When “Twilight” was released 15 years ago, the atypical love story between the immortal Edward Cullen and 17-year-old Bella Swan shook the world. The first four books of the series are told from Bella’s perspective and recount her relentless journey to understand her vampire lover.
Eight years after the release of the last film “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2,” the Twihard fandom is recharged on Twilight fever with Stephenie Meyer’s new book “Midnight Sun.” The companion novel to the first “Twilight” book retells Edward and Bella’s love story from Edward’s perspective. A draft of “Midnight Sun” leaked online in 2008, which led fans into an infinite anticipation of the rebirth of the series. Even though most of the original Twilight fans are in their twenties now, the new novel sold 1 million copies in the first week of its Aug. 4 release.
“It became obvious that there wasn’t a real end in sight with COVID,” author Stephenie Meyer told the New York Times. “I am really excited when I have a book to read right now, because there’s not much else that’s exciting. I hoped people would feel the same way.”
Meyer was right: releasing the book in the middle of quarantine boredom became the time to revive twilight fever. However, it also emphasized the bizarre connection between Twilight and pandemics. Edward died during the 1918 Influenza pandemic in Chicago, and more than 100 years later, his interpretation of his fantastical love story was released in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with a recollection of memories from Edward’s transformation, the novel discloses a complex characterization of Edward, full of cringe-y, petrifying and uncomfortable moments. “Midnight Sun” reveals Edward’s constant battles with his inner beast that originates from the animal instinct of his vampire nature. Readers learn a very detailed and, at times, excruciating description of Edward’s thoughts as he meets Bella and instantly falls in love with her (and her thirst-quenching scent).
The first pages of the novel disturbingly depict his exhaustive mass murder plans initiated by his first encounter with Bella’s bewitching scent. This plot to murder his classmates deteriorates the dreamy image that Team Edward has created from past novels. His constant struggle with his inhuman side and animal-like instincts adds a layer of complexity that is only hinted at through Bella’s perspective.
Edwards' character becomes far more complex and emotional in “Midnight Sun.” His thoughts reveal the insecurities and anxieties he lives with. This side of Edward contrasts the romanticized version that Bella described and makes Edward a likely winner of the most thought-provoking character of the series.
After powering through the overlapping plot that Twihards are familiar with, the novel provides insight not only into Edward’s thoughts, but the thoughts of other characters: Edward’s unique mind-reading abilities leave the reader with the unfiltered thoughts of supporting characters such as Alice, Jessica and Jasper.
Although the insights are provoking and add a layer of novelty to the story, Edward’s condescending opinion and judgement of other character’s thoughts further hinder his charming aesthetic found in past novels. Consequently, Meyer widens the juxtaposition between vampires and humans through Edward’s growing god complex, even to the extent that he refers to humans as “children.”
Edward’s obsessive stalking is still evident in this novel, and Meyer does little to ameliorate it. Edward’s controlling habits are, as they were in previous novels, an obvious flaw. Meyer attributes this to his animal-like nature as opposed to blaming Edward’s human nature, which reads as an evasion of criticism rather than a solution.
Likewise, the additional 150 pages of "Midnight Sun" do little to quench the thirst of Twilight fans that have been waiting for new Twilight material for years. Instead of providing readers with new information, the novel is longer because it uses an absurd amount of adjectives and adverbs that make Edward’s account more vivid, yet tedious to read. Although Edward's extremely detailed thoughts are overloaded, the novel does not provide considerable new information apart from the original script of the first “Twilight” novel.
Nonetheless, the new novel revived the Twilight fandom and created nostalgia for fantasy romances. Meyer dedicated “Midnight Sun” to the fans who have followed her throughout this journey.
“When we first met, many of you were young teenagers with bright, beautiful eyes full of dreams for the future,” Meyer wrote in the dedication of the novel. “I hope that in the years that have passed, you’ve all found your dreams and that the reality of them was even better than you had hoped.”
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