Half a pomegranate

About the Book

Title: Midnight Sun (Twilight Saga #5)
Published: 2020
Series: Twilight
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: OMG We Get It
BFF Charm:  Gonna Be a No For Me Dawg
Talky Talk: Slow Death
Bonus Factor: Emmett
Anti-Bonus Factor: Lack of Charlie
Relationship Status: Don’t Text Your Ex

Cover Story: OMG We Get It

Playing off the mythical fruit motif of the original book, Midnight Sun‘s cover features a pomegranate, and if you aren’t familiar with the story of Hades and Persephone, I assure you, you will be more than familiar with it by the time you finish this book. Edward compares Bella to Persephone, pomegranate in hand and dooming herself to the underworld, more than a half dozen times. Like, we get it bro, you’re in love with her despite your better judgement. We don’t need you to draw comparisons, you literally spend the entire book telling us you are in love with Bella despite your better judgement

But, I mean, whatever. The cover fits the other covers in the series well, and yes, sure, we get it, Hades, Persephone, the pomegranate seed and the underworld, etc. etc. etc. Also, pomegranates are delicious and this image is a bit mouthwatering for humans and vampires alike, since it sort of resembles a bleeding heart.

The Deal:

Okay so this girl Bella moves to a new town and falls in love with a vampire named Edward, but don’t worry, Edward doesn’t drink hum—I’m just kidding. If you don’t know the story of Twilight by now, please I beg you, tell me what rock you’ve been living under so that I can go live there too. If you don’t consider yourself a Twihard and are still in the dark (vampire pun) about what this book is about, allow me to explain. In 2008, when Twilight pandemonium was at a fever pitch, Meyer teased fans that she was rewriting the entire first Twilight book from Edward’s perspective, and she would publish it as a ~gift~ to her fans. But when the first few chapters leaked online, Meyer got so angry, she refused to finish writing the book, much less publish it. 

Fast forward 12 years and Meyer finally decided now was the time to pony up nearly 700 pages of Edward’s POV. There’s very little to add, honestly. I had high hopes that this book would give us a lot more insight into vampire life, but turns out I was wrong. It’s literally just Edward obsessing over Bella ad nauseam.

BFF Charm: Gonna Be a No For Me Dawg

Hell No BFF Charm in Flames

Dear God, Edward is exhausting. Whenever I read the first Twilight books, I assumed Edward was always trying his best to block out the chatter he hears in his brain, because how annoying would that be? It’s why I assumed he was in love with Bella, because everyone else’s brain chatter was annoying as hell. But nope, throughout Midnight Sun he scans people’s thoughts for conversations they had with Bella, so she essentially cannot have a private conversation without him listening in via the thoughts of the person she’s talking to. It’s creepy!

He uses words like vexed and foolishtatty and smote, and apparently people didn’t use contractions 100 years ago and he still hasn’t figured them out? His language is stilted and robotic, and he always uses ten words when four will do. He repeatedly calls the people in his class at school “children” and like, okay, but you’ve spent the last few hundred pages talking about how obsessively in love you are with one of those “children” so settle down, my dude.

In addition to calling them childen, he also refers to them as “males” and “females” which gives me some seriously icky incel vibes. Both of these things combine into an EXTREMELY UNCOMF moment when Edward considers killing the entire biology classroom full of students just to savor a taste of Bella’s blood the first time he meets her. 

“I didn’t want to be the monster! I didn’t want to kill this roomful of harmless children! I didn’t want to lose everything I’d gained in a lifetime of sacrifice and denial!”

I mean, setting aside the fact that he’s worried that killing a roomful of kids will break his human fast, this whole scene should never exist in a world where kids are murdered in schools on a regular basis.

I have about a million beefs with Edward, but I’ll try to keep this brief, so let me add one last thing. Constantly reminding us that you hate yourself for being an “obsessive stalker” and qualifying your behavior as “protective, if inexcusable” DOESN’T MAKE IT BETTER. Honestly, it kind of makes it worse that you’re aware of how shitty you’re being but continuing to do it and calling it love. That’s gonna be a no for me dawg.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Listen, okay, I read Twilight in 2007 with the rest of you. I read it multiple times. I purchased the subsequent books the day they came out and consumed them in a single sitting every time. Do not think for a second that I consider myself above the Twilight saga. AND YET, the entire time I was reading the series back in the day, I kept wondering, “What is it about Bella?” Like honestly, she was boring and uninteresting. Clumsy isn’t a personality trait! I assumed that the only thing that made her mysterious or interesting to Edward was that she was the only person whose thoughts he couldn’t hear.

But Jesus H. Christ, she’s even MORE boring through his eyes! Even when asked a simple question like “What’s your favorite color?” her response is “idk brown.” Edward’s idea of getting to know Bella is simply pestering her with random questions like, “Cats or dogs?” and “Favorite flower?” as if their courtship was based entirely on one of those early-aughts email survey forwards.

Edward allows Bella zero agency. He finds her completely helpless and “in need” of his protection but even his constant inner monologue is really more about himself than her. It’s about how HE feels and how HE wants to protect her and how HE is all wrong for her and how HE wants to punch Mike Newton in the face for having a crush on Bella even though Edward is a sexy immortal and Mike is doing his best to fill out a letterman jacket. Sure he pretends to act like it’s what’s best for Bella but no one actually cares what Bella thinks. I swooned as much as the next guy in 2008, but Midnight Sun awakened nary a butterfly in my stomach.

Talky Talk: Slow Death

I’m not sure who hates Stephenie Meyer more: me or her editor. Or maybe I hate her editor? It’s a complicated hate-triangle. Because there is no reason – not one single, solitary reason – why this book should have been more than 300 pages long. While a literal second is passing for Bella, we are getting ten pages of Edward’s inner monologue. Nothing slows the pace of a story more than reading from the perspective of someone who experiences everyone around them in slow motion. Every other page, what little action is happening in the story is interrupted so that Edward can have a multi-page monologue where he whines at length about how much he obsessively loves Bella and obsessively hates himself for loving Bella. No new ideas are introduced, it’s just the same thought process over and over, forever and ever amen. 

And the thing is: when we were reading from Bella’s perspective, there was SOME tension between Bella wanting to become a vampire and Edward swearing he’d be damning her to an infinite hell. But reading from Edward’s perspective pretty much solidifies what Bella suspected all along – being a vampire is COOL AS HELL, and since we know how the series ends and that Bella pretty much gets everything she could possibly want with very little sacrifice, what exactly does Edward think he’d be saving her from?

Bonus Factor: Emmett

Emmett Cullen from the baseball scene in Twilight

Some of the most enjoyable content betwixt these many pages was Edward’s brother Emmett, referred to fondly by the members of my book club as a “chaos monster.” Honestly, Emmett is living his best life. He doesn’t think too much about his own mortality or the ethical implications of his existence. He just fights bears and gives Edward much-deserved noogies and it’s refreshing as hell.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Lack of Charlie

Charlie Swan from Twilight

Charlie was my favorite part of the original books, and certainly of the movies. But since we’re no longer living in Bella’s head and house, he’s not nearly as present in Midnight Sun. We do, however, find out that Edward’s inability to read Bella’s thoughts might be genetic, which was interesting!

Relationship Status: Don’t Text Your Ex

Sometimes, you may look back on a past relationship fondly. You think time will have changed things, and that maybe your ex will have grown and matured. But Midnight Sun doesn’t do any of that. What I thought might’ve been a chance to modernize the story and rewrite some of those more cringeworthy moments was all squandered. If anything, it’s even more uncomfortable and cringy from Edward’s point of view, and twice as long. I wanted so many more details about vampire life, the Cullen household, but the occasional interesting detail (The Cullens got their money from insider trading! Edward has two medical degrees?) was a needle in a Bella-obsessing haystack.

I don’t want to label this book problematic, because things like nuance and fantasy and, in some ways, time are all factors that need to be considered here. But there were a few things about this story that raised eyebrows in 2008, and if Meyer had been paying a lick of attention to the world around her over the last decade, she would’ve used this opportunity to make some much-needed updates. But. She didn’t.

Literary Matchmaking

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1)

For a human/monster love story where you get a peek at both POVs, check out A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer.

Abandon

If my bitching put you in the mood for a Persephone retelling, check out Abandon by Meg Cabot.

Crave (Crave #1)

Or, if you just can’t get enough Twilight and all things like it, check out Crave by Tracy Wolff (haha….Wolff).

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. Midnight Sun is available now.

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Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.