... a new look at Edward’s internal struggle concerning Bella, along with deep glimpses into his past and his family dynamics, that make him a more complex, and better, character ... The best thing about an Edward Cullen book turns out to be his gift of telepathy, the thoughts of others coming off like the footnotes you never knew you needed ... Yes, the writing is still Twilight writing. If you came for modern and concise, you’re opening the wrong book ... he Edward/Bella power dynamic is still ripe for criticism, as is the depiction of the Quileute characters who don’t get much time in this book, not even Jacob Black. They still come off as stereotypical B-list characters. Meyer said that in writing Midnight Sun she was locked into the original story. But leaving those aspects unchanged adds a staleness to what is in many other ways an entertaining page-turner carried by frisson after frisson, that sexual tension of youth ... So, will team Edward be happy with this book? The original team Edward from 2005 who binged the books and watched all five series-inspired movies that pulled in over $3 billion at the box office? Absolutely. Meyer wrote with her biggest fans in mind, dedicating the book to them, and plunging into the mind of Washington state’s most complicated teenage vampire as he falls for a woman who is more determined than we’ve given her credit for.
If you are a die-hard Twilight fan (I am, by the way), you know that some of Meyer’s narrative choices have long been problematic. Yes, many vampire tales feature characters doing bad things, but Twilight, as a young adult novel, seemed to rest on metaphors of boys not being able to control their urges, and only appreciating the girls who are most mysterious to them ... Also, Edward Cullen is a centenarian who falls for a teenager. Bella is dodging unwanted invitations to the school dance, meanwhile, Edward was sired as a vampire during the 1918 flu pandemic ... His stalking also feels worse. In Twilight Bella learns that Edward watches her while she sleeps. But in Midnight Sun readers get a first-person account of that spying with unsettling details. He expresses some guilt, but dude, get out of her room! ... In May, when the news was so bleak, I wondered whether this might be a perfect time for the release of Midnight Sun. Like Meyer I hoped it might transport fans the way the stories did a decade ago ... I suppose it does, but more because of the nostalgia that comes with it.
It’s hard not to take issue with the prissy no-sex morals, Cullen’s stalkery behaviour and the endless references to his car. The first four books were criticised for giving Swan little agency, and although Meyer does attempt to empower her here, she only does so by making Cullen appear weaker and anxiety-ridden — like a vampiric, less interesting Karl Ove Knausgaard. She remains the wimpiest of female leads. Just eat something, just leave, just stop blushing, you want to say when she nibbles on another apple and takes another cue from the manipulative Cullen ... The difficulty with a second take on the same story is the lack of surprise, which can only be countered with exceptional writing. Instead, Cullen’s central dilemma — how do you love someone you want to eat? — is picked to the bone until you wish they’d eat each other and spared us another 400 pages. The dialogue is so clunky that it might have been written in another language and put through Google Translate ... Meyer told The New York Times that she found this book her most difficult yet and each sentence was a struggle. I’m afraid that you can tell. Time to shut the coffin on this series.
It has all the same clunky, leaden sentences you remember from the first time Twilight came out in 2005, and the same bizarre pacing, where nothing really happens until maybe 50 pages from the ending. It has the same insistence that stalking and emotional abuse is romantic, the same casual racism toward Indigenous people, and every other fault that made the franchise a general pop culture punching bag when it was at the height of its cultural saturation 10 years ago ... something in this franchise spoke deeply to the hearts of thousands of girls. That something is valuable, and worth a closer look. I can only find traces of it in Midnight Sun ... Meyer’s boredom is palpable. She has absolutely no interest in writing about a vampire-on-vampire game of cat-and-mouse through the wilderness ... we already saw...Bella’s point of view. And it was sexier and more interesting there. There’s a reason that the first time Stephenie Meyer told this story, she chose to tell it through Bella’s eyes and not Edward’s. Once you get inside Edward’s head, you’re stuck with a serious case of diminishing returns.
...you might find yourself struggling with two aspects of this fanged love story. There’s the laughably bad writing, of course – 'her scent hit me like a battering ram, like an exploding grenade' or, worse, 'her heart throbbed wetly' – but also the questionable romanticisation of a man dating a teenager who a) he wants to eat and b) he is five times older than (not that anyone can tell, because vampires don’t wrinkle) ... the framing of Bella and Edward’s love story becomes even more unpalatable now that it’s narrated by his desires ... dward doesn’t have to be a role model – if he’s a vampire, by definition he’s also a murderer – but it would be better if his behaviour didn’t blur into the sort that often ends up with women not able to leave their house or call their friends ... unfortunately, what you learn most about Edward is his pathologically dedicated invasion of Bella’s mind and body, dictating where she should go and demanding she say how she feels when she does. So obsessed is he with old-fashioned gender roles that he doesn’t even swear in front of women ... Midnight Sun is a frustrating reminder of how much of popular culture focuses on a helpless woman being saved by a troubled, yet ultimately forgivable man. In the Twilight universe, vampires don’t burn under the sun, they gleam like diamonds. I wish they did set alight, though: that way I might not have to hear Edward’s inner monologue as his lips rest on Bella’s neck ever again.
