Yes, it has happened. Over a decade has passed since the publication of the final part of the Twilight Saga but here we are discussing Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampires once again. The new release, Midnight Sun, retells the events of the first book, Twilight, from the perspective of one moody, tortured, masochistic vampire; Edward Cullen. It is a play by play of its predecessor with its correlating chapters, obsessive tone, and lack of realism. The only difference is that now we are given an even more depressing atmosphere which spans an extra couple of hundred pages. Never can it be said that girls over think more than boys, here is proof to the contrary.
This is not to say that the book is unenjoyable. For a fan of the series already, the book is a nice reminder of the Team Edward/ Team Jacob disputes of the mid noughties and early 2010s. It’s a comfortingly benign look back into early adolescence. All of the reasons the original series did so well remain. Both the thrill of vampires and the burgeoning love story between Edward and Bella retain their position at centre stage.
Secondary to this, it was by no means an unwanted publication. The idea for the alternative perspective had been in the pipe line since the release of Breaking Dawn. But, Meyer put the book on hold in 2008 when twelve chapters of the manuscript were leaked. Fans raved about the story as finally they were going to get an insight into the mind of the original modern e-boy. Finally, they might have been able to understand why an ordinary girl would catch the eye of someone Meyer described as ‘perfection’ itself.
But in this I think we find the crux of the issue with Midnight Sun. It is generally accepted by both the world and the fandom that the Twilight Saga is not the pinnacle of literature. To give it credit it has never pretended to be. As time passed fans began to revel in its failures and ridicule its absurdity. Things like Bella’s unnatural obsession with Edward, and Edward’s with Bella. The fact that an average seventeen-year-old girl with some status of popularity wouldn’t wear makeup and interact more is somewhat strange but people got over it. In the original book Meyer attempted to show the reader that Bella was not an ‘ordinary’ girl, that in every stereotype she was ‘different’. Readers didn’t buy it and instead Bella came off as comically bland and insignificant, certainly not worthy of an immortal’s time.
Midnight Sun seems to be Meyer’s response to the Bella hate. Through the eyes of Edward, her kindness, her thoughtfulness, her intelligence and humour are rammed down our throats. The whole book forms a sickening justification of Edward’s feelings for Bella. The problem is that people learned to love the vanilla nature of Bella but with this new insight there is the sense that Meyer is trying too hard to reshape opinion. Often Edward’s interpretations seem to be a bit of a reach and the overarching feeling is that of disbelief. Disbelief that Meyer expected that she would be able to salvage Bella’s character to an extent that her readers would sympathise with Edward. There is something about the holier than thou sanctity of Edward, the ordinariness of Bella, and the try-hard nature of justification that really doesn’t work in Midnight Sun. By going too far Meyer creates caricatures of her original creations.
While reading Midnight Sun I did stop and think how my younger self would have responded if instead of Twilight this had been the series’ opener. The draw of the first book was in the gradual unfurling of understanding; you kept reading to discover who and what the Cullens were. In Midnight Sun the nature of the Cullens is made immediately obvious. There is no reason to keep reading besides a desire to see Edward and Bella’s relationship from another perspective, or to get a slightly more in-depth perspective on people’s actions. The book almost becomes a fanfiction in its attempt to provide for all the blanks and inconsistencies in the original series.
Midnight Sun is an enjoyable read if you are someone who is already invested in the series, however, beyond that it is difficult to distinguish a incentive to pick it up. Meyer merely furthers the world of the mythical rather than expressing anything new, or literarily insightful. Despite this we do have to ask if that matters? Midnight Sun never professed to be great and I don’t think anyone excepted it to be. What we have is an enjoyable blast from the past that unintentionally sates or desire for Twilight trash.