Midnight Sun (Spoiler: We Didn’t Need to Hear This Story Again)

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I know this is random, but I felt a book review was necessary because good God. I bought this book the moment it came out, having been absolutely in love with Edward Cullen when I was fourteen. Ultimately, it was so boring and poorly-written I actually could not finish it, which I should’ve expected, because it’s the SECOND RETELLING OF TWILIGHT. In short, Midnight Sun is the least necessary thing ever, and I have some strong opinions on it.

The most obvious question to be asked about the entire series, something that has baffled me for the past decade—why the fuck are these people even going to high school? We’re told that they do it to blend in, but they look and act so aggressively bizarre that the entire school thinks they’re nuts, rendering the entire thing pointless. It also wouldn’t be that odd for an ultra-wealthy family of trust fund kids to sit around doing nothing with their lives after graduating, and most of Edward’s siblings were past high school age when they were turned anyway. So the idea that in order to blend in they need to spend eternity repeating high school over and over in order to keep their secret is, shockingly, not of sound logic. But even assuming it made sense to go to school in order to blend in, why are they so goddamn bad at it?

This scene is almost unbearable. It’s also odd that Edward cares enough about school at this point that he feels the need to check the slide to see if Bella is correct about what phase of mitosis the cells are in.

The fact that these kids are, in the story they’re telling the people of Forks, all dating their foster siblings is weird right off the bat. Add to that the total lack of socialization, skipping school every time it’s sunny out, eating virtually nothing at lunch, and the fact that this supposedly unrelated group of gorgeous people are all ultra pale with the same extremely rare eye color—they are making the biggest spectacle of themselves they possibly can short of just admitting they’re vampires. Literally, nothing about them is normal, and you’d think that after almost a century they would understand how to act within the realm of normal. Ideally, they would be friendly enough to not seem creepy and just be slightly careful about getting too close to anybody. They also dress weird. Make Edward wear basketball shorts all winter and give Rosalie leggings and a Hydroflask (or Uggs and a Sidekick, since this is 2005). This isn’t super difficult stuff.

As someone who was a teenager when this movie came out, kids did not wear Victorian era blouses with vests, all white tracksuits, and business casual blazers to high school in 2008.

But as Jacob’s friend comments in the original Twilight, “The Cullens are freaks.” It’s supposed to be because they’re vampires, but really the problem with Edward and his family is, of course, Stephenie Meyer.

Throughout the book, it’s clear that Meyer is attempting character development but has never met an actual person before and therefore doesn’t know how they talk or interact. It’s like an eighties after school special. Sweet brotherly moments between Edward and Emmett legitimately gave me secondhand embarrassment. She also does a horrible job of making Emmett speak and behave like the typical dudebro he’s supposed to be. Every scene with him in it was absolute comedic gold.

“Aw hell!”

I can’t describe the relationship between Edward and his family well except to say that it feels like something out of a sitcom about teenagers intended for children. The Cullen siblings are chummy but in a way that feels completely awkward and stilted. That was the case in the movies, but I had hoped to see what went on when they were at home together in Midnight Sun.

Apparently this is what goes on in the Cullen house.

To add to the weirdness of a grown man wrestling his adoptive brother “in the night,” Emmett is also so excited to wrestle Jasper again that he can barely get through the day. There’s a lot of roughhousing in place of actual sibling bonding. Aside from the fact that they’re all quite *physical*, these people don’t seem that close despite living with each other for a century. They just play fight and have giant games of chess.

Good times. Also, Edward is (obviously) a baby. Although it does suck that none of his siblings will play with him.
Emmett also wrestles his wife and sister. No further comment.

No inside jokes, no deep conversations, no embarrassing or disgusting behavior. Maybe I have too high a standard with regards to what constitutes intimacy, but they’ve spent every moment with these people for a century and it doesn’t seem like it. Partially this is just a result of the fact that they’re all boring.

