I saw a lot of opinions on this book, and I had worries going into it, but I honestly thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
First of all, it is fiction. We aren’t vampires, and nothing is perfect. Including Meyer’s writing. But, despite the problems with this series, it was an entertaining story and I had a good time reading it. I loved the nostalgia and the extra detail we got about Edward’s life, and that’s what makes this book a good read. And, even though Edward is a crazy vampire stalker, we know from the original books that Bella truly loved him back. And I just love a good love story!
But there is so much to unpack in this book. Lets get the problematic statements out of the way. Edwards exclusionary “you don’t belong here” comments. His true belief that humans are not “equal” to vampires. The obsessed vampire stalking. None of that behavior is acceptable, and I can understand why there is criticism around this book. But I enjoyed Midnight Sun for what it was, a new chapter to Edward and Bella’s story.
It had a very Anne Rice vibe to the writing style, with all of Edwards inner dialogue. I have seen a lot of criticism around this particular element of the writing, but I totally understood and appreciated the references to Interview With A Vampire.
I am not a super religious person myself, but I found a lot of religious symbolism in Meyer’s writing. She uses light and dark as symbols for good and bad
The very first page of the book brings up the afterlife and sin. So, I was immediately looking for that as I read through the book. I found lots of religious language, and found references to Edward committing basically all of the 7 Deadly Sins throughout the text. I also found Edward asking all of the existential questions that religion(s) attempt to answer.
“She should have died today, Edward.”
So, the vampires are playing God. Saving Bella’s life. Deciding the rapist should go to jail. Carlisle as a doctor, saving human lives, who believes “every life is precious”, pitted against Jasper’s desire to let fate take its natural course. The fact that Carlisle created another vampire like himself at all is drawing a parallel between God the Father and Carlisle the father. “We tried to live to a higher standard. A gentler, more peaceable standard. Because of our father.” What gives him the authority to make these decisions? What even controls destiny, anyway?
Fate or astronomical good luck?
That is a great ethics question, honestly. And these types of questions keep Edward up at night, so to speak. Many of his inner conflicts center around right and wrong, and I wanted to know more about where that stems from. He claims he doesn’t remember his mother, and I wondered if his inner conflicts with religion stemmed from his childhood. But I now think Edward mixed up his own memories with Carlisle’s religious childhood memories over the years, because he spends so much time in his thoughts. But it wasn’t really mentioned in as much detail as I hoped for.
This was definitely a mortal concern, not of our world. To commit the murder I ached to commit was wrong. I knew that. But leaving him free to attack again could not be the right thing, either.
So, Edward doesn’t know what to do, or what to think when it comes to ethics. He has all these conflicting ideas about good and bad, which is really relatable, actually, but kind of contradicts his unflinching decision making.
“Well…” I hesitated. “I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly.”
This was one of those quotes that I remembered from the original book, and was excited to find in this new one. I remember specifically that this theme of the afterlife stood out to me then, and it still stands out for me. It seems conflicting that Edward believes he has no soul, but still believes in Heaven and Hell, and has a moral compass.
How could doing the wrong thing give me so much happiness? Surely there was something amiss in that.
So he recognizes the difference between right and wrong, and chooses wrong anyway. Because another thing that Edward believes is that “there is always a choice.”
And past all the unhealthy obsession, this story is, above all else, about the overwhelming range of emotions that overcomes each of us when we fall in love. It’s powerful. Extreme. Edward experiences all of the possible emotions that he never thought he could feel in the short time it takes him to fall in love with Bella.
Can a dead heart break?
Can a dead heart love? Can it feel pain? Should it be able to? Theoretically, no. But Edward was able to. Which starts to draw into question everything he believes about his soul.
If vampires must first walk through the flames of Hell to transform … perhaps he has already been through Hell, perhaps he is wrong about his afterlife? Should any soul be made to cross through Hell twice? But these are all great questions, and I don’t think Meyer is even trying to give us an answer. More like she is asking them, bringing up all these great points and letting the reader decide.
There is one certain message that Meyer makes clear, though. A warning, a hope, for all of us mere mortals:
I had to grasp every second of happiness I was allowed, all the more because those seconds were numbered. I knew I had a great capacity for ruining even the best moments with my wretched doubts and endless overthinking. What a waste, if I were only to have a few years, to spend any of them wallowing.
Be here, be present, and be happy. Find joy in the everyday, find happiness and peace in what is, and not what may be in the future.