Midnight Sun (Twilight #5 / #1) by Stephenie Meyer (2020)
YA Fiction | Paranormal Romance
“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 beautiful, mysterious Bella is both the most intriguing and unnerving event he has experienced in his long life 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 let himself fall in love with Bella when he knows that he is endangering her life?
In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and, drawing on the classic myth of Hades and Persephone, brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.”
Book One: TWILIGHT
pooled ink Review:
At last the day has arrived when Stephenie Meyer finally finished what she began so many years ago, finally triumphed over the horrible shock of having her partial, unedited draft of Midnight Sun leaked to the internet of trolls, and we can now all read the beginning of Edward and Bella’s romance from Edward’s point of view. I’m not gonna lie to you, I was pretty damn excited despite whatever I may say about the Twilight series. Apparently Twihards never die, they simply bide their time to rise again. Like a virus.
…gosh I have such a love/hate relationship with this series haha. Anyway, onto my review!
Edward’s POV, likely influenced by his being born in 1901, reads like an Edwardian (no pun intended, that’s the actual era lol) romance novel – a bit flowery, a bit dramatic, a bit of a bleeding heart (sure the pomegranate on the cover symbolizes Hades & Persephone, but it also looks a bit like a bleeding heart which I personally found just as appropriate if not more so) and yet somehow rather swoon worthy. With Edward telling the tale, Midnight Sun becomes an almost rationalized, less ridiculous, more tolerable version of Twilight. Who knew such a thing was possible?
One of my biggest dislikes with the series is Bella. Even when I loved the books years ago I didn’t love her as the series went on. Oh I fell for her innocent average girl persona in Twilight absolutely and that along with her sass had me hooked, but gosh I can’t stand the girl anymore. Especially in all the sequels. UGH. The freaking worst. But this is about Midnight Sun and through Edward’s eyes Bella is so much more tolerable. She comes across as shy, kindhearted, generous in spirit, and an all around intelligent, sweet, young, teenage girl. Bella in Twilight is an utter twit and her treatment of Charlie is intolerable (Charlie is by far one of the best characters in the series and he only gains more points when we get to hear his inner thoughts and feelings via Edward’s gift though admittedly I think Angela remains the only character with zero pitfalls).
Angela Weber, a quiet girl whose thoughts were unusually kind, was the only one at the table who wasn’t obsessed with this Bella.
Though Bella’s father’s thoughts were past words, the panic and concern emanating from the man’s mind drowned out just about every other thought in the vicinity…When Alice had warned me that killing Charlie Swan’s daughter would kill him too, she had not been exaggerating. My head bowed with that guilt as I listened to his panicked voice.
But yes. Bella was almost lovely to get to know, almost fun, and I was shocked. That being said rather than coming across as irritating as in Twilight, she came across as rather bland. There were moments of kindness or sass, but very brief ones and overall she seemed stripped down and sanded of all her qualities that made her a person no matter how irritating a person that was. Bella had become a dullard. Then the moment arrived when Bella and Edward become “official” (aka the meadow scene/after) and this book seriously slowed down, my tolerance began to deteriorate, and even Edward’s rose-colored glasses couldn’t save Bella from my loathing. She had somehow transformed into a simultaneously bland character and an irritating twit at the same time. I suppose it was too much to ask to enjoy the entirety of this book. But I did enjoy a lot of it much to my surprise.
It was often like this with her: never stepping out of her quiet comfort zone except for someone else’s perceived need; changing the subject whenever her circle of human friends grew too cruel to one another, thanking a teacher for their lesson if that teacher seemed down; giving up her locker for a more inconvenient location so two best friends could be neighbors; smiling a certain smile that never surfaced for her contented friends, only revealing itself to someone who was hurting. Little things that none of her acquaintances or admirers ever seemed to see.
I had been genuinely prepared to cackle and heckle this book to death to my friends (I often cannot resist spamming their phones with commentary when I sink my teeth into a juicy read) but instead I found myself oddly not hating it at all. I kept waiting for it to hit but soon enough I was halfway through, five chapters left, then done and still I did not hate it (though Bella did her best and it came very very close). To be frank (and to my genuine shock) I almost wish I could have read the story of Bella & Edward from Edward’s POV all along and delete Bella’s version from my brain. Not only did I enjoy Edward’s “voice” more but we get so much more in general.
I loved getting to know more about the Cullen family, seeing flashbacks of Edward’s past, understanding Edward’s thoughts and motivations (far less creepy than any natural assumptions though still not altogether acceptable lol), etc. We just get so much more and it’s far more interesting than anything Bella previously offered. Overall it was fascinating getting to view these characters we are all familiar with from Edward’s POV and with his additional insight. Mike, Jessica, Rosalie, and others have their dirty laundry aired and Bella, Jacob, Angela, and others have their better souls brought further into the light. Sure this is primarily though Edward’s POV but thanks to his “gift” we really get glimpses from just about everyone’s POV and it added so much more to the characters, the plot, the experience, everything. (We even get clues to the origin of Bella’s unusually silent mind.)
