Book Review: Midnight Sun // Stephenie Meyer

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Edward Cullen steps out of the shadows in Midnight Sun… but he won’t shut up about Bella.

Stephenie Meyer’s new novel greets us with the first-person perspective of Edward Cullen, having been finally released in August 2020.

The reader may have expected to be greeted by the eccentric allure of an aristocratic vampire residing in the Gothic shadows. Yet in Midnight Sun, teen vampire and heartthrob Edward Cullen of the Twilight Saga steps out of the dark, exposing himself in contemporary society.

Only his sparkle is now dull and has lost its appeal.

Edward’s narrative was an opportunity for author Stephenie Meyer to delve into a rich tale on the history of Cullen vampirism, stripped of the domestically abusive relationship that has often been flagged up between Bella and Edward.

There are glimpses into the life of the vampires. It is fascinating to see the way Edward and Alice communicate without talking, an aspect that Bella’s narrative was unable to experience. This is particularly interesting during a fast-paced car scene. Edward reads Alice’s mind to predict the quickest way to get to Bella: “in her head, the vehicles on the road froze”, and when Alice “saw [Edward’s] futures spinning out into a thousand different kinds of despair.” Both instances create a new element to the original storyline, showcasing why Edward and Alice have such a close bond, which Bella’s narrative is again unable to tell.

Despite this intriguing element, most of the seven hundred and fifty-six pages are taken up by Edward agonising over Bella, in such a whiney manner that it becomes quite irritating.

There are worrying lines in his narrative that directly cater to Edward trying to justify his controlling and toxic behaviour. He confidently declares, “I wasn’t giving her a chance to say no.” He breaks into Bella’s bedroom whilst she sleeps, his inner justification for this making it an extremely uncomfortable read, “I technically wasn’t even trespassing now”, as he stares creepily into her bedroom from a tree outside. He even comes across as quite shallow when he hopes that Bella will “wear something pretty and delicate rather than this hideous sweater.”

The Twilight Saga from mostly Bella’s perspective was a dreamy, romantic world encompassing a normal girl falling in love with a mysterious, smouldering and alluringly handsome modern vampire. From Bella’s point of view, the narrative takes on an innocent façade that girls could relate to, and the controlling attitude of Edward was there, but not quite as potent. In Midnight Sun, Edward’s unstable mind is the essence of the entire novel, as Meyer is immersed in Edward’s head, stating herself that “every single word was a struggle.” This explains why it took her so long to publish it, as it was agonising for her to be in Edward’s mind. He is no longer the allure behind Bella’s rose-tinted glasses. Instead, the glasses have been ripped off both Bella’s and Twilight fans’ eyes; replaced with a creepy man peering into a vulnerable girl’s window.

For hardcore Twilight fans, this novel has been a long-awaited mystery. It brings back the nostalgia of the past, with a lot of devout fans being teenagers when first discovering the modern vampiric world. This new perspective brings about shock at the reality of Edward’s sinister control and problematic nature. Meyer’s decision to fully expose Edward’s personality is a new perspective, with refreshed eyes of the fans who will mostly now be adults. The problematic side of the saga has become an ugly, glaring invisible light protruding out of the book. A lot of people already knew the controversy the saga held, but it is now really out in the open with Midnight Sun.

Meyer herself didn’t appear to enjoy Edward’s droning persona, stating in one of her live YouTube Q&A’s that she “would much rather be in the head of someone falling in love than someone who is feeling horrible about it.”

What was once a dreamy narrative of a lovestruck girl has now become contaminated with the troubled mind of Edward. Before we even turn the last page, we are left with a break-up from the previous allure of the Twilight Saga.

Words by Eleanor Maslin

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