You could say I used to be a Twihard. In middle school, I remember proudly carrying the Bible-sized Twilight series around as if it were some sort of badge of coolness for having a mom that allowed me to read it. My friends and sisters were big fans, too, even prompting us to visit Forks, Washington, on a stop during a family vacation years ago.
Since that pubescent age, I have occasionally revisited the movie adaptations, but I’ve never sat down to reread any of the books. But when I learned that Stephenie Meyer was coming out with Midnight Sun, a retelling of the original Twilight story from the perspective of the sexy, sparkly and brooding Edward, I felt like I owed it to my younger self to give it a chance. Maybe it would be an easy, nostalgic and guilty-pleasure type of read. (Spoiler: It was none of those things.)
Let me begin by saying that if you didn’t like the other four Twilight books, there is no way you’re going to like this new addition. Midnight Sun solidifies Edward’s place as one of the most annoying male characters ever. After sitting through more than 600 pages of his inner monologue, I found myself wishing vampires could die. The book further ruins Edward’s character because now he’s not the mysterious jerk that balanced his aloofness with intrigue that Meyer had crafted him to be in the original series. The allure is gone, and now he’s simply a whiny jerk.
It was interesting coming back to the storyline as a 21-year-old after I fell in love with Edward as a sixth grader. In the retelling, he is even more flawed than I remembered. The spiel was constantly repetitive and downright creepy. This didn’t sound like the heartthrob I once swooned over. Or maybe it did and now I have the hindsight to see it for what it is. Midnight Sun reminded me why this series was so widely ridiculed and branded as cringey.
Little details that weren’t included in the original really solidified Edward’s psychopathic tendencies. Midnight Sun reveals that the first time Edward met Bella, he did plan to kill her, which was not what we were led to believe in the initial telling of their introduction. We are also exposed to the numerous times Edward watched Bella sleep without her knowledge (again, creepy). His constant inner monologue reveals his obsession with Bella’s “delicacy” and “weakness.” How did I not realize Edward was basically a misogynist?
The book was incredibly painful to get through. The constant back-and-forth in Edward’s head of loving Bella or leaving her was exhausting. If I could describe this book in a snippet, it would have to be this bit from Chapter 7:
“Attraction was an impossible dilemma, because I was already too attracted to Bella in the worst way. Did I want Bella to be attracted to me? A woman to a man? That was the wrong question. The right question was should I want Bella to be attracted to me that way, and the answer was no. Because I was not a human man, and that wasn’t fair to her.”
To be fair, there were a few interesting parts. In Bella’s absence the reader found out more about the plot that Twilight didn’t tell us before. However, these tiny and sparse plot lines could not save the book as a whole. Literally and figuratively, it sucked the life out of me.
Maybe this was Meyer’s expose on how terrible Edward’s character always was. Maybe this is just a part of growing up, realizing that things you once enjoyed aren’t as good as you remembered. Whether you’re a Twilight fan or not, I wouldn’t advise reading Midnight Sun. And if you do, let me know how you got through it.