After my last post regarding Midnight Sun, I was going to just put some notes I made while reading, but this has turned into an actual review and critique.
I can’t treat this as purely a light read anymore, seeing as there are a lot of structural issues that I feel could’ve been easily avoided if it had been decently edited. I don’t think Meyer has put any substantial effort in this book, which is something I do take issue with. A couple months ago I wrote that she obviously took the reinsurgence of attention towards Twilight as an opportunity to make one last big sale and that I had to appreciate the bussiness side of it all. But I also kind of expected that there would be, like, effort from her side to make Midnight Sun into a half decent book and not just one last cash grab. If I had the spoons to do it, I’d put the leaked manuscript from over a decade ago next to the published product and see if anything substantial was changed since then. It’s been a hot while since I read the leaked chapters, but I sort of doubt it. Of course, I’m prepared to be wrong.
This review is more a number of notes I’ve scribbled down while reading (see title: non-comprehensive). At a point I had to stop jotting down everything that I had something to say about for the sake of my own sanity.
I tackled a part of chapter 3 in my previous part of the review. Basically, Bella gets in a car accident and sees Edward using his supernatural abilities to save her. She isn’t really hurt, but gets taken to the hospital and Edward attempts to gaslight her into believing she imagined him having supernatural abilities.
The main critique that is the red thread throughout all that I’ve read so far remains that Meyer isn’t adding anything substantial to Edward’s perspective that we didn’t already know. I, for one, was interested in a closer look into his relationship with his family, but everyone falls into a very convenient stereotype without a lot of nuance. Rosalie is the bitch, Emmett is the jock, Jasper is socially awkward, Alice is fun girl, Esme is worried mother and Carlisle is understanding father. There is nothing interresting to their conversations. But the added element of Edward’s mind reading makes any conversations double confusing. There isn’t a set rule as to how his mindreading is incorporated. More often than not Edward has entire conversations with his siblings through their thoughts, in which he is the only to speak aloud. Sometimes the other person would interject out loud and I have to wonder if the implementing of Edward’s mind reading was thought out at all, because to me it seems totally random.
Edward – you didn’t -?
“No, no, it’s not that.”
He took a deep breath. Of course not. I’m sorry I entertained the thought. Your eyes, of course, I should have known. He noted my still-golden eyes with relief.
“She’s hurt, though, Carlisle, probably not seriously, but-“
“A ridiculous, car accident. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I couldn’t just stand there – let it crush her…”
Start over. I don’t understand. How were you involved?
“A van skidded across the ice,” I whispered, […] “I didn’t mean to put us in danger.”
You did the right thing. And it couldn’t have been easy for you. I’m proud of you, Edward.
I could look him in the eye then. “She knows there’s someting… wrong with me.”
“That doesn’t matter. If we have to leave, we leave. What has she said?”
I shook my head, a little frustrated. “Nothing yet.”
“She agreed to my version of events – but she’s expecting an explanation.”
“She hit her head – well, I that,” I continued quickly, “I knocked her to the ground fairly hard. She seems fine, but… I don’t think it will take much to discredit her account.”
I felt like a cad just saying the words.
Carlisle heard the distance in my voice. Perhaps that won’t be necessary.
(Excerpt from chapter 3; bold is Carlisle’s thoughts)
The writing in general seems kind of subpar, in a way that I hadn’t noticed with previous books. Often there are repeating statements or sentences that read really stiff.
ex. “Though only situations where blood was not involved”
“I envied him more than his control”.
As an aside, The old-timey way of speaking is a trope that honestly annoys me a bit in Vampire fiction, because I don’t see how their use of language wouldn’t evolve with the times.
A lot of the narrative is repetitive in general, for that matter. Edward keeps spiralling into these self loathing internal monologues and after a couple it just became annoying. This is the difficulty of writing in 1rst POV, in my opinion. If you follow the story from the main character POV’s thought process, that character’s thought process needs to be interesting enough to carry the narrative. That’s obviously not the case here.
When Bella is in the hospital after her car accident, Carlisle looks over her x-rays and thinks the following.
Look at all the healed contusions! How many times did her mother drop her?
This is obviously a referrence to Bella being clumsy, as the reader knows. But put that knowledge aside for a second and realize that that’s a really weird reaction to seeing that a child shows signs of being bruised a lot. I don’t know, maybe I’m nitpicking, but I feel like someone’s first line of thinking would be that Bella was perhaps mistreated as a child? I know that this is a weird nothing thing to add, but it took me out of story immediately.
In chapter four we get the aftermath of Bella’s accident at the Cullens’ during which it’s decided that Edward better stay in Forks to monitor the thoughts of the inhabitants just in case Bella was spreading rumors and Alice has some visions.
Witholdin Alice’s visions of Bellafrom reader as Edward sees them doesn’t make sense with the book being written in 1rst POV. It’s kind of infuriating, because a) it is really just bad writing, b) the visions get dramatically revealed at the end of the chapter anyways and c) if Alice’s mental blocks had stayed up for some of them it really would’ve caused for a more engaging narrative tension. (Also the very next chapters say that she only had two visions, which just confuses me)
I also really hate how Rosalie is written. There’s no nuance, no empathy… Just the mean girl trope. She’s the most 1 dimensional character in this whole thing and I’m so annoyed by it. The use of this trope makes even less sense now we see it from Edward’s POV. As her family, you’d think he’d have a more nuanced view of his sister.
Edwards starts ignoring Bella entirely for her own good. It’s also the chapter where he startst to tap into his true stalker self. And he’s real dramatic about it
Her pain would only be a pinprick compared to mine.
I’m really confused when all of this has escalated to this point. Because honestly the only thing that has changed is that Alice outright told him that he’s in love with Bella. I mentionned this a bit earlier, but I can’t help but feel that this emotional journey would’ve been more interresting if Edward had only been able to see 2 out of the 3 possible futures Alice saw: The one where she is human and obviously close to the family (Edward wasn’t in that vision so it easily could’ve been that she discovers their secret and just remains close) and the one where he kills her. Alice’s vision in which Bella gets turned seems like a lazy plot shortcut to me. Instead of realizing he’s in love with her, Edward just gets told he will be in love with her at one point and is just like “Wow, guess that means I’m in love with her already, lets crank this baby up to 11.”
Did I love her? I did not think so.
wh- than why would you be in pain because you rejected her? I’m…
Little sub note
Okay, “The thirst was the most primal of my torments” is pretty funny out of context
Part of the reason Edward gets obsessed with Bella is that he seems to believe that she is truly good to the core because she does basic polite things. The notion that Edward has never ever encountered a human that helps people out when they’re in an awkward spot conversationwise or just someone who is like, you know, a decent human being, is absolutely bonkers to the wall yonkers to me. Everyone is selfish accept for Bella? Seems to me like you got some confirmation bias going on, Eddy, since you can’t know for sure because you can’t read her mind. Also how he talks about her, obsessed with analysing everything she does or says and already proclaiming that he is “the only one who can see how speshul she is” is honestly a bit disturbing to read.
It is reall off putting how obsessive Edward is written. The minute Bella says she’s going to Seattle instead of going to the school dance his first response is “I’m going to uncover her secrets”. She doesn’t have any secrets, bro. You just can’t read her mind. That doesn’t make her a puzzle. She ignores you because you ignore her, has basic human decency towards her friends (in this book, anyway) and doesn’t want to go to a school event. Like, that’s it, my dude. No deeper secrets, that’s just an average human being.
Little sub note
I figured it out: Bella is part of Edward’s habitat enrichment. My arguments are as follows. Not hearing her thoughts, he’s forced to pay attention on what she says and how she emotes to interpret her moods. He’s never had to do this before, I’m guessing, seeing as she’s supposed to be the first and only pure and good person he’s ever come across.
This is a small hang up, but he keeps referring to her as ‘the girl’, and I’m not sure why. Like it doesn’t make sense to refer to her as something so impersonal in his own personal headspace.
We also get the title drop in this chapter. Hold onto yourself, friends
My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me. So how was it that the sun was rising in the middle of my midnight?
If I hadn’t read this line while my car was being fixed at the car dealership, I would have yelled. Of all the way the title could’ve been dropped… I have to laugh. Steph’s editor must’ve been on some pain meds while doing these chapters because it’s the only way I can think of that those godawfull couple of sentences didn’t get slamdunked in the trash.
I’ve glossed over the whole breaking into her house and watching her sleep scenario. I think I don’t need to add anything more other than it’s creepy and no matter how many times Edward awknowledges it’s creepy yet does it anyway will change that.
In the same chapter where Edward decides to start ignoring her, he starts talking to her anyways. I almost regret cirtisizing that the better parts of the chapters so far were just walls of text in which Edward is lamenting how terrible he is, because now we have reached the chapters in which Edward and Bella are talking. And, lads, it’s rough. Everything he says to her is just so weird. He talks to her as if she’s alteady well aware that he’s a supernatural being, which isn’t the impression the narrative gives. As far as I,as a reader now, she’s still in the dark and honestly, he could still play this all of as all of it being her imagination, but is just super creepy at her from the get go. All his talk of “It’s unsafe” and “I’m going to hell”, blah blah, is disproportionally intense.
This chapter has more of Edward and Bella talking, more of Edward being weird, and Bella fainting at the sight of blood. Honestly, nothing of note happens, but we do get some added backstory to Bella. (By added I mean added in the context of this book. We obviously know this already from Twilight)
This clarified things for me. It was easy to understand how the irresponsibility of the mother would result in the maturity of the daughter. She’d had to grow up early, to become the caretaker. That’s why she didn’t like being cared for – she felt it was her job.
I feel like this is glossed over a lot. This line of thinking is how a lot of young people end up in abusive relationships with older individuals. “They had to grow up fast” isn’t a testament of maturity but a sign of trauma. Bella still has an imature, teenage brain, which basically means that her judgement long term isn’t as nuanced as the average adult’s. Basically a teenage brain reacts with emotional logic and unfortunately that often cirkles back to how they personally perceive something. This usually turns into a black and white thinking of “either you’re for me or against me”.
What I mean to say is: Bella is an emotionally stunted child that fails to connect with her peers because of a difficult upbringing where she shouldered a lot of the responsibility that her mother should have shouldered, and in turn gravitates towards an equally stunted forever-child. (I mean, not equally… Edward did kill people and, you know, died…). Even thought she may act like an adult, that doesn’t mean that she should be cheated out of the small amount of childhood/adolescence she still has left.
And to finish, can I get a round of applause for Edward’s volatile mood swings.
“Poor Mike,” she sighed, “I’ll bet he’s mad.”
Fury pulsed through me, but I contained it quickly. her concern was surely just pity. She was kind. That was all.
“So you are trying to to irritate me to death? Since Tyler’s van didn’t do the job?”
A quick flash of anger pulsed through me. How could she honestly believe that?
What was this? They had plans. Anger froze me in place. It was a group thing, though. Mike was sorting through the other invitees in his head, counting places. It wasn’t just the two of them. That didn’t help my fury. I leaned motionlessly against the counter, controlling my response.
This concludes my review or overview of chapters 3 to 6. It’s…It’s become something of a chore to truck through this book. That being said, I am enjoying writing these reviews, so I’m definitely thinking of doing them for the rest of the book.
In the meantime I’ll probably be tweeting about it over at the birde app
Thanks for reading, if you’ve got this far.