and his desire to figure her out, going as far as WD-40ing her bedroom window to sneak in more quietly in the dead of the night.
“I was repulsed by myself as I watched her toss again. How was I any better than some sick peeping tom?”
We’re well beyond highlighting the abusive and manipulative nature of Edward and Bella’s relationship. It is well-documented, so the question of the day is whether Midnight Sun should have been written in the first place?
To be honest, I find it irresponsible.
Albeit written specifically for the Twihard fans who by now are undoubtedly aware of the negative undertones lining Bedward’s relationship, I wonder how many of today’s first-time readers might fall prey to the same romanticized notions many of us fell for in our earlier years.
By bringing the series back into the limelight, is another generation of readers picking up on the subconscious cues being fed through this tale? That an attractive, self-deprecating guy who obsessively hangs on to your every word and step and breath is a catch. That his controlling actions, his “passionate” physical displays of anger, are romantic because they show he cares.
Perhaps, in light of this new release, we should be pushing the Twilight series to the forefront; using its many examples of manipulation and abuse to highlight what not to do and what not to stand for.
All in all, Midnight Sun adds layers to supporting characters – Jessica and Rosalie, for instance – which is incredibly interesting, but if you’re thinking it’ll be a fascinating, in-depth look beyond Edward’s yearning for Bella, you’ll walk away disappointed.
“Every single word was a struggle,” said Meyer.
Meyer herself said that “every single word was a struggle” so it baffles me that it holds approximately 121,000 more words than Twilight’s 119,000. The pace was incredibly slow, as if, subconsciously, Meyer wanted readers to experience how Edward viewed the never-ending stretch of immortality because it sure felt like 80 years had passed in my reading of Midnight Sun.
Perhaps if I’m to pull one takeaway from this retelling it’s to never assume to understand what thoughts and aspirations are rumbling within anyone else. For all of Edward’s bravado shown in Twilight, Midnight Sun showed a far more troubled individual underneath the surface. For one, he’s a dude who chose to sit through high school again, subjecting himself to the “frivolous” thoughts of teens like Mike, Tyler, and Jessica.
And if that doesn’t raise some eyebrows at his questionable choices, then there’s a 658-page book I’d like you to read.
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