Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States on August 4, 2020
It's no exaggeration to say that Edward Cullen is one of my least favorite male characters of all time. The only reason he does not sit atop the throne is... well, Christian Grey and Massimo Torricelli exist.
And after many years of refusing to do so, Stephenie Meyer has finally given the wangsty, unintimidating vampire his very own novel, "Midnight Sun," which retells the entire story of her debut novel "Twilight" from Edward's perspective. That sounds a lot more appealing than it is, once you realize that we then have to spend hundreds of pages in the head of a whiny, socially-inept misogynist who complains about everything.
In case you missed the media storm some years ago, Edward Cullen is a sparkly vampire who dwells in the town of Forks, Washington. He can read minds. He hates school, and he pretty much hates everyone around him, especially the women. But then once day the author's self-insert, Bella Swan, stumbles into school and immediately entrances him with her delicious body odor. So he immediately wants to kill her, along with dozens of other innocent people. Swoon. Dream man.
And since Bella's mind is unreadable, he begins obsessing over her, and decides that she is a selfless saint who is superior to all the common sheep. However, after he saves her from a freak car accident, Bella realizes that there's something weird about him, which causes the Cullens to panic. But fear not! Stephenie Meyer will not mar her book with suspense, so Alice just blurts out that Bella is going to be her best friend and Edward's soulmate, so everybody just calms down.
Of course, Edward can't keep away from the universally irresistible girl who looks suspiciously like the author, and after creeping into her room for several weeks, he saves her from potential gang-rape and they start dating. Eventually the plot rears its ugly head, and some hostile vampires show up to kill Bella, which means Edward has to actually do something other than complain about how much other people suck and how tortured and evil he is.
Is "Midnight Sun" any good? Well, that depends on how you feel about the Twilight Saga as a whole. If you're a fan of the previous books, you'll probably love another fat tome of PG-rated vampire romance, in which all the characters talk like middle-aged women. If you find the books to be torture, then this book will probably make you want to set fire to an orphanage filled with puppies.
Sadly, Stephenie Meyer's writing has not improved in quality over the last fifteen years — she still writes flowery, breathless, rambling prose that endlessly covers stuff that isn’t very interesting. And, of course, she talks endlessly about Bella’s “soft perfection” and how all men want her, and all women want Edward despite his complete lack of basic social skills. Furthermore, it’s incredibly melodramatic in a way that invokes more laughter than thrills, such as Edward rolling around on the floor of a hospital chapel.
"Midnight Sun" also completely destroys Edward's entire image as a brooding Byronic jerk -- it's hard to see him as a smooth, elegant predator when he spends the entire book throwing tantrums and complaining about everything. He's whiny, selfish, melodramatic, boring, has contempt for everyone around him... and oh, he's also a raging misogynist who hates any woman who isn't a soft-spoken doormat. What’s more, the combination of his homicidal impulses (which are very sexualized) and his complete lack of any normal social skills... well, it makes him seem like a guy who would have been a school shooter if he hadn’t become a vampire instead.
He also reinforces that Meyer does not know how to write male characters – his internal thoughts sound more like a middle-aged woman than a teen boy of any era (“I love you too much, for your good or mine“). Of course, the actual teen conversations are pretty heinous in general, such as a “lolz he’s such a nerd” conversation about Comic-Con that reeks of “How do you do, fellow kids?” Just… don’t talk about geeky stuff, Meyer.
If you have enjoyed Meyer's other books, you'll probably enjoy this one too. But if you didn't, Meyer has not improved -- "Midnight Sun" is every bit as bad as the books that precede it, with the added benefit of Edward's melodramatic foulness.