Book Reads: Midnight Sun (Stephenie Meyer)

October 11, 2020

Fresh from the feels of the Fallen book and movie, I stumbled upon a Facebook post from Fully Booked promoting the latest title from Stephenie Meyer entitled Midnight Sun, the book that is based from her earlier work entitled Twilight, but the events are narrated from Edward Cullen's perspective, which is the male lead character of the book (and the series).

For Twilight fans, this is no news actually because the concept of Midnight Sun has been like an urban legend for several years now -- a treasure that everyone sought for, but never laid their hands on it completely. For the uninformed, Meyer has been in the process of writing the book as far back as during the peak of the hype of the Twilight saga. Unfortunately, a draft of the book got leaked online and this deeply infuriated Meyer, which led to her decision to leave the book unfinished. Today, after about 15 years since Twilight was published, the world finally gets to read the "official and legal" version of the book (thank you Stephenie! 😭).

I admit it, I was (and am?) a Twilight fan. I was one of the many teenage girls who fell head over heels with one Edward Cullen. Honestly, who wouldn't? He is this perfect handsome guy who would sacrifice everything for the love of his life. He is each girl's dream of a knight in shining armor. But well we know what the catch is -- he is a vampire. And the book (and series) circles around this conflict and you just wonder how their Universe was so unfair to them to have given them heaven and hell in the same form. I remember I was in college when the first book became popular. Yeah, I did skip a few classes during college so that I could continue reading the book in the boarding house. It's embarrassing to admit that now, honestly. But well I just lived in that moment, and I pursued things that made me happy (isn't that what life is all about? 😁). As much as people mock this work of fiction today (with all the running jokes of "still a better love story than Twilight"), no one can deny how much it shaped the landscape of the Young Adult genre. Although for me, I think the best thing that happened after Twilight is this. Just joking.😅

As I read Midnight Sun, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic. The story is very familiar, but new in the same way. It was so refreshing and intriguing to look at the story, this time through Edward Cullen's eyes. After reading the first few chapters, I deemed that reading this alongside Twilight will be the most indulging way to consume the material. And so I did, I read the chapters alternatively through Bella's and Edward's perspectives. And it was so beautiful. It's so interesting to approach the story this way. I really think this is the best way to read Midnight Sun. 

Taking in the chapters of these two parallel books, it's pretty obvious that Meyer really went into the details of the first book, meticulously crafting the storyline for Midnight Sun to be as consistent as possible with the original Twilight story. And it surprisingly fitted well. The beauty of reading the books side-by-side is that we get to know both sides of the story -- that slight change of emotion in Edward's eyes that Bella noticed in Twilight actually corresponds to hundreds of thoughts, explained in Midnight Sun. The book made that familiar world to become more detailed and colored because this time, we get to hear insights from the other characters' minds, all thanks to Edward's mind reading abilities. I think after reading the book, I was able to learn more and appreciate the people that surrounded Bella and Edward in their world in Forks.

One of the fascinating things that I realized from reading the book is how exquisite Edward's thoughts have always been about Bella. He processed a lot of emotions ever since he met her in that first day of Biology class. He wanted to kill her. He hated her so bad. And then he got curious because he heard nothing from Bella's mind. We see the exact moment Edward falls in love with Bella, and for vampires whose souls have been cursed to be frozen for eternity, undergoing an emotional change becomes a permanent part of their identity, and so in that moment that he realized he is in love with Bella, he knew it's for eternity. He went through a lot of self-doubt and hatred. Yup, even the most perfect guy will have his set of insecurities. He is so wrong for her. He hated himself for being a vampire. He struggled with his inner demons, a journey that Bella will never know. 

It was also unsettling to learn that there was actually an alternative timeline possible if Edward didn't fall for Bella. He will leave Forks for sometime, but he will return again to hunt her. This is one of Alice's visions, and through this book I was also able to grasp just how powerful Alice's gift is. We get to have a front seat view of how complicated and ever-changing the future can be based on people's current decisions and resolutions. The Alice-Edward duo is very powerful, even for vampire standards. Now I understand why the Volturi wanted both of them in their team.

I guess my takeaways from reading the books this time around (after 15 years!) is that love really is a mind game. If only we could know what the other person is thinking (does he like me? does he find me attractive blah blah blah), then the dating game would be much much easier (and faster!) and more reassuring. But I guess that's the beauty of love and courtship -- you really have to put things on stake and just be vulnerable and take the risk, because that's where the thrill comes in. But no, don't trust me on anything I say about love. All the knowledge that I have on love is based on works of fiction.😅  Second is that everyone has their own version of self-doubt and insecurities. But I guess to build a good relationship, you have to realize this truth and then bring each other up to become the best versions of yourselves when you are with each other. 

It's such a rare treat to have a 360 degree view of a love story, and this is exactly what Twilight and Midnight Sun offer to its readers. It's a dream for fans to have a version of this in their fandom (the Harry Potter books narrated in Severus Snape's perspective, anyone?) and so I am just so thankful for Stephenie in making this dream a reality for Twilight fans. I know it's too much to ask to have three more books in Edward's perspective, but having this one is already a gift for all of us who still couldn't get over that handsome vampire that we crushed hard during our teen years.

With all the things that happened in 2020, I'll look back to reading this book as one of the silver linings of the year. Thank you Edward for coming back to my life and teaching us yet again how powerful selfless love is. 🍎

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