“How old are you?”
“And how long have you been seventeen?”
The long awaited retelling of the first Twilight novel from vampire boyfriend Edward Cullens POV is finally released and rekindling intense nostalgia for the grown up ‘Twihards’ who were teenagers when they initially fell in love with Stephanie Meyer’s fantasy love story. Fans of the teenage angst series about a vampire who wants to drink his shy, awkward girlfriends blood but loves her too much to kill her, might have already read the first few chapters of Midnight Sun when an early draft was leaked online in 2008. Millions of copies sold, blockbuster movie franchise author and producer Stephanie Meyer decided to halt writing Midnight Sun due to frustration.
But on August 4th 2020, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, Midnight Sun was released and re-popularized a fading fandem. Whether you read the books first, or saw the movie for a friends 12th birthday party, Twilight’s lure was instantaneous. It boosted Kirsten Stewart, Robert Pattinson and even Anna Kendrick’s acting careers. Plus, it made vampires trendy. There’s vampire novels and movies before Twilight and after Twilight. Handsome, rich, glittering vampires falling in love with human girls became a trend in young adult novels and T.V. shows like The Vampire Diaries and True Blood.
Twilight is not as candid about sex or drugs as True Blood is, but Midnight Sun’s 750 pages do give readers insight into Edwards not-as-pure-as-we-presumed mind (it’s hinted that he says ‘fuck’). His ability to read thoughts, including seeing his sister Alice’s future visions, really enhances the narrative of the original book. Thanks to Midnight Sun we know precisely what everyone else was thinking of Bella on her first day and how Alice knew Bella would become a vampire from very early on.
In Edwards eyes, Bella is endearingly awkward. Yes.
But compared to Bella’s narrative of herself, Edward views her as more poised, self-assured and beautiful than she views herself. It’s understandable why he loves her so much with this companion novel. Criticism of Edward breaking into Bella’s room to watch her sleep unknowingly is also slightly managed by revealing his guilt: “I was repulsed by myself as I watched her toss again. How was I any better than some sick peeping tom? I wasn’t any better. I was much, much worse.”
Meyer describes Edward as an overly anxious person which is obvious after reading the new book but not obvious at all in Twilight. In Bella’s eyes Edward is perfect. At least we know now that he’s just good at faking it ’til he makes it. He’s had over 100 years of practice of course. What surprised professional critics (but what did they expect?) is how identical the dialogue is in Twilight and Midnight Sun. It IS the same book but from Edward’s POV so if dialogue and scenes were edited, it wouldn’t be the same story. Still, readers are delighted that Bella’s long, khaki skirt wasn’t mentioned in Midnight Sun. Readers are concerned at the numerous detailed ways Edward was considering to murder an entire classroom in that first biology class though.
Nothing compares to the first time you turn the final page in Twilight. As the blurb declares, “Deeply seductive and irresistibly compelling, Twilight is an extraordinary love story that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page”. Who knew these words written in 2005 would be spot on 15 years later? This new release gives us the juicer details of the story that we’ve always wanted to know. I don’t think I’d say it’s better than Twilight because there’s something about the authenticity of the original novel that resonances with me personally. What we do know is that we’re swimming in a Twilight obsession again and the TikTok memes are hilarious.