It was practically a decade ago that diehard (twi-hard) Twilight fans, and the rest of the world alike, said goodbye to the teen romance that shaped our formative years. But, in the trying year of 2020, it seems as though we can’t help but rekindle our affinity for the familiar; enter Stephanie Meyer announcing the long awaited release of Midnight Sun.
But why now? In 2008, when Meyer originally began writing the retelling of her first book that spawned a franchise worth $3.3 billion, the leak of existing chapters put the book on pause indefinitely. Meyer said ‘everyone now is in the driver’s seat, where they can make judgment calls. … I do not feel alone with the manuscript. And, I cannot write when I don’t feel alone’. Fast forward to 2015, Meyer began writing again, but the world’s head had been turned by E.L James’ 50 Shades of Grey (notoriously known for having started out as Twilight fan fiction, mind you). James announced a retelling of 50 Shades, from Christian’s point of view, so once again Meyer dropped the novel. Now we find ourselves in 2020, more than a decade from when the project began, finally tasting the fruits of her labour.
I’ll be honest with you; if you don’t like Twilight, you’re going to find Midnight Sun laughable at best. Meyer’s writing style has arguably evolved since the initial 12 chapter leak of the novel. She certainly won’t be winning a Nobel Prize in Literature anytime soon, but that’s not to say this is a bad book. Whilst Meyer’s writing may be a little heavy handed here and there, (what was that whole bit about the mushroom ravioli being like Persephone eating the pomegranate seeds?) Midnight Sun manages to successfully combine the feelings of old and new. And, honestly, seeing the scenes we already knew, this time through Edward’s eyes, felt like a hug from your friend who took some time off abroad to find themselves. To me, Midnight Sun couldn’t have come at a better time. We were 2 months into lockdown when Meyer announced the book, with every message we got either overtly or covertly conveying the same sentiment of unprecedented times. Stepping back under the near constant cover of clouds and rain, into the small town named Forks, just made sense.
Perhaps, it could be said that Midnight Sun is too long. Where Twilight reaches 434 pages, it’s new opposite number is a staggering 756 (I speculate this is because Edward is awake. all. the. time.). But, for those of us who have watched the films on repeat over lockdown (thank you, Netflix), and avidly consumed the resurgence of Twilight memes (thank you, Twitter), it offers the safety of a well-loved story, with a sprinkling of fresh material to re-engage readers. Meyer uses Midnight Sun as an opportunity to explore the world she established all those years ago; we learn that we’re not the only ones who find Edward’s breaking and entering distasteful and unhealthy. Moreover, Bella isn’t actually the blank slate she’s made out to be in Twilight, and that Carlisle is everything Hallmark wishes they could imbue into a Christmas film. In this regard, Midnight Sun is a worthwhile read, if not only for Edward’s total and utter melodrama, then for a new narrative perspective on a beloved series.