Title: Midnight Sun
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: August 4, 2020
Print length: 662 pages
Genre: Young adult fiction
When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.
This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?
Midnight Sun — the Twilight retelling we either needed or didn’t need, depending on who you ask.
I’m not going to hate on this book. I mean, hey, I compulsively read the Twilight series (multiple times) way back when, attended a midnight release party for Breaking Dawn, saw all the movies… I may even have had a T-shirt and calendar, but I’ll never admit it.
And yes, I’m a grown-ass woman. Anyhoo…
While my tastes and opinions related to the Twilight series have changed substantially over the years, I can’t deny that no matter how ridiculous the plotting and the writing, there’s something weirdly compelling and readable about these books. Despite my better instincts, they’ve always managed to just suck me in completely.
So, Midnight Sun. This is the long promised and often-leaked book that Stephenie Meyer wrote, retelling the events of Twilight from Edward’s tortured and brooding perspective. Does it work? Well, yes, but you have to decided for yourself whether you actually want to need to hear it all.
First, be aware of the length. From an interview on Amazon, the author explains:
The reason Midnight Sun is a hundred pages longer than Twilight is because the font is much, much smaller. The word count gives you a better picture: Twilight is around 119,000 words; Midnight Sun is about 240,000. It’s literally twice as long. It was obvious from the beginning that Edward’s version would be quite a bit longer. First of all, Edward never sleeps. Secondly, he’s quite the overthinker. Third, he’s lived a lot longer than Bella and thus has a bunch of flashbacks. The length wasn’t something I decided to do 14 years later; the story always demanded this.
You read that correctly: If you’re looking just at word count, which is a better measure for comparison, Midnight Sun is TWICE as long as Twilight, even though it’s telling the same exact story. Living inside Edward’s head must be exhausting!
So let’s get on with my reactions to this book.
Yes, the length was annoying. I felt like I was reading this book non-stop, and it still took me all week to finish. And while I was entertained at first, I got a little weary after a while.
Everything that’s ridiculous and/or annoying about the original is still ridiculous/annoying here. Vampire baseball is still stupid. The Cullens always seeming to pick up Bella and carry her instead of trusting her to walk on her own two feet is all sorts of awkward, and really funny to visualize. Going to hide in Phoenix because the bad guy would assume Bella isn’t stupid enough to hide in Phoenix is… stupid.
The idea that the Cullens could actually attend human high school and blend in somehow is utterly nonsensical. Of course, I do blame the movie version a bit for this, because before seeing the movie, it maybe wasn’t quite as startling in my head how white and nonhuman they all look. But even just reading Midnight Sun, it’s absolutely clear that don’t fit in.
Never mind that fact that if I’d been alive for decades, not to mention a century, the last thing I’d want to do would be to sit through high school over and over again. How utterly awful. Especially given that 4 of the 5 Cullen “children” attending high school are living in partnered adult relationships. Are they teens or adults? It’s weird and confusing every time Edward thinks of himself as being 17.
It’s also funny to realize how much my memory of the Twilight story is influenced by scenes from the movie. I was 100% sure that the big confrontation between Bella and Edward, when she admits that she knows he’s a vampire, takes place in the forest. Right? Right?
Well, sorry, that’s wrong. They’re in Edward’s car. Not quite as dramatic a setting.
But let’s switch over to the positive. It IS actually interesting to see events from Edward’s perspective, to get more of a detailed look at why he reacts to Bella the way he does. Funnily enough, the most interesting parts of Midnight Sun for me are the scenes without Bella, when we see what else was going on when we were following Bella in Twilight.
We get a lot more of the Cullens, and they’re always the best part of the story. We learn a lot about the family history, Edward’s relationships with his different siblings, and how they behave amongst themselves when it’s just them, with no fragile little humans in their midst.
The best character, as always, is Alice. There’s just so much more of her here, and she’s a treat. Through Edward and Alice’s interactions, we get a much better view of how her visions of the future and Edward’s mind-reading work together, and honestly? It’s kind of cool.
Also, through Alice’s visions, we find out more about how Edward sees the future. Alice continually shows him possible outcomes as he falls deeper and deeper in love (or obsession) with Bella, and most aren’t pretty at all. No wonder he’s so torn up inside all the frickin’ time. On the other hand, it’s adorable how Alice tries to steer Edward in certain directions, because she’s seen already that she’s going to love Bella, even before she knows her, and doesn’t want to ruin the chance of being her friend. Awwwww.
Emmett is also pretty awesome as Edward’s closest brother and friend, always having his back and all-around pretty chill. Jasper is a bit enigmatic in this version, and Rosalie isn’t particularly likable, even though Edward repeatedly explains why she feels the way she does about Bella.