The most fun this family has is playing baseball together, in matching uniforms. #extra

In theory Edward is the most well-developed character—this book doesn’t make him look too good though. He’s a smug, condescending asshole. He finds the people around him to be vapid and immature as if he’s somehow above everyone else because he listens to Debussy and plays piano. Based on him constantly reading their minds, his family members’ complexity of thought is along the lines of, “I wonder what Rose is up to right now…” So it’s not like they’re particularly high brow. I would say his distaste for most humans is incompatible with his avowed self-loathing, but I admittedly also dislike most other people in addition to disliking myself. Still. I just find it hard to believe that the entire student body at Forks High spends their day in an internal monologue of, “Hmm…I wonder what happened between Mike and Bella??”

On that note, Edward also has a really irritating dislike for “impure thoughts”…the whole 108-year-old virgin thing is a) obviously very strange and b) problematic because his desire (finally articulated in Eclipse) to “protect Bella’s soul” by not having sex with her is super sex-negative and suggests that Edward probably has a lot of antiquated beliefs on gender and sexuality. It’s a reminder this book was written by a Mormon housewife, and is one of a very long list of reasons I would not want to be in a relationship with this guy. He’s also creepy. We knew prior to reading this that he sneaks into Bella’s room and watches her sleep, but seeing his obsession with her play out is unsettling to say the least.

To expand upon why Edward is an incredibly bad narrator and dislikable character, he’s also a whiny, emotionally immature baby. Which, again, same bro, but he brings a whole lot of his eternal angst on himself. They all do. Edward says that all of his family members (with the possibile exception of Emmett) would give anything to not be what they are. Well, yeah. Of course. I would hate my (un)life too if I had to to go to FUCKING HIGH SCHOOL OVER AND OVER FOR DECADES. I didn’t even want to be there for four years. This is an especially confusing decision on their part because they have a ton of money and truly unlimited time, since they don’t sleep. There are SO many things they could be doing, and so many other solutions to the problem of blending in.

They should at least be going to college. So much more interesting than high school—major in something different every time, endlessly expand knowledge rather than taking the same intro courses forever. Get an advanced degree and have a career, then another, then another. Edward apparently has two medical degrees, but he only uses them to ace Intro to Biology. Too lazy for career development? Me too. Volunteer somewhere. Help someone. Travel the world. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THESE PEOPLE COULD BE DOING WITH THEIR TIME. Being a vampire is only a curse because the Cullens are idiots. Full stop. There’s good and bad to both life and undeath, and not only do Edward and his family members focus on the bad, they choose to avoid the good for no reason.

Even beyond their own happiness or lack thereof, the fact that the Cullens have chosen to spend eternity attending high school and complaining about it is actually morally irresponsible on several levels. For one, there’s a lot of good they could and should be doing. Edward thinks he’s going to hell on the basis of being a vampire, but it never occurs to him that he could be going to hell because he’s a lazy, self-important asshole. The Cullens could be doing something, anything, to contribute to the world with their vast fortune and time. Other than Carlisle, they are not. Alice predicts the future—she could’ve literally stopped 9/11, or any number of other tragedies. Edward reads minds—he could be catching murderers and rapists. They’re all virtually indestructible and could be fighting in wars and / or doing necessary but dangerous work. Nothing. They’re spending their time acting like animals and fighting about Edward’s love life.

Also must be noted that Edward and Bella’s relationship escalates extremely quickly.

My other moral objection to the Cullens—and I’ve been thinking about this LONG before Midnight Sun came out—they let this kid attend high school.

Jasper trying to kill Bella on her birthday.

Talk about high-risk. Their entire existence depends on keeping their secret. Based on New Moon, I went into this book knowing that one kid getting a paper cut in math class would result in death and destruction, and possibly the revelation of vampires to the world. But it was even worse than I thought. The entire family was 100% aware of Jasper’s inability to control his bloodlust and enrolled him in school anyway.

Yep.

Really, this family doesn’t actually seem that concerned about human life. I get that it’s difficult for them to control their appetites, but their general attitude towards the high likelihood that Edward will kill Bella and possibly several other children is more or less “meh…it happens”, which begs the question of why they bother being “vegetarians” (good one 😐) at all. But having read half the book, the lesson I am taking away from Midnight Sun is that there’s no real rhyme or reason to any of it. It’s an absolute clusterfuck. Goodnight.

My reaction to this entire series.

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