Midnight Sun: Revamping the Twilight Saga
Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga rises from the grave with the latest addition to the series, Midnight Sun. Paige Insalaco sinks her teeth into this new read, and tells us the secret to the book series’s eternal life.
Midnight Sun, the newly released Twilight retelling that follows Edward – the brooding male vampire – through the events of the original series, has finally hit stores. Fans have waited twelve years for this retelling after it was leaked online in 2008 and Stephanie Meyer scrapped the story. Despite the twelve-year gap, Midnight Sun managed to sell 62,000 hardback copies in the UK alone in its first three days, prompting Meyer to announce she has plans for two more books in the series. This, as with anything to do with Twilight, has been a divisive announcement.
Many of the reviews for Midnight Sun are far from positive with Elle Hunt from the Guardian describing it as “chronically overwritten’; however, the Twilight series was never loved for its writing. Am I hesitant to read 800 pages of Edward pining over potentially the most boring woman in literature? Yes. Yet, no-one can deny it’s incredibly fitting with Edward’s character for his perspective to be full of flowery descriptions and long series of prose. After all, time isn’t an issue for a vampire. The story also answers every question you may have had from the original series: why did Edward and Bella fall so quickly? Why was Edward’s character simultaneously so creepy yet respectful? Midnight Sun provides convincing answers to these questions along with giving us the interactions with side characters we’ve all wanted.
The story answers every question you may have had from the original series…
However, we cannot ignore the downfalls of the original series that seem not to have been solved here. For one, the othering and vilifying of the Quileute tribe in the original series is only heightened in a book told from the perspective of their fictional enemy. Meyer continues to steal and edit the Quileute legends without sending a penny of the millions the books and movies grossed in their direction (if you plan on spending £20 on the book anyway please donate even the tiniest amount to the Quileute tribe’s page). In an article on ‘Othering’ within the Twilight books, Natalie Wilson surmises that Meyer glorifies “whiteness and wealth on the one hand, and perpetuates notions of indigenous people as noble but beastly savages” emphasising all that is wrong with the Vampire vs Werewolf discourse. Additionally, the release of Midnight Sun only furthers the silencing of Bella as, once again, Edward takes centre stage. Although I do believe a lot of the feminist hate towards Twilight stems from the comparison to Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, released at a similar time, the older I get the more I realise the issue with Bella’s dependence on Edward. It’s important to note that Bella has far more autonomy in the books than is portrayed in the movies, but alas, she does indeed fall apart when Edward leaves and she only begins to recover once Jacob enters her life. Thus, she is portrayed as truly dependent on the men in her life which is something we should be more hesitant to portray to teenage girls. This was probably the biggest issue most people had with the original series (although can we please continue the conversation about Native American rights?), and I fail to see how a trilogy told from Edward’s perspective would resolve this.
The othering and vilifying of the Quileute tribe in the original series is only heightened in a book told from the perspective of their fictional enemy.
Despite this, the Twilight series (including Midnight Sun) knows exactly what it wants to be. It’s riddled with plot holes, written like a Wattpad novel and extremely problematic, but it’s a supernatural romance aimed at teenage girls, and the romance is good. I have yet to read any book categorised as ‘romance’ that doesn’t include these issues; unfortunately, it seems to come with the territory. Many critics are eager to hate on Meyer for making a mockery of the Gothic genre but anyone who has read Meyer’s writing knows there was never any intention for these stories to be close to Gothic. They may contain supernatural creatures and a gloomy atmospheric setting but that is where the comparison ends. At their heart (and, let’s be real, their extremities) the books are a romance. As a society, we’re right to question whether it’s acceptable to present romance in this way to a younger audience, but inevitably, Twilight sells. It sold 100 million copies worldwide between 2004 and 2008; people clearly enjoy reading about these characters and are entertained by Meyers writing. At the end of the day, it’s important to be critical of the media we consume and acknowledge the things wrong with Midnight Sun, but if you find Twilight enjoyable, or like me, feel like you owe it to your younger self to read Midnight Sun, it’s perfectly ok to enjoy it.