This article contains mild spoilers for “Midnight Sun.” Read at your own risk!
Stephenie Meyer’s “Midnight Sun” is the newest edition to the “Twilight Saga.” It takes the events from “Twilight” and switches the point-of-view over to brooding, mysterious Edward Cullen. Edward has a much more sinister take on meeting new girl Bella Swan, and I was excited to read about it.
I went into “Midnight Sun” with cautiously optimistic expectations. Back in middle school, I was a pretty big twihard. I read all the books--including the novella--bought all the movies and even had some of the Barbies. Though even in middle school I could see the flaws of these books. But it’s been fifteen years since “Twilight” was published, so Stephenie Meyer has had time to improve her writing and storytelling abilities over the years.
After finishing “Midnight Sun,” I ended up giving it two out of five stars on GoodReads. This honestly has been my most disappointing read of 2020 so far, and I’ve been severely let down by many books this year. Even though my expectations weren’t all that high, this book still managed to fall short.
Using OverDrive, I borrowed a copy of the audiobook. This audiobook was nearly 26 hours long, so brace yourself. Jake Abel, who you may recognize from the “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” film or the movie “I Am Number Four,” performed the narration. If Robert Pattison couldn’t reprise his role of Edward Cullen, then I’m glad Abel was up for the challenge. His voice was very soothing to listen to, even reading Edward’s dark thoughts. The only roadblock I came across with the audiobook was having trouble distinguishing between Edward’s own narration and the thoughts of other people.
Which brings me to my first gripe with “Midnight Sun.” Obviously, I knew going into it that Edward could read minds. I’ve always found this to be both annoying and intrusive because the people around Edward never have a personal moment. And this was before we got to hear Edward’s thoughts alongside everyone else’s. It felt as though half the narration came from the minds of other people. If I’m being completely honest with you, it felt like lazy storytelling to me. I picked up this book to hear what Edward had to say, not everybody else in Forks.
In addition to Edward’s mind-reading ability, another thing that irked me was the constant putting down of the female characters. More specifically, Jessica Stanley and Rosalie Hale. Now, Jessica certainly was not my favorite character in the “Twilight Saga,” but come on. Every single time Edward read her mind, she was thinking very petty thoughts about Bella or the boys at their high school. Nobody thinks like that all the time. She read like a very one-dimensional character. The same thing happened to Rosalie, which makes me much more heated because Rosalie is one of my favorite characters from the original series. She was not featured too much in Bella’s perspective, so I hoped she would get more attention in this book. To my disappointment, this was not really the case. When she was featured, she came across as cold-hearted and selfish. I, personally, don’t believe that to be Rosalie’s character at all. However, all Edward did was talk her down like she was some mean girl and not his sister. This way of writing women may have flown back in 2005, but it’s certainly not the case anymore.
Another very popular trope in the early 2000s--and still is--was the concept of “not being like other girls.” This idea was very prevalent in “Midnight Sun.” In Edward’s eyes, Bella is not like other girls because she knows how to read and cares about people other than herself. Newsflash, Edward, almost every girl is this way. I really didn’t understand Edward’s infatuation with Bella in the original series because I found her to be boring and bland. After reading “Midnight Sun,” I still feel that way. There is nothing unique to her character, but we are supposed to believe that she is the most incredible person to walk the face of the earth. At one point in the novel, Edward says something to the effect of “Bella is not like other humans.” I’ll just leave it at that.
Despite the many flaws of “Midnight Sun,” there were several elements of it that I was definitely here for. The first being that Emmett Cullen finally got the page time he truly deserved. Emmett is hands down one of the best characters to come out of “Twilight.” He’s the comedic relief while also displaying a tremendous amount of heart. When it was first announced that we would be getting “Midnight Sun,” the one thing I wanted was more Emmett content, and that’s exactly what I got. He really was the saving grace for me in this book.
The cover of this book is certainly not the best design ever created, but it does connect to one of the central themes. Edward compares his relationship with Bella to that of Hades and Persephone many times throughout the novel. At first, I didn’t understand the connection between the two. Well, it turns out that I never fully understood the myth of Hades and Persephone. After discussing the myth with a friend who is much more knowledgeable in Greek mythology than I am, I definitely see the parallels. It was a nice touch on Meyer’s part and gave the book an extra layer.
Overall, collegiettes, if you’re a fan of “Twilight,” then I would say “Midnight Sun” is a must-read for you! Hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did.