…Then I realized that I was worrying, just like that dimwitted boy [Mike], and I forced myself not to think about her health.
Carlisle nodded absently, still looking over the X-rays….Look at all the healed contusions! How many times did her mother drop her! Carlisle laughed to himself at his joke.
[Mike] would routinely sit on her side of our table before Biology began…Just polite smiles, I told myself. All the same, I frequently amused myself by imagining backhanding him across the room and into the far wall. It probably wouldn’t injure him fatally…
Though this book obviously follows the same timeline and plot as Twilight, it feels almost like an altogether new experience. Not only do we view everything from a new light but Meyer manages to throw in enough new content, secret confessions, and hidden possibilities that for every scene that rumbles along with direct dialogue, there are two more that are fresh and illuminating. (Also we get far more insight into just how difficult it is for Edward to be around a human Bella which is great but also makes Bella more infuriating lol).
I was surprised to find myself enjoying a lot of what this book had to offer but of course Meyer can’t rewrite elements already set in stone via Twilight so of course issues remain. Learning Edward’s POV makes it even more incomprehensible that he’d ever abandon her in New Moon, it simply does not track with either his thoughts/actions in this beginning nor with Alice’s visions should he make such a choice so I maintain that the sequel is utter bullshit. Edward is still a boundary/privacy crosser with his stalker-like tendencies and though he admits it and we get to understand his generally honorable motivations, it’s still not okay to break into a girl’s bedroom and watch her sleep without her knowledge or permission. And of course it is clear that though Edward exposes some lovely and warm qualities about Bella that we did not previously know, overall he views this girl through rose-tinted glasses and either A) Midnight Sun Bella and Twilight Bella are two different characters entirely OR B) Edward is a fool and Bella is still a twit. In many ways this book does feel as if it is attempting to alter or compensate for the harsh views of Bella and Edward’s romance from Twilight and in many ways it succeeds, almost making me fall in love along with them, but at the end of the day it is still a bit too obsessive, a bit too “insta-love”, a bit too teenager and ridiculous for me to swallow and swoon. Even so, I’d consider re-reading this tale again but only ever from Edward’s POV and probably not past the meadow scene.
I can’t quite tell if Meyer’s writing skills improved since Twilight or if Edward’s classier tint of speech simply lends itself to sounding more sophisticated, but it did rather smooth things over and I didn’t hate it haha. He also has a slightly more mature bearing that also added to the tolerability that Bella simply lacked.
Do I hope for the rest of the series to be released in Edward’s POV? I’m honestly not sure because for me the books become more and more intolerable. Actually, scratch that. My answer is “No.” I hate Bella, I start to loathe Jacob, I want to smack Edward…they have good moments but overall the soap opera level of drama is far too much for me and though Edward’s gentle prose calmed things to a tolerable level for this book I am not quite sure he possesses the power enough to do so for the rest of the series particularly as the drama grows more ludicrous. *shudders*
In summation, Midnight Sun is a telling of Bella & Edward’s romance that fans have long been waiting for and will likely not be very disappointed by. The antique lilt of Edward’s inner dialogue is lovely and comforting to follow, the insight into not only Edward’s but everyone’s minds (save for Bella’s) thanks to his “gift” is fascinating and helps not only round out the characters but the story itself, and there is enough “new” woven into the familiar to create a book worth reading and not merely a mock of something already written. Overall this is a story one might consider exploring whether one has read Twilight already or not.
She dreamed of me. I wanted to dream of her.
She stared back at me, her expression full of wonder. I had to look away.
I could not dream of her. She should not dream of me.
*You can read more about my first impressions upon hearing the news of this long awaited novel in my Cover Reveal post here.
**To keep sane during COVID-19, a few of my friends and I have been re-reading the entire Twilight series over Zoom and of course it is chock full of our commentary (more so as we fall into a rhythm and as the story escalates). My friend Jenna decided to take these recordings and edit them into chapter-by-chapter videos on YouTube and if you’d like to over analyze and chuckle along with us then you can do so here.
***Amanda the Jedi does a pretty great (technically spoiler-filled?) recap/review of Midnight Sun so if you’ve read the book and want to compare notes or don’t want to bother reading the book but are still curious about what goes on in it then I’d recommend watching this video and you can do so here.
Purchase here: Midnight Sun
Meet Stephenie Meyer!
Best known for her Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer’s four-book collection has sold over 100 million copies globally in over 50 countries, with translations in 37 different languages. Meyer was the highest-selling author of 2008 and 2009 in the United States, having sold over 29 million books in 2008, and 26.5 million books in 2009. In 2008, Meyer also released The Host, which debuted at #1 on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Additionally, USA Today declared Meyer “Author of the Year,” citing that she had done something that no one else had in the 15 years of the USA Today bestselling book list– she swept the top four slots in 2008. Meyer also accomplished this feat in 2009, when The Twilight Saga once again dominated the top of the bestseller list. All together, her books have spent over 303 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Literature. She lives in Arizona with her husband and sons.