Our Reading Lives

Edward Cullen is a Comedian, and Other Thoughts on MIDNIGHT SUN

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The long-awaited retelling of Twilight through Edward Cullen’s topaz eyes came out in August, and I’m still wrapping my head around it. Midnight Sun was supposed to be released 12 years ago, but after it got leaked and circulated online, Stephenie Meyer put it back in her drawer. I wasn’t one of the fans clamoring to read that draft, and I wasn’t even planning to read the book until I reexamined my history with the series and accepted that they do hold a special place in my cold, dead heart. Join me on a journey of nostalgia, won’t you?

My Twilight story is a common one, I think. The books found me at a time when I needed them. I was going through my first breakup and Edward Cullen was a salve to the ache of going to school and seeing the heartbreaker every day. New Moon was what I could hold up as proof that my grief over a high school romance was real and valid. A few years later, I went to a midnight release party for Breaking Dawn with my friends; we made T-shirts and lined up so we spelled out “BITE HER!” I’d be a liar if I said Twilight wasn’t a major part of my teen years.

In college, I joined others in my literature classes mocking these books that had meant so much to me at a pivotal time. I smugly nodded along in my women’s studies classes when discussions turned toward the deeply problematic elements of Edward and Bella’s relationship. I learned that Meyer left some of her racism in the books—namely in the portrayal and appropriation of Native people and the fact that Jasper was up the ranks in the Confederate Army. Can I get a “yikes”?

Fifteen years later, in the midst of a pandemic, Midnight Sun charged in and sold more than 1 million copies in its first week on shelves. I found myself a part of the herd purchasing a copy of this massive—662 pages, y’all—hardcover and immediately dove in. I felt like my 15-year-old self again, but with wiser and more critical eyes.

I kept copious notes while I read, because I am who I am, okay? Here are a smattering of the thoughts I had while reading Midnight Sun and going back to Forks and, yes, swooning over the glittery vampire we all know and love.

  • Wow, Edward sure has a lot of THOUGHTS. Like, 30 pages of thoughts—and listening to and analyzing everyone else’s thoughts—and not much speaking or action.
  • I’m sorry, he planned—and imagined in excruciating detail—to murder the entire science class just to get a taste of Bella’s sweet, sweet blood????? Calm down, buddy.
  • “She was actually sort of pretty for a human, in an unusual way.” —Edward Cullen, roasting the girl he’s been obsessively sniffing and spying on for 50+ pages.
  • Edward thinks his eyes are “warm gold—light amber,” but we all know they’re really topaz. Topaz. Topaz.
  • How is it that at 80 pages in there’s still…not really anything that happened?! Edward is so trapped in his own head.
  • At least he’s aware of himself: “Like a stalker. An obsessed stalker. An obsessed vampire stalker.”
  • Ah, yes. He snuck into her window and watched her while she slept because he feared a meteorite would crash into her bedroom and kill her. Of course. It all makes sense now. Thanks for looking out, bud!
  • “She took my breath away. Or would have, I thought wryly, if I were breathing.” Oh, Edward. You’re such a goofy, funny guy!!!
  • In case you were wondering where the book’s title came from, it’s this riveting thought: “My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me. So how was it possible that the sun was rising now, in the middle of my midnight?” Meh.
  • There is an absurd amount of comparisons of Edward and Bella to Hades and Persephone. As Bella eats her mushroom ravioli, he imagines Persephone eating a pomegranate. Which makes him Hades. Okie dokie.
  • Ah, the eloquent, romantic ways Edward thinks of Bella: “Bella was like a soap bubble—fragile and ephemeral. Temporary.”
  • The amount of times he wishes she had a guardian angel and then makes himself laugh by thinking “guardian vampire” is just too much. Edward Cullen is a comedian, folks!
  • The flashbacks to Edward’s first years with Carlisle are really neat. It’s cool to see his origin, his days of avenging innocent deaths, and the way the Cullen family came together. This is a sincere thought! I enjoyed it! Really!
  • I really wish I’d read Twilight and Midnight Sun side-by-side so I could see the silly differences in perspectives. Like all the times Bella is all moony-eyed over Edward while Edward thinks he’s scared her away for good. Irrevocably.
  • The ending from Edward’s perspective is trash and I’m mad at him. I tossed the book on the floor and roared with rage as soon as I turned the last page.

Did we need this book? Nah. A book of Edward’s life before Bella would have been a much more interesting take. But I understand its importance in the fandom. And, to be clear, I am a chronic DNFer, so I did enjoy reading this book on a level deeper than my snark can run.

The good news is that Stephenie Meyer said in various interviews that she’s done writing from Edward’s perspective (too dark, too anxious, too moody), but also there are more books in the Twilight universe she wants to write.

One final note: The Quileute Tribe needs help. They’re located in a tsunami zone off the Pacific coast, and they need to move to higher ground to survive. Twilight may have bastardized their culture, but it’s also given the tribe name recognition that should be used to help.