Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: First Thoughts (Ch. 1-2.5)

First of all, disclaimer: I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m about two to three chapters in and I think I’m going to end up writing about the book as I go and then doing a final review at the very end. But so far? Not super impressed.

Like I’ve said previously, I don’t hate the original Twilight series. I enjoy reading them sometimes. I do, however, find a lot of the story-line and interactions offensive. I think Edward’s relationship with Bella is abusive. I think Meyer misses the mark on many scenes. I think she misses the opportunity to discuss real world problems that teens may have to face as they grow up.

For example, that scary scene where Bella is almost assaulted by a group of men? That was a great opportunity to discuss the horrible reality of sexual assault in this world and how to move past such an event, even if it is just overcoming a situation in which something almost happens. Instead, it’s just used as a device to bring Bella and Edward closer. Meyers glosses right over any type of recovery process. I could vent about that all day long. What a missed chance to bring some light to a bad situation. She could have used it to give survivors of assault a glimmer of hope. But she didn’t.

Nonetheless, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Even though I could. For paragraphs. I’m here to talk about Midnight Sun and what I think a few chapters in. And, to be honest, to its detriment it’s entirely what I expected so far. Having grown used to Edward’s constant self description as a monster, I wasn’t surprised by the intro. I was expecting an internal monologue of self-hate, admissions of guilt, and constant self questioning. Am I a monster? Is high school purgatory? Is this the punishment for my sins? Please give me a break. It’s just an unnecessarily large amount of dramatics for the beginning of a book. And there’s no comedic relief from it, which would have been well received on my end of things.

I equally disliked Edward’s interactions with Tanya during the beginning of the second chapter. They felt dishonest. How could Edward spend one hundred years as a teenage boy and never feel attracted to another person? Why has he never wanted a romantic relationship prior to Bella? I get that he is the type of person who is more attracted to personality than appearances, but it felt ridiculous that he had never encountered a personality that made him consider a romantic relationship. It’s been decades.

Maybe his refusal to date could be explained by how self-involved he is and that he just never notices anyone outside of his own cycle of self pity, but that feels a little bit shallow. There isn’t much depth to it. I don’t want the main character’s only personality trait in any book to be that he hates himself and loves a girl. His refusal to date anyone, for me, just really cements that that’s all there really is to Edward. Giving him even one ex romantic interest would have helped make him more well-rounded as a character. The one rebuffed would-be lover just isn’t the same.

Plus, sometimes it bothers me that Edward’s a vampire who believes he’s predestined to go to hell and he never really runs with that. Instead, he wastes time trying to prevent himself from sinning in other ways. What’s the point? He’s already damned. It feels like Meyers is trying to cater to a very specific audience that does not believe in premarital sex, but is doing it in the most illogical way. Edward believes he is evil. If he believes that premarital sex is evil, wouldn’t he have tried it at least once? At least in conjunction with the belief that he’s a horrible monster? He loves having ammo to hate on himself with.

Beyond that, I also wasn’t expecting certain scenes to be more annoying than I found them in the original Twilight series. One stands out in particular so far: the scene where Bella and Edward are having their first semi-polite conversation. I can’t entirely explain why, but it drove me nuts that she seemed so weirded out by Edward calling her Bella. She had been enrolled at that school more than a couple days at that point. With such a small school, it wouldn’t be unusual for people you haven’t talked to to learn small new details about your preferences. I went to a small school. You learned new things about people you barely knew all the time. That’s high school.

Plus, it’s perfectly explainable on his side as something that isn’t weird to know. It isn’t mind reading. It isn’t suspicious. He had simply heard more people talking about their interactions with ‘Bella Swan’ instead of their interactions with ‘Isabella Swan.’ She had already corrected half the school probably. It just seems like such a random thing to put a character on edge. In the real world, it’s unlikely she would have actually noticed.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be this annoyed with the book so far. I was annoyed at certain aspects of the overall series before, but not the actual chapter-to-chapter events and conversations taking place. The internal dialogue wasn’t so grating in the original book either. I kind of just breezed through the entire series. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already finished the original series that these first few chapters seem so much more aggravating. I don’t know if I’ll get to the point where I actually enjoy reading Midnight Sun. Right now, I’m more curious than anything else. I guess I’ll find out soon.

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