Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: August 4, 2020
At the time I first read Twilight, the book hadn’t quite exploded yet. A friend at my Bible study handed it to me when she found out I liked fantasy. And I have to confess, I would not have found the rest of the vampire genre (including my favorite book series, Jane Yellowrock) without it. I’d always steered away, thinking vampires just weren’t my thing. It’s been an ongoing complaint that Twilight “ruined” vampire fiction by giving new readers this image of vampires as all friendly and sparkly. My copy of The Curse of Straud has an introduction emphasizing the authors’ desire to return to a version of the vampire that truly is a threatening monster. Even the new Lego movie has a vampire who’s essentially a mock version of Edward. But to me, Twilight became a soft introduction to a genre I now love. For whatever other faults it might have, I need to give it credit for that.
But of course, this review is about Midnight Sun–the story of Twilight as told from the vampire’s point of view. I suspected Edward would make a more interesting narrator than Bella, and this definitely holds true. The main driving force for a good chunk of Twilight is Bella actually figuring out what Edward is and deciding if she’s okay with that. So the change of POV makes a huge difference. Edward’s ability to read minds makes him an interesting narrator in that a few scenes read like they’re being told in third person omniscient…except we’re in Edward’s head while he’s currently in someone else’s head. He emphasizes in the original book just how disorienting it is for him not to know what Bella is thinking, but you can really feel his frustration with it when he’s the one telling the story.
I enjoyed getting more background about some of Edward’s family members, and I really enjoyed how his powers partner together so well with Alice’s. Her ability to see glimpses of the future is used in some interesting and creative ways throughout the book.
Bella and Edward’s romance is, of course, at the center of the story, and Edward talks about Bella a lot. It’s sweet in small doses, but it can be overbearing in heavy ones. Edward’s main obsession is what he sees as Bella’s unparalleled selflessness. She’s not worried about vampires hurting her; she’s worried about inadvertently causing harm to them. She talks down about herself, emphasizing how ordinary she is, while Edward remains baffled. Bella always worked for me as a stand-in for the reader moreso than a complex or nuanced character in her own right. (Which is why her dependence on Edward never particularly bothered me in the way that it might with other female leads.) But most people know they are selfish sometimes. Most people know they make mistakes. When Bella becomes too perfect, that connection with the reader gets severed.
I don’t think this book will win over any readers who have a bad taste in the mouths about the Twilight series as a whole. I can understand preferring a stronger, more independent female lead over a reader avatar. But if any readers passed it over before and have a lingering curiosity about it, Midnight Sun might actually be a decent place to start.
Rating: 3 out of 5
You can find Midnight Sun on Goodreads
You can also buy Midnight Sun on Amazon. (Affiliate link)