On Aug. 4, Stephenie Meyer brought fans back to 2008 with her long-awaited release of “Midnight Sun.” The new addition to “The Twilight Saga” is a retelling of the first book through Edward’s point of view. Originally meant to be released at the peak of the series’s popularity, “Midnight Sun” was leaked online, and Meyer set aside the project for 13 years, saying that “what happened was a huge violation of my rights as an author, not to mention me as a human being.”
When the news came out that “Midnight Sun” was finally being released, fans rejoiced that they could relive the story of Edward and Bella. It brought nostalgia for “Twilight” fanatics, who have been waiting for “Midnight Sun” to come out for more than 12 years. In her announcement for the new book, Meyer writes that books have been her “main solace and happiest escape” during the pandemic, and that she hopes the release will give fans “some pleasure and something fun to look forward to” as they dive back into Edward and Bella’s world.
Given the complexity of Edward’s thoughts and his ability to read the thoughts of others, “Midnight Sun” surpasses “Twilight” by 160 pages. In addition, the book offers readers new passages that revolve around the Cullens, as well as thought-provoking scenes of Edward watching Alice’s visions of the future as they happen.
There are multiple new passages without Bella that show how he interacts with his family. While Bella is in La Push, Edward and Emmett hunt. It is an interesting part to read given that Emmett likes to play with his food, which, in this case, is a grizzly bear. In another scene, they hold a family meeting about Bella, and Rosalie and Jasper fight against the relationship. The scene is filled with mixed emotions and sibling spats.
“Midnight Sun” is not without its critics. Some readers view Edward’s voice as boring and monotonous. One former fan, Shelby Talbot, describes the book as “suffering through nearly 700 pages of Edward’s bland narration of a story that’s nearly identical to one you’ve already read.”
Talbot goes on to list a few criticisms commonly leveled at “Twilight,” such as the wide age gap between Edward and Bella, Jasper’s barely discussed past as a Confederate soldier, and the “careless and insensitive Indigenous representation,” especially pertaining to the Quileute Tribe in La Push, Washington.
Edward’s constant battle between right and wrong takes up a majority of the pages. He teeters between wanting to be with Bella and wanting to leave because of the danger he brings to her life. While it may seem repetitive to some readers, it brings more depth to his tough decision to leave Forks in “New Moon” — foreshadows it, even, especially in the book’s epilogue.
Descriptions of Edward’s overthinking and anxiety reveal a more nuanced personality in “Midnight Sun,” compared to Bella’s idealized version of him in the original. Meyer mentions that “Edward is a very anxious character. Writing him made me more anxious.” His anxiety increases as the book goes on and he grapples with the decision of being in Bella’s life even if it will put her in jeopardy. He constantly struggles with Alice’s vision of Bella’s inevitable transformation into a vampire. He does not want to condemn her to an eternal life without, he believes, a soul, and ending up like Rosalie, who wishes she was human.
The first page of the novel begins with Edward acting unexpectedly like an ordinary teenager: “This was the time of day when I most wished I were able to sleep. High school.” Although he’s immortal, there are moments throughout the book where he does seem 17, such as his first kiss with Bella or his little spats with Rosalie. In the first chapter, Edward goes through his “normal” life, all while mind-reading and trying to act human with his siblings in the cafeteria. He pays no mind to the gossip around school about Bella, thinking it meaningless until he realizes he cannot read her mind, and smells her blood during biology class.
Fans have been questioning what exactly goes on in Edward’s mind when he smells her blood for the first time. It is a scene in the movie that is often parodied because of Robert Pattinson’s laughable reaction. “Midnight Sun” answers this question: Edward thinks of multiple ways to kill Bella and spends the whole class weighing the pros and cons of each. In an almost comedic manner, his thoughts race as he contemplates how exactly he could get away with killing her.
One of the major mysteries is Edward not being able to read Bella’s mind. What exactly makes her special?
In “Midnight Sun,” it is revealed that Edward has a hard time reading Charlie’s — her dad’s — as well; it is muddled and blurry around the edges. He has to interpret the feelings and images present in Charlie’s mind. On the other hand, the mind of Bella’s mother is loud, almost as if she’s yelling. This combination of the two creates Bella’s immunity to Edward’s special ability. When he meets her mom for the first time, it is through her thoughts: “I remembered my earlier speculations about Bella’s mother — my curiosity to understand what kind of mind had combined with Charlie’s to create someone as distinct and unusual as Bella.”
The biggest reason to read the novel would be the in-depth look at the characters. Due to Edward’s mind-reading ability, all the characters have a bigger part to play in the novel, especially Edward’s family and Bella’s classmates.
Bella’s friend, Angela, who is barely characterized in the original novel, is seen through Edward as a kind-hearted, helpful girl. While he is pursuing Bella, he prefers to view her through Angela’s thoughts because she genuinely views her as a friend, unlike her other classmates, Jessica and Mike — the former ruled by jealousy and the latter ruled by his infatuation with Bella. Readers even watch as Edward acts as a wingman for Angela to thank her for being kind to Bella. He subtly lets her crush, Ben, know through a loud conversation with Emmett that she likes him by fibbing about Angela rejecting Edward for him.
Alice, one of the most fascinating characters due to her ability to see the future, has a strong relationship with Edward. They often communicate through their minds, with Alice frequently showing her visions to him. Emmett, at one point during one of their silent communications that he is not a part of, thinks, “It never gets less annoying.” She also accepts Bella straight away, seeing that they will be best friends with her in the future.
Other characters are given more limelight in the novel as well, such as Jessica, Emmett and Jasper.
“Midnight Sun” gives insight to the original story of “Twilight,” filling in gaps and giving new life to smaller characters. Fans of the original “Twilight” books will feel nostalgia as they travel back to 2008 as they read this new addition to the saga, especially with the added depth to the characters and the plot.
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