I really liked a dramatic car chase scene toward the end where the family basically acts as Edward’s GPS, with Alice monitoring the future for road conditions and speed traps, and the other family members acting as rear and side mirrors, watching the road so Edward can view it through their eyes. Kind of ridiculous, but also pretty fun.
I mean, sure, the more problematic aspects of Twilight are still as problematic in Midnight Sun. Edward is such an obsessive stalker — but I guess because he acknowledges it to himself, it’s supposed to be okay? Sorry, but there’s no way to make his behavior (like lurking in Bella’s bedroom while she sleeps) not creepy, even if he justifies it through his compulsion to keep her safe every second of the day.
And the writing? Well, I suppose tastes may vary, but here are a couple of snippets that prompted me to have to close the book for a minute or two and refocus.
It felt like simmering coals, as though a dull version of my thirsting burn had spread throughout my entire body.
I’m not entirely sure what that means, to be honest.
With her wet hair looping in long seaweed tangles around her shoulders, and her face glowing in the moonlight, she looked more than good. The English language needed a word that meant something halfway between a goddess and a naiad.
Oh, Edward. You’re just too much.
And I guess “too much” is about how I feel overall about this book. I liked it, gotta be honest. It was fun in spots. But Edward is SO broody and introspective, and he just never stops. And even at the end, he’s still planning to leave Bella, which really isn’t the impression I had from the end of Twilight. So that’s a good twist, but I’m not convinced that the new and different outlooks really justify the length of this doorstop of a book.
Please don’t ask me if I’d read more books set in the Twilight world, if Stephenie Meyer decides to keep going.
I think we all know the answer to that question.
14 thoughts on “Book Review: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer”
This is actually the first Midnight Sun review I’ve seen. I honestly wasn’t expecting a rave review, but I’m glad to hear there were parts you enjoyed. Once my review commitments slow down, I may dive in too😁
Despite all my mocking of the original series, I still spent quite a lot of time on those books way back when they were everywhere — so I really did feel the need to see how it all worked in Midnight Sun. I think if it weren’t so long, I might have gone as high as 3.5 stars. 🙂
This is the first review I’ve seen and I’m happy to see you enjoyed returning to the Twilight series. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read Midnight Sun or not but everybody seems to agree it was better being from Edward’s point of view because there was more stuff going on so I might give it a try.
Oh, if you read the original books, then this is definitely worth checking out! Like I mentioned, the best parts in my opinion is getting to see the Cullens’ world behind the scenes, as they experience it — all the things we didn’t see in Twilight because Bella wasn’t there.
I’ve seen a few quotes online from the book and it definitely sounds like there’s a lot more going on since Bella isn’t the narrator. I think I have to give it a read 🙂
Glad to see a review that doesn’t just gloss over Midnight Sun’s *ahem* problematic aspects. I’m only a few pages in and yeah, I agree, being in Edward’s head is exhausting :’D
I think Stephenie Meyer tries to address some of this by having Edward be aware of (and think endlessly about) how he’s crossing the line, but he still does it, so…
WHAT- why does it need to be so long?! Living inside Edward’s head must be exhausting, cos it’s not like Bella cut to the chase- she was pretty longwinded too! haha I’m not surprised everything that’s ridiculous and/or annoying about the original is still ridiculous/annoying here. And yeah, hiding out in a high school is dumb. It’s weird that Edward thinks of himself as 17 as well!! Really great review! Not sure I have the stamina for what is effectively twilight… but even longer!
As much as I might cringe, I still had to read this! Some of my book group friends want to do a side-by-side read with Twilight, where we’d read the matching chapters from each book and compare. On the one hand, it’s been so long since I read Twilight, and it might be interesting from a strategy perspective to see how MS fits into the Twilight framework… but honestly, the idea of dealing with this book AGAIN just makes me tired.
my copy is loaded with typos. starting at ch.16 & continuing to the end. i bought it when it first came available. i just shelved it with no desire to do anything about it. i doubt they would send an amended copy at this point. i searched to see if anyone else had this happen but nope, none so far.
Oh no, that’s awful. It’s been long enough that I don’t remember coming across a ton of typos.That’s enough to really ruin a reading experience.
It contains chapter 16 twice & is completely missing chapters 18 & 19. 😦
Thank you for replying to my comment so quickly. 🙂
Wow, that’s really terrible, and goes way beyond typos! It might be too late, but I’d still be inclined to reach out to the publisher and request a replacement.
The odd thing is that I can’t find any actual point of contact. Their page has no customer services, media contact, or even an 800 #… They don’t actually handle the binding process & I think that this is how one can avoid the headaches of misprint issues, which is the other reason my sad copy now sits on the shelf. Maybe many years from now my daughter can cash in on it’s flaws. (?)