Thursday, September 24, 2020

Midnight Sun - Stephenie Meyer

Midnight Sun is the companion novel to Twlight, the first book in the best-selling Twilight saga.  

Summary:  I could see how easy it would be to fall into loving Bella.  It would be exactly like falling: effortless.  Not letting myself love her was the opposite of falling -- it was pulling myself up a cliff face, hand over hand, the task as grueling as if I had no more than mortal strength.

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love store 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 a 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?

In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.  (Summary from book - Image from amazon.com)

My Review:  I read Twilight for the first time in 2005 and mentally reviewed it as entertaining, escapist YA fiction.  I was 100% there for it and partied on the Twilight train until the final book-that-shall-not-be-named was released and, in my mind, abruptly derailed the series.  We all cope with atrociously named vampire babies and wolves imprinting on infants in different ways.  In a long term fit of denial, I still insist the series is a trilogy.  Don't judge...but keep reading.  

It is immediately evident that Meyer's writing has matured since her Twilight days.  I can't describe exactly how; it just feels like her writing has grown up and filled out a bit.  If you haven't read Twilight recently, I recommend doing so before picking up Midnight Sun.  My feelings about the series have changed dramatically over the years (holy crow, our couple needs some therapy) but I appreciated the reminder of the Twilight timeline, characters, and their personal interactions and, overall, I believe it greatly enhanced my experience with Midnight Sun.  

Obviously, Midnight Sun follows the events of Twilight, but being in Edward's head brings a little bit more to the table.  One of the most interesting aspects of the book stems from Edward's ability to hear what others are thinking. His minds-eye view of all the character's fleshed them out a bit, giving me a peek inside the heads of everyone from the Cullen clan to Bella's friends, parents, and even Jacob and his family.  Often, Edward's perspective gave somewhat surprising insight into certain characters.  For example, Bella's not-so-secret admirer, Mike Newton, got a lot creepier, and her BFF Jessica is clearly working on her 'frienemy' merit badge.

One of the main reasons I picked up this book was that I wanted to 'see' some of my favorite Twilight moments from Edward's perspective (the icy parking lot, the Port Angeles rescue, Blood Typing Day, meeting the Cullens, etc.)  Although much of the book features Bella and Edward together, I enjoyed reading about the moments that occurred out of Bella's line of sight, like exactly how Edward ended up in Port Angeles, what went down afterwards, his good deed for one of Bella's true friends, and the mad dash to save Bella in Phoenix.  Edward also spends plenty of time interacting with his family, which allowed me to get a better sense of each of the Cullens and quite a bit more of their individual backstories.

Finally, I felt that Meyer's made an effort to temper some of the red flags surrounding Edward's personality.  In Twilight, Edward occasionally made belittling comments towards Bella, which really bothered me.  In Midnight Sun, Meyer's showed that Edward had a much less derisive view of Bella than his admittedly boorish comments would indicate.  Similarly, the author made Edward's sneaky forays into Bella's bedroom seem marginally less creepy by providing a somewhat legitimate reason for him to be there (ie. a vampiric version of exposure therapy).  Edward even goes so far as to recognize that his somewhat controlling behavior is ridiculous, calling himself an "obsessed vampire stalker."  So he owns it...which, I supposed, is something?

One of the things I look forward to in books that tell the same story from a new perspective is that there are often moments of retroactive continuity (or retcon) that completely flip the story and blast open a whole new wall of understanding.  I live for those moments.  I love those moments!  Unfortunately, Midnight Sun had very few of them.  Oh, there were a few reveals, here and there, but nothing that left me slack-jawed and reeling.  I won't go into detail (because SPOILERS) but the closest I came to one of those moments involved possible reasons why Edward was unable to read Bella's thoughts.  Even then, nothing concrete came of it.

In Twilight, readers weren't privy to much, if any, of Edward's personal thoughts, but in Midnight Sun the pendulum swings in an entirely different direction.  As previously mentioned, I enjoyed Edward's ability to read other people's minds, but when he is sitting around in his own head, thinking his own thoughts, and ruminating on all things Bella?? Snore. Edward's mental musings lean toward the overly contemplative and are bogged down by unnecessary details and the seemingly never-ending discussion of his deep, deep feelings.  Basically, Edward seems to think how girls wish guys would think, instead of how they actually think, which I have been assured by my husband is more straightforward and less complex.  Anyway, about 2/3 of the way through the book I hit a wall made entirely of Not-Caring about Edward's Feelings and started to skim through the bits that were all in his head, substituting a few thoughts of my own: Mhhmmmm. I get it. You love fragile Bella. You worry about fragile Bella.  You want to be with her but you are afraid you can't protect her because she is so. flipping. fragile.  Something along those lines, anyway. It got old.

In conclusion, Midnight Sun was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  I didn't love Edward's incessant introspection, but I do believe that Midnight Sun is better written, narrows some gaps in the storyline, offers significantly more backstory, interesting insight into many of the characters, and enhances Twilight's official story.  While I would not necessarily recommend it as a stand alone novel, I would recommend it to fans of the series who are in it for the fun, and not overly prone (like me *sigh*) to dissecting fictional characters for real-world flaws.  

My Rating:  3 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader: A few instances of swearing, some making out, an excessive amount of vampire emotions, and frequent references to the "monster inside" Edward and Bella's fragility.

1 comment:

Kristen R said...

I haven’t finished yet but this similar to what I’ve felt so far. It’s hard to read very much at a time because he thinks SO MUCH. It’s overwhelming. Which is totally appropriate and I expected but I was hoping for a little bit more surprise and intrigue

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