...Edward’s agonising over his urge to bite the new girl at school is supposed to lend the story a dark new twist. Instead, by page 150 he is hopelessly in love with her, and the feeling is soon reciprocated. The next 600 pages feel a bit like being sat uncomfortably close to a young couple who won’t stop kissing ... It would be hard for any reader to find Bella as fascinating as Edward does, with her character, never very distinctive, now smothered by his adoring gaze ... Unfortunately, Midnight Sun does not make for gripping reading, nor significantly expand Meyer’s vampiric lore, an obvious missed opportunity when writing from Edward’s perspective. It feels below the belt to criticise the quality of the writing, given that Twilight was never loved for that – but there is something to be said for editing ... Despite its door-stopper density, Midnight Sun does not amplify the original novel. At times, it even undermines it ... Her publishers, at least, are confident, with a huge initial print run and global release. But moving from Bella to Edward could be a less dramatic shift in perspective than that undergone by the Twihards over the last 15 years, now mostly in their 30s and finding themselves reading the same book. Will they readily be swept away by a vampire-meets-girl love story? It is hard to imagine when they’ve already read it.
... the worst book of the series, which isn’t exactly Shakespeare to begin with ... Meyer’s prose has never been her strong suit; it continues not to be ... Bella is not an interesting character, but she comes from something of an authentic place. Edward should be the opposite, having a less accessible perspective but at least a fascinating one — and yet! Even having lived a century with unlimited time, extensive resources, and the actual ability to read minds, his narration is neither more erudite nor more insightful than Bella’s; Meyer repeatedly tries to tell us that Edward is these things, but when the novel is in his voice, the failure to actually show it is all the more conspicuous ... The degree to which Edward mentally tortures himself for potentially endangering his beloved is nothing compared to the punishment he inflicts on a reader. It’s hard to take his perpetual anguish over their future very seriously when we know exactly what ending this story will come to. It is staggeringly boring to read him go through the same spiral of desire/shame/self-doubt/weak resolve every single time he and Bella so much as make eye contact across the parking lot ... Who knew a love story could be so joyless? ... The details about the Cullens’ lifestyle and personal histories are the best new insight into this world that Midnight Sun has to offer, and a reminder of the sparkle (for lack of a better word) the story held when it first was told through Bella’s incredulous eyes ... His desperation to keep her safe and his fetishistic obsession with her fragility are even ickier than they ever were in the first four novels (which is saying something) ... I sincerely commend all Twihards who made it through what felt to me like an interminable 600+ pages. For those who have yet to crack the spine, though, a warning: Read Midnight Sun at your own risk. It just might suck the life out of you.
I was not (totally) disappointed. First, it should go without saying that 658 pages of excruciatingly detailed vampire thirst makes for a dull and likely unsettling read if you’re not already a Twi-hard, or at least a casual fan. The dialogue and plot twists will feel familiar to anyone who has read the original book or seen the movie. And the major flaws of the Twilight series—its depiction of a problematic romance, its turgid prose and its careless treatment of Indigenous characters—remain. I can’t say that Midnight Sun is a good book. But it is more complex, more sophisticated and less innocent than Twilight ... Still, it’s far more fascinating to discover the world of the vampires through the eyes of one of their own ... Somehow, it makes the romance more believable—if also more disturbing ... In a world where Midnight Sun had existed before Twilight, or instead of it, there’s no doubt we’d still find it problematic. But a teen girl like me might have read the story as what it ultimately became: a cautionary tale.
With no real context for why the book is finally seeing the light of day, it’s difficult to see the rushed timing as anything more than a cash grab. Over a decade after Bella Swan made her final choice, is it really worth resurrecting this book into a second life? ... Unfortunately, the answer is: only for the most diehard Twilight fans, and even then it’s a stretch ... because these star-crossed lovers are so inexorably drawn to each other, it’s especially difficult to make a retelling that doesn’t just copy-and-paste the same dialogue but swap the pronouns and proper nouns. Meyer does what she can within the constraints that she created fifteen years ago ... Even Twilight fans will be hard-pressed to find enough that’s new and compelling about this retelling.