Midnight Sun (2020) – Stephenie Meyer

Title:Midnight Sun
Author:Stephenie Meyer
Publisher/s:Atom/Jonathan Ball Publishers
Date published:2020
Star rating:⭐⭐⭐
Disclaimer:Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…”

Midnight Sun is the novel that fans of the Twilight Saga have been waiting anxiously for since Breaking Dawn was published back in 2008. The films that followed kept said fans relatively satiated until 2012 when they ended, and the iconic lovers Bella and Edward slunk away into the night…

This 756 page novel is a retelling of Twilight (2005), the book that told the unlikely story of a vampire and a human that fall in love, but this time it is from the perspective of Edward Cullen, the brooding immortal whose obsession with Isabella ‘Bella’ Swan quickly became a supernatural feast of forbidden love and folklore. It is a nostalgic trip down a well-trodden path, and to be fair right from the beginning here I was a bit wary of this notion as this is not the first time Meyer has attempted this. In a lot of ways though Midnight Sun was able to give the reader a fair amount of insight into the Cullen clan, and into the inner most thoughts of an immortal who is truly obsessed with the human he has become unwillingly connected to.

Edward Cullen is a vampire who lives with his family in Forks, Washington. His parents are Carlisle and Esme, and his siblings Alice and Emmett live with their significant others, Jasper and Rosalie respectively. The siblings all attend the local high school in order to keep up the appearance of being a human family. Despite this attempt at ‘normalcy’ they are considered ‘outsiders’ and are treated with suspicion and wariness by the folks of Forks. The Cullens had managed to remain under the radar for the most part, and unlike the traditional diet of human blood, they fed off of animal blood, and remained indoors when the sun was at it’s brightest. Being a wet and rainy place situated close to forests this was easy enough to accomplish.

Isabella ‘Bella’ Swan, a seventeen year old girl from Phoenix, Arizona has just moved to Forks to live with her father Charlie after her mother got remarried. Her arrival at the high school is just about the most catastrophic thing that could ever happen to Edward, as he soon realizes that not only does Bella’s blood smell sweeter than any other human being’s, but he is also unable to read her thoughts – which is a little knack that Edward has. After a few awkward encounters and a rescue, the unlikely duo fall in love, and soon Edward has introduced Bella to his family, and they have vowed to protect this human for Edward’s sake.

“Did she think I had ever been anything but overjoyed to hear my name on her lips? It was one of my favourite sounds, along with the sound of her breath, the sound of her heart…”

Midnight Sun follows the same story-line as Twilight – the almost fatal accident; the kissing scene in the meadow; the trip to Port Angeles; Bella’s brief visit to La Push where she will meet up with an old friend and member of the Quileute tribe Jacob Black whose family have warned her about the Cullens; the baseball scene and meeting the vampires Laurent, Victoria and James. Of course all of these scenes are through Edward’s eyes, lending their execution a far more menacing and dark approach.

“…deplorable creature that I am, I feel for you. And I think you understand that, to an extent. Though as you are not addicted to any illegal substances, you probably can’t empathise completely…”

When Bella’s life is threatened by the traveling vampire coven the Cullens must put aside their very opposing opinions regarding this mortal and plot an elaborate plan to keep her safe. All the while the reader is treated to the stories of just how Edward came to meet Carlisle and how the Cullens became a family. Blended into this are insights into Rosalie and her reasons for despising Bella, and Alice’s extraordinary ability to see into the future. However as fascinating as the snippets of vampire history are, it is not nearly enough and yet I am loathe to make this review all about what I felt Stephanie Meyer ‘should have’ written about. As a reader of the previous books I had hoped for more depth into the Cullen’s world, and unfortunately the additional information was few and far between.

That being said Midnight Sun is not without its appeal. I read the original Twilight novels in my early twenties, and now in my mid-thirties I am still as taken with this angsty romance as I was over a decade ago. There is something deliciously dark and indulgent about this forbidden love story, and despite it’s problematic mention of the Quileute tribe (which is in fact a real Native American tribe), and the age-old problem with Edward’s character being a tad sadistic and stalkerish (he is a vampire after all) , I am inclined to admit that I enjoyed delving into this nostalgic trip down memory lane. As I turned the pages (and even though I knew exactly what was going to happen next) I was comforted by the inevitability of it all.

“I didn’t like his perspective. As though Bella had no will of her own. Surely, she’d been the one to choose, hadn’t she? If she had ever asked me to leave her alone, I would have turned around and walked the other way. But she’d wanted me to stay, then and now.”

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