From the desk of Chancellor Dwight C. Watson – Midnight Sun, by Stephanie Meyer

cover image for the book entitled Midnight Sun, by Stephanie Meyer

One in a series of reviews contributed by Chancellor Dwight C. Watson

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

Before I provide a review of Midnight Sun, it is best to give an overview of the Twilight series. These synopses are about the film versions of the books.  Those of you who are loyal fans are picturing Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, and Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black. One of the great joys of reading a new book is visualizing the characters.  It was extremely difficult for me to read Midnight Sun without seeing the faces of the movie stars as the characters, so I simply gave into the imagery and it made the reading more alive. 

If you read the saga and also saw the movies, you will be revisiting the series again as you read Midnight Sun, trying to remember the details of Twilight, which was told through Bella’s perspective, and is now being told through Edward’s voice. I found the entire process fascinating and most enjoyable as an experienced reader of young adult literature.  Midnight Sun is definitely on the cusp of adult literature and fits perfectly with the age of most readers who started the series around age 15 in 2005 and are 30 in 2020. I wonder about readers who will start the series with this book and then read Twilight and the others.  That too would be a fascinating journey.

Twilight (2005) – High-school student Bella Swan, always a bit of a misfit, doesn’t expect life to change much when she moves from sunny Arizona to rainy Washington state. Then she meets Edward Cullen, a handsome but mysterious teen whose eyes seem to peer directly into her soul. Edward is a vampire whose family does not drink blood, and Bella, far from being frightened, enters into a dangerous romance with her immortal soulmate.

New Moon (2006) – Bella Swan is on the cusp of her 18th birthday and blissfully happy with her undead beau Edward Cullen. While celebrating her birthday with Edward’s family of “vegetarian” vampires, a frightening incident convinces Edward that he’s simply too dangerous to be around his sweetheart. He decides to leave the town of Forks in order to ensure her safety – leaving her behind, angry and depressed.

Eclipse (2007) – Danger once again surrounds Bella, as a string of mysterious killings terrorizes Seattle and a malicious vampire continues her infernal quest for revenge. Amid the tumult, Bella must choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob, knowing that her decision may ignite the long-simmering feud between vampire and werewolf.

Breaking Dawn (2008) – At last, Bella and Edward are getting married. When Jacob finds out that Bella wants to spend her honeymoon as a human, he is horrified — for Edward’s passion could accidentally kill her. Bella does indeed survive her honeymoon, but a new complication arises when she discovers that she’s pregnant — and the child is growing at an alarming rate. The pregnancy sets the wolves against Bella and Edward, but Jacob vows to protect his friend.

Midnight Sun (2020) – As a professor of children and young adult literature, I must provide a teachable moment.  If teachers introduce this book in their classrooms as an independent read for their 15 year old and beyond students, then this is the exact story from the wildly popular vampire romance Twilight, but told from the vampire Edward’s perspective. Teachers will want to start with Twilight before they tackle this longer version and make their comparisons, or they could assign these books as parallel reads or partner reads. A parallel read is when you assign a student to read two books at the same time and make a comparison.  A partner read is when one student reads Twilight and discusses events through Bella’s perspective, and the other student reads Midnight Sun and discusses the book through Edward’s perspective.

Teachers, Midnight Sun is a bit more violent as Meyer provides descriptive details as the vampires hunt big game, and Edward plots to kill Bella and anyone who gets in his way at the high school. Another violent episode in the book is the vivid description of James, the hunter vampire, and his attack on Bella.  Also, the description of how to kill a vampire is very graphic.  Students who play violent video games will find the descriptions tame, but still, as teachers, be cautious.

After Edward decides he is strong enough to tame his vampire urge to kill Bella, he has some more common relationship missteps. He is overbearing and so protective of his mortal girlfriend that he sneaks into her house and watches her sleep. Meyer is exceptional at description which I enjoy when the plot is action packed. But it becomes a bit of a snore, when it is Edward sitting in Bella’s room pining on about his love for her.  This swoon talk and smitten speech and Edward’s ability to woo was a bit too gooey for me.

The one thing about the original series was how Meyer was able to balance action and romance so that both male and female young adult readers were equally captivated by the descriptive language and the story. In the 660 pages of Midnight Sun, there is too much nuanced detail that I found distracting, especially in the “Confessions” chapter.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the book.  It is ideal for a snuggled winter read.  It will keep you woozy with wonder and watchful with woe.  Meyer should be commended for conceptualizing such a compelling companion read to her phenomenal series of beloved books.

Other Reviews of Midnight Sun:

  • If you are on the fence, I can absolutely recommend you join the hype. Hopefully the emergence of YA culture as a world-dominating phenomena means people will stop dismissing books enjoyed by teenage girls out of hand. And if you, too, missed out on this epic of the YA canon, there’s still time to get some friends together for a read-along (
  • The Edward/Bella power dynamic is still ripe for criticism, as is the depiction of the Quileute characters who don’t get much time in this book, not even Jacob Black. They still come off as stereotypical B-list characters. Meyer said that in writing Midnight Sun she was locked into the original story. But leaving those aspects unchanged adds a staleness to what is in many other ways an entertaining page-turner carried by frisson after frisson, a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill, often relegated to the sexual tension of youth (Karin Tanabe, Washington Post).
  • Unfortunately, Midnight Sun does not make for gripping reading, nor significantly expand Meyer’s vampiric lore, an obvious missed opportunity when writing from Edward’s perspective. It feels below the belt to criticize the quality of the writing, given that Twilight was never loved for that – but there is something to be said for editing. Midnight Sun is chronically overwritten, plodding along almost in real time. Nine whole pages are given over to a chat about their likes and dislikes: Bella’s favorite gemstone is whichever one matches Edward’s eyes, while he analyses Linkin Park lyrics for clues to unlock his lady love: “It didn’t seem to match any of her moods that I’d seen, but then, there was so much I didn’t know.”
  • Despite its door-stopper density, Midnight Sun does not amplify the original novel. At times, it even undermines it. The whole appeal of a vampire-boyfriend is that he is deadly and undead, but Midnight Sun just exposes how toothless Edward really is.

About Naomi Schemm

Naomi is a Reference & Instruction Librarian for the College of Business & Economics at Univ. of Wisconsin-Whitewater. While not helping students and faculty with their research, she enjoys singing, ballroom dancing, crafting, and cooking